The latest car that Fields Auto Group invited me to review is the Range Rover Evoque, and I have to admit, it took a few days for me to warm up to it.
With its steep angles and futuristic stance, this unique SUV could be mistaken for a concept model. And, as a coupe, it looks unlike anything on the road.
To know this car is to love it. After a few weeks, its British sensibilities have really grown on me.
Despite the Evoque's one-of-a-kind looks, it's intriguing that its innards match the off-road capabilities of the entire Land Rover line. No, I didn't have the chance to scale the mountains of Afghanistan, but I did put it to the test in a Milwaukee winter, where it performed better than any vehicle I've ever driven.
The charm of this vehicle goes beyond its incredible off-road pedigree. It's lower to the ground than, say, my 2011 BMW X3, so it drives stoutly, more like a car than an SUV.
And it's fast.
Though we're talking about a 240 HP four-cylinder engine that produces 250 lb-ft of torque, it's turbo-charged and extremely responsive. Maybe even a little too responsive â€“ if you press too hard on the gas, even inadvertently, you'll be thrown back in your seat. Its advertised 0-60 time is 7.1 seconds, but it feels much faster.
My one minor complaint about driving the Evoque is that it seems to default to a lower gear than necessary, so it lugs a little in normal driving. You can deal with that, however, by throwing it into sport mode and using the paddle shifters. In normal driving after almost 1,000 miles, I averaged 20.6 miles per gallon, which is on the lower side of its estimates of 20 and 28 MPG (23 combined). Also, the Evoque offers special driving modes for snow, desert, mountain and slick roads. In snow mode, it makes quick work of whatever Mother Nature throws at it.
The thrill of the Evoque goes beyond performance. I do love the interior of this car. Even though the sharply slanted roof line gives the appearance of a tiny cabin, it's bigger than it looks. The only sightline that's a problem is the slit of a back windshield.
It's a struggle to strap a kid into the car seat on any two-door car, but the cockpit is beautifully laid out. Here, you see the shared platform between Jaguar and Range Rover, and ergonomics get full attention. The round gear selector that rises from the center console, the touch-screen display and other controls are very similar to that of the Jaguar XF. This specific Evoque was decked-out with voice navigation â€“ that is extremely accurate â€“ and a whole host of surround cameras and lane departure warning tools. The panoramic moon roof is gorgeous. The fit and finish are elegant yet modern. It takes a special kind of car to make the BMW X3 feel bland by comparison, and the Evoque does just that.
The little touches matter, too. From the power tailgate to the side mirrors that fold-in when parked and project a white silhouette of the car on the pavement below, nothing about the Evoque seems run-of-the-mill. Even the front windshield has tiny heat coils woven throughout, so when it's time to defrost, it's melting the ice from within. With the $7,900 Dynamic Premium package, you get 19-inch wheels, gorgeous stitched leather, blind spot monitoring and more. This model added the Adaptive Dynamics Package, the Climate Comfort Package, a special "Santorini Black" paint job and more.
Though this unit was fully loaded with features (the sticker on this car was $56,995), it starts at $44,134. That means it competes with cars like my X3 â€“ however, in terms of styling, it's probably a more logical competitor to the X6. The four-door version starts $1,000 less, and I would recommend that version over the coupe. I'd imagine those extra two doors will come in handy more often than not.
And, while I do like my X3, the Evoque is much more fun to drive, and the interior is an ergonomic step up from my BMW. It doesn't have that classic, conservative style, which means you'll either love or hate its aesthetics.
For me, it's love. The car looks great from the front and the back, while the coupe's lines from the side are, well, a little weird. I'd imagine the four-door version is a bit less extreme, but make no mistake, you will turn heads in this car. You simply don't see it on the road in Milwaukee.
The Evoque is just a little offbeat, but in terms of driveability, it's extremely approachable â€“ even if you'll rarely tap into its off-road prowess. But it's great to know it's there.
The question is whether you can get on-board with its concept-car styling. After just a few weeks, I know I certainly can.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Andy Tarnoff
Published May 13, 2017
Such an unlikely pairing. The blue-eyed soul of Hall & Oates, or the Brit pop of Tears For Fears? Who was better Saturday night at the Bradley Center? Depends who you're asking.
Published May 11, 2017
Milwaukee artist Ava Herrider is an animal lover, but it took her a few career changes to settle upon pet portraiture as her full-time job. Last year, she decided to do what moves her: "paint things people love," as she says. In other words, their pets.
Published May 5, 2017
TIKI torches, the outdoor oil lamps synonymous with beach parties and backyard barbecues, aren't made in Maui or Malibu. Nope, the company is based in Menomonee Falls, a city slightly less frequently associated with Polynesian party ware.
Published April 28, 2017
VW built 21 million Beetles up until 2003. Thousands of those iconic Bugs are still on the road, and one Milwaukee company exists solely to build and rebuild their air-cooled engines. Mofoco, started by Randy Henning, is now owned by his son, Roy, and quietly services VW customers around the world.
Published April 25, 2017
While planning next week's trip Up North, I started wondering just how much of Wisconsin I've seen over these last 37 years. So, I downloaded a map and started drawing on it, including the route I have planned for next week.
Published April 14, 2017
Milwaukeeans love our 414, the area code covering the city, the county and parts of Muskego and Brookfield. It's been since 1947, when Bell Telephone established it, along with 715, in Wisconsin. But why did they pick 414?
Published April 12, 2017
Maybe it was all the hard living back then. Maybe it was all the mustaches. But how old was this motley Brewers Crew back in '82?
Published April 3, 2017
The Brewers lost 89 games in 2016, finishing 30.5 behind the Cubs. Then they got rid of Chris Carter, Martin Maldonado and Tyler Thornburg. Is there anywhere to go but up?
Published March 14, 2017
In a market with plenty of big box stores, how does owning a neighborhood Ace Hardware store in this era make sense? Easy, says owners Bob and Kristin Nell. It's about customer service.
Published March 8, 2017
You may be surprised to read this from OnMilwaukee Publisher Andy Tarnoff, but claiming newspapers are dead is at best myopic, and at worst, just wrong. They simply occupy a different place in society now.