2017 Range Rover Evoque Tested: Style Over Practicality ""
Posted on: May 17, 2017

It doesn’t take much to explain the appeal of the Range Rover Evoque. Just look at it. Nearly 10 years after the LRX concept that inspired it arrived on the scene, the Evoque still turns heads. Its proportions and detailing make it arguably the most avant-garde member of Land Rover’s stylish Range Rover lineup.

High-riding automotive style statements are in vogue right now, and the Evoque is selling well despite its age. The addition of a bizarre convertible variant has helped; the two- and four-door hatchback models also received an exterior update and some new tech features for 2016, and a transmission transplant for 2014 brought a new nine-speed automatic.

Dressed to Impress

What you see here is a four-door Evoque in its mid-level HSE trim finished in fetching Kaikoura Stone paint with an Ebony and Ivory leather interior that would make Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder proud. Range Rover has added several trim levels recently, meaning you can pay absurd amounts of money for this diminutive fashion statement—upward of $65,000 for loaded Autobiography models.

Our test car stickered for an eye-widening $57,592. That included plenty of money for cosmetic upgrades, such as $595 for metallic paint and $650 for a contrasting black roof. Other extras included $2700 for a Driver Assistance Plus package with a head-up display and adaptive LED headlights; $500 for a Cold Climate Convenience package with a heated steering wheel and windshield; $750 for HD radio and SiriusXM satellite radio; and $402 for a Protection package including rubber floor mats.

With a sticker like that, the Evoque nearly prices itself beyond the realm of other small luxury SUVs such as the BMW X1 and the Mercedes-Benz GLA, both of which barely crest $50,000 when fully loaded. It is dimensionally similar, however, and is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four, like most of its closest rivals.

The Cost of Beauty

In our testing, the Evoque’s performance was distinctly average for its class, the turbo four combining with the nine-speed to get the portly 4059-pound crossover to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds. That lags behind the aforementioned BMW and Mercedes models but beats the Lexus NX and the Audi Q3.

The Range Rover does not feel as if it lacks power on the road, where it’s responsive to throttle inputs. Actually, the transmission proves the main inhibitor to smooth forward progress. This nine-speed automatic has its hiccups: first-to-second upshifts are sometimes abrupt, and the gearbox often gets confused when you lift off the throttle and then press it again in quick succession. And it doesn’t earn its keep in terms of fuel economy. The Evoque achieved a disappointing 25 mpg in our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test, 4 mpg below its EPA highway rating. The lighter X1 and GLA hit 29 mpg and 34 mpg in the same test.

You don’t feel the heft when you throw the Evoque into corners. Precise, light steering helps with maneuverability, and body motions are well controlled for such a high-riding vehicle. We measured the height of the driver’s H-point—or hip point, where the hips rest in the seat—at 27.6 inches, nearly four inches higher than the X1 and the GLA. Relatively soft damping seems intended to give the Evoque a plush ride like larger Range Rovers, but it doesn’t quite work. The vehicle’s short 104.7-inch wheelbase means that the ride can sometimes get choppy over broken pavement. Our test car’s 19-inch wheel package avoided the harsh impacts that you might find on Evoques equipped with the optional 20-inch wheels and lower-profile tires, however.

Compromise Central

The Evoque’s nicely appointed cabin is a closer approximation of what you’ll find in its six-figure siblings. The leather is soft, the dashboard is covered in an interestingly textured soft-touch material, and the new 10.2-inch touchscreen has a sleek, futuristic appearance.

Beyond that surface-level appeal, however, the Evoque falls short on functionality. That attractive touchscreen’s menus can be convoluted, a north-up map orientation can’t be locked in, and it lacks key features such as voice control for the navigation system. Also, the Evoque’s chopped-roof look unsurprisingly robs cargo space and rear-seat room. Those back seats are cramped and slightly claustrophobic, and there’s only 20 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats up. A tiny rear window and large D-pillars limit rear visibility to a small slot in the rearview mirror, too.

Like many luxury vehicles, this is a car you buy because of the way it makes you feel and the way others look at you when you’re driving it. The sacrifices that the Evoque requires, both monetarily and in terms of practicality, will be worth it for some—just as with most style statements.