”City-ready vehicle.” That’s not exactly a descriptor one expects from Land Rover, a city-ready vehicle that “demands respect on every streetcorner,” with “contemporary design and silhouette that guarantee you’ll be standing out in the city.” But that’s the Range Rover Evoque, according to Land Rover.
Odd. Once was the time when a Land Rover vehicle would be outstanding in its field. That’s literally, standing out in the field, while perhaps its owner is grouse hunting. Or slogging biologists through the jungle in search of new species of, well, new species. Or transporting archeologists on a trek to discover new petroglyphs and cave paintings.
Instead, the Range Rover Evoque is poised for urban exploration.
It’s not that the Evoque doesn’t have off-road capabilities. It does, just not to the extent of other vehicles from Land Rover, though certainly more than many sport-utility vehicles for which “sport” means driving to soccer games and “utility” refers to being able to accommodate a bag of soccer balls.
The Range Rover Evoque arrived in 2012 as a new kind of Land Rover vehicle, smaller, more aerodynamic, and more pavement oriented than for example the Range Rover Sport, which with only a change of tires could be ready for the deep woods, even with its more than 500 horsepower.
Then there’s the Evoque. If not deep woods, then perhaps shallow woods? It’s still capable of slipping through nineteen inches of water—that’s measured vertically, not horizontally, wise guy—with Land Rover’s Terrain Response system to handle a variety of surfaces.
This year, however, Land Rover has bolstered both on- and off-road abilities, including making the active driveline system with active differentials, active torque biasing and torque vectoring standard equipment. The Evoque is nominally a front-drive vehicle—a departure, yes, for Land Rover—with standard four-wheel drive on an ‘on demand’ basis. The rear axle is disconnected from the drive train to reduce drag during steady-state driving at speeds above 22 mph; the system monitors conditions via various sensors to go automatically from front- to four-wheel drive.
The system also includes active torque biasing which electronically shifts torque between the rear wheels to optimize traction and stability, along with torque vectoring, which redirects torque between all four wheels to counteract understeer.
More features for the urban explorer include Park Exit (automatic un-parallel parking—really), Perpendicular Park (to place the car squarely between the lines on head-in parking), Adaptive Cruise Control (with Queue Assist—which extends adaptive cruise to full stop and go traffic for exploring urban traffic jams), Forward (collision) Alert and Intelligent Emergency Braking (for when the doesn’t pay attention to Collision alert), plus Closing Vehicle Sensing (an enhancement of blind spot detection to vehicles approaching from the rear) and Reverse Traffic Detection (a rear cross-traffic alert).
However, because it’s a Range Rover, it still has true off-road capabilities, including a streamlined version of Land Rover’s Terrain Response system. Modes are selected via a row of options on the center console to tune the chassis control features for best traction and control in everything from normal driving to mud and ruts, along with a setting for snow/grass/gravel. And of course, after record-setting snow this winter, we had none while testing the Evoque. Of course, if the potholes had been any worse, mud and ruts might have been more appropriate.
The 2014 Range Rover Evoque continues with the two-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine mounted crosswise under the hood, but new for 2014 is a nine-speed automatic transmission. The gearbox provides a wider spread of ratios for a quicker takeoff and a more relaxed cruise. Our experience matches the official EPA fuel economy rating, which is 21/20 mpg city/highway, with a combined figure of 24 mpg. Our observed overall fuel economy came in at an even 25.0 mpg, and we hadn’t spared the horses on the highway and we did our own exploration looking for urban cave drawings.
The interior of the Range Rover Evoque is a good place from which to do one’s exploring, particularly our Evoque Dynamic level, which includes all the features of the base trim Pure model that starts at $41,100 and Pure Plus and Pure Premium. The Evoque Prestige features Where brushed aluminum details and a world-class sound system complement deep leather seats and trim.brushed aluminum interior trim and a premium audio system, taking the Evoque in a more luxury direction. The Dynamic, however, has black grille and an optional contrasting roof and spoiler color. Our striking Firenze Red Evoque Dynamic had a black top. All Evoque models get LED running lights accenting the headlights.