The well-appointed Range Rover Evoque may masquerade as a luxury vehicle when in the city, but it's tough enough to earn its sport utility stripes once it goes off road.
MF Editors 1 / 7
Not long ago, the concept of a luxury sport utility vehicle was an oxymoron: you could either have a 4x4 with a powerful engine and towing capacity, or something sleek and graceful with all the interior bells and whistles. But of course, you couldn't have both at the same time.
That is, until recently, when Range Rover entered the niche market dominated by brands like Lexus, BMW and Audi and introduced its <a href="http://www.landrover.com/gb/en/lr/range-rover-evoque/">Range Rover Evoque</a>, a crossover that recently won the title of Motortrend's 2012 SUV of the year. It earned raves from reviews at the magazine—and across the board from testers—its superior performance and handling helping to justify the $44,000 to $54,000 sticker price (slightly higher than its closest competitors).
Check out exactly what makes this luxury crossover worth the test drive or a rental for your next getaway.
The vehicle's design is based on the company's original LR2 model, but the use of aluminum and composite materials makes this SUV considerable lighter that its predecessor—around 4,000 pounds. Drivers can go from 0 to 60 more quickly (seven seconds, to be exact) and brake more efficiently, too.
The trimming down of the Evoque's heft also means you'll pay less at the pump.
Unlike earlier Range Rover models, which came standard with V8 engines, the Evoque has a 240 horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine—a switch under the hood that makes it more fuel efficient. It gets an estimated 19 miles per gallon (city) and 28 mpg (highway).
The original design of the Evoque may be based on the LR2, but you wouldn't know it from the inside. While the vehicle has a smaller footprint and a more streamlined design, there's still sufficient space, legroom and headroom for four passengers. Our backseat passengers, however, did let us know that their seats didn't feel quite as supportive they would have wanted on a longer drive.
All four travelers loved the panoramic moonroof—the interior light it provided made the cabin feel roomier.
Despite its smaller body size, the Evoque still has considerable cargo space—more than 20 cubic feet—enough to hold four medium-sized pieces of luggage with room left to see out the back.
The Evoque has the sophisticated instrument panel you'd expect from a luxury vehicle, including an interactive screen. The steering wheel (available in a heated option) includes a hands-free option for cell phones, stereo adjustment and cruise control.
One feature we loved: A graphic that tells you exactly how many passengers in your car have their seatbelt on—so you'll never have a kid (or irresponsible friend) not buckled up in the back again.
Smaller SUVs have a reputation for being less safe than their larger brethren. Not this one. The Evoque has a reinforced high-strength steel frame with impact beams installed in all passenger doors. It also comes standard with seven airbags (including one for the drivers knees). You'll also find adaptive headlights, all-disc antilock brakes with brake assist, rain-sensing wipers and Surround View cameras (and optional feature) that allow the driver to see 360 degrees around the vehicle.