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Test complete video: 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque

Consumer Reports News: February 01, 2012 11:53 AM

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At first look - not to mention the second and third - the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque is rather appealing. But living with and thoroughly testing the car reveals a lot of flaws.

Yes, we know that the Evoque has received many awards in the enthusiast media. Among them, the Evoque was named North American Truck of the Year, Motor Trend’s Sport/Utility of the Year, and it’s on Automobile’s 2012 All-Star list. These accolades make some sense. The sharp-looking Evoque is distinctive in a world of cookie-cutter cars. It also marks a new direction for the famed British brand, now run by an Indian conglomerate. And unlike most small upscale SUVs, the Evoque packs some off-road capability.

But we don’t score styling. Image and corporate heritage create a feel-good factor—and a good story—but they don’t affect product quality. And given that most SUVs stay firmly on road, off-road capability isn’t a big deal for the typical buyer, either.

2012-Land-Rover-Range-Rover-Evoque-glass-roof.jpgInstead, we care about how good the Evoque is to drive and live with in the real world. Here, the Evoque also makes a pretty good first impression. Frisky handling and generous power earned plenty of positive initial comments in the vehicle’s logbook. The drivers also lauded the full-length see-through roof as a clever touch in the well-finished interior.

Unfortunately, a deeper look reveals some substantial flaws. For instance, the responsive handling is marred by steering that has an artificial feel and weight. The stylish cabin has a really tight driving position; my left foot fell asleep on a 30 minute drive. Most buyers will find the well-bolstered front seats to be narrow and constrictive. Rear visibility is limited to a little slit of glass. More concerning, the Evoque slides its tail out in emergency maneuvers, while simultaneously lifting a rear wheel and hopping. An SUV just shouldn’t do that, especially one that is tuned for sporty on-road driving.

Finally, it makes it a whole lot easier for other reviewers to like a vehicle when they don’t have to pay for it. We bought our Evoque. Even modestly equipped (ours lacks navigation), the sticker price was $45,745. This is several thousand dollars more than the already-steeply-priced competition. Never mind that it’s easy to push the price over $50,000—a lot of money for a rather small SUV with compromised functionality.

Check out the video below to see the Range Rover Evoque in action, and read our complete road test for more detailed insights.

Tom Mutchler

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