Pros: Distinctive styling; responsive handling; powerful; fuel efficient

Cons: Significant road noise; small interior space; high base price

What's New: Lower priced 5-door Pure base trim level; available parking assistance; off-road navigation feature; minor styling updates

The launch of the Range Rover Evoque was a historically significant moment for Land Rover's luxury brand. Range Rover doesn't often unveil new vehicles; the first Range Rover SUV enjoyed a 25-year run. So when the Evoque arrived as a 2012 model, the automotive world paid attention.

The 2013 Range Rover Evoque returns with a few new features and minor styling updates. A new, 5-door base trim level called Pure broadens the lineup and lowers the entry point for the award-winning SUV.

Based on the Land Rover LR2 platform, the Evoque continues to take the Range Rover name in a new, stylish and youthful direction.

Comfort & Utility

The Evoque has several characteristics which set it apart from the competition. Perhaps the most notable is its interior, which features excellent build quality, fine materials and pleasing aesthetics. Even in the base model, the Evoque's interior is stunning, with soft-touch materials, brushed aluminum trim and an automatic gear selector that rises out of the center console.

For all versions except the new Evoque Pure, the roof is virtually all glass but can be covered by an automatically retracting shade. The Evoque features ambient lighting in the center console's cubby areas and in the foot wells; the color can be changed using the 8-inch touchscreen info and entertainment system.

In the rear, passenger legroom can be tight, but headroom is plentiful. The rear seats fold in a 60/40 split and lie nearly flat, providing 51 cu-ft of cargo space. The rear cargo area has anchors in a sliding track to secure cargo.

Rather than use a traditional trim hierarchy, Land Rover offers a choice of three design themes, each with a distinctive character. Evoque buyers can choose the standard Pure, the luxurious Prestige or the sporting Dynamic.

Customers who choose the three-door "coupe" version should note that it has a lower roofline. That means it offers about an inch less interior headroom than the 5-door model. The starting price for the 3-door model is $44,995. The new base Pure 5-door model starts at $41,995 and has an aluminum alloy roof in place of the panoramic sunroof.

Technology

Just because the Evoque is smaller and cheaper than its Range Rover brethren doesn't mean it's not tech savvy. The Evoque offers an impressive list of available tech features, including a surround camera system that uses five digital cameras. Discreetly placed around the car, the cameras provide a 360-degree, real-time view of the surrounding area. Other available features include a new parking assistance system; heated windshield, seats and steering wheel; keyless entry; a power-lift tailgate; navigation with a new off-road program; Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity with Bluetooth audio streaming; an 825-watt, 16-speaker Meridian surround sound system; satellite radio; and a rear-seat entertainment package with 8-inch video screens, digital wireless headphones and touchscreen remote control.

Performance & Fuel Economy

Range Rovers of the past have all been V8 powered, so the Evoque marks a new direction for the brand. Under the hood of the Evoque is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine borrowed from Ford. The peppy 2.0-liter produces 240 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The Evoque will make a 0-to-60-mph run in an impressive 7.1 seconds. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates its fuel economy at 18 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.

The small yet robust 4-cylinder engine sends power to all four wheels through a Haldex electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system. Although not quite as capable off-road as other Range Rover models, the Evoque is just as competent in severe terrain as most small luxury SUVs currently on the market.

Safety

The Evoque is loaded with many advanced safety technologies including ABS; traction control; electronic brake force distribution; emergency brake lights and emergency brake assist; corner brake control; dynamic stability control; roll stability control; trailer stability assist; hill start assist; hill descent control; gradient release control; and engine drag torque control.

Driving Impressions

Drivers familiar with the driving characteristics of other Land Rovers will find the Evoque atypical. It's noticeably stiffer over bumps and through the corners than one might expect. But the suspension and chassis aren't overly rigid, just taut enough to allow the Evoque to handle with firm precision.

The power produced by the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is impressive. Even with light application of the accelerator pedal, the Evoque eagerly rockets forward in a relentless show of horsepower and torque. Typically, we love peppy, energetic vehicles, but in the Evoque it almost feels like overkill. It's not the performance that bothers us but the fact that, whenever the turbocharger kicks in, we know fuel economy suffers. Very tender throttle input is needed to keep the Evoque from coming up short of its EPA fuel economy ratings.

The interior of the 2013 Range Rover Evoque is a visual masterpiece and is extremely comfortable. Surprisingly, though, the cabin does suffer from more road noise than we'd expect in a luxury-oriented vehicle, especially on the highway. In most small SUVs, this might be acceptable. But at the $41,995 mark, we would hope for more sound insulation. Additionally, at idle, the 4-cylinder makes a slight vibration that finds its way into the cabin through the seats. The vibration makes it feel as if the Evoque is fitted with a less refined diesel instead of a modern gasoline engine.

Other Cars to Consider

Volvo XC60 - Starting at $34,200, the XC60 has the same 3.2-liter inline 6-cylinder that Land Rover utilized in the Evoque's cousin, the LR2. With striking bodylines, the same horsepower rating, and a 6-speed automatic gearbox, the XC60 is a strong competitor for the Evoque.

BMW X5 - With a base price of $47,500, the X5 is fitted with a 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine and an 8-speed automatic transmission. The interior of the X5 might not be as stunning as the Evoque's, but it is slightly larger and more livable.

Audi Q5 - Pricing for the 2013 Q5 has not yet been announced, but the 2012 model had a starting price of $35,600. The base Q5's turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 engine makes only 211 hp; an available supercharged V6 packs 272 hp, but fuel economy suffers. Like the X5, the Q5 has a standard 8-speed automatic transmission. Audi's world-renowned Quattro all-wheel-drive system is also standard.

AutoTrader Recommends

At the $41,995 base price, the Evoque Pure lacks only a couple of features that luxury buyers want--navigation and a panoramic sunroof. We recommend stepping up to the $48,995 Evoque Pure Premium. Both the mid-range Prestige and top-trim Dynamic add stylish and luxurious interior and exterior upgrades, but the price jumps accordingly. The Pure Premium model still feels sumptuous and includes the latest technology, but it is priced several thousand dollars less than its upper-trim counterparts. We prefer the practicality of the 5-door, but if the sleeker Coupe fits your lifestyle, its Pure Premium version is available for $49,595.

 



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Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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