By on January 26, 2012

Consumer Reports failed to give the Range Rover Evoque its “Recommended Rating”. Instead, the BMW X3 nabbed the coveted title. Too bad the hordes of auto journos and status-concious customers have spoken.

CR complained about “…a cramped cabin, stiff ride, artificial-feeling steering and troubling emergency handling,” as well as poor rear visibility and a small cargo area. Of course, the Evoque is a celebration of form over function, thanks to its Ford Land Rover LR2 underpinnings. It also looks cool, has a Range Rover badge and will help you keep up your facade of affluence despite your crushing mountain of household debt.

CONSUMER REPORTS: BMW X3 OUTPOINTS LAND ROVER RANGE ROVER EVOQUE IN TESTS OF COMPACT LUXURY SUVS

New Prius V hatchback provides excellent efficiency and utility

YONKERS, NY – The BMW X3, which originated the compact luxury SUV market, handily outpointed its European rival, the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, in a head-to-head match up.

While the X3 scored an 80 in CR’s road test, the Evoque received a Road Test score of 60, scoring near the bottom of its category. The X3 is one of the few SUVs that feels sporty to drive, and a new eight-speed automatic transmission helps bring its fuel economy to a respectable 22 mpg overall on premium fuel. With its unique styling, the new Evoque turns heads, but it has many shortcomings, including a cramped cabin, stiff ride, artificial-feeling steering, and troubling emergency handling.

The new Prius V, also included in the March issue, received an Excellent road test score. No other vehicle comes close to its blend of versatility and fuel economy. This wagon version of the Prius hatchback has a big cargo area and roomy rear seat yet still returns 41 mpg overall.

“The X3 does an impressive job of combining sporty handling, a lavish interior, and surprising fuel economy,” said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center in East Haddam, CT. “Although the stylish Evoque has won lots of accolades in the press, including North American Truck of the Year, our more thorough testing reveals quite a few flaws.”

CR also tested three other vehicles in the magazine’s March issue: The Volkswagen Tiguan which got some updates for 2012 and scored a Very Good test score; the Toyota Prius V, a family-friendly wagon version of the Prius; and the Jeep Wrangler. Despite some recent improvements, the iconic off-roader remains CR’s lowest ranked vehicle with a Road Test score of 20.

The BMW X3 was redesigned for 2011 while the Land Rover Evoque is new for 2012. The Volkswagen Tiguan competes in this class but at a lower price; it was updated for 2012. The iconic Jeep Wrangler got a new modern drivetrain for 2012. Despite a familiar name, the Prius V is a new model for 2012.

The full report on compact luxury SUVS and the other cars mentioned here will be available on www.ConsumerReports.org on January 26th and in the March issue of Consumer Reports on newsstands February 7th. Updated daily, Consumer Reports.org is the go-to Website for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information. Check out CR’s ongoing Twitter feed at @CRCars.

The Prius V, X3, and Tiguan are all Recommended. The Evoque and Wrangler scored too low for CR to Recommend. Consumer Reports only Recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on CR’s Annual Auto Survey of its more than seven million print and Web subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test.

The X3 rides firmly and provides decent isolation from bumps and road imperfections. Noise levels in the cabin are hushed overall. With limited body lean and quick, responsive steering, the X3 is aggressive in the corners. The BMW X3 xDrive28i ($43,375 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 240-hp, 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that provides strong acceleration and 22 mpg overall in CR’s own fuel economy tests. The eight-speed automatic transmission is smooth and quick-shifting. Braking is Very Good. The interior is well-finished and has a very roomy cargo area. The X3 scores well in its category; it outscores eight other previously tested compact luxury SUVs in Consumer Reports’ Ratings and is only outpointed by the Audi Q5 3.2.

The eye-catching Evoque has impressive acceleration and braking, but the ride is choppy, the cabin is cramped and noisy, and the rear view is poor. Too much road and engine noise enters the cabin. The Evoque tackles corners well but its steering feels artificially weighted, impairing feedback. When pushed to its handling limits at our track, the tail slid out and the vehicle repeatedly lifted a wheel during our avoidance maneuver. The Range Rover Evoque Pure ($45,745 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 240-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers 21 mpg overall on premium fuel. The six-speed automatic transmission is well-mated to the engine. Braking is Very Good. The interior is well-finished with a neat full-length glass roof, but the driving position feels cramped and the cargo area is small.

