Oakville Drives: 2017 Range Rover Evoque: A Professional Driver’s Perspective

2017 Land Rover Evoque
Oakville Drives: 2017 Range Rover Evoque: A Professional Driver’s Perspective

About the Author

R. G. Beltzner

R. G. Beltzner

A long time automobile enthusiast, and competitive race driver, Rainer Beltzner provides performance driving and racing instruction for Porsche, BMW, and Ferrari owners and clubs. He's been doing this for over 25 years. Often, Rainer is found driving/teaching on one of the Canadian Tire Motorsport, Shannonville or Watkins Glen tracks. During the “off-season”, Rainer spends his spare time driving and evaluating a broad range of vehicles. Follow Rainer on Twitter @redy2rol.

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The Range Rover Evoque has been a popular compact luxury crossover in production since 2011. Some important changes were introduced to this model in 2014 that brought the Evoque’s driver assistance features more into the modern era.

For 2017, the single biggest change has been the introduction of the all-new Evoque Convertible (see my review next week). The 2017 Range Rover Evoque is available in four trim levels (SE, HSE, HSE Dynamic and Autobiography. MSRP (before options, delivery and taxes) ranges from $49,990 to $66,990. My test Evoque HSE Dynamic started at $61,990 and after adding $8,500 of mostly necessary options and another $2,722 for freight, PDI and various taxes (but not HST), it all came to a final $72,412.

Handling characteristics

All trim levels of the Evoque come equipped with the 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine producing 240 hp (250 lb/ft torque) linked to a 9-speed automatic transmission and all wheel drive. This combination results in a pretty responsive vehicle that can do 0-100 km/hr in just over 7 seconds. For the size and height of this vehicle, it actually handles quite well and for me, surprisingly fun to drive. Like many “upscale” vehicles today, it comes with a regular drive as well as sport mode including shift paddles (likely to be used by your younger family members to demonstrate rapid acceleration).

The Evoque has long had a reputation of being a well handling vehicle even in rough terrain conditions. This is largely due to the many electronic drive management features. The HSE Dynamic comes standard with “Adaptive Dynamics”, a system that constantly monitors vehicle movements based on driver input and/or road conditions and reduces body lean to provide a more balanced ride. Standard on all models is the “Torque Vectoring” system that monitors and adjusts the distribution of torque to all four wheels by applying braking force to specific wheels. This improves tire grip when hard cornering produces understeer, even in off-road conditions.

2017 range rover evoque

Also the Evoque comes equipped with a system that disconnects drive to the rear wheels in order to improve fuel economy. Once the vehicle senses a need for 4 wheel drive to be active, the change occurs automatically within milliseconds. Our annual driving conditions can be quite varied and the Evoque comes equipped with a driver selectable capability to adjust the vehicle’s drive and chassis systems to adapt to four specific conditions including general driving; grass/gravel/snow; mud & ruts; and sand. My test vehicle also included a “dynamic” mode that basically stiffens the suspension and provides a bit more responsiveness. For the off-road enthusiast, there is also the new “All Terrain Progress Control System” that can be driver invoked and functions just like cruise control for very low speeds. This allows the driver to concentrate on the terrain and navigating obstacles while maintaining a consistent low speed. And finally, there is also the “Hill Descent Control” that provides for consistent speed on steep descents. For many of us, the roughest driving conditions might include the poor Toronto road surfaces and the odd unpaved road or deep puddle here in Oakville. Nevertheless, this vehicle drives very nicely on both city roads and 400 series highways, with excellent stability, good responsiveness and sufficient power.

The optional “Convenience” package ($1,500) provides adaptive cruise control, queue assist, forward alert and emergency braking – all very useful features. Another optional ($2,300) but very helpful addition is the “Advanced Driver’s Assistance Package” that includes park assist, 360-degree cameras, blind spot monitoring, closing vehicle sensing, reverse traffic detection, lane keeping and more. Of course, if you’re already an “advanced driver”, why would you need this?

Comfort

2017 range rover evoque

2017 range rover evoque

For a smaller sized crossover, this is a comfortable vehicle, as long as you are the driver or front seat passenger. While comfort features are also provided for the rear passengers, this does not include head or leg-room for adults. As a taller than average person, I needed to position the 12-way electric and leather driver’s seat as far back and low as possible. I found that the driver’s seat does not go low enough and as a result, my vertical field of vision through the windshield was significantly limited. Yes, it does reduce the need for a sun visor but it also limits the ability to enjoy the panoramic skyline. With the driver’s seat all the way back, it is also impossible to reach the start/stop button (not so conveniently sitting high up on the dash) unless you are gifted with the arms of an orangutan. And finally, why create a body design that some will agree is a visual masterpiece and have the passenger side wiper fail to retract completely – sticking out on the windshield like an afterthought?

Despite these albeit minor failings, the exterior design and interior finish of this vehicle are visually quite pleasing. The HSE Dynamic model includes a textured aluminum trim finish, illuminated aluminum front tread plates, a larger 10” touch screen and the 380W 10 speaker with subwoofer, sound system. Despite the improved screen, infotainment systems and navigation, these lag behind many of their upscale competitors. The vehicle is still missing a voice command capability for navigation.

Safety

The Evoque has many excellent safety features starting with the on and off road handling characteristics and alert systems detailed above. The HSE Dynamic is equipped with the full array of airbags to help cushion impacts. Safety is compromised by limited rear visibility as a result of the small rear window and large pillars.

Things to consider

This is an appealing compact “luxury” vehicle and fun to drive – but perhaps not the best choice on long trips for your larger passengers. This vehicle will definitely appeal because of its looks and drivability.

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