Review: 2015 Range Rover Evoque

I had the extreme displeasure of cracking a wheel on my Jaguar XJ on New Year’s Eve (thanks, Gwinnett County, GA for that horribly-paved manhole). Fortunately I was close to a trusty Jaguar / Land Rover dealership and not three hours up I-85. They gave me a 2015 Range Rover Evoque as a loaner. Several folks have asked what I thought of the little Rover. In short, here it is:

It’s a very nice small SUV that casual drivers will love, but it probably isn’t worth the price.

Now to explain in detail.

Look, I know what you’re thinking about the statement above. It’s a Range Rover OF COURSE IT’S OVERPRICED TELL ME SOMETHING I DON’T KNOW ZOMG. Well I would like to refer you to the first sentence of this post. I’m not exactly roughing it in my 2013 XJ, which I paid good money to drive, so believe me when I tell you I don’t mind spending money on nice stuff. Just ask the Williams finance committee. Anyways, I will explain what I don’t like about the car first. Because it’s short and that’s why you’re reading this:

1) The transmission is a little wonky. The car has “stop-start” technology, which saves you gas by shutting off the engine when you stop. It restarts quickly when you take your foot off the brake. I noticed that sometimes when I hit the gas there was a bit of hesitation. Maybe because the car wasn’t in the right gear. My car has this feature with a different transmission and the hesitation isn’t near as bad. Even without stop start, the six speed auto seemed to think I had a heavier foot than I do; it was always wanting to downshift at the wrong time.

2) For a 45-thousand dollar car (yes, car — this thing is not a truck/SUV by any measure), the interior materials were not quite up to snuff. Lots of plastic and hard surfaces. Go sit in a new Chevy Impala or a nice Ram pickup and you’ll see what I mean when you compare it to the base Evoque. This was the base model, but still.

3) The 4 cylinder engine was adequate but not thrilling by any measure. I think it’s the only engine offered based on my read of the Rover website. This is a car in which you can floor it for an on ramp and still feel safe. That “safety feature” doesn’t exist in BMW’s stable. It got 29 mpg during my long drive to NC. Shy of the 31 from my 350 hp supercharged V6 heavier XJ. So. Yeah.

4) Rear seat headroom isn’t the best. The small Kia and Hyundai win here. I’m 6'2, so your mileage may vary.

5) The Infotainment system is just average. It’s easy to use but slow and doesn’t have some of the fancy features like Pandora or Google Maps in an Audi. It had trouble staying connected to my iPhone:

One tap on the “reconnect” button fixed it, but still.

And that’s pretty much it for the downside.

Here’s the bullet list of the positives:

1) It’s the best looking small SUV. I had SEVERAL folks comment on it at drive throughs, gas stations, etc. You won’t get that in your Kia Sante Fe or Toyota people mover. People see this as a “real” Range Rover. Name brand cache out the wazzou.

2) I could easily fit my son’s forward-facing car seat in the back with some leg room to spare. Of the small SUVs I’ve driven, this one does the best with interior space. Definitely qualifies as a family car. It has cup holders. No not as many as your Toyota. They had to put the ground FX controller somewhere (see below).

3) Same kudos for cargo space. Great for what this is. Better than Kia Sante Fe, BMW X1, that tiny Mercedes thing, etc. Just don’t expect to fit two strollers and a suitcase in the back. The seats do fold down.

4) Interior comfort. Like I said, I took this thing on a LONG round trip and was just as comfy as in my XJ (minus the massaging seats but hey beggars can’t be choosers right). The seats were decent (not top notch) leather and were large and supportive. The driving position is exactly what you’d expect from a small SUV: upright but not Toyota Sequoia monster truck high riding. The step-in height is perfect. Generous ground clearance too.

5) A bunch of little touches that remind you you’re driving a luxury vehicle. Like this:

Yes, that is a projected image of the car on the ground from the side mirror. It’s the rich soccer mom version of ground FX. It doesn’t lack for anything you’d expect to be standard, and tacks on nifty Rover features like auto hill decent. (Look it up)

6) Good handling. Steering is the best in class. I hate the new electronic steering that has kicked out hydrolics but this is either a really good version of that or is actually hydrolic. No dead zone and the effort is just about right if not a tad light. Some may prefer it that way.

6) If it breaks you get an awesome loaner called a Range Rover Evoque.

Wrapping up, I’d say that I was impressed with the Evoque in every area except for interior materials and powertrain. Unfortunately those two areas are important in this segment. If my wife wanted one, I’d say “sure” and not think twice. It’s cheaper than her Sequoia, after all.

It’s just not for me though. Alternatives:

If you want a little smaller, sporty and cheaper: Mazda CX-3

If you want bigger and much faster: BMW X3

Just faster: Audi Q3

If you want the same thing everyone else has: Honda CRV

If you want the nice Honda CRV: Lexus NX

Photo credit: Wikipedia,

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