2012 Range Rover Evoque Review +VIDEO
The Luxury SUV Segment Has a New Leader
By Marc J. Rauch
Exec. Vice President/Co-Publisher
THE AUTO CHANNEL
The new Range Rover Evoque from Land Rover has been waiting in the wings for some time, since its first official introduction in July 2010 via a live global Internet launch that was seen right here on TheAutoChannel.com (in fact, we still have it available and you can watch it at the bottom of this page). We followed it through the Paris Motor Show, the Los Angeles Auto Show, Geneva Motor Show, various stages of its prototype testing, and a host of interim public showcases and press announcements. Well, the Evoque is finally here, on the ground – paved, dirt, mud and snow – and I had the pleasure of driving it last week in British Columbia, Canada in all those conditions.
Land Rover put on a first-class media event for automotive journalists that really fit the vehicle. We started from the fantastic Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel in Vancouver and ended at Whistler Mountain about 80 miles away. Now it certainly sounds simple enough to say that we drove only 80 miles, which in terms of most ride and drive media outings is just a trip around the corner. But a quick pop around the block is not what the organizers had in store for us.
Instead of loading into our assigned vehicles at the hotel, per normal, we were loaded onto three small boats and headed north across English Bay to, we presumed, our awaiting chariots. Except it didn’t quite work out that way… About three-quarters of the way we caught up with a barge carrying all the Evoques. Our boats circled the barge, moved in, and then one-by-one we were off-loaded onto the barge.
At this point, it became clear that we were going to take part in a mini Normandy Beach-style landing in order to hammer home the point that the new Evoque is a credible off-roader. Although the landing and the immediately ensuing charge up a make-shift hill was not serious off-road driving, it was just a brief taste of what we would really drive through two hours later at Whistler.
Watch TACH's on-road video of the Range Rover Evoque ride and drive event
While I have long admired some aspects of Land Rovers and Range Rovers I have never really been a big fan of the way they feel when you drive them. The ride always felt like I was sitting atop a lumbering elephant. Thinking back, I guess I could have been more critical of this ride characteristic in any commentary I might have written, but I just sort of figured that since it’s a British vehicle that it was designed that way – you know, kind of a throw back to the glory days of the Empire; riding on elephants, hunting tigers and all that sort of rot… This trait probably wasn’t part of the official design, just an impression I had from watching too many movies.
Well, the Evoque breaks the mold; the days of driving a motor vehicle that feels like you’re riding on an elephant are gone. The Evoque’s ride and driving characteristics are as elegant and refined as its luxurious interior, and it feels as secure on the road as you know it was designed to be.
Since the public introduction of the Evoke in July 2010, a consistent negative comment that we’ve heard at The Auto Channel was directed at the vehicle’s exterior shape. Many people did not like its squashed look. And I have to admit that I also thought it looked, hmmm, awkward. However, in person and on the road, I don’t have that same impression; I was very okay with the look – especially the 4-door model (technically called a five-door). I personally preferred the 4-door over the coupe version, although my driving mate, Roosevelt Gist, liked the coupe better.
Regardless of which model we drove, the 2-door or 4-door, from the inside you don’t get any sensation of the vehicle’s squashed profile; it’s comfortably roomy with plenty of headroom front and back. Of course, adding to the Evoque’s feeling of roominess is its fantastic ultra-large panoramic moonroof. The fixed glass stretches from about the top of an average sized driver’s head to behind the second row of seats, and its width covers from the driver’s left shoulder to the right-side passenger’s right shoulder. It provides a really remarkable upward view. It may be that some other vehicles have a moonroof this large – like a van – but this may be proportionately the largest moonroof of any size vehicle.
Additionally, because it is a Range Rover – that is to say, the father of the luxury SUV class – the Evoque is loaded with luxury features you would want and expect, such as:
• Surround Camera System – One of the Range Rover brand's signature features, the system uses five digital cameras, discreetly placed
around the car, providing a 360-degree, real-time view of the surrounding area. The rear camera can be used to assist with hitching
• Adaptive/Auto-Dimming Headlights – The Range Rover Evoque is available with xenon headlamps with an adaptive feature that follows the
curves in the road. An auto-dimming function switches automatically between high and low beam
• Heated windshield, heated seats, and heated steering wheel
• Passive keyless entry system – The Range Rover Smart Key enables passive keyless entry and start
• Powered tailgate
• Hard drive navigation system – Including turn-by-turn directions in the cluster display
• Bluetooth® hands-free phone connectivity. Bluetooth® audio streaming is supported
• 825W Meridian surround sound system
• Sirius® tuners and HD Radio® tuners in addition to AM/FM
• Rear seat entertainment package, with 8-inch (203 mm) video screens, digital wireless headphones and touch screen remote control
Okay, back to the drive… After leaving the mini off-road test area that we first encountered we drove up to the Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort, the site of many of the 2010 Winter Olympics’ events. And when I say “we drove up to” I mean we literally drove “up to.” Using various dirt tracks, snowmobile paths, and service roads we drove to the snow-covered top of the mountain and then back down, giving us a more serious off-road experience. Granted, we didn’t climb any large rocks, ala the Rubicon, but for a vehicle that’s really more for luxury driving than rock crawling thrills, it performed very nicely.
However, regardless of whether you’re on road or off road the Evoque offers a full suite of traction and stability systems. Among these are:
• Roll Stability Control (RSC)
• Traction Control System (TCS)
• Trailer Stability Assist (TSA)
• Hill Start Assist
• Hill Descent Control (HDC®) and Gradient Release Control (GRC)
• Engine Drag torque Control (EDC)
Although the on-road video (above) doesn’t accurately portray the difficulty of the terrain, it was difficult enough to allow us to try out all the systems, except I guess for the Roll Stability Control. I don’t think we faced any off road challenges that would have caused a vehicle roll over, but sometimes there’s a journalist or two that will push things a little too far and a roll over could happen on a regular stretch of paved road. In any event, there were no roll overs.
The relatively short 80-mile drive, which turned into quite a long on and off road journey, was then capped with a welcome float plane ride back to our hotel in time for dinner (saving us a two-plus hour drive back in crummy-weather dusk-shrouded conditions).
U.S. deliveries of the Evoque begin this month, if they haven’t begun already. Pricing for the two models are Evoque (Five-Door) $43,995; and Evoque Coupe $44,995. All things considered – these are luxury vehicles – I think they are under-priced by a few thousand dollars. For example Mercedes’ M-Class and BMW’s X5 start closer to $47,000; and I think that the Evoque compares favorably to both (use TheAutoChannel’s New Car Compar-a-graph to compare the Evoque head-to-head with these and others).Moreover, for those who are looking to standout from the crowd of M-Class and X5 Series vehicles on the road, the Evoque evokes a great sense of individuality.
Watch the Evoque 5-door promo video
• The lightest and most fuel-efficient Range Rover ever produced
• Full-time intelligent all-wheel drive with electronically-controlled Haldex® center coupling
• All-new 240 hp* turbocharged direct injected 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission to deliver excellent performance and fuel economy
• 28 MPG EPA highway and 18 MPG EPA city fuel economy
• Suspension configured for dynamic and agile handling across varied terrain, available with Adaptive Dynamics featuring MagneRide™ magneto-rheological damper technology
• All-weather, multi-terrain capability with Land Rover Terrain Response®, which features a driver selectable programs to suit terrain conditions
• Five passenger seating
• Innovative Range Rover technologies, including an 8-inch (203mm) touch-screen display and a 360 degree Surround Camera System
• Three design themes to suit customer desires
• Choice of coupe and five-door models
Watch the complete introduction of the Range Rover Evoque from July 2010