WASHINGTON — Small luxury crossovers are some of the hotter rides on the market today, and the Range Rover Evoque is still a looker in the class. It’s the only crossover I know of that has two-door and four-door versions. There’s even an upcoming convertible for the 2017 model year.
I have driven the Evoque before, and some nitpicks included the NAV and sound system operation, but for 2016, there has been some improvement. The buttons are now clearly marked and easy to read. The system seems faster — no more hitting the screen and waiting for it to react. The graphics also seem more up-to-date.
The interior itself is sweet. The Oxford leather seats seem to be higher-quality leather than in the previous Evoque. It has comfortable, heated seats and soft-touch materials. The aluminum trim helps spruce up the look and feel. There is also ambient lighting with different colors to set the mood. I was partial to blue and purple; they seemed the most relaxing.
The Evoque I test-drove was equipped with the Cold Climate package, which added heated rear seats, steering wheel, windshield and windshield washers. The rear-seat room is fine for most people but some rivals have more space for passengers, there and in the rear hatch area. There is a power rear hatch for easy loading.
This ride was equipped with the $3,500 Black Design package, which really helps the Evoque stand out. I’m usually not a fan of black cars, as I always struggle to keep them clean, but this really looks sharp all blacked out. The big ticket item is the 20-inch wheels with a satin black finish along with rear spoiler.
The fog lights, headlight and some trim pieces have a smoked finish to them, so the chrome or brighter trim pieces are darker than usual. That, combined with the tinted rear privacy glass, gives it a more menacing look on the road. The extra $475 for the Santorini black paint really pops with the satin black wheels.
This isn’t a very large crossover, and those large wheels seem to shrink it even more. There’s little overhang, so it seems the wheels are stretched to the very ends of the car. Still, it’s one good-looking crossover.
Driving the nearly $60,000 small crossover is good under most circumstances. There is only one 2.0L turbo engine available, and it seems a bit taxed when merging with a carload. The nine-speed automatic is well behaved and helps with good fuel economy — I got a 25.2 mpg average, better than the 24 mpg on the sticker.
The larger wheels usually hurt the ride, but the Evoque doesn’t feel like rough riding. Even city streets didn’t seem to faze it. Visibility isn’t the best out the rear, so the camera is useful when backing up. Drivers will need to be vigilant about the use of mirrors for lane changes.
The 2016 Range Rover Evoque is a stylish small crossover. No doubt there’s more competition these days. Some are larger and some cost less, but they don’t have that British cool about them.
With a starting price of around $40,000 and good fuel efficiency, the Evoque has staying power in the small luxury crossover class.
Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI, FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.
© 2016 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.