2013 Range Rover Evoque

The Evoque has helped transform Range Rover. It accounts for a huge increase in company sales, and most who buy it are new to the brand. It set the style for the fullsize and Sport models that debuted over the past year as well. As good as it is—and make no mistake, it is one very engaging crossover—some below the skin irritations are beginning to make themselves noticed now, after its freshness has begun to wear off.

The Evoque still looks absolutely terrific, with a beefy sportiness denied to more utilitarian vehicles like the Audi Q5 and BMW X3. And despite its svelte roofline, it is quite accommodating inside, with plenty of room for four adults and a decent cargo area. In super-slick three-door form, it can be hard to access the back bench, but the five-door model (tested) is fine for family duty. Helping matters is a huge, fixed plate of glass overhead, which floods the high-concept interior with light. Quality inside—even on the more basic trim packages—is excellent, and there is enough standard equipment to justify the Range Rover name.

Tech-wise, the Evoque lags a bit, with a touch-screen based infotainment system that isn’t as fast responding as the German systems; the optional Meridian sound system is superb but ruthlessly revealing of low-quality or poorly recorded music.

The biggest issue was that, at just over 6,000 miles, the test Evoque had a plethora of squeaks emanating from its structure. These seemed to come mainly from the door seals, and revealed themselves when you drove at an angle into a driveway or any incline. As the Range Rover’s structure feels otherwise very robust, it is hard to account for this, and it is possible it was an aberration of the test vehicle.

What takes some of the polish off all Evoques is the engine/transmission pairing. While the 240hp 2-liter is hard-charging once boost builds, it suffers from substantially more turbo lag than the two Teutonic competitors, and doesn’t come close to their real-world fuel economy either. Rover will be addressing this with a switch to a rumored nine-speed automatic transmission soon; hopefully this will help. As things stand, it is hard to smoothly accelerate under normal conditions with the current six-speed automatic and the engine programming.

Otherwise the Evoque is a blast, with the handling of something ostensibly much sportier, terrific body control, and true off-road credentials—which said competitors can’t match. And as Range Rover has made huge strides in reliability, it now comes close to matching the other establishment players as a long-term prospect, while simply crushing them in aesthetic appeal.

EPA ratings: 20/28mpg; 23 combined
Price as tested: $50,225
Here is what Range Rover has to say about the Evoque.

Colorado AvidGolfer is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. It publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via www.coloradoavidgolfer.com.