I’m currently in the market for a new car. In my quest to become greener, I have decided to test drive crossovers to replace my current mid-size SUV. I was actually thinking of making the switch last year and got side tracked. So I’m putting my previous research to use to narrow down my choices. I see a bevy of crossovers navigating through traffic in Princeton, such as the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3, Lexus RX 350, Mercedes GLK350, and Volvo XC60, and most are on my list. I’ve already given the Audi Q5 a whirl, which has a number of nice features, and drives smoothly.
I wanted to make sure my info was up-to-date, so during a search I discovered a vehicle that wasn’t on my radar last year. That’s because it’s new for 2012, and I found it quite intriguing. It’s the new Range Rover Evoque, and it has a starting price a smidgen above the Land Rover LR2. While the other luxury crossovers try to refine their offerings every year, Range Rover has pushed the envelope for 2012, and has become an innovator in the niche thanks to the introduction of the Evoque. The RDX comes closest in regards to styling.
At first I thought the exterior design was too modern for the conservative Range Rover brand, but I understand their forward thinking. Victoria Beckham, a.k.a. Posh Spice, had a hand in the interior’s design, giving it a chic touch. The coupe is intended to appeal to a younger, urban market than the high-end Range Rover, but my question is does the 5-door model entice families in the ‘burbs? According to Land Rover Princeton Vice President & General Manager Jorge Figueroa, the Evoque is very successful in Princeton. Sales guide Steven Budenz predicts an 80/20 split in favor of the 5-door in our area.
Make no mistakes, the streamlined Evoque does live up to the Range Rover name. It comes well equipped with the latest tech, luxury, TRUE off-road capabilities, and for the first time, a progressive profile. The push button start (standard), was nice to see, but what excited me was the rotary gearshift that starts flush (photo right), then rises for use instead of the usual selection lever (inherited from Jaguar). You can choose a Sports mode for a more responsive ride, and if you use the paddle shifters, it simulates using a manual transmission. Getting the Prestige theme with options gets you closer to the high-end Range Rover.
Some standard goodies in the Pure theme are: an electronic park brake, Bluetooth phone & audio, 380 watt – 11 speaker Meridian audio system, and front and rear parking aid with a rear camera. The Evoque has four standard terrain response settings that are for the following driving conditions: normal, grass/gravel/snow, mud/ruts, and sand. I actually drive on the beach and over dunes in search of wild mustang. Score! PLUS, you can drive through 19.7″ of water, and in an area known for mild flooding, that comes in handy. Check near the bottom of the Evoque Explore page for more details.
The Range Rover Evogue is not for everyone. It took a day for me to adjust to the exterior design, but I can tell you that I’ve never been so excited to test drive a vehicle before. Maybe it’s all of those gadgets that come standard and that amazing panoramic roof that have gotten me all revved up. Or perhaps it’s the Range Rover brand at a more reasonable price that has piqued my interest. None the less, the Evoque has truly captured my attention. I will continue to test drive crossovers to make a fair comparison, but in my opinion the Range Rover Evoque has set the bar really high!
What are your opinions about luxury crossovers? What would you recommend to test drive? I’d love for you to share your experiences with me in the comment section, and/or vote below for which crossover I should take for a spin next.
All photos (except Land Rover Princeton) courtesy of Land Rover.