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Just in: 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

Consumer Reports News: December 02, 2011 01:08 PM

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Some of my colleagues were musing recently about the name of this vehicle. Must we wear out our keyboard-calloused fingers typing “Land Rover Range Rover Evoque?” It seems that the shortest vehicle in the company’s line-up has the longest name, such as the previous champ Land Rover Range Rover Sport. But, we must, as we have just added this upscale SUV to our fleet.

It’s a cliché, but perhaps the new Evoque is Land Rover’s attempt at putting the “sport” back into “sport utility.” For example, it’s much lighter than the rest of the line—a bragging right no doubt helped by the standard 240-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Neither a big six-cylinder nor V8 engine are offered. So not only does the Evoque suggest a much less truck-like driving experience, it may also be much more fuel efficient than some of the brand’s behemoths. In fact, Land Rover estimates the stylish SUV will get 28 mpg on the highway.

Rather than being aimed at the landed gentry who need off-road capability to check on their back forty, the Evoque goes for a more metropolitan crowd. Think jacked-up Volkswagen GTI or an even more expensive Mini Cooper Countryman. The concept-car styling, giant on-road tires, and full glass roof all create a very different experience than an LR4 or “proper” Range Rover. While the Evoque has off-road modes for its all-wheel-drive system, the lack of a low-range or other hardcore off-road gear suggest this is more a soft-roader than an off-roader.

Our four-door model is equipped with the “Pure Plus Package” (the bottom trim level), which includes power leather seats, a backup camera (especially helpful given the tiny rear window), and the aforementioned panoramic roof. It also has the “Climate Comfort Pack,” which includes heating elements for the front seats, steering wheel, washer jets and windshield. Interestingly, the $750 Sirius satellite and HD radio option doesn’t come with complimentary satellite service.

Our lightly-optioned Evoque stickered at $45,745. That strikes most of us as being semi-precious, especially since our tested Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLK, and Volvo XC60 all cost thousands less. And those cars aren’t exactly bargains themselves.

We’ll see how this new Land Rover handles the coming Connecticut winter. We’ll also see if the Evoque evokes enough luxury, exclusivity, and enthusiasm to crown it a real Rover.

Mike Quincy

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