Aside from being the most capable off-road vehicle in this segment, Land Rover’s Range Rover Evoque offers luxury in a very stylish, compact package. The Evoque is a subcompact SUV competing against the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, BMW X1 and the Audi Q3. Although it’s smaller than compact SUVs such as the Acura RDX, Volvo XC60, Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class, BMW X3, Audi Q5, Infiniti EX35 and Lexus NX, it can hold its own against all of them — especially off-road.
The Evoque, which comes in both coupe and five-door configurations, is wider and therefore roomier than most compact and subcompact SUVs. Coupled with a new nine-speed automatic, its turbocharged powerplant delivers a good balance between responsiveness and fuel economy.
Model Lineup: The 2014 Range Rover Evoque offers a choice of three trim levels on the coupe and five on the five-door. The coupe is offered in Pure Plus, Pure Premium and Dynamic trim, while the Evoque five-door adds Pure and Prestige trim levels. My test vehicle was a Pure Plus five-door in Santorini Black.
The Evoque Pure five-door comes standard with leather and synthetic suede upholstery; dual-zone, automatic climate control; tilt/telescoping wheel; cruise; power windows, locks and mirrors; remote keyless entry; rearview camera; configurable ambient lighting; Bluetooth with streaming audio; 11-speaker Meridian AM/FM/CD audio system; two USB ports and 19-inch alloy wheels.
The Pure Plus five-door and coupe upgrades include leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, front LED fog lights, high-pressure headlight power washers, universal garage door opener, power adjustable lumbar support, memory for the driver’s seat and exterior mirrors, and a rear center armrest with cupholders.
The Evoque Pure Premium five-door and coupe add adaptive xenon headlamps with LED signature lighting, automatic headlamp leveling, automatic high-beam assist, surround camera system, 825-watt Meridian surround sound system with 17 speakers, navigation that includes off-road mapping, hard-drive audio file storage and playback, keyless access and starting, and cargo area luggage rails.
The Dynamic five-door and coupe both come with unique 19-inch alloy wheels, sport exhaust pipe, rear skid plate, pedal finisher kit, leather-wrapped steering wheel with perforated palm grips, leather seats with perforated leather inserts, contrasting twin needle stitching on seats and dash, and unique textured aluminum interior trim.
The Evoque Prestige five-door features eight-way power driver and six-way power passenger seats, aluminum metal interior trim, premium carpet mats with leather binding, and Oxford leather with twin needle stitching on seats, fascia panel, door tops and center console lid.
Available options include a vision assist package with blind spot monitoring, surround camera system, adaptive xenon headlamps with LED signature lighting, automatic headlamp leveling and automatic high-beam assist. A climate comfort package adds heated windshield with heated windshield washer jets, heated seats and steering wheel. Other options include satellite and HD radio, rear DVD entertainment, ebony headliner, paint finishes, roof treatments and wheels.
Standard safety equipment on all Evoque models are dual front airbags, front side airbags, curtain side airbags, tire-pressure monitor, antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability control with trailer stability assist and roll stability control, hill start assist, hill descent control, gradient release control, front and rear park assist, and all-wheel drive.
Walkaround: The Evoque’s wide stance and rear-sloping roofline define its sexy, aggressive posture. The Evoque is small — a plus in urban environments for parking and maneuvering, but also off-road as well. Both the coupe and five-door bodies are nearly identical in dimensions and ride on the same 104.8-inch wheelbase. They are the same overall length and width, although the five-door is 1.2 inches taller than the coupe.
Interior: The interior of the Evoque is attractively appointed and thoughtfully designed, using high-quality materials comparable to the Mercedes, Audi and BMW, although more stylish. While the dashboard, armrests and door panels are all soft touch, they aren’t the same quality of the flagship Range Rover model, and everything from the glove box on down is hard plastic.
Instrumentation and controls are effective and easy to use. There are two five-way controllers on the steering wheel to handle the radio and trip computer, while the climate controls and rotating gearshift located in the angled-up center console are self-explanatory and ergonomically easy to reach.
An 8-inch screen offering an array of fairly intuitive telematics dominates the dashboard. An available five-camera system shows a 360-degree view on the screen and can come in handy in tight spots. Information provided by the navigation’s off-road mode includes latitude, longitude, altitude, contour lines, trace, waypoint and compass functions.
Given the stylish, sloping roof, interior roominess is surprising, with adequate rear-seat headroom and legroom. The front seats are comfortable and supportive, holding occupants in place during aggressive driving. The Evoque seats five and is quite comfortable for four.
The Evoque boasts cargo versatility with its hatchback design. Cargo capacity is 20.3 cubic feet with the rear seats up, 51 with them folded flat — slightly better than the BMW X1 and ahead of the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class.
Under the Hood: The Evoque features a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant married to a nine-speed automatic transmission. It brings 240 horses to the highway with 250 pound-feet of torque. EPA fuel-economy ratings are 21/30 mpg city/highway.
Behind the Wheel: The four-cylinder delivers respectable acceleration — 0 to 60 in the low-seven-second range — while the nine-speed automatic, which includes paddle shifters for manual operation, kicks down quickly when passing. The automatic also has four overdrive ratios.
Handling is good, with limited body roll. The suspension tuning is firm and braking is strong, although the electric-assist steering is softer than I like, but the term “car-like driving experience” comes to mind.
Minimum ground clearance is 8.4 inches at the front axle and the Evoque can safely navigate water up to 19.7 inches deep without a problem. While it’s not as accomplished as other Land Rover models due to its relatively low ground clearance, no low-range gearing and lack of locking differentials, it’s still the most capable off-roader in this class.
Whines: The sloping roofline compromises rearward vision, and sightlines in the rear quarters are limited. My test model seemed to have more road noise than I expected. While the interior quality is over par for this class, it doesn’t quite live up to the Evoque’s sticker price.
Bottom Line: The Range Rover Evoque balances off-road capability with impressive on-road dynamics. It’s a refreshing entry in the premium compact utility segment that’s fun to drive, boasting outstanding off-road capability, good fuel economy and head-turning good looks.