Do you want a car with a nice interior and a nice view that doesn't make you look like an asshole? Buy this Evoque. It won't be cheap.
(Full Disclosure: Land Rover wanted me to drive the Evoque so bad they gave one to Travis. Travis was busy driving another car so he handed me the keys to the Evoque for the weekend. I used it to drive my 94-year-old grandma, my parents, and my sister around Staten Island. There was a lot of backseat driving.)
I am not the kind of guy who is in the market for a Range Rover Evoque. I don't like the idea of riding around in what looks to be a crossover designed to drive from tanning salons to health clubs across Beverly Hills.
But I do like the idea of a high-riding, comfortable, luxury vehicle that seats five, so I got my 94 year old grandma, my parents, and my sister to fill up the Evoque for a short road trip. We were going to drive from my grandma's apartment in Fort Lee, New Jersey just about 45 minutes south to Staten Island. My grandma grew up on Staten Island, and she's old enough that she grew up on a farm, though the island is all suburban now. She hadn't been back to her old home in I don't know how many decades, so it was going to be a treat.
The real test of the car would be if it could keep everyone comfortable and interested enough to keep from fighting with each other. Also, it had to be comfy enough for my grandma, who is not exactly spry.
How'd it do? Not bad.
The Evoque is a tasteful, well-proportioned crossover without too many squiggles or creases or chrome strips like you find on its competition. That greatly decreases its score on the Cock-o-Meter, for all of you Top Gear fans out there. Also, for such a chunky crossover, the Evoque looks smaller than it is.
It's one of the first attractive interpretations of the posh cute ute body style, but it still looks slightly off to my eye from a higher angle. It almost looks unfinished. But look at it from the front, back, or a 1/4 or 3/4 view, and it's superb. Really nice looking for a little crossover.
Is it a design classic? No. Is it reasonably handsome? Yeah.
In black with no sunroof, the interior would be dark, cramped, and boring. In white with that full-length sunroof it's fucking excellent. It's light, it's open, and it seats five with room to spare.
Everything feels nice and even smells nice, too. At stop lights I would run my hand over the leather-wrapped top of the dashboard just because.
If I was going to have to pick one thing I didn't like, it was that the black plastic surrounding the instrument cluster was completely generic. If Land Rover has the money to fit the tiny air vent to the left of the steering wheel column in brushed aluminum, you'd think they'd have the money to leather-wrap the inside of the instrument binnacle or something.
But just look at that sunroof. I want every non-sports car to have this roof.
You don't buy an Evoque for the motor, but the turbo 2.0 liter four is not bad at all. You get a very faint growl if you mash the gas, and it feels torquey if you're really on it. The specs are 240 horsepower and 251 lb-ft of torque at a nice 1,750 rpm. The claimed zero to sixty is 7.1 seconds.
Most of the time though, you just cruise on at part throttle, and the car always provides as much speed as you need. It's never troubled and never feels out of breath, but it's not a very powerful car.
It's comfortable, if a little firm. Slow down a bit and it conquers potholes and cobblestones, speed up and it takes expansion joints with only a light clunk. It's nowhere near as comfortable as a limo, but at least it's not crashy like a sports car, either. Most importantly, it feels tied down and never wallows, which is commendable for something its size.
It's got a smooth ride, but it's more competent than exemplary.
This is no sports car, but the Evoque handles fine on the road. Hammer it on an on or off ramp and it doesn't lose its shit, take it on a twisty road at respectable speeds and it doesn't float or wobble. The steering is light and doesn't feel like anything, but there isn't any play and it's pretty precise.
I've driven a BMW X6M, which is about as sporty as SUVs get. The Evoque doesn't make you feel like you can pound the road into oblivion with massive grip like the BMW does, but the Evoque also doesn't feel detached or scary when pushed, either.
I didn't get any chance to go more offroad than some smooth gravel next to a cemetery. My grandma grew up on a farm across from a cemetery in Staten Island and her grandpa held services at the cemetery office. That's where we went to visit, pointing out how just about every single thing near where she grew up was gone, save for all of those graves and a bakery down the street.
The Evoque has paddles, which I always find fun to play with given that my own car has a crude old manual with four on the floor. Sadly, the Evoque wouldn't let me do things like try and take off from third. In retrospect, that's probably a good thing for the average Evoque buyer.
Annoyingly, however, if you are going from a very low crawl to about two thirds throttle, the car likes to awkwardly drop a gear if the car is in drive. This is exactly the kind of situation you find yourself in when you're on a highway that has traffic lights on it, such as the West Side Highway or just about any large road in LA. It repeatedly pissed me off.
If you panic brake in the Evoque, it will bring you to a stop in a hurry. Sometimes you will find yourself making a panic stop coming into a parking space in front of a noted Staten Island Polynesian restaurant that serves drinks in pineapples with umbrellas. This is because your sister is talking to your dad who is giving advice to your mom and oh shit you're about to hit the curb and if you scratch this press car you are so fired.
It's at those moments the Evoques brakes feel a little grabby, but that's probably not the brakes' fault.
We at Jalopnik give some cars great audio scores for their beautiful exhaust notes. The Evoque is not getting that kind of score. Most of the time you can only faintly hear the turbo motor.
But that's not really a bad thing. The whole Evoque is pretty quiet, actually, and the sound system was great.
The interface, though, was far from perfect. It could never read my sister's USB stick full of music, despite my dad's numerous attempts to get it to work. And my dad is a pretty capable computer interface guy. He knows how to use things like Facebook and the Internet.
In the time I had with the Evoque, the standout feature was the GPS. Without it, I would have gotten lost about seven times on that drive from my grandma's apartment in New Jersey to Staten Island. Admittedly, that was mainly due to my mom backseat driving the whole way and then my dad meta-backseat driving her backseat driving while my sister tried to diffuse the whole situation. It was nice to have a calm voice that reminded me to bear left in 600 feet or whatever. It also showed the upcoming turns in a little LCD screen between the tach and the speedo, which was trick.
On the way back, the GPS wanted to route me through Newark, though, which was completely wrong.
The Evoque's power tailgate worked fine, and the backup camera was pretty convenient, but the main 8" touchscreen wasn't super easy to use and nor was the interface intuitive.
My grandmother thought this car cost $25,000 so by her standard, the $54,488 pricetag was unreasonably hefty. When I asked her how much she thought a Cadillac cost, she said something in the mid teens, so we don't need to go with her opinion.
In the end you have a crossover that has no glaring faults on the road but looks handsome, respectable, and less douchey than a BMW, Merc, or Audi. If you buy one of these instead of am Audi Q5, I will personally come to your house and give you a pat on the back.
That's only true if you get your Evoque with the white leather interior and the giganto sunroof though. Otherwise I will call you a Posh Spice wannabe loser who only drives between the health club, the spa, and some brunch cafe you saw on Real Housewives.
But seriously the Evoque is pretty good. Go ahead and get one.
Engine: 2.0 Liter Turbo Four
Power: 240 HP at 5,500 RPM/ 251 LB-FT at 1,750 RPM
Transmission: Six Speed Automatic
0-60 Time: 7.1 seconds
Top Speed: 135 mph
Drivetrain: All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight: 3,902 LBS
Seating: 5 people
MPG: 20 City/28 Highway/23 Combined
MSRP: $42.040 ($54,488 As Tested)