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2012 Land Rover Evoque Road Test

The 2012 Range Rover Evoque is stunning, head-turning, a piece of art. But is Land Rover's first crossover as tough as its brawnier brethren?

Who It's For
The 2012 Range Rover Evoque is a stylish entry in the ever growing field of compact and mid-sized crossovers, turning heads of even jaded auto enthusiasts.
Best Thing
Eye-catching appearance.
Worst Thing
High price.
Snap Judgment
The 2012 Land Rover Evoque is worth the near $60,000 price tag...if awesome styling is your number one priority.


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Car enthusiasts howl at the notion that all cars -- from the cart-like Scion iQ to the massive Infiniti QX56 to the Porsche 911 S sports car -- are mechanically the same. They'll punch up reams of data on their smartphones and read it to you, all the while quoting obscure car writers, models, and specialized magazines which haven't been relevant to the average car owner since the last model year. Watch them, though, really get worked up as you mention your real priorities in a car: Attractiveness. Reliability. Value. Seat comfort. These wants, and more, veer into subjectivity and opinion, subjects no car enthusiast can measure with their 0 to 60 mph comparos or calculate with the latest app.

The 2012 Land Rover Evoque is the latest vehicle aiming to appeal to the consumers' taste for the aesthetic. Land Rover's newest entry into the premium compact crossover segment, the Evoque stands out among the brand's offerings with a design that stops passersby in their tracks. Even car enthusiasts admit the Land Rover Evoque's styling is polarizing, a mark for a truly great -- and not so great -- vehicle.

Yet an auto's ultimate purpose is to transport people from one place to another. As a crossover, the 2012 Land Rover Evoque was designed to move its driver and up to four passengers and their cargo in car-like comfort, but with the truck-like advantages of space and height. We spent a week in the three-door Land Rover Evoque coupe to see how it functioned as a vehicle, and a work of art.

What We Drove

The 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque coupe starts at a competitive $44,995 which includes $850 in destination and handling. California considers the Evoque's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine a major polluter, for the cash-strapped state then levies a so-called "emissions" fee of $100.

The near $45,000 price brings pretty much what you'd expect for a premium compact crossover: leather seats; power windows; push-button start; leather-wrapped steering wheel; dual-zone climate control; and all the standard entertainment goodies expected at this level, like Bluetooth. The Range Rover Evoque then throws in a few extras like powered tailgate, backup camera , and that amazing panoramic roof, features normally optional by most automakers. Oddly, our Evoque did not have a blindspot detector, much needed with that sloping roofline. Our reviewers howled, though, at the Range Rover Evoque's optional Dynamic premium packaging and its $7,500 price tag and with reason. Besides including expected features like keyless entry, and blind-spot detection, the package also include near-necessities like GPS navigation, an awesome Meridian surround system with 17 speakers, and surround camera system. The package also includes exterior add-ons like chrome exhaust tips and, for the interior, comfort features like Oxford leather for the steering wheel, and contrasting stitching on the door panels. OK, we get that this is a luxury crossover where options can send prices skyrocketing. But what's up with the $1,000 extra to get heated front seats? That should be standard. And what's with the Range Rover Evoque only coming with manual tilt and telescoping steering? A power adjustment should either be standard or at least available as an option. Final price tag? $58,845, which puts it near the larger BMW X5 crossover.

The 2012 Range Rover Evoque coupe comes equipped with the usual standard safety features like seven airbags, LATCH for the kiddies, as well as that standard backup camera. Neither the NHTSA or the IIHS have rated the 2012 Range Rover Evoque for safety at the time of this review.

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The Commute

The 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque is eye-catching, almost cute. But just like certain female athletes or even actresses, don't let their looks fool you. Actress and hot momma Ms. Gellar of Buffy the Vampire fame and lead in the television series, Ringer, actually knows martial arts, while professional golfer -- and hottie -- Michelle Wie is ready to throw her golf club down with the professional big boys on the golf course.

The Range Rover Evoque possesses the same qualities: attractive, but tough underneath. You'll see it in the Range Rover Evoque's suspension or, more accurately, feel it. Like its bigger, more square LR2, LR4, and Range Rover brethren, the Evoque's ride is stiff, though not unpleasantly so, thunking over most bumps and potholes without wallowing. Usually. At least one driver thought the Range Rover Evoque bobbed too much for a luxury vehicle, almost like a truck-based SUV.

There's a reason, though: The 2012 Range Rover Evoque is actually capable of going off road, though we don't actually see buyers racing to dip the near-$60,000 crossover in the nearest muddy bank We covered the 2012 Range Rover Evoque's off-road capabilities in our First Drive []. Overall, potential buyers looking for a cushier ride should look elsewhere.

Our reaction to the Range Rover Evoque's steering was mixed. Some drivers thought it was fine, with just the right firmness for a European vehicle. Others thought it was too sensitive. They said the crossover reacted too quickly when the steering wheel was turned and had to keep a firm hand on the wheel at all times. Otherwise, they said, the Evoque tended to go its own way, especially on curves.

No one had issues with the Range Rover Evoque's turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Power came on really strong, especially at lower revs, making it easy to slip in and out of L.A. traffic, even during rush hour. A few of us played with the Range Rover Evoque's steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters, but the gear response time was too slow, something that plagued many of the vehicle's controls. The Evoque's fuel economy was abysmally low even with our resident lightfoot, not breaking 19 mpg with primarily highway driving. Which is a bit of surprise since the Range Rover Evoque is primarily a highway/freeway road cruiser, rather than a crossover rocket like the Infiniti FX. Engine, road, and wind noise are all within the luxury standards expected of the Evoque, and braking was easy to modulate when at speed or in stop and go traffic.

