RANGE ROVER 2014 EVOQUE UPS DRIVING PANACHE
By Tom Crosby
Land Rover’s sleek Range Rover Evoque doesn’t alter its appealing look for 2014 and adds some driving panache with a new nine-speed automatic transmission that can also be manipulated manually with steering wheel paddles.
It produces a spirited get-up-and-go, although the transmission in our pre-production test drive had some occasional strong transmission shifts when stopped that undoubtedly will be smoothed out in the production model.
We drove the five-door model, although a spiffy coupe is also available, adding extra miles per gallon with the new transmission and the Evoque’s Active Driveline, which reduces driveline drag switching from 4WD to 2WD at speeds above 22 mph.
That increases miles per gallon in the Evoque, which has won 120 international awards since it’s refurbishing in 2012, and while it is the smallest vehicle built by Land Rover, it is one of the company’s most popular and most fuel-efficient.
Evoque also has active torque biasing and vectoring that shuffles torque and power between rear wheels for excellent handling and stability, especially off-road, where Evoque is comfortable with its 8.3 inches of ground clearance.
There are five model choices ranging from Pure ($41,995) to Prestige ($56,295) to Dynamic ($57,195), with differences in alloy wheel-sizes, minor exterior details and inside trim.
Our Prestige test-drive had 20-inch wheels, leather everywhere and evenly spaced interior white stitching similar to a high-end Jaguar, which like Land Rover, is owned by Indian Tata Motors.
Spritely with its 4-cylinder engine, Evoque rides well, handles confidently on and off-road, and is spacious enough for four adults, tight for three seated in the rear.
Rear visibility is somewhat restricted due to the high, stylish beltline and road/tire noise intruded into the cabin.
The navigation system is easily used – with unique off-road info like topographic contours – and voice connections were understood without constant repetition.
Safety features are strong, helped by high-strength Boron steel used in the vehicle’s crash safety cell.
The dashboard screen is loaded with information, much of it voice-activated, and the steering wheel is studded with controls, including the manual shift paddles.
There are several ambient color choices, a control knob that rises when the engine is started, a choice of five different driving modes and high beams that automatically dim when oncoming vehicle lights are detected. Cargo space is marginal but adequate.
Neat features include large puddle lights beneath the side mirrors displaying a sketch of the car and a small storage area behind the center console.
LIKES: Looks, handling, ride, off-road prowess
DISLIKES: Rear visibility, noise
BOTTOM LINE: Beautifully designed, it should be popular on its looks alone
- Base price plus destination fee $57,190
- Curb weight 3,680 lbs.
- Wheelbase 104.8 inches
- Length 171.5 inches
- Width 82.3 inches
- Engine specs 2.0 liter, 4-cylinder, turbo charged, VVT
- Horsepower 240 hp at 5,500 rpms
- Torque 250 ft.-lbs. at 4,000 rpms
- Transmission 9-speed automatic/manual paddles
- EPA Rating 21 mpg city, 30 mpg hwy
- Range 18.5 gallons
- Performance 0-60 in 7.1 seconds