1. What’s new for 2016?
Updated styling and new safety and infotainment features. With its couture looks and premium accoutrements, this SUV helped launch the now-crowded premium-compact-crossover segment, and the 2016 changes are its most extensive since its model-year 2012 introduction.
Two- and four-door-hatchback body styles return, both with a front end freshened by a new grille and LED headlamp clusters with LED daytime running lights that integrate the turn signals. The hood is new, too, and the four-door gains the sporty top-surface vents previously exclusive to the two-door.
A hands-free power tailgate is a new feature and it has a spoiler with an LED stop lamp. There are three new alloy-wheel designs. The seats and interior door panels are revised and there are upgrades to the already impressive array of soft-touch cabin materials. The dashboard touchscreen gains smartphone-like swipe-screen control and access to new apps, while the all-wheel drive system gains off-road cruise control.
2. How much does it cost and what sort of deal can I expect?
Evoque sales are riding a tide that’s elevating demand for all crossovers — premium compacts in particular — but Range Rover nonetheless responds to stiffening competition by revamping the ’16 edition.
Presenting an image of greater value for the money, it’s trimmed a few of the most expensive models and relegated some of their features to the options list. Moreover, expect dealers to be willing negotiators on price and the automaker to offer cut-rate financing, though probably not outright cash-back incentives.
Gone is a panoply of trim levels that included trims named Pure, Pure Plus, Pure Premium, Prestige, Dynamic, and Autobiography. The ’16 four-door line condenses to SE, SE Premium, HSE, and HSE Dynamic models, with base-prices ranging from $24,470-$54,770, including the automaker’s $995 destination fee. That compares to a model-year 2015 range of roughly $43,000-$61,000 and brings Evoque more in line with key rivals, such as the category’s top-selling Cadillac SRX and the popular BMX X3 and Lexus NX.
The ’16 two-door line is trimmed from three models to two, the SE Premium, starting at $47,670, and the HSE Dynamic, priced from $54,770.
As for deals, pricing service TrueCar.com calculates average transaction prices for the 2015 Evoque trending around 4 percent below suggested-retail base prices. That’s about par for the class, though notable exceptions include transaction prices for the SRX trending some 9 percent below retail, those for hot new NX at around 2.7 percent below, and those for the high-demand-limited-supply Porsche Macan at under 1 percent.
As the updated Evoque filtered into showrooms during summer 2015, Range Rover was offering qualified buyers financing at 1.9-6.4 percent on ‘15 models and is likely to do the same on the ‘16s once inventories build up.
3. When will the next big change be?
Fueled by investment from its owner, Tata Motors of India, Range Rover, along with corporate cousins Land Rover and Jaguar, is busy turning over its model line.
On the SUV side, the flagship Range Rover and best-selling Range Rover Sport have been redesigned since 2012. The Land Rover Discovery Sport – a squared-up family-oriented relation to the Evoque – has been introduced to replace the LR2. And the all-new Discovery is set to supplant the LR4 before Evoque’s next redesign, expected no sooner than model-year 2018.
The ’16 freshening will likely carry it through to that redesign. But additions to the line are due before then. Model-year 2017 will herald the introduction of two new models: a higher-performance version with some 285 horsepower – about 45 more than today’s Evoque — and a boutique convertible edition of the two-door.
4. What options or trim level is best for me?
If you’ve an appetite for look-at-me automotive fashion, get the two-door. Range Rover calls it the “coupe” and it comes across like a concept-car escapee from an auto-show turntable.
Own it. Go for the HSE Dynamic in, say, Fuji White with the Santorini Black contrasting roof ($650). Let loose with the Black Design Package: $3,500 for more black exterior trim, including dark 20-inch split-spoke alloy wheels. Heat and cool your rump with the luxury-seating package; let the vehicle park, emergency-stop, and steer itself with driver assistance packages; annoy the neighbors with the 825-watt, 17-speaker, subwoofered Meridian-brand audio system ($1,000); and start bargaining down from a $65,820 sticker.
Or maintain some degree of decorum and choose a four-door. Its styling is nearly as radical and you’ll get a back seat that’s roomier and infinitely easier to get into and out of, plus more cargo volume.
All models have the same powertrain (see below) and come with leather upholstery but the best value is an HSE. It includes some desirable features optional or unavailable on the SE, has an impressively large panoramic glass roof, and allows you to select from a useful range of options.
It starts at $51,470 and includes a navigation system. We’d add the $2,100 Driver Assistance Package, primarily to get those cool new LED headlamps, plus a head-up display that projects key instrument readings on the windshield. The $2,700 Driver Assistance Plus package bundles self-parking with new safety features, such as lane-keep assist (automatically steers back if you wander from your lane) and autonomous braking (detects potential frontal collisions and automatically slows or stops the vehicle) that have been offered on various rivals for years.
The $1,500 Luxury Seating Package heats and cools the front seats and installs a massaging feature. It also heats the steering wheel, rear seats, windshield, and washer jets. That’s a well-equipped compact-luxury crossover for a princely but relatively palatable MSPR of $57,770.
