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Land Rover

2020 Land Rover Range Rover Sport HST

Iconic vehicles carry both a benefit and a burden with each new iteration. Does it get harder to live up to the past with each successive model? Perhaps. And with the changing automotive landscape, as the realities of climate change begin to penetrate the obfuscation thrown up by short sighted financial interests of oil companies, and major manufacturers plan for a greener, more electric-focused power source for future offerings, the impediments to purchasing a large, heavy, SUV from a legendary manufacturer are not insignificant.

DSC_5238And yet, there is no denying the pleasure of driving a new 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Sport HST. The Land Rover company traces its roots back to 1948’s introduction of the second four wheel drive vehicle following closely behind the Jeep. Four doors, the normal hatch rear opening, and all the trimmings the six cylinder twin turbo with electric supercharger all-wheel drive panoramic moon roof British luxuriousness on full display. Carbon fiber dash and other interior and exterior appointments, smooth leather, not just any leather, but Windsor leather with suede cloth bolsters. Beautiful silver paint, black roof and wheels – the sizable car has that slightly menacing, definitely imperious, potentially fast appearance.

DSC_5246With a curb weight of 5,130 pounds the zero to 60 isn’t bad – 5.9 seconds – but the 40 to 60, given the twin turbos, is a bit of a blast. And when all of that weight gets up and going, the feeling of the speed combined with the heft of the vehicle gives one a sense of serious security, and the allure of being able to impose one’s automotive will on the other lesser vehicles on the road. Which can be a dangerous feeling if not tempered by good sense and an awareness of the necessity to be safe, first and foremost. Safety is helped by the large, red brake calipers, which are larger in the front than the rear. (Red is part of the HST package – which isn’t an acronym for anything, just the name of the trim package.) An interesting result of physics – the front brakes do more of the stopping than the rear. Which if you think about it makes sense – the car is moving forward, so the energy is in the front, which always gets there first, except when driving in reverse of course. But we’ll leave that to Tom Cruise and stunt drivers in the Fast and the Always Furious. It’s also why on older cars that are updated it’s not necessary to replace drum brakes with discs all around, if you’re being judicious with the dollars spent, and the front brakes are enough. Drums do work to slow vehicles – it’s just that discs do work better.

DSC_5250There are the anticipated multiplicity of settings on the Rover. Up and down, wet roads, snowy roads, hills. Sport mode, comfort mode, auto mode. The Millennium Falcon is easier to fly than figuring out all the buttons and knobs and modes on most modern cars. My move is to leave it all in auto, and not worry about it. I did play with the height adjustment to see what it looked like raised all the way up. It’s funny for me, as a person on the taller side, to have to step down from a vehicle. And it made the wheels look small – which is funny, because they’re 21 inches and not small at all.

I was helping someone move some things, which provided a perfect real-world test of the Utility of the sport utility vehicle. The back lift door opens high, and the opening is wide, which is great. But for some reason the rear seats don’t fold all the way flat. There’s a chance I was doing it wrong – but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t operator error. Even with the slight elevation of half of the cargo space there was still ample room to move all kinds of items in one trip.

DSC_5254Like most high end modern cars – and many modern cars period – the Range Rover Sport HST comes with all kinds of driver assist technology. There are cameras all over the place – front facing, rear facing – and the ability to see a cobbled together overhead view of the car. Sensors on all the corners providing warnings of things like curbs or cars or people in proximity to the vehicle. If the lane guidance is on, and you change lanes without signaling there’s haptic feedback – the steering wheel shudders, lights appear on the screen in front of you. When cruise control is on the automatic braking system is engaged. And turning on the blinker initiates an automatic lane change, which is still a bit nuts but worked flawlessly. The big issue with all of these systems designed to make driving safer for the passengers, other cars, and pedestrians is that they may be having the opposite effect. Recent studies by the three A’s (as we call AAA in my family) Foundation for Traffic Safety and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute have found that these systems are more a source of distraction for the driver than a source of safety for all concerned. A little smart evidently isn’t smart enough.

When it comes to the engine, the new technologies provide some serious power and return increased fuel efficiency, thanks to the new inline six cylinder engine, with twin turbos and an electrical supercharger that kicks on in a half a second. With the automatic system that turns the engine off when you’re sitting at a stop light, or you just haven’t turned your car off, these new systems allow for fuel efficiency numbers that aren’t bad given the size and weight of the vehicle – 19 MPG city, 25 highway, for a combined 21 MPG.

Range Rover Sport - Ingenium six-cylinder gasoline engineOne issue for me was legroom. I had plenty of legroom in the front. But when my seat was where I wanted it, only small children or diminutive adults would be comfortable behind me. Which for a car that is not small. In fact, it’s 192″ L x 78″ W x 71″ H, or 16 feet long, six and a half feet wide, and almost six feet tall. What I’ve always wondered about SUVs is why the rear seats don’t move back. Use some of the cargo space in the back to provide the option of more legroom for the rear passengers. Some minivans have rear middle row seats that slide back for enhanced legroom. It’s a serious deficiency in an otherwise super appealing vehicle.

DSC_5236The other impediment being the price. The base price is $82,950. Then add things like Driver Assist Package at $4k, Tow Package at almost $1.1k, Meridien Signature 1700 watt Sound System for just over $4.5k, Carbon Fiber Exterior Pack at $3.5k, On/Off Road pack for what sounds like a bargain $565, some of this and some of that and voila the sticker bottom line is $105,170. Which is a serious number. It’s hard to figure out comparable vehicles. Especially given the heritage that Range Rover brings to the category. But in the luxury world, the Bentley Bentayga with a 542 V8 that gets to 60 under four seconds stickers at $168,000. Of course the fuel economy isn’t as good. But really once you’re in the six figure range it doesn’t seem like fuel economy is a deciding factor. The Mercedes AMG-GLS63 is a three row SUV and stickers just about $126,000. It really becomes a matter of which badge you prefer. Any vehicle at this level will be pretty amazing, with some significant highlights, and some things one may like better or worse than other vehicles of this size, power, and price range.

DSC_5245We’ve reached that point in the creation of automobiles where there really aren’t any more Yugos – cars that may or may not work as intended – and it all becomes a matter of your personal preference, your pocketbook, and your proclivity for frugality versus frills.

I’ll admit I missed the imposing, sleek, powerful HST when I had to turn it back over to the nice people who loaned it to me and it pulled away, off to another lucky reviewer. DSC_5241

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

Photos (c) Tod Mesirow; Engine Image (c) Land Rover

2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque First Edition: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Though it looks almost the same as its predecessor, the 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque could be named the Evolve. It’s a more refined version of itself, as if it had attended finishing school.

On paved roads it is commendably quiet, comfortable and luxurious with understated agility and dignified road manners suited to royalty. Queen Elizabeth, who does some of her own driving, would be at home in an Evoque.

rrevq20mysilveroffroad007The Evoque comes from Great Britain’s storied Land Rover, which means its schooling included brawny feats of strength negotiating trackless wilderness. The Evoque has that, including the capability to motor through nearly two feet of standing water.

In the U.S., however, it’s doubtful that many customers would choose the Evoque — or its siblings — for anything other than the fashionable image of parking it outside the house or business. A hard-core off-roader likely would buy a used Land Rover or the all-new Defender.

The original Evoque arrived in 2012 and has been a steady presence in Land Rover’s lineup. It is the smallest of the Range Rovers, competing in a class of small crossover SUVs that includes the Porsche Macan, Audi Q3 and Lincoln Corsair.

rrevq20mystonestatic004Though the base Evoque comes with a price tag of $43,645, the version tested here was a First Edition, which translated into the fully loaded model with every option and a sticker price of $57,845.

The most striking thing about it was its 21-inch wheels, which stylishly filled out the wheel openings and improved the ground clearance, already more than eight inches. However, for tough going at the original Evoque’s debut, the front bumper was removed for a better approach angle. The same might be needed for the 2020 model.

The tester came with Land Rover’s Terrain Response: selectable settings for on-road fuel economy; comfort; grass, gravel and snow; mud and ruts, and sand. There also was an automatic setting and hill descent control for off-roading.

rrevq20myredstatic013Power comes from Land Rover’s 246-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which delivers 269 lb-ft of torque, or twisting force. The engineers have done a masterful job of smoothing out inherent vibrations so this turbo four feels more like a smooth six-cylinder engine.

Turbo lag is almost nonexistent. The annoyance comes from the idle stop-start system, which shuts the engine down at stops, then takes a few seconds to restart before moving off. Fortunately, the stop-start can be turned off with the touch of a digital icon.

There are few buttons or switches controlling the Evoque. Almost everything operates digitally by touching a smooth surface. The equipment should include lessons in emoji reading to figure out what all the little symbols mean. Adjustments can be distracting and should not be attempted while underway.

rrevq20myinteriornd22111805The power gets to all  four wheels through a slick-shifting nine-speed automatic transmission that can be manually paddle-shifted. Besides the Drive position, there’s a sport setting that adjusts shifts to higher rpms for better performance.

Land Rover rates the zero to 60 mph acceleration at seven seconds, though the Evoque feels quicker and independent tests have put the acceleration in the six-second range. Top speed is rated at 143 mph.

But the proof is in the driving. Though the Evoque is a small, though not so tall, crossover SUV, it handles more like a sport sedan on twisting roads. Automatic torque vectoring divides the power side-to-side at the rear wheels to help hustle around curves and enhance the feeling of control.

rrevq20myinfotainments4422111801Inside, passengers are isolated from road, engine and wind noises in sumptuous surroundings that include dual automatic climate zones, supportive ventilated leather seats and quality trim materials.

As a small crossover, the Evoque does not offer generous space. Front-seat passengers have plenty and the back seat is barely accommodating of average-sized adults. But any poor soul relegated to the center-rear seat, with a hard cushion and big floor hump, should be a small child or gymnast. Rear vision is compromised by a small back window and large rear headrests. Behind the rear seat is a cargo area of 22 cubic feet.

Like some other European manufacturers, Land Rover doesn’t quite get a few things. The Evoque has a panoramic glass sunroof with an opaque sunshield. But it doesn’t open. The front sun visors do not slide on their support rods to adequately block sun from the sides. And there are no assist handles front or rear to help people enter and exit.

rrevq20myinteriornd22111822Specifications

  • Model: 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque First Edition four-door crossover sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged; 246 hp, 269 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Nine-speed automatic with manual-shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 14 feet 4 inches.
  • Height: 5 feet 5 inches.
  • EPA/SAE passenger/cargo volume: 92/22 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 3,935 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 20/27/23 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $57,845.
  • Price as tested: $57,845.

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

rrevq20mysilverstatic013Photos (c) Jaguar Land Rover

2019 Range Rover Supercharged: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Because it emerges from the storied Land Rover company in England, the 2019 Range Rover Supercharged arrives with a presumption that it can conquer trackless terrain anywhere.

In the United States, that translates into recreational off-roading in many venues around the country. But driving this powerful, expensive giant, it’s hard to imagine it being used as anything but a beautiful luxury boulevard SUV.

rr19my25071814At 16 feet 5 inches long and an inch over six feet tall, it’s way big for serious off-road adventures. For another, the luