by Frank A. Aukofer

Two common reactions emerge when people see the 2017 Range Rover Evoque Convertible. If the person knows little about the brand or model, it’s “Wow.” One who is more informed asks, “Why?”

The latter folk recall the ill-fated Nissan Murano convertible, called the Cross Cabriolet, which was spun off in 2011 from the company’s midsize crossover sport utility vehicle. Its size and bulbous styling did not translate well into chop-top treatment and it vanished after the 2014 model year.

RREvoqueConvLADRAFTND058-resize-1024x683But the Evoque ragtop could soldier on despite total sales so far of about 1,200. For one thing, it is a British Land Rover, with all of the cachet of the storied brand. With America’s Jeep, it has earned world-wide renown for its go-anywhere capabilities.

But both companies have strayed. Some Jeep models, even with all-wheel drive, don’t measure up to purpose-built versions like the Wrangler and Unlimited.

Similarly, for all of its off-road heritage, the Range Rover Evoque is not as Serengeti-ready as its siblings. When introduced, the Land Rover trail masters had to remove the front bumpers from the test vehicles to improve the approach angle for off-road obstacles. It obviously was intended as a small luxury crossover SUV.

RREvoqueConvLADRAFTND046-resize-1024x683That orientation bleeds over to more adept Land and Range Rovers. Many of them spend their lifetimes in garages of luxury homes, parked in front of designer stores or tooling majestically around in swanky shopping centers.

The Evoque convertible fits that paradigm, especially in the tested top-of-the-line HSE Dynamic version, which arrived with a comprehensive suite of safety and luxury equipment, much of it standard, especially Land Rover’s sophisticated systems that augment the all-wheel drive.

Among them: terrain response adjustable for different conditions, special off-road antilock braking system, and roll-stability and hill-descent controls. Others enhance on-road performance: torque-vectoring control, cornering-brake control, emergency brake-assist and hill-start assist.

RREVQConvertibleStatic09111507-resize-1024x768The tested Evoque also came with blind-spot warning, leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, pushbutton starting, automatic stop-start system, 19-inch alloy wheels, power seats and keyless locking.

Though you might find a base SE model at $51,470 — by itself out of reach for many buyers — the tested HSE Dynamic came with a $58,270 price tag. Add its long list of extras and it topped out at $69,685.

lrevoqueconvertiblespotifyimage20091605-resize-1024x683Options included lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, parallel parking assist, a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, surround-view camera, SXM satellite radio, folding rear armrest with a ski pass-through and a heated steering wheel.

However, there were a couple of negatives. The sun visors did not slide on their support rods to fully block sunlight from the side. And with the obtuse controls on the center screen, owners should carefully read the owner’s manual or they may spend frustrating hours trying to figure out how to re-set the trip odometers or save favorite radio stations.

lrevoqueconvertiblespotifyimage20091610-resize-1024x721The Evoque convertible is set up for four people, though the back seat is tight. Moreover, it doesn’t have enough space for everybody’s luggage. Its trunk measures less than nine cubic feet because the convertible top boot gobbled space. So, the shallow trunk is down low with a lid that sticks straight out when opened, requiring the loader to duck underneath. Awkward.

Dropping or raising the top, however, is a breeze. A single switch folds it in about 18 seconds, even moving at up to about 30 miles an hour. It nestles into its cubby and forms its own cover. Raising the top takes a few seconds longer. There’s a wind blocker stashed in the trunk that can be manually installed, but you mostly don’t need it.

RREVQConvertibleInterior09111506-resize-1024x948Road performance is so-so. The Evoque convertible uses the same turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that was developed when Ford owned Land Rover. It delivers 240 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque, sent to all four wheels through a 9-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted manually.

But at 4,525 pounds the convertible weighs about 400 pounds more than the two-door and four-door hardtop Evoque models. Though it boasts of a top speed of 130 mph, the zero to 60 mph acceleration time is more than eight seconds.

Of course, as a luxury convertible its orientation leans toward leisurely cruising on pleasant summer days. And it does have more off-road chops than other convertibles except for vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler or the fabled Land Rover Defender.

RREvoqueConvLADRAFTND007-resize-1024x683Specifications

  • Model: 2017 Range Rover Evoque HSE two-door convertible.
  • Engine:0-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged, 240 hp, 250 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Nine-speed automatic with manual shift mode.
  • Overall length: 14 feet 4 inches
  • EPA passenger/trunk volume: 87/9 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 4,525 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 20/28/23 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $58,270.
  • Price as tested: $69,685.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.

RREVQConvertibleDriving09111502-resize-1024x683Photos (c) Land Rover.