Once in a while, we find ourselves compiling long lists of competitors to the car or truck we recently test-drove. Not so with the Range Rover Evoque — a luxurious yet fuel-efficient compact SUV that’s at home on the highway, in the woods, on the tight turns of a mountain road, or even on a city street.
Oh, there are other compact SUVs, but good luck finding one that does everything the Evoque does, does it as well, and looks as good while doing it.
The sales figures suggest America has discovered the smallest, most stylish member of the Land Rover/Range Rover family. Sales totaled 12,440 for 2014, a 9 percent increase over the previous model year.
Available in 3-door or 5-door configuration, the Evoque has just one engine and transmission combination — a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline Four, with 9-speed shiftable automatic transmission. The base 5-door model starts at $41,100. But Range Rover offers a long and alluring list of expensive options. In the case of our Santorini Black test car, they bulked up the bottom line to the tune of $62,970.
The small print reveals an impressive list of standard features, including front and rear parking distance control with rear-view camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, electronic cruise control, power front seats, push-button start, and 8-inch high-resolution touch-screen. Befitting its ancestry, the Evoque comes standard with Range Rover’s Terrain Response System, which adjusts the all-wheel-drive system to deal with snow, mud, sand and normal conditions. The Evoque’s relatively compact size makes it a desirable off-road companion.
For the price of a 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage DE with an option or two, Range Rover adds the Dynamic Premium Package. It includes add-ons many drivers would never notice, let alone use. Fortunately, it’s possible to get many of the most desirable features a la carte — which isn’t to say they’re cheap. For example, satellite and high-definition radio costs $750; the blind-spot monitor (with related safety equipment), $2,250. But the latter option isn’t available on the base (“Pure”) model.
It should be, because the view out the back of this highly stylized vehicle is restricted by the receding rear roofline and high beltline. Tall drivers who move the seat well away from the pedals also will find the B-pillar blocks their view to the left rear.
Our test car had the blind-spot monitor, and we were glad it did.
Despite the challenges presented by the car’s shape, the Evoque is more enjoyable to drive than any compact SUV we’ve driven. The handling is sharp and precise, with little body lean in the corners. Small though it is, the engine is responsive and not unduly noisy. The ride is acceptably smooth, and opting for smaller tires — our test car had 20-inch rubber — would make it even more composed.
While quarters are tight if not claustrophobic for back-seat passengers, the front is roomy and comfortable, with plenty of room side to side.
(Steven Macoy ([email protected]) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel, Conn.)
Engine: 2.0-liter inline Four, 240 horsepower, 250 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: shiftable 9-speed automatic
Ground clearance: 8.4 in.
Weight: 3,902 lb.
Suspension: MacPherson strut front and rear
Wheels: 20-in. Forged Gloss Black Alloy (optional)
Max. towing capacity: 3,500 lb.
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 20.3 cu. ft.
Maximum cargo capacity: 51 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 18.5 gal.
Fuel economy: 21 mpg city, 30 mpg highway
Fuel type: premium unleaded (recommended)