Walkaround and Interior

By April 9, 2013

Walkaround

The Range Rover Evoque is about the same size as the Audi Q3, which is not sold in the U.S., and just slightly smaller than the BMW X1. Evoque is six inches shorter than the Mercedes-Benz GLK, and more than 10 inches shorter than the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, and BMW X3. Diminutive dimensions are a plus in urban environments, as well as in rugged terrain.

The Evoque coupe and five-door bodies are nearly identical in dimensions. They ride on the same 104.8-inch wheelbase. They are the same overall length, 171.5 inches. They are the same width: 77.4 inches. Measuring 64.4 inches tall, the five-door models are 1.2 inches taller than the coupes.

Evoque's sassy exterior design began with the LRX, a 2-door concept unveiled at the 2008 North American International Automobile Show in Detroit. It was intended primarily as a statement by the company's new design chief, Gerry McGovern. With its back-slanting roofline, rising beltline, and short overhangs, the LRX looked a little like a large scale Mini Cooper, an impression fortified by the option of contrasting roof colors, a design distinction the Mini has used effectively. Uniformly enthusiastic response by show-goers quickly moved the LRX out of the dream car category into production reality. And the production Evoque held very much to the LRX concept.

Launched as a 2012 model, the Evoque is leading a redesign of the entire Land Rover lineup. An all-new Range Rover followed as a 2013 model and the Range Rover Sport is following as a 2014.

The Evoque has the same 108.4-inch wheelbase as the Land Rover LR2. At 171.5 inches long, however, the Evoque is shorter than the LR2, its sloping roofline is some four to five inches lower, and it is distinctly wider, 77.4 inches versus 75.1.

With its relatively low roofline, wide stance, not much vehicle extending beyond the axles at either end, the Evoque has an eager, sporty look that's unique in this class.

The minimum ground clearance, 8.5 inches, is at the front axle; rear axle clearance adds an inch, and the Evoque can safely ford water up to 19.7 inches deep without inhaling any of it.

The downside to the Evoque's dramatic styling is at the rear of the vehicle. The sloping roofline and ascending beltline conspire to compromise rearward vision, and sightlines in the rear quarters are limited.

On the other hand, if style wasn't important, we'd all be driving cars that look like the old Checker Marathon taxicabs. For someone who wants a compact luxury crossover that's a departure from the rectilinear mainstream, the Evoque merits a longer look.

Interior Features

Evoque is handsomely appointed and attractively designed. The materials are quite nice, but long-time Range Rover buyers may not think they live up to the name. While the dashboard, door panels and armrests are all soft to the touch, they don't match the quality of the Range Rover flagship model ($83,500), and everything from the glovebox down is hard plastic. The interior quality is about what we expect for this class, but it's not appreciably better than the competition and it doesn't quite live up to the high prices Land Rover asks for the Evoque.

The control layout is effective and fairly easy to use. Land Rover provides a couple of five-way controllers on the steering wheel to control the radio and trip computer, and the low-set climate controls and rotating gearshift are self-explanatory. The center console angles up toward the center stack, absorbing some of its controls and making them easier to reach.

An 8-inch screen dominates the dashboard offering an array of telematics. Digging through the controls on this screen may take some time, but it is intuitive. An available five-camera system shows a 360-degree view on this screen; it is quite handy in tight places. For 2013, Land Rover adds off-road information to this screen on models equipped with navigation. It provides such information as topographic contour lines, latitude, longitude, altitude, trace, waypoint, and compass functions, all of which will be appreciated by experienced off-roaders.

Interior roominess is surprising given the stylish, sloping roof. There's good rear-seat headroom, even in the three-door coupe. The five-door has 39.7 inches of headroom in the back seats, while the Evoque Coupe has 38.2 inches. Passengers over six-foot-two might find their hair brushing the ceiling, but leg room is plentiful and the brawny width creates plenty of room, front and rear, to squirm around on longish trips. Evoque is comfortable for four. It seats five and has seat belts for five, but its rear center seat is a spot you'd reserve for people you didn't like. It's comfortable for four, not five.

The front seats are supportive enough to hold occupants in place during aggressive driving and they offer lots of room. The five-door has 40.3 inches of headroom, and the coupe has 39.1 inches, both of which are plenty for just about anyone.

Cargo capacity is 20.3 cubic feet of stowage with the rear seats up, 51 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flat. That's slightly better than maximum cargo capacity for the BMW X1. These subcompact SUVs offer less cargo capacity than that of the larger, compact SUVs. The Mercedes GLK-Class, the next size up, offers 23 cubic feet behind the rear seats, 55 cubic feet with the seats folded down, two more boxes measuring one foot in all dimensions. The Evoque Coupe has less space, with 19.4 cubic feet with the seats up and 47.6 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded.