Range Rover's fun, new Evoque SUV "light" returns for its second year on the market for 2013, and already has become the brand's biggest seller.This coupe-like sport utility is the smallest, lightest and most fuel-efficient Range Rover ever produced. It's the most-stylish Range Rover ever, too.Under the hood is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, made by Ford, cranking out 240 horsepower and 251 foot-pounds of torque. It's connected to a six-speed automatic transmission.It's powerful enough to give the Evoque performance of a six-cylinder, but with the fuel-efficiency of a four. EPA ratings are 20 mpg city/28 highway, a big improvement over the 12/18 ratings of the full-size Range Rover models.The Evoque (pronounced "e-voke") comes in two models - a five-door sedan and a three-door coupe, with a 2013 starting price of $41,145 (plus $895 freight) for the sedan and $44,145 for the coupe, which we tested for this report. The sedan has a new, lower-priced model this year, $2,000 less than last year's $43,145 starting price.This vehicle has won some prestigious awards, including Motor Tre nd's 2012 SUV of the Year.It's made by Great Britain's legendary off-road brand, Land Rover, and is aimed at hip, youthful, upscale consumers. The easiest way I can describe it is to the bigger, more-expensive Range Rover what the Toyota FJ Cruiser is to the bigger, more-expensive Toyota Land Cruiser.Like the FJ Cruiser, the Evoque is intended more for the urban jungle than the real jungle, but it can go there, too, if you want it to.The Evoque is the sleekest Range Rover ever, featuring a swept-back exterior with lots of glass, including the optional panoramic sunroof. The contemporary styling differs markedly from the traditional boxy Range Rover line, giving the Evoque the kind of curb appeal the other, bigger Rovers have never achieved.Land Rover assembles the Evoque in England along with other Land Rover and Range Rover models, and it's available in 160 countries.The Evoque makes use of lightweight materials, including composite front fenders and tailgate and an aluminum hood, and has what Land Rover calls an "environmentally conscious design."Five people can ride in comfort, even in the three-door model. The cargo area behind the rear seat can be expanded by folding down the seatback, but otherwise is quite limited for an SUV - about 20 cubic feet.In the five-door model, rear passengers have their own doors; in the coupe, they have to go in through the front.It's much more luxurious than the FJ Cruiser, considering that luxury is the hallmark of the Range Rover brand, whose prices peak above $100,000. At less than half that price, the Evoque comes with plenty of premium features.Inside, there is a premium interior with soft-touch leather surfaces, along with a full array of standard or available luxury amenities and technology, including a surround-view camera system similar to that on some Infiniti vehicles.Because I'm really not a coupe kind of person, this model is not the one I would choose -my choice would be the five-door, as I like my passengers to have their own doors, and I like to put things in the back seat sometimes.But some people prefer the coupe style, especially those who have no children. The rear seat is normally a three-person bench, but a no-charge option can replace that with two bucket seats.The Evoque's chassis was designed to deliver "dynamic and agile handling," something that has never been a characteristic of the traditional Range Rover SUVs. It is a bit more agile than its bigger siblings, but not quite a sport coupe.Permanent all-wheel drive is standard, but the Evoque doesn't have the same off-road capabilities of the other Range Rovers. Those come with four-wheel-drive systems that include low-range gearing for serious trail driving, which is not available on the Evoque.Evoque does have all-weather capability and can handle some off-road duties, enabled in part by the Land Rover Terrain Response system, which has settings for different driving conditions such as "snow" and "sand."Its all-wheel-drive system is similar to that of the Land Rover LR2, which also doesn't include the two-speed transfer case with low-range gearing for serious hill-climbing.The LR2 is less expensive than the Evoque, and intended to appeal to the same consumer. Its starting price is $35,700, but it doesn't carry the Range Rover name, which has always been the premium brand in the Land Rover lineup.The best-selling Land Rover model in recent years has been the Discovery, which is now called the LR4 (base price $48,900).Evoque is at the bottom of the three-model Range Rover lineup. In the middle is the Range Rover Sport, and the high-end model is known simply as the Range Rover, which has been completely redesigned for 2013.The Evoque is 17 inches shorter and seven inches lower than the Range Rover Sport, and 24.8 inches shorter than the Range Rover. The Evoque is nearly a ton lighter than the Range Rover. It's six inches shorter than the LR2, and about 660 pounds lighter.The base model - called the Pure (Pure Plus in the three-door) -- has interiors in neutral colors to highlight the pure, simple forms of the cabin architecture, the company says. There are soft-touch, wrapped materials on the major surfaces, along with brushed aluminum trim.There is a Prestige Premium package ($8,400) available for the five-door model. It has unique 19-inch wheels and sparkling metallic details. Optional are 20-inch wheels. The Prestige package also has two-tone color schemes, with premium leather, twin-needle stitching and real wood and metal finishes.A Dynamic Premium package ($7,500, five-door; $7,900, coupe) was included on our tester. It comes with 19-inch wheels and unique bumpers, sills, grille and tailpipes. Also included are a premium interior with perforated leather seats and unique sports detailing. Contrasting roof and spoiler colors are available, as well.Other standard or optional features include dual-zone automatic climate control; a hard drive-navigation system, with off-road navigation capability; AM/FM/Sirius/CD radio with the ability to copy CDs to the hard drive; a rear-seat entertainment package, with eight-inch video screen, digital wireless headphones and touch-screen remote control; keyless entry system; power tailgate; adaptive headlights with automatic high-low beams; and heated front seats, steering wheel and windshield.Among the safety features are front seat-mounted side air bags; front knee air bags; roof-mounted side-curtain air bags for both rows; electronic parking brake; antilock disc brakes, with emergency brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution; and corner brake control, designed to prevent the rear end from breaking loose from the pavement when braking while cornering.Also available is the Pure Premium package ($4,400, not present on the test vehicle), which adds automatic-high-beam adaptive xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights; the blind-spot monitoring/accident-avoidance system; front, rear and side electronic parking aid (with cameras); a Meridian AM/FM stereo with 825 watts, surround sound, 17 speakers, and a 10-disc CD changer/MP3 player; GPS hard-drive navigation system with eight-inch color touch screen; cargo-area tie-down rails; and a card key.We did have the 20-inch sparkle-finish alloy wheels ($2,000) and the Climate Comfort package ($1,000), and a satellite/HD radio ($750). ; special Mauritius Blue exterior paint ($950); and a protection package ($298), with chrome wheel locks and rubber floor mats.Total sticker price was $57,938, including freight and options.The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at 817-471-2871 or email@example.com.
2013 Range Rover Evoque
The package: Compact, three- or five-door, four- or five-passenger, turbocharged inline four-cylinder, fulltime four-wheel-drive, luxury sport utility.
Highlights: All new just last year, this is smallest, lightest, most-fuel-efficient Range Rover yet. It comes with either two or four side doors, and a rear hatch.
Negatives: Rear seat is a tight fit for most adults; cargo space is limited.
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (sourced from Ford).
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Power/torque: 240 HP./250 foot-pounds.
Length: 171.5-171.9 inches.
Curb weight: 3,902 pounds.
Towing capacity: 3,500 pounds.
Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.
Cargo volume: 19.4 cubic feet (three-door); 20.3 cubic feet (five-door), behind rear seat.
Fuel capacity/type: 18.5 gallons/unleaded premium.
EPA fuel economy: 20 mpg city/28 highway/23 combined.
Major competitors: Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLK, Toyota FJ Cruiser, Jeep Wrangler/Wrangler Unlimited.
Base price range: $41,145-$44,145, plus $895 freight.
Price as tested: $57,938 (Pure Plus coupe, with freight and options).
On the Road rating: 8.3 (of a possible 10).
Prices shown are manufacturer's suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.