Equipped to the Nines
The last time we checked in with the Range Rover Evoque, it had come fresh off winning Motor Trend’s 2012 SUV of the Year. It also carried us through a year of outdoor adventures as one of the beloved vehicles in our long-term fleet. But three years change everything in the auto industry; in that amount of time, Hummers went in and out of style and the Chevy Colorado emerged from relative obscurity to become a staple in its segment. So how well has the baby Rover weathered the seasons?
The Evoque was a rare sight when it first came out, but now more common to catch those cat-eye headlights and that strangely sexy clamshell hood in your rearview mirror. Especially in L.A. Sales of the Evoque reached 1,706 last year, making this the second best selling model in the Land Rover lineup in Canada. However, the Evoque is now a top-selling Land Rover model worldwide, with more than 400,000 sales since its launch in mid-2011.
Beginning in the 2014 model year, the Rover went through a series of changes, including bringing in a ZF-developed nine-speed automatic to replace the old six-cogger. Along with the new transmission, the baby Rover gained a few pounds, added optional heated rear seats, cast aside the DVD entertainment system, and made a few other minor packaging changes. The standard engine here remains a 2.0-liter, 240-hp turbo inline-four.
In our tests, we found the 2015 Evoque a bit slower than the previous model we tested. Lagging behind in 0-30 mph tests, our four-cylinder 2015 Evoque also hit 60 mph in 7.4 seconds, slower than the 7.0 seconds we logged on the long-term 2012 model. Quarter-mile numbers were also slower, down from 15.3 seconds in 2012 to 15.8 seconds for the new model. Our model tipped in at 4,053 pounds, up from the 3,915-pound Evoque we tested in 2012. (Both were from the same trim level, for what it’s worth.)
Although it’s slower, our new model is also more fuel efficient, presumably helped by the new transmission. In our Real MPG tests, the 2015 Evoque averaged 22.1 mpg in combined city and highway tests, up from the old model’s 20.1 mpg. Not bad. But both numbers were slightly below EPA ratings, which come in at 24 mpg for the new model and 22 mpg for the old version.
Numbers are only part of the story, but they mirrored our real-world experiences. The nine-speed feels laggy at low speeds, and our tests discovered it was particularly slow between 5 to 10 mph compared to the old model. And once you’re on the move, you can definitely feel the transmission jolt a bit too eagerly between gears. Along with vague steering at moderate speeds, the jumpy transmission diminished the drive experience, albeit only slightly. Combine this with an overly stiff ride and the noise that permeates through the cabin, and it’s apparent that the Range Rover behaves a bit brusquely compared to other crossovers in its class. That said, power delivery is sharp, particularly when zipping down the highway, and Sport mode really makes a difference in the overall drive feel. Sharp corners can be conquered with unparalleled poise, which, along with the supportive seats in the cabin, made us feel safe and secure.
Speaking of the cabin, the interior is pure visual ambrosia. Red and black materials contrast with aluminum accents for an indulgent look, although a touch test reveals there are a few too many hard plastics on the door panels. Headroom in back accommodates most passengers, a welcome surprise given the crossover’s sloped rear shape. Our only real gripe is the infotainment system, which remains unresponsive to both touch and button controls.
The Evoque is well-equipped on the base level, priced at $42,025, but our model was the top-of-the-line Dynamic trim (Autobiography trim level for Canada tops out starts at $64,595). In addition to more typical features, such as power leather seats with lumbar and the model’s standard Snow, Mud, and Sand modes, the Dynamic also ushers in a choice of interior color schemes, a climate package with heated rear seats, unique contrast stitching on the leather upholstery, sport exhaust tips, and aluminum pedals. All in all, our model rang in at $61,070.
Amid all the changes over the years, the Evoque came through strong in our test. Our opinion of the model hasn’t dimmed, but with the chance to test out a whole range of evolved competitors in the segment (such as the Lexus NX, Audi Q5, and other models), our perception of the unique strengths and weaknesses of this compact crossover has changed. Since the baby Rover first roamed the blocks, it has increased its appeal with everyday buyers by providing better fuel economy, which is now on par with other all-wheel-drive contenders in its class. Its ride may not be as refined, but its off-road capability is still unique to the segment. For the 2016 model year, Range Rover promises a slew of updates, including a redesigned grille, adaptive full-LED headlights, a brand-spankin’ new 8-inch touchscreen with swiping features, and new safety technologies.
|2015 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$61,070|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||2.0L/240-hp/250-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||4,053 lb (58/42%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||171.9 x 74.8 x 64.4 in|
|0-60 MPH||7.4 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||15.8 sec @ 87.5 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||115 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.86 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||26.7 sec @ 0.79 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||21/30/24 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||160/112 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.80 lb/mile|
|REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB||19.4/26.6/22.1 mpg|