Capsule Review: 2014 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
This has never happened to me before. Four different women complimented me on this vehicle. I’m guessing they were somewhere between 25 and 45 years old – it’s really difficult to tell these days. They were all fit, attractive (-ish), wore fancy sunglasses, and carried equally fancy bags which complemented their outfits. They all loved this baby Range Rover. To them, it represented an essential accessory that would complete them. That, my friends, is a marketing success.
The Evoque does not sit well with a Land Rover enthusiast such as myself. My earliest television memories are of Camel Trophy races. In college, I spent six weeks driving around southern Africa in a Defender 110. In 2002, I attempted to enter the G4 Challenge. If I could, I would put NATO steel wheels and mud-terrain tires on every big Range Rover in existence. And yet, here I am driving this car that has R A N G E R O V E R written across this hood failing to justify its existence. Clearly, the hotties know something I don’t.
The problem with enthusiasts is that we forget that car companies’ first goal is to be profitable. Rest assured that Jaguar-Land Rover won’t quickly forget their corporate experiences of the past two decades. The good thing is that at the rate they are going they won’t have to worry about it. There are waiting lists for new Range Rovers and the Jaguar F-type is just drop dead gorgeous. With attractive lease rates, the Evoques have been appearing at newly constructed loft style condominiums everywhere.
No matter what your opinion on Evoque’s styling, it has clearly become part of the Land Rover design language, as seen in the new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. While the bigger vehicles have more masculine styling, this baby Rover looks striking and athletic, and therefore more appealing to the above mentioned ladies, who are clearly its target customers. Unlike Rovers of the past, this is form-over-function design. The slick sporty exterior lines have opposing effect on interior space, overall utility, and rear visibility, all of which have been Range Rover trademarks for due to their two-box design and large windows.
Front seats are comfortable but legroom and headroom are lacking for back seat passengers. Overall interior materials are nice, but not to the level of the big Range Rovers. The huge panoramic roof gives the cabin a very airy feel, but oddly enough it does not open. The infotainment system is the typical slow and outdated model seen on all JLR vehicles; it Bluetooths, in streams, it navs, it syncs, and it even offers some interesting options which I’d gladly trade for increased ease of use.
Some will find the round pop-up shifter irritating, but now that almost all automakers have switched to electronic shifters, I found it more acceptable. Below it is the AWD Terrain Response system and hill ascent control, which I have not had an opportunity to evaluate – and chances are that neither will most buyers. The rest of center console consists of are two cup-holders, two 12v receptacles, a cubby for your cell phone, and a storage bin capable of storing the fanciest of purses.
The direct-injected 2.0 liter turbo four-cylinder produces 240hp and 250lb-ft. The vehicle feels peppy above 2500rpm, but with the transmission is in D, it likes to up-shift early. This sometimes puts a delay in acceleration, as the transmission will hunt the proper gear out of the nine it has available. Turning the shifter knob to S makes things smoother, but it’s still best to avoid lower engine speeds. There are also paddle shifters but I can’t imagine anyone actually using them.
The 2014 Evoque is rated at 21mpg in the city and 30mpg on the highway, a slight increase from the past model years due to the new nine-speed transmission. Also new is the engine start/stop system, which is one of the most annoying things on any new car, but easily disabled with a press of dash mounted button. My real world numbers achieved on short, traffic infested city runs and enthusiastic highway runs in sport mode resulted in an average of about 22-24mpg.
The starting price for the Range Rover Evoque 5-door is $42,025. The pictured vehicle has the Pure Plus Package, Xenon/LED headlights, cameras everywhere, dub wheels, fancy leather, adaptive cruise control, contrasting black roof and a number of other gizmos. The price for this almost fully loaded Evoque is $59,140, which includes a destination charge.
The main goal of the Evoque was to attract new customers to the Land Rover dealership; those with smaller budgets, those who do not need a large SUV, and those who never considered a Land Rover before. It has achieved that goal with the lure of brand image, styling, and Posh Spice’s approval. Based on those facets alone, Land Rover will sell each one as fast as they can make them.
Kamil Kaluski is the east coast editor for Hooniverse.com. Read his ramblings on eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous car stuff there.
Land Rover provided the vehicle for this review.
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