The Range Rover Evoque is a likeable little tyke. As the entry point to the vaunted Range Rover luxury SUV line up, it’s got no easy task to fulfill the expectations afforded by the family name. And yet, despite a little four-cylinder engine and a starting price less than half of its bigger siblings, the Evoque truly feels worthy of the Range Rover moniker.
When introduced a few years ago, the Evoque was based on the forgettable Freelander/ LR2 platform – the previous entry point to the Land Rover brand in North America. Unlike the rather plain-looking LR2, the Evoque was – and is – all about the flash of its styling. Even eight years after the LRX concept vehicle (that looked just like the production Evoque), the little Rover still looks like it would be just as at home on an auto show turntable as it is parked in front of a tony boutique.
With such aggressive proportions – trim dimensions and a low and sloped roofline – it would be easy to write off the Evoque as little more than a mobile fashion accessory for the purse-dog crowd. But Range Rover wants consumers to recognize it as a legitimate sport utility vehicle; one that’s capable of hauling people and stuff just like any other compact luxury sport ute. Plus, it is still a Range Rover, which means it’s also capable of going off-road, to places no vehicle that looks this stylish has any business going.
Like, for instance, the backwoods hill country of Georgia, which is exactly where I took this one you see here.
Part work and part play, my friend and I loaded up the little Rover with a series of big Pelican cases, tripods, cameras and our own personal luggage for a journey that would take us into the Deep South. During the loading process, we were careful to fold down only the 60-part of the 60/40-split rear seat, remembering that the trip home would also have my brother (and his luggage) joining us too.
Despite an alarming pile of equipment to bring, the Evoque contained it all without having to Tetris too many pieces. For 2016, the Evoque adds a Gesture Tailgate feature that enables the tailgate to be opened by pointing a foot under the rear bumper.
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With an early morning departure, we set out and crossed the border with little delay, cycling between satellite radio stations and our iPods. Having good music is key to a successful road trip, and choosing a road trip companion with similar musical tastes can be the difference between a fun, memorable journey and a much less pleasant one. Our Evoque featured a powerful Meridian audio system that sounded great and was thankfully powerful enough to drown out our sing-along sessions.