Now in its second year of production for the North American market, the 2013 Range Rover Evoque exhibits an attitude and style not often associated with the Land Rover brand.
Like Audi and Mercedes-Benz endeavor to do with the upcoming 2015 A3 sedan and 2014 CLA , Land Rover is trying ever so hard to capture a younger demographic with a car that appeals to more contemporary styling sensibilities while also retaining the performance and off-roading characteristics that define the Land Rover brand.
Last year’s Range Rover Evoque proved it was more than capable of completing that task. The Range Rover might be the brand’s flagship of the past but the Evoque is slowly proving it is very much the flagship of the future.
Does the 2013 model suffer a sophomore slump or is it another excellent outing from the newcomer?
Tech treats that miss (some) beats
Like any luxury vehicle worth its salt, the 2013 Range Rover Evoque sports a pleasing array of tech features.
Sandwiched between the speedo and tachometer, sits a five-inch LCD display, which gives a digital readout out for the car’s fuel levels, temperature, gear position, trip info, and audio details (like the current music track playing). What’s more, the screen displays turn by-turn navigation directions, so rather than diverting my eyes from the road to the center console as I normally would, I merely had to glance down.
Speaking of the center console, it’s here we find the Evoque’s eight-inch high-resolution touchscreen. While most luxury vehicles employ a dial interface for their infotainment systems, Land Rover opted for the simplicity of touch.
Arguments can be made over which is better, but I don’t mind the Evoque’s interface. Large, easy-to-access buttons sit on each side of the screen, and there’s even an option to shut the screen off entirely while still retaining navigation and music functions.
The menus are also easy to navigate and smartly done, however, drivers unfamiliar with techier cars may take some time in order to fully acclimate themselves. I’m not suggesting whipping out the manual (heavens, no) but a few hours fiddling should suffice. The only downside here is how slow the interface felt at times. While menus were vivid, sporting some nifty animations to boot, the touchscreen had a tendency to lag whenever inputting addresses or shuffling through the various menus.
Beyond that, pairing my phone was easy, requiring just a few steps to get up to speed. The Evoque’s voice-recognition software is good and didn’t have any trouble understanding my directives when reading off contacts to call or addresses to enter.
The Evoque offers a good mix of audio options: iPod, AM/FM radio, HD Radio, Satellite Radio, on-board hard drive for music storage, and my personal favorite, Bluetooth audio streaming. There is no native app integration so to speak, which means no built-in Pandora in the menus.
The Evoque is exciting inside and out, from its aggressive, concept-like exterior to its luxurious cabin.
As I mentioned earlier, the Evoque doesn’t sport much in the way of advanced safety tech. There is no lane-departure warning, lane keeping assist, or even blind-spot monitoring.
There is, however, an optional 360-degree camera system that utilizes five digital cameras placed around the car: two at the front, one on each side, and one at the rear. These transmit images in real time to the car’s touchscreen, where they can then be viewed while driving, parking, and even while stuck in traffic.
While this is an awesome feature that will wow your friends; the Evoque’s small frame doesn’t really need it. This isn’t a car that’s hard to park or maneuver in tight spaces. You’ll need to spring for the $6,000 Premium Package to get it, though, which includes the HDD navigation system, upgraded sound system, among other goodies, so you might as well take advantage of it.
The Evoque might be an infant both in size and age compared to other, more established Land Rover models but it’s every bit as sophisticated. And while not included in my review car, an optional $600 park-assist feature that leverages the Evoque’s on-board sensors to park the car semi-autonomously – drivers need only operate the pedals – hammers that sophistication home rather nicely.
I just hope Land Rover packs those missing safety tech features in for the 2014 Evoque. With the sensors and cameras already there, there’s no reason to leave them out entirely.
Lost in leather
The 2013 Range Rover Evoque doesn’t carry the prestigious price tag of a Range Rover; you can buy two Evoques for the price of one Range Rover HSE. But it still comes with its fair share of luxurious appointments.
If you’re a fan of leather – actually, you know what, that’s none of my business – the Evoque is for you. While partial leather interior is standard, my review car came sporting the upgraded Prestige Premium package ($10, 400) which adds premium leather seating and an Oxford leather-wrapped dash. From the steering wheel to the seats, to the dash and shifter, every inch of the interior is wrapped in the stuff.
Everything about the Evoque’s exterior might suggest the practicality of an MC Escher painting made real, but on the inside it’s rather straightforward.
The center console divides the driver and passenger side rather defiantly and is of the “floating” variety, ascending toward the car’s dash. In place of a traditional shifter, The Evoque uses a rotary dial – a design lifted from its corporate cousin Jaguar. Not everyone will appreciate the dial aesthetic, but I absolutely love it.
In keeping with my love of all things twisty and turny, the controls for climate control are spot on: They’re large and easy to identify without having to take your eyes off the road. Most of the interior controls share this smart design, save for a microscopic volume control and steering wheel controls that take too much force to prod. The heated steering control button has also been inexplicably tucked behind the phone controls. What’s worse, during the day, it’s virtually impossible to tell whether you’ve turned it on or not.
Whether you’re a technophile or technophobe, operating the Evoque’s systems is simple.
While there is plenty of room up front, the second row is a different story. It’s not as cramped as it appears from the outside, but those that tower over my five-foot-eight frame won’t want to be back there for long. Thankfully, that slight feeling of claustrophobia is offset by what I believe to be the industry’s finest panoramic sunroof.
The Evoque comes standard with four doors, but a two-door variant is also available. While the two-door is the more stylish of the two, the four-door is undeniably more practical. I would only recommend the extra doors if you plan on frequently using the rear seats.
Evoque, Range Rover Evoque
There are two types of cars: Those that are fun to drive and those that are fun to look at. The 2013 Range Rover Evoque is both.
Let me put it this way for those of you who appreciate fashion. The Evoque is best summed up as Daniel Craig in a Tom Ford suit: ready to foil a hostile takeover at any moment whether it’s in a boardroom or some backwater eastern European country that in all likelihood ends in “stan.”
The front end is stout and aggressive, the flared wheel arches give it more muscle, and the raked roofline slicks back almost as perfectly as Pat Riley’s slippery do (sans the copious amount of hair gel). The contrasting roof color is mere icing on the cake.
Part of owning a luxury car is that feeling of invulnerability behind the wheel. And let’s be honest here, it’s thriving off the envy you feel every time you drive by everything else.
That is the essence of the Evoque. It’s different without being ostentatious; stylish without appearing vulgar. It exudes confidence and flair but it doesn’t crave your attention; it demands it.
And no matter where you are and no matter what the occasion, you’ll look good pulling up in this charismatic crossover.
Four-cylinders of fun and fuel economy
Land Rover offers but a single powertrain for the 2013 Evoque: a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Maximum horsepower is pegged at 240 with 250 pound-feet of torque.
Power makes it to all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission; but paddle shifters on each side of the steering wheel offer some manual control.
Four cylinders might make for an anemic Land Rover on paper but on the road the engine’s willingness to please is impressive.
Whether it was rocketing up a steep incline or overtaking the Honda Odyssey driving five miles below the speed limit in the left lane, the Evoque’s four-cylinder is up to the task.
Sadly, a bit of turbo lag rears its ugly head at times. Hammering down on the gas results in a reluctant Rover, but that’s easily remedied with a bit more finesse.
Unlike the other Range Rover vehicles that couldn’t give a toss about fuel economy, Land Rover envisioned the Evoque to be much more economical. And it shows. That humming four-cylinder spits out a respectable 20 mpg in the city, 28 on the highway, and 23 mpg combined.
Downtown on lockdown
On paved roads and city streets, the Evoque excels. Driving is smooth, quiet, and comfortable. The car exhibits an impressive level of agility thanks in large part to Land Rover’s extensive use of lightweight materials such as aluminum and a monocoque construction (as opposed to the old body-on-frame design). Point the wheel in a direction and the Evoque obeys without question.
Because of the Evoque’s size, zipping in and out of traffic is surprisingly easy as is navigating tight spaces around town; I never felt I was spilling over into another lane. Add to that the aforementioned optional 360-degree camera system and the Evoque is one of the few SUVs that actually makes sense in the city.
Because of the Evoque’s size, zipping in and out of traffic is surprisingly easy as is navigating tight spaces around town.
Still, while it’s not meant for true off-roading, the Evoque’s capabilities are impressive. Land Rover’s Terrain Response system separates the drivetrain into four different modes: normal, mud and ruts, sand, and snow. Rather than shifting, drivers need only press the corresponding buttons located on the center console below the gear dial. These technologies include Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Electronic Traction Control (ETC), Hill Descent Control (HDC), Hill Start Assist, and Roll Stability Control (RSC).
DSC helps combat over and understeer by blocking torque or applying the brakes to help drivers regain control of the vehicle. On slippery terrain where wheel slippage is common, this helps the Evoque maintain its composure. ETC operates similarly by optimizing traction, so if a wheel is spinning out of control, torque is then limited to that wheel and braking is applied automatically if necessary.
HDC lets the Evoque tackle some moderate inclines if your adventurous side gets the better of you. It works with the anti-lock braking system to limit the speed at each wheel while traveling down steep inclines. Rather than rolling forward in sharp, uncontrollable bursts, HDC helps maintain a controllable target speed.
Hill Start Assist is pretty self-explanatory. Whenever the Evoque is parked on a steep incline, the brakes are held for a few seconds to prevent the car from rolling backwards or forwards.
Finally, to stave off vehicle roll-over, the Evoque’s RSC system applies brakes to the outer wheels in order to widen its turn radius, thus preventing sharper turns that could negatively affect stability.
Despite not being able to explore the wilds like a “real” Range Rover, the Evoque offers enough excitement and utility for the vast majority of crossover shoppers.
It’s slight imperfections shouldn’t cause too much concern.
While it doesn’t pack a powerful V8 or even a V6 for that matter, its eager four-cylinder gets the job done. The laggy infotainment interface is also disappointing, but I’d describe it as more of an annoyance than an outright frustration. It’s also lacking the cutting-edge safety tech that so many luxury cars have, which is inadequate to me but may not matter to others.
Perhaps the Evoque’s greatest downfall is its price. It might start off at a reasonable $41,000, but my review car came closer to $60,000 with all the bells and whistles. Of course, you’re paying for the Land Rover name, so if that’s a real concern then other alternatives exist, albeit less exciting ones.
That’s really the selling point here. The Evoque is exciting inside and out, from its aggressive, concept-like exterior to its luxurious cabin. Rather than rely on novelty alone, the Evoque builds on it, making it one of the most dynamic cars on the market.
Simply put, the 2013 Range Rover Evoque is fun and versatile, so if you have the money to spare buy one and if you don’t, well, we can always dream together.
- Stylish design makes the Evoque one of the most provocative cars on the market
- Luxuriously appointed interior never fails to impress
- Turbocharged engine is surprisingly zippy and fuel efficient
- Larger-than-life exterior means less-than-ideal interior space
- Cost quickly adds up when adding options
- Lacking some standard safety tech