Good thing on the braking. The Range Rover Evoque's blindspots are prominent, with the rearview mirrors barely adequate for the job. Our Range Rover Evoque came equipped with blindspot detectors; we say they should be mandatory. The "around view" cameras, which included the rearview one? We found the images too blurry for serious use and found them more of a novelty than practical.

The Grocery Run

We weren't kidding when we said the Range Rover Evoque is eyecatching. While going over the Evoque's controls one of our drivers noticed a couple of guys nearby pointing and loudly commenting on the crossover. Apparently they did not seem him through the Evoque's tinted windows. After he revealed himself, they barraged him with questions on the Evoque.

Many of the admirers' questions centered on the Evoque's utility. We found the Evoque to be competitive with others in this segment, albeit with a few quirks. The family folks in our team found the second row seating in the Evoque to be reasonably sized for their little ones, though actually getting back there was a chore. The Evoque's front seats slide electrically out of the way, but are so slow you're left wishing for a manual override. We strongly recommend the five-door version of the Evoque if you're hauling more than two people on a regular basis.

The Evoque's second row folds and offers adequate cargo space for a crossover of this size. Seats up, though, and trunk space shrinks considerably. Tie-downs are available and roll, a nice touch. Can't have those Jimmy Choo's getting marred up before the red carpet, can we? The Evoque's liftgate is powered. Utility within the Range Rover Evoque was only so-so. The non-lockable glove compartment box was quite deep, though expect to bang the front passenger's knee each time you open it. The storage container in front was just adequate to store a bauble or two, while the cupholders are just deep enough to hold a couple of cups of coffee. Small cups, that is. Forget about storing any water bottles in the side pockets. And nets for the seatback map pockets in a near $60,000 vehicle? Really?

A Few Photos of this Vehicle

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The Weekend Fun

Want people to stop and stare as you drive by? Get a Land Rover Range Rover Evoque. Want to make an entrance at the latest swank Saturday night weekend party? Head to the nearest Land Rover dealership and place your order for the 2013 model; at the time of this story, all 2012 models were spoken for. Actually want to go off-roading, even just to surprise you friends whose idea of "rough roading" involves driving up a snowy road to an exclusive ski lodge? The Range Rover Evoque can do that, too. But we think most buyers will tool around the streets of Beverly Hills or the Hamptons rather than cross the Sierras. The crossover's interior is a quiet, almost serene, place to be, well-lit but not harsh and, in fact, downright interesting. Neat touches abound, like the "puddle" lights under the outside mirrors, which project an outline of the Evoque on the ground. Speaking of lighting, the reading light controls in front are touch sensitive. We also found the Evoque's infotainment system easy to use, though the climate controls were oddly applied by American standards. But the biggest complaint was that the system lagged: the navigation system would sometimes take a second or two to refresh an image, and it took several tries to finally sync our smartphones.

That said, the Range Rover Evoque is an overall cozy place in both rows, with one caveat. Adults trapped back there said that while sitting in the Evoque's rear seats is fine for the short haul, they would not be comfortable for any long trips. Again, consider Range Rover Evoque five-door if you see the crossover as a regular passenger transport than daily chariot for one (or two) people. Rear row spacing between the two versions are roughly the same with the extra pair of doors reducing the need of a chiropractor.

Summary

Our 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque carried a whopping as-tested price near $60,000, a big chunk of change, especially when you consider the base price starting around $44,000. Is it worth it?

We could spend millions of words continuing to cover the 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque's specifications, discussing its 2.0-liter aluminum turbocharged direct fuel injection engine with twin variable value timing, or why the automatic halogen projector headlights with wipers are a safety feature. But really, there's no real question on the Evoque's technical DNA. It's a capable enough crossover, especially for two and their cargo.

The question then boils down to how the Range Rover Evoque makes you feel. Do you like its looks? That you'll stand out anywhere you go? Our team's reaction was decidedly mixed, especially since there are few vehicles in this segment with such a strong emotional reaction. The BMW X5 was bandied about due to its similar price, but not only is it a larger vehicle, it doesn't come close to evoking the same emotional response.

So how much is a work of art worth it to you?

Spec Box

Price-as-tested: $58,845
Fuel Economy
EPA City: 18 mpg
EPA Highway: 28 mpg
EPA Combined: 22 mpg
Estimated Combined Range: 407 miles
Intellichoice Cost of Ownership: Poor

Notebook Quotes

This vehicle, as it sits, costs more than $58,000. That's a HUGE chunk of change, in fact, you can get into a BMW X5 35i Premium with most of the same equipment for only a little more money. -Keith Buglewicz, News Director
Let's get down to the nitty gritty...is this thing worth $58,000? The answer is absolutely not. Nowhere close. It's a Ford Focus Outback with really nice leather. -Jacob Brown, Assistant Editor
The exterior design will undoubtedly sell almost every Evoque as it looks like nothing else on the road today. When driving the Evoque, it's evident that you're in control of a solid piece of automotive engineering with a little bit of turbo lag, but not enough to make a big deal about. -Trevor Dorchies, Assistant Editor

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