5. What engine do you recommend?
There’s but one, and it’s arguably Evoque’s least flattering feature. A holdover from the pre-Tata days of Ford corporate control, the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder has 240 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. That’s middling for this class, but the engine’s coarseness at idle, rough restarts during automatic stop-stop cycles, and degree of turbo lag from low speeds are out of sync with more refined rivals.
So, too, can be the behavior of the nine-speed automatic transmission. It furnishes prompt, smooth gear changes in normal driving, but tends to wait too long to downshift when you want to merge or pass highway-speed traffic and need delay-free response.
True to Range Rover/Land Rover heritage, every Evoque comes with an accomplished all-wheel drive (AWD) system – plus the ability to wade water 19.7 inches deep. Not many owners take advantage, but the AWD system’s ability to seamlessly direct torque both fore and aft and side to side at the rear axle is a boon to dry-road handling. It also has a handy terrain-response feature that lets you dial in suspension and drivetrain settings to suit a variety of conditions, from mud and ruts to snow and sand. For ’16, it gains All Terrain Progress Control, essentially off-road cruise control that limits speeds to a crawl, allowing the driver to concentrate on navigating challenging trails.
6. How is the fuel economy?
On par with rivals of similar power, at an EPA-rated 21/30/24 mpg city/highway/combined.
7. How does it handle?
Quite well. Grip and balance in turns is impressive and the feel in changes of direction is taut and athletic. In fact, reaction to steering inputs can be so quick that some might interpret its manner as too darty in everyday driving. Assess critically before you commit.
8. Are the controls easy to use?
Yes, reflecting the same balancing act between form and function that characterizes the exterior styling. The transmission, for example, is governed by a rotary dial that sits flush with the center console and automatically rises when you start the engine. It’s theatrical, but falls easily to hand and turning it to select a gear quickly becomes second nature. Some buttons on the steering-wheel spokes could be more clearly identified, but climate and infotainment controls are all easy to reach.
All models have a dashboard screen with Range Rover’s updated InControl interface. The screen’s horizontal orientation somehow makes it look less than the full 8-inches diagonal the specs say it is. But access and swiping to smartphone apps is a breeze. Onboard navigation is included with all but the base SE model.
9. Is it comfortable?
It’s roomier than it looks but rides rougher than it should. Front-seaters have good room on buckets with improved support for ’16. Climbing into or out of the rear seat on two-door models would challenge even a contortionist but as in the four-door, there’s more space back there than the sloping roofline would suggest. The low-mounted bench plays a role, but even adults won’t feel penalized – as long as they don’t have to deal with two-door ingress and egress.
Front or rear, occupants enjoy an uncommonly upscale setting. Dash- and door-panel surfaces are deeply padded and carefully stitched and complimented by rich wood and brushed aluminum accents. Cabin décor is a selling point.
Rough pavement reveals significant impact harshness transmitted from the low-profile tires fitted to those big 19- and 20-inch wheels that do more for Evoque’s appearance than for its ride quality. Along with a bit more mechanical and road noise than in rivals from BMW and Lexus such as the This is not a selling point.
Cargo volume is slightly less than class leaders such as the X3, Acura RDX, and Volvo XC60, but even with most others in the category with both body styles furnishing a still-useful 20 cubic feet or so behind the rear seat and around 50 with it folded.
10. What about safety?
Evoque hasn’t been crash-tested under the two most relevant protocols, the government’s 5-Star Safety Rating system and the insurance-industry-sponsored Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s battery of even-more demanding evaluations.
The 2016 safety-feature upgrades are welcome, if overdue. The Evoque can now slow itself at highway speeds if sensors detect you’re closing too fast on traffic ahead and automatically stop from low speeds to avoid rear-ending a vehicle ahead. It can also steer itself back if you’ve inadvertently strayed from your traffic lane. Note, however, that these autonomous aids are available only on the HSE and HSE Dynamic models and only as part of options packages priced at $2,100 and $3,400, depending on associated equipment.
11. How’s the reliability and resale value?
Iffy and dandy, respectively. In the latest surveys by Consumer-research firm J.D. Power owners rated the 2015 Evoque average in initial quality. That’s step up from the below-average ratings it earned from 2012-2014 — although its ratings for predicted reliability and dependability remain below average. (In 2015 surveys, J.D. Power’s overall quality leader in the Small Premium SUV class was the Q3, with the Mercedes-Benz GLK winning the award for dependability.)
These spotty ratings are consistent with the Land Rover’s poor showing in J.D. Power’s 2015 study of problems experienced during the past 12 months by original owners of 2012 model-year vehicles. The brand ranked a dismal 30 among the 31 brands measured.
The news is brighter on the resale front. Residual-tracking ALG ranks the Evoque above average for value retained after five years. It projects the four-door will retain 36-41 percent of its original purchase price, depending on trim level, and the two-door 33-37 percent.
12. Is it better than the competition?
It’s grand at getting you noticed, terrific at satisfying your inner interior decorator, and fine at taking you quickly through turns. Most rivals are better at keeping you isolated from bumps and noise. And Evoque’s Ford-derived engine can’t match the more refined nature of virtually every competitor’s turbocharged four-cylinder, not to mention the smooth power delivery of the six-cylinders in the class. Factor in the dependability roll-of-the-dice, and you’ve got to be quite enamored of this thing’s admittedly individualistic styling and urban-hip image to take the plunge.