2014 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Road Test

Can the 2014 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque compete against the BMW X3s of the world?

What It Is
A luxury crossover that is a bit more accessible than other Range Rovers
Best Thing
Its powerful engine is as refined as its plush leather interior
Worst Thing
Not the most practical choice for large families
Snap Judgment
With as many faults as strengths, the Evoque will have to win over buyers on an emotional level

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The Evoque is the baby of the Range Rover lineup, and like every youngest child, it marches to the beat of its own drum. From its comically slanted roof to its aggressive body lines, the vehicle's design is polarizing to say the least.

Also typical of the youngest sibling, the Evoque seems to get all the attention. It was immediately named the North American Truck of the Year when it first debuted for 2012, and it quickly sold off dealership lots. With all the hype surrounding this crossover, why wouldn't you want to at least drive it? This was my goal for a long weekend, as I have always been enchanted with its looks but skeptical about its practicality. In some ways, I was proven wrong in my assumptions, but not all.

What We Drove

The four-door Range Rover Evoque comes in five trims, with the base starting at $42,025 and the most expensive topping out at over $57,000. We drove the mid-range Pure Premium, which has plenty of goodies from full navigation to a 360-degree parking camera. We also enjoyed leather seats with lumbar and memory, a power tailgate, keyless entry, and advanced Meridian audio system. Our model also tacked an optional $1,300 Climate Comfort package, which adds heating for all seats, steering wheel, and windshield. When accounting for a $895 destination fee, the model we tested came out to a total of $50,895.

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The Commute

In all honesty, driving the Evoque was a pure pleasure. The SUV sits high up, giving drivers a certain feeling of security and command over the road. But at the same time, its adept handling and responsive steering make it seem like a much smaller car than it is. All-wheel drive also gives it an edge over its competitors, offering additional stability and superior driving dynamics in bad weather conditions.

On top of that, the Evoque is able to pump out plenty of power from its 240-horsepower four-cylinder engine. Passing other cars on the highway is a breeze, and zipping between lanes never felt so good. While I really enjoyed this unbridled use of power on a small crossover, more conservative drivers may deem it a bit overdone.

Thanks to stop-start technology, this Range Rover can be surprisingly fuel-efficient in the city. Drivers can turn off this feature with a push of a button, but we didn't find the feature obtrusive enough to warrant its disabling. A new nine-speed automatic is another feature that improves efficiency. The Evoque is rated at 21/30 mph, which beats competitors like the BMW X3. But we found on long highway drives, our fuel economy lagged behind. Those looking for better fuel economy may want to consider the equally-flashy Mercedes-Benz GLK250.

The Grocery Run

Yes, it is possible to park a Range Rover with ease. At least this one. It turns well, and thanks to its parking sensors and rearview camera, dominating city parking lots is easy.

Fitting all your groceries, however, is more difficult. It has a small trunk, and even with the rear seats folded down, its maximum volume is just 51 cubic feet. Most other SUVs, including the BMW X3, offer significantly more room. Rear seat passengers suffer a bit as well. While many may enjoy the car's slanted roof design, this feature limits headroom for rear passengers. So while this vehicle may be fit for growing families, it may not be suitable for large broods.

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The Weekend Fun

When you drive from Los Angeles to San Diego on a Saturday afternoon, you get some serious bonding time with your car. We went through everything together, from sitting in traffic jams to dodging potholes and drivers who are distracted by the ocean views. The heated leather seats, soft yet supportive, made the journey quite comfortable and enjoyable. Everything about the interior design proved Land Rover put some serious thought into the vehicle, from the high-quality aluminum and wood accents to the innovative circular gear shift.

On our journey, we also spent plenty of time testing out the infotainment system. The controls were often redundant, as the touchscreen has three separate touchscreen controls for accessing phone controls, in addition to a button on the outside. There were also redundant controls for audio settings and navigation.

We also found the navigation system was slow to calculate our desired route. Sometimes, the navigation system wouldn't tell us where to go until it was too late, or would take us in an unusual route without explaining why. The voice-controlled navigation function failed us miserably when trying to enter a destination in to the system, but inputting an address directly onto the screen was quick and easy.

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So why do we as consumers buy Range Rover Evoques? Is it the same reason we buy 5-inch heels or large plasma tvs? Buying a Range Rover Evoque is more than just a fashion statement. Whether it's the car's signature rotary shift knob, the plush leather, or the commanding road presence, buyers look for the signature features you can only get on a Range Rover. While these features may not resonate with all buyers, they will with many.

Considering Land Rover's historically poor reliability, it would be hard to firmly recommend this vehicle. But I certainly wouldn't dissuade someone whose heart is set, considering the quality of the car's ride and interior materials. Those who are set on this model may want to start looking at the Pure Plus, which offers the full leather seating and a number of key features.

Spec Box

Price-as-tested: $50,895
Fuel Economy
EPA City: 21
EPA Highway: 30
EPA Combined: 24
Cargo Space: 8 grocery bags Child Seat Fitment, Second Row: Fair
Estimated Combined Range: 444 miles
Intellichoice Cost of Ownership: Below Average


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