- Last Updated on Monday, 12 March 2012 14:06
- Written by Frank S. Washington
- Category: Drivin' 2012
By Frank S. Washington
On sale less than a year, the 2012 Range Rover Evoque has picked up awards as varied as Urban Truck of the Year and North American Truck of the Year. After a weeklong test drive of the vehicle I can see why.
Range Rover’s new entry-level crossover is a stunner. It had Range Rover’s clamshell hood, floating roof and wheels at the corners. But that was just the beginning. The Evoque had muscular shoulders and a tapering roofline so severe that it looked impossible for anyone to sit in the back seat or see out of the rear window.
But despite its good looks, I think the Evoque has garnered a passel of awards because of its driving dynamics and practicality. First, I was elated that the Evoque had real instruments rather than a virtual instrument display. Luxury can’t be conveyed through an image, no matter how well done.
Second, somebody at Ranger Rover realized that push button start should mean push button start. Alas, in other Range Rovers and corporate sibling Jaguars, drivers must push and hold the start/stop button in for the vehicle to start. That’s like turning and holding the key until the vehicle starts. In other words, what’s the point? I expect this improvement to make it was through the product line as Range Rover swaps out the platforms of its other vehicles.
The other thing I noticed from the driver’s seat was that I could see out the rear glass just as well or better than I could in other utility vehicles. What’s more, when I got into the rear seat I, at almost six-feet-tall, had plenty of headspace.
I had the four-door version of the Evoque; there is a coupe with a bit more than one inch less roofline height. I assume that translates into less headspace. But two doors suggest the rear seats won’t get used much.
Three kids -- a teenager, an adolescent and a four-year-old -- were in the rear seat when I drove to Toledo, Ohio, for a college basketball game and they had plenty of room. Perhaps it was the full fixed glass roof that created an airy environment that kept them chilled.
Or, it might have been the sumptuous surroundings. The Evoque didn’t have as much wood as a bigger Range Rover but what was there was real. The navigation screen was framed by a strip of chrome so was the odometer, speedometer and vents; and the center console was edged with what looked like slats of brushed aluminum.
Then there was that supple thick leather that I’ve always found pleasing and soothing in Range Rovers. And the instrument layout was more horizontal, the ongoing trend, than vertical.
A 240 horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine that was mated to a six-speed automatic transmission powered my test vehicle. The Evoque’s rotary center console based shifter was joined by paddle shifters on the steering column.
I found the Evoque’s driving characteristics precise, power was decisive and handling was sure treaded and the ride was like that of a hover craft, it didn’t feel like the tires were touching the road and it was quiet.
The Evoque had a permanent all-wheel-drive system with multiple terrain settings inside. Inside there was a floating center stack and the vehicle got 28 mpg on the highway and 18 mpg in the city. My excursion to Toledo and back was about 150 miles. When I returned there was no need to put any fuel in the vehicle.
There are 12 exterior colors, 12 interior motifs, two-door and four-door versions and the roof can be had in full fixed glass, a sunroof, regular roof or in a different color than the body. In other words, the Range Rover Evoque can be equipped to give it a distinct look
My tester had the Prestige Premium Package, which included 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels (20-inchers are available), an Oxford leather dash panel, a navigation system, intuitive voice controls, and wood trim and adaptive Xenon headlights. Its climate control package included heated front seats, windshield, steering wheel and washer jets as well as satellite radio.
Add all that to the $41,145 sticker, plus shipping cost, and the total came to $54, 145. That may seem pricey but it is in line with small luxury crossovers offered by competitors and it represents a much lower entry price to the Range Rover brand, which used to start at about $61K.
What that means is there will be a few more distinct Range Rovers traversing America’s streets and highways.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.