The Tiguan is a compact SUV with a dash of luxury, but for a model without a luxury nameplate, it comes with a bit of a sticker shock. Along with the X3, the Tiguan is one of the few SUVs that can be driven with gusto through corners where it handles well with little body lean. Steering is quick with good feedback. The Volkswagen Tiguan SEL ($37,020 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 200-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers lively performance and gets 21 mpg overall. The SEL model’s large low-profile tires hurt the ride and increase road noise. The six–speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. Braking is Very Good. The interior is well-finished with quality materials but the cargo area is modest.

The iconic Wrangler Unlimited is a distinctive and rugged off-roader whose appeal wanes on the daily commute. The ride is unsettled and wind noise is pervasive. Handling is clumsy and the body leans even in low-speed cornering. Braking distances are long and emergency handling has very low limits. The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara ($36,340 MSRP as tested) is powered by a 285-hp, 3.6-liter V6 engine. Acceleration from the new modern V6 is much improved; it gets 17 mpg overall. Climbing up into the Jeep’s austere interior is difficult through small doors. Removing or installing either the soft or hard top takes two people, but panels easily lift off the hard top for open-air driving. The Wrangler has great ground clearance and axle articulation for off-roading but our Sahara version struggled for traction on our rock-hill course.

The Prius V is an impressive combination of utility and efficiency. Its ride is composed and compliant. Handling is sound but not agile; the steering offers scant feedback. The Toyota Prius V Three ($28,217 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 134-hp, 1.8-liter-four-cylinder engine with electric assist. Acceleration is loud and leisurely but fuel economy is impressive with test results of 33 mpg in city driving and 47 mpg on the highway. At 41 mpg, overall fuel economy is three less than the regular Prius hatchback. The continuously variable transmission is smooth. Transitions between gas and battery-only power are nearly seamless; the car can be driven on low speeds on electric alone. The interior is nicely finished but not luxurious. Rear seat and cargo room are both generous. Visibility is better out of the large windows of the Prius V than out of the regular Prius hatchback.

Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

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57 Comments on “Consumer Reports Trashes Range Rover Evoque, Nouveau Riche Shrug With Apathy...”


  • avatar
    Charles T

    Might want to pick between “hordes” or “hoards”; you probably mean the former. Don’t think the crowds of nouveau riche and auto journalists were hoarded away in heaps.

  • avatar
    jmo

    “…a cramped cabin, stiff ride, artificial-feeling steering and troubling emergency handling,”

    Yet James May loved it – he even though the ride was exquisite. Whom to believe…. ?

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      I don’t know what to make of this either. If it was almost any other publication praising the car, I would just assume the reviewer had been bought and move on. Given Top Gear’s history with getting themselves into trouble with their criticism, and that there isn’t much a PR department can offer those guys that they don’t already have, I don’t have any reason to doubt the authenticity of May’s opinion.

      I guess that show has always had a soft spot for the Range Rover brand.

      • 0 avatar
        Lampredotto

        Clarkson, Hamster and Captain Slow have a soft spot for pretty much any British marque. I have a hard time faulting their affection– their starchy nationalism is charming in a way.

        I half suspect that even their mockery of the worst of the Malaise-era British Leyland models is tempered by fondness, not unlike how you might make fun of a dimwitted pet dog. Yeah, old Rover’s an slobbering idiot, but he’s family.

      • 0 avatar

        The UK mags elevate any British crap to godliness. I remember one of them calling the Jag X Type “a WRX’S for grown ups”

        For what it’s worth, I loved the Evoque. The ride was stiff, but it worked in a lot of other ways.

  • avatar
    kevnsd

    Liked the first few I saw. But now they just seem to be a cartoon version of a Range Rover. Perhaps their market is all those people who bought Hummers several years ago and didn’t have anywhere to go from there?

  • avatar

    Even if the Evoque had aced the road test, they still would not have recommended it–too new for reliability info before next October for CR.

    Hoping to have some sooner at TrueDelta. The LR2 and LR4 were both pretty good for their first two years, but have been recently heading south.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      Does that mean all new vehicles cannot attain “Recommended” status? How, then, can CR go out and say the new 2012 Civic is “Not Recommended”? It would seem the same set of data would be needed to Recommend OR Not Recommend a vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        ppxhbqt

        Recommended requires THREE things: A) a good test score. The minimum varies according to the market segment. 62 might be good enough for a budget compact; 65’s the minimum for a family sedan. A luxury sedan would presumably require an even higher score. B) to have done well in crash tests. I’m pretty sure that a Poor or 2 stars in a category would knock a car out of contention, but they’ve never actually said for certain and no car gets that bad any more. C) good reliability. In the past, certain makes got a pass because of their record, but now it’s done on a model basis. Certain cars like the Elantra got a pass because it’s had good reliability for years; it also scored well. The current Civic got the reliability pass, but its score was too low, excepting the Si. The current Camry got a high enough score, but only the hybrid and I4 got a pass on reliability because the previous V6 had such a spotty record.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    here’s the problem… I hate BMW SUVs… goddamn they are ugly… I would never in a million years buy one although I admit the original 4.4 v8 BMW X5 has the most beguiling engine note on acceleration.

    I know JLR products are unreliable. It doesn’t matter. They have the cult of personality… the Queen rides around in a dark Range Rover… so does Rupert Murdoch. David Cameron’s XJ limo is about the coolest head of state car ever and that includes Obama’s “Beast”.

    The XF is easily one of the most beautiful sedans ever made. And as much as I hate tiny women’s SUVs and Victoria Beckham, this Evoque is just cool.

    When JLR has that kind of ‘bottled lightning’ who cares about unreliability?

    If you’re rich enough to own a JLR you can afford a 2nd (or 3rd) car… which is Japanese.

    • 0 avatar
      LeaperNYC

      ++1

      Fwiw, my XF has been very reliable. And yes it truly is gorgeous. Turns heads at 3 1/2 years old, and more importantly, is an absolute pleasure to drive.

      Just can’t drive it to our rented ski house (rwd). That’s why I have the Subaru. Love that car too. But if the Evoque had been on the market 2 years ago.. sigh..

    • 0 avatar
      mjal

      “The XF is easily one of the most beautiful sedans ever made.” Does that include a late model Monte Carlo since the Jag seems to have borrowed the Chevy’s headlamps? LOL

    • 0 avatar
      naterator

      Man, I was right there with you…until the XF.

  • avatar
    replica

    Truck of the year? I keep looking at the picture over and over looking for a truck. Maybe if I do a dramatic eyerubbing and lean forward in disbelief, I’ll see a truck.

    • 0 avatar
      sitting@home

      Well if the “Truck of the Year” award was limited to real trucks then the competition would be a lot like a NASCAR race with only the slightest of differences deciding between a Chevy or a Ford.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I still think Jeep should introduce a Wrangler “Zero Edition” with the sole purpose of getting a perfect zero on the CR road test.

    • 0 avatar
      replica

      Why does the Wrangler get terrible reviews? It’s a niche vehicle. It does what it’s supposed to “well” doesn’t it? I’m not a Jeep guy so I’m out of my realm here.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I’m not sure how CR scores their road tests, but I don’t even understand why they bother to road test really niche stuff like the Wrangler and Elise.

        It’s like Roger Ebert reviewing the latest releases from Vivid Entertainment.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        I’m OK with CR looking at all cars from the perspective of the average buyer. We have all sorts of reviewers that look at cars from the enthusiast’s perspective that tends to gloss over the annoyances that people will deal with every day. While CR completely panned my 4Runner, but I’d be hard pressed to disagree with their points if my mom asked if she should buy a 4Runner. For what I wanted my SUV to do, the 4Runner is pretty damn awesome. For toting the kids to soccer practice or commuting, there are far better CUVs out there.

      • 0 avatar
        PJ McCombs

        IIRC, their ‘point’ system does not change by vehicle category–eg any given attribute is weighted just as heavily whether they’re testing a sports car or a sedan–so highly specialised vehicles tend to suffer in their road test ratings.

        Not a bad methodology for the typical buyer, who may very well be cross-shopping the Wranglers with MINIs and Mustang convertibles because they’re all “cute and have folding tops.”

        It just means you can’t take the numerical score at face value if you know your automotive likes/dislikes better than that, but as Quentin says, that’s what the write-up is for.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        IIRC, their ‘point’ system does not change by vehicle category–eg any given attribute is weighted just as heavily whether they’re testing a sports car or a sedan–so highly specialised vehicles tend to suffer in their road test ratings.

        Not really true. They do still consider those things, but they don’t, eg, compare the Honda Accord to the Mazda Miata to the Jeep Wrangler. They are more holistic, though, and don’t completely excuse mission-appropriate faults.

        So you’ll note that, eg, they rate the RX-8 and BMW 135i very highly as sporty cars because they don’t ride badly nor impose serious packaging inconvenience. They also take certain trucks (and the Wrangler) to task for riding badly when the competition is better.

  • avatar
    ambulancechaser

    Since when do the nouveau rich by vehicles based on a CR rating. They like new expensive shiney things. RR Evoque anyone?

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Interior noise? Haven’t any of the CR reviewers ever driven a Honda?

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      CR has a recent track record of hammering Hondas for exhibiting characteristics that come with their relatively light weight, like road noise. This is in spite of Hondas dominating CR’s usual criteria of reliability and durability. If they hate the subjective qualities of the throw-away Evoque, it is difficult to imagine an argument for the latest Rover…

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Interior noise? Haven’t any of the CR reviewers ever driven a Honda?

      Every single Honda review in CR lists Road Noise as a “Con”.

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Not point fingers at anyone in particular, but I am kinda getting tired of the criticisms aimed at CR by people who obviously don’t read it. Fair disclosure, I’m a subscriber. While I do have some problems of their methods sometimes, I don’t feel you get a more unbiased, practical review of cars and many other products anywhere else.

  • avatar
    Robert Gordon

    “Of course, the Evoque is a celebration of form over function, thanks to its Ford Focus Land Rover LR2 underpinnings.”

    Not to nitpick but I think you’ll find the Freelander is based on a modified Mondeo platform.

  • avatar
    ellomdian

    “keep up your facade of affluence despite your crushing mountain of household debt.”

    The rallying cry of my generation apparently. I have co-workers at a lower pay grade who can’t afford to buy lunch for themselves regularly but they are tooling around in leased A4’s and 3 series to keep up appearances. I am told it gets a little better in my 30’s, here’s to hoping.

    • 0 avatar
      drylbrg

      You’re probably right but maybe they can afford Audis and BMWs because they save money by brown bagging it. Buying lunch every day adds up pretty quickly. Nah, this is America, they’re broke.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    I guess that was one of the reason for Bimmer to buy LR then, as to pick up all the intelectual properties LR collected since the first LR.
    I read else where as Bimmer’s executives always treated the LR’s management shabbily, if flying on a plane the Brits had to sat 2 nd row from the Fatherland folks.
    In the end LR became their Engrish patient, so they sold LR to Ford.

    I read about the JLRs are selling like hot cakes whilst the Tata Nanos are not exactly flying off the shelf, perhaps due to joining the ranks of Flaming Lamboghini. One or two Nano did somehow caught fire.

  • avatar
    jbltg

    Why waste time writing an article on someone else’s article? This practice gives web journalism a bad name.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      Didn’t Bertel just smack a reader for posting somebody else’s article in another thread? The text copied here looks well beyond any consideration of “fair use”.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I’m not surprised, who goes to Land Rover for an SUV that can’t go off-road or carry a good amount of luggage?

    • 0 avatar
      LeaperNYC

      Can’t go off road? Think again

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6miuU8G7ufw

      You obviously don’t know your Rangies from your X5’s.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        I stand corrected, unlike most modern SUVs the Evoque lives up to the term “sport” in SUV.

        Now if only the interior had room for luggage, and if I could see behind me!

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      The term “sport” in SUV has nothing to do with onroad sportiness. It references the original intent of and buyer for this class of vehicles. The “Sportsman”, aka “outdoorsman”. Hunting, fishing, backwoods camping, etc. Think first-gen Bronco with a deer strapped to the hood, and you’re getting it.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    CR will never rate narrow focus vehicles well in their reports – they go for all around decent performers. A Wrangler is a purpose built vehicle that is street legal. It has become very civilized compared to its early predecessors, but too much refinement will only weaken its appeal to those who want to buy one. The market has spoken on the Wrangler and sales and resale value are quite good.

    Land Rovers appeal to those who want badge snobbery. I have never known anyone who purchased a second LR product. To me, these things are s sign of someone who has money but is an idiot. But enough people seem to buy them so what do I know.

  • avatar

    Here’s the thing. The Evoque is butt-ugly too. See my post under “Land Rover Smokes a Fatty” http://www.motorheadmama.com. I’ve had two x3s, including the first generation. It is incredible and the 2nd gen looks even better.

  • avatar
    BobAsh

    I can’t speak about comparison between Evoque and X3 right now, as I’ve never driven the X3 yet (but I’m driving one for the next week), but I have a feeling that CR tested a different car than I did. Or have really strange criteria…

    For one, I’m pretty certain that they have driven a basic Evoque with normal suspension, which, as I heard, has quite a stiff ride. The MagnaRide equipped one has really a sublime ride, especially for something so small.

    I think that CR fails to understand the point of this car – it’s not a Range Rover for the poor, it’s a Range Rover for people who don’t want a big car. It still looks, feels and drives pretty much like a proper Rangie, but it fits in a Golf’s parking space and has about double the big RR’s mileage.

    And I would really love to know what the “troubling emergency handling” should mean. Other than Haldex system sometimes unpredictably shuffling power between the front and rear axle when driving on the snow with ESP off and trying to get it to oversteer in the corners, it was surprisingly good on European B-roads – much better than usual small SUV…

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      “I think that CR fails to understand the point of this car –”

      You are probably right. But I don’t think CR has a grading category for how much p***y or c*** a vehicle will get you.

    • 0 avatar
      CalgaryGuy

      “troubling emergency handling” means the vehicle easily lifts an inside wheel during the CR avoidance maneuver (around traffic cones). Plus the vehicle had other handling problems in extreme situations, although the Evoque is deceivingly “nimble and athletic” as long as you drive it within limits.

      In simple English, CR thinks it is too easy to flip.

  • avatar
    Paddan

    I drove the RRE and liked it a lot. Overpriced but nice enough. As for CU, who really cares, unless you are interested in a buying a Camcord. Next.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    CR should be embarrased by this. For a start the BMW X3 and RR Evogue are not even the same size! They compete in different sectors of the market.

    Secondly one can offroad (the Evoque) the other one can’t even cope with wet grass.

    Thirdly the Evoque is currently in the running for European Car of the Year, has won truck of the year and is generally the most adored car of the year. If I was CR I’d be seriously evaluating the quality of the Journalists they employ. Can every automotive journal in the world be wrong? Oh dear, CR’s credibilty is blown.

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    Well a horde most obviously refers to lemmings which is equal to automotive journalists. The only reflexive emotion Land Rover evoked in me was close to to the “gag”. Besides, as interesting as some of those over the pond vehicles might be, I’m one of those rural living guys who isn’t going to waste time and money driving 3 hours one way for over priced regularly scheduled maintenance in a vehicle that looks like every other flavor of the moment from fifty feet.

    Great design is form and function. An LR badge is meaningless unless your trying to impress other LR badge driving (and rating) lemmings. The danger that faces high end auto companies? Their designs are no longer exclusive and once mainstream companies start cranking out better designed (form and function) vehicles, the only thing left is for 1%’ers to ogle their expensive and over rated (lemming rated) P.O.S. Besides, depreciation really turns over the pond metal into scrap in a few short years (then it goes across the Pacific and gets built into something useful).

    • 0 avatar
      BobAsh

      The Evoque is just not targeted as you. In the same way as you, the urban living guy, won’t appreciate the Evoque, the urban living lemming won’t appreciate the Defender or Land Cruiser, and vice versa.

      Although I am an automotive journalist, I’m not the kind who applauds the marketig-powered junk. I usually don’t like SUVs, I think Audi has vorsprung durch marketing and not “durch Technik”, and so on. My kind of new car is Toyota GT 86, Genesis Coupe V6 or Mustang Boss 302.

      But, I LOVE the Evoque and I consider it probably the most important car of the 2011. I’ll say more about the comparison with the X3 next week, but for now, I consider the Evoque to be a different league.

      Yes, it’s a fashion accesory. But it’s capable off-road as well, it’s pretty competent on the b-roads, it’s easy on fuel (sort of), it’s supremely comfortable for something of it’s size (with MagneRide), it’s got beautiful interior and it’s not that small inside either. And it’s the size of VW Golf – which counts, if you live in the city.

      But, for country dweller not obsessed with nice, shiny things, it’s still overpriced piece of fashion accessory, which is too small and too shiny to be taken to the real terrain.

      On the other hand, Land Cruiser (or any other “real” off-road) is too big, too ugly, to cheaply made and too thirsty to be any good for the fashionable city dweller…

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    The technology put into the Evoques 4wd system and cameras impress me, unfortunately to get these you have to deal with styling that was done by a complete idiot.

    An SUV designed for city driving? Whats the point? Whats wrong with a wagon like the Nissan Cube?

    And generally in the city you’ll be parallel parking, which is almost impossible when your rear-windows are so small.

    • 0 avatar
      BobAsh

      Yeah, windows are useless – that’s why it’s got five cameras and automatic parallel parking (which works well). OTOH, it makes entry-level Evoque even more useless…

  • avatar
    stuki

    The one salient feature of LR products, are their excellent visibility. Take that away, and WHAAAAT?

  • avatar
    jeffsnavely

    The Evoque just looks awesome in person.

  • avatar
    Pan

    Perhaps, many forget that Consumer Reports looks at cars from an APPLIANCE perspective, which means that its judgement will be more pedestrian than that of anyone who looks at cars for the “fun” quotient and pleasure that is derived from something with a “personality” such as the Evoque. And, as I recall, having seen a test of the BMW, its off-road capability was limited, to say the least.
    However, I’m certain that both vehicles meet the needs and wants of those who buy them.


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