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2014 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 two years ago, 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: Nine-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: 21 mpg city/30 highway/24 combined.

Major competitors: Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLK, Toyota FJ Cruiser, Jeep Wrangler/Wrangler Unlimited.

Base price range: $41,100-$57,300, plus $895 freight.

Price as tested: $47,045, including freight and options (Pure sedan with Plus package).

On the Road rating: 8.3 (of a possible 10).

Prices shown are manufacturer's suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.

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The Evoque compact SUV – the entry level model in the Range Rover line – returned for its third year for 2014, still riding high as the brand’s best-selling model.

It’s designed for those who want the amenities of a Range Rover luxury sport utility vehicle, but in a smaller, less-expensive and more-fuel-efficient package.

This coupe-like SUV, which comes with either three or five doors, is the smallest, lightest and most-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, cranking out 240 horsepower and 251 foot-pounds of torque. It’s connected to a nine-speed automatic transmission for 2014, replacing last year’s six-speed.

That’s enough power to give the Evoque performance of a six-cylinder, but with the fuel-efficiency of a four. EPA ratings are 21 mpg city/30 highway, a big improvement over the 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 2014 starting prices of $41,100 (plus $895 freight) for the base Pure five-door sedan and $45,100 for the base Pure Plus three-door coupe.

We tested the sedan in the base Pure trim level; there is also a Prestige five-door ($55,400) and Dynamic five-door ($56,400), both with more amenities. We tested the five-door Pure sedan, with the additional Pure Plus package ($3,000), which added power-adjusted leather seats with memory, fixed panoramic sunroof with power blind, universal garage/gate opener, front fog lights and headlight washers, 19-inch alloy wheels, and a power tailgate.

The Evoque is 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 (which is being discontinued after this year), 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 our five-door model, though, rear passengers had their own doors; in the coupe, the rear riders have to go in through the front doors.

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, I prefer the Evoque sedan, and that’s the model I would choose. 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 to make it even more comfortable; our tester did not have that option. But I took a turn riding in the back in one of the outboard positions, and found it comfortable, but a bit tight on my knees

Driver and front passenger both have a very comfortable ride, but I would not want to put an adult in the middle rear seat for any length of time.

The Evoque’s chassis was designed to deliver 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 vehicle.

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 $36,600, 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 $49,700).

Evoque is at the bottom of the three-model Range Rover lineup. In the middle is the Range Rover Sport (base $62,600), and the high-end model is known simply as the Range Rover (base $83,300). The Sport has been redesigned for 2014; the regular Range Rover got a complete restyling for 2013.

The Evoque is about a foot-and-a-half shorter and seven inches lower than the Range Rover Sport, and about two feet shorter than the Range Rover. It’s six inches shorter than the LR2, and about 660 pounds lighter.

We did some limited off-road driving with our tester, including some beach sand driving and some national park dirt roads, but nothing really tough. It handled the deep sand handily, and took us places we would never have been able to go in an ordinary car.

On the highway, the four-cylinder gives the Evoque plenty of power, and the nine-speed automatic transmission helped us achieve an average of just over 25 mpg during our test, which included highways, city streets and back roads.

The base model – called the Pure -- has interiors in neutral colors. Ours came with the Ipanema Sand exterior and Ebony interior. There are soft-touch, wrapped materials on the major surfaces, along with brushed aluminum trim.

The Prestige version, for the five-door model only, 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.

The Dynamic package 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 ($7,600, not present on the test vehicle), which adds automatic-high-beam adaptive xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights; blind-spot monitoring/accident-avoidance; front, rear and side electronic parking aids (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.

Our tester did have the Climate Comfort package ($1,300), which added heated windshield and washer system, and heated front and rear seats and steering wheel. We also had satellite/HD radio ($750).

Total sticker price for our 2014 Pure sedan with the Pure Plus package and other options was $47,045, including freight.

The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at chambers@star-telegram.com .

 

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