Review | Driving Impressions

2014 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Driving Impressions


Land Rover's Range Rover Evoque uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated for 240 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. It pulls smoothly and has very little throttle lag. The 9-speed automatic, which includes paddle shifters for manual operation, kicks down quickly for passing.

Acceleration performance is neither lethargic nor particularly quick, but certainly enough to keep up with urban traffic. The 9-speed automatic has four overdrive ratios for loping along at speed, but often you'll need hyper-legal speeds before it engages top gear. The BMW X1 xDrive28i, also with a 240-hp 2-liter turbo four is both quicker and more economical.

Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 21/30 mpg City/Highway. The BMW X1 xDrive28i is rated 22/33 mpg and Mercedes-Benz GLA250 should split the Evoque and X1.

Evoque's turbocharger builds boost very quickly, so it takes some practice to achieve smooth launches. We also found that it's not too difficult to confuse the computer controlling the 9-speed automatic; its electronic brain seems to balk at abrupt changes in throttle position. These are traits that become transparent to an owner over time, but there's room for improvement here.

In really rough stuff, Evoque's Land Rover credentials shine. With its short front and rear overhangs (i.e., not much vehicle protruding beyond the front or rear axles), the Evoque has far more off-road ability than you might expect based on the looks. The all-wheel-drive system employs a series of differentials and disconnects to maximize economy when grip isn't needed and traction when it is. Off-roading is also aided by the Terrain Response system. It has settings for Mud-Ruts, Grass-Gravel-Snow, Sand and General Driving, and it works with several vehicle systems to help the Evoque conquer almost anything the world throws at it. For example, the throttle is dulled and the transmissions shifts up sooner in Grass-Gravel-Snow, while the throttle is aggressive and the transmission holds gears longer in Sand mode.

While the Evoque is the most capable off-roader in its class, it isn't as accomplished as the other Land Rover models due to a relatively low ground clearance and less wheel travel (by Land Rover standards), no low-range gearing, and a lack of locking differentials. Also, do not consider a tire stamped M&S (mud and snow) to excel in either condition; the best tires for snow are snow tires, the best tires for mud are mud tires.

The Evoque balances its off-road capability with impressive on-road dynamics. Suspension tuning is firm, and that trait, combined with the rational ride height give the Evoque a lively sense of agility without any apparent sacrifice in comfort. Directional changes are brisk, body roll is limited, brake feel is firm, and the words car-like driving experience certainly apply here. When equipped with the optional adaptive dynamics MagneRide suspension, Terrain Response also includes a Dynamic mode that firms up the shocks in corners to further reduce body lean.

If there's any soft spot in the Evoque's dynamic credentials, it's at the wheel. Range Rover has adopted a new electric-assist steering system that varies effort as a function of speed. It's quick, just 2.5 turns lock-to-lock, but it's also lacking in road feel. That's not a good combination. But it's another of those little quirks that owners adapt to over time.

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