The Range Rover Evoque is a unique car, tiny yet sophisticated, luxurious and stylish. For the mountain traveler, it offers four-wheel drive and offroad capability, sort of an offroad sports car.
It’s small for an SUV, and light, at only 3600 pounds. So the handling is nimble.
For 2018, Evoque gets a new engine to go with its smooth 9-speed automatic transmission, as well as some new available trim.
Evoque doesn’t have any exact rivals, due to its small size. It’s closest to the BMW X1.
The 2018 Evoque replaces the previous Ford-built engine with one built by Jaguar Land Rover. Like the Ford engine, it’s a turbocharged 2.0-liter four cylinder making 237 horsepower (compared to 240 hp). But now there’s also a more powerful version with more turbo boost, making 286 horsepower.
Evoque comes standard with what Land Rover calls Active Driveline, with active differentials and torque vectoring. The system decouples the rear wheels above 22 mph, and re-couples them within 300 milliseconds whenever drive is needed from the rear. For rugged terrain, All-Terrain Progress Control makes the vehicle crawl at any slow speed the driver sets, so the driver can focus on steering around rocks or trees or whatever. In addition to all-wheel drive, Evoque comes with hill descent control and trailer stability assist.
The Evoque is wildly more capable offroad than most could imagine. On the road, it is composed, with an easy ride. The convertible looks sporty but it’s no sports car.
2018 models come in five-door versions, including Evoque SE ($41,800), SE Premium ($45,900), Landmark Edition ($48,400), HSE ($51,100), HSE Dynamic ($54,300), and Autobiography ($62,600). The 286-horsepower engine is available for the HSE Dynamic ($57,300) and Autobiography ($65,500).
Evoque SE gets leather, navigation, automatic climate control, infotainment with an 8.0-inch touchscreen, 12-way power front seats, front and rear parking sensors, and 18-inch wheels. SE Premium models add LED accent lighting; a gesture-operated tailgate; and driver’s seat memory; and the InControl Touch Plus infotainment system, with an 8.0-inch touchscreen.
HSE brings Oxford leather seats; heated front seats; a fixed panoramic glass sunroof; automatic high beams; and blind-spot monitors.
Dynamic models get a special Dynamic Mode for the Adaptive Dynamics system, and are distinguished by illuminated tread plates, bright exhaust finishers, a rear spoiler, and a perforated leather steering wheel.
Autobiography gets a panoramic moonroof, 10-inch infotainment, premium audio, in-seat massagers, and a surround-view camera system.
Available equipment includes forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, a mode that lets the Evoque follow the vehicle ahead in stop-and-go traffic, and adaptive cruise control. Also an 825-watt Meridian audio system; keyless ignition; a surround-view camera system; and a heated windshield and steering wheel. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
The Evoque looks like a chopped and channeled hot rod that flew half a century into the future. It’s definitely dramatic, with stylish sheetmetal that gives it the air of high fashion. The bottom half is blunt like an SUV, the middle is crisply folded over a linear beltline, and the roof sweeps back like a coupe or sedan.
The grille is less high fashion and more cow-bar. The wheel arches are powerful. The glass is pinched at the rear, with black pillars that are erased over a high windowline. It wraps to a bobbed and canted rear deck with glittery taillamps.
Behind the second row, there’s a reasonable but not bountiful 20 cubic feet of cargo room that expands to 51 cubic inches with the seats down. Keep in mind this is a compact SUV. It works best for two people with the rear seats folded down for cargo.
The cabin is sleek but simple, and richly detailed. A number of interesting interior trims are available, from cool metallic to warm wood. The shapes and cues all say Range Rover, as does the instrument panel. Ambient LED lighting turns red to let you know you’re in Sport mode.
The front seats are handsome in their standard leather trim, comfortable and fairly well bolstered. Most Evoque models have a sunroof, which cuts into headroom. If you want a massage, buy the option and you can get one without ever leaving the comfort of your car.
Storage cubbies are strong; there’s a large center console with cupholders under a sliding top, a reasonably roomy glove box, door-panel pockets, and a relatively deep bin below the armrest.
Land Rover’s latest infotainment system is a massive upgrade from its prior setup, but it’s not without some sluggish responses.
The stylish high rear deck destroys rearward vision, so the optional surround-view camera is a good idea, to supplement the rearview camera.
The Evoque moves quickly and confidently, behind its solid powertrain. The 9-speed transmission is shared with other manufacturers that haven’t calibrated their versions as well; in the Evoque it shifts smoothly, skipping the hesitation we’ve found in other cars with the same unit, though we don’t love it. The transmission helps with the fuel mileage, with those tall top gears.
The handling is car-like, nimble and balanced, with electric power steering that responds crisply to light inputs, as does its independent suspension; so keep an eye out for the light, crisp bumps. With the Dynamic package, adaptive magnetic dampers offer improved ride quality and body control. The torque-vectoring system reduces understeer in hard corners.
For trail riding, the short overhangs and good ground clearance enable the Evoque to ride over obstacles. We got some seat time offroad, and the Evoque did as much as any other compact crossover we’ve driven. For the most part, the Evoque has the off-road ability owners seek. The standard Terrain Response system has Normal, Snow, Mud & Ruts, and Sand modes.
The unique and stylish Evoque could be a winner for some. It doesn’t promise anything that it doesn’t deliver. Superb 9-speed automatic. Beautiful cabin with room in front. Rear better for cargo than people.
Sam Moses contributed to this review, with staff reports.