There’s no question Range Rover and Land Rover vehicles are the most capable off-road SUVs on the planet. If you’ve ever seen a Camel Trophy competition, you know we speak the truth. And while every Range Rover vehicle easily can tackle the mud, snow, sand and grit of the rugged outback, they are equally at home fighting the loose gravel, dirt and rain water we face almost everyday in the city.
The newest Range Rover in the lineup, the Evoque, is definitely more of a light off-road vehicle, and in its lifetime probably will never see more than a slight dusting from a temporarily unpaved road. But thanks to the Evoque’s Terrain Response® System, even the worst conditions won’t pose any problems for those who fear the elements.
So how does the Terrain Response® System (TRS) work, and why do we need it? TRS is designed to adapt the responses of the engine and other systems in order to provide optimum drivability for the terrain. This means delivering maximum traction while maintaining a comfortable ride.
Unlike its beefier brethren that feature separate transfer cases and multiple (confusing to owners) gear levers and switches, the Evoque features a pushbutton selection of terrains options that can be used off road, in inclement weather and over poor road conditions.
On the center console is a pictograph bar flanked by left/right arrow buttons that change the programs. There are four settings: General Driving, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud and Ruts and Sand. There’s one more Dynamic setting, but that’s for the Evoque equipped with Adaptive Dynamics.
In order to provide the best combination of ride and control, TRS interacts with myriad vehicle systems on the Evoque, such as engine management, dynamic stability control, traction control, hill descent control and the transmission.
This is the everyday, no-drama mode setting. In this mode, the engine management control does nothing out of the ordinary with the powertrain mapping. Same goes for the traction and stability control programs, as well as the transmission.
When the flurries start flying and the open meadows call, this setting will tell the engine management system to add torque more gradually to help reduce wheelspin. The traction and stability control systems are adjusted to be more sensitive to wheelslip, and the hill-descent control system switches from off to on. In addition, the transmission will start in second or third gear, and will shift up quicker for added torque delivery.
Mud and Ruts
When that romantic Christmas snow turns into an ugly January mud bath, this is the setting you want. The engine provides progressive torque delivery; the ESC and traction control lower the sensitivity to wheelslip, and the hill-descent control switches to on. The transmission also is set to deliver the optimum shift program to help the driver maintain control in this slippery situation.
This setting is perfect for weekend fun on the dunes. The engine management system tells the engine to provide a more aggressive response to throttle inputs, varies the traction and stability control programs continuously depending on vehicle speed, and turns off hill-descent control. It also tells the transmission to hold onto the gears longer but downshift sooner to work in conjunction with the engine and stability control systems.
In addition to the TMS, the Evoque features a standard Haldex® all-wheel drive system that continuously monitors road conditions and transfers grip front to rear via an electronically controlled center coupling. The system is widely regarded as one of the most advanced in the industry, and can toss almost 100% of the torque front or rear, depending on the situation and road conditions, giving the driver the best grip in any situation.
Like any other Range Rover or Land Rover vehicle, the Evoque had to prove its worthiness, and did so in engineering torture tests like an intensive month-long “king of the sand” durability cycle the company conducts in the Middle East, wherein engineers put the Evoque through a series of punishing dirt roads, off-road sand driving, and tough inclines in the balmy desert heat. The Evoque also passed Range Rover’s infamous off-road test cycle in England. The cycle encompasses thousands of miles traversing through the mud and clay of the Land Rover test center at Eastnor Castle proving grounds, the MIRA® and Gaydon durability circuits and the deep water and ruts of a proving ground designed to challenge military ground vehicles. If it’s good enough for HRM’s army, it’s good enough for us Yanks.
Bottom line: while we have nothing but good things to say about the Evoque’s beautiful exterior, nicely appointed interior, abundance of luxury features and even its reasonable price, the core of this vehicle is its uncompromising ability to safely take you anywhere your heart desires, especially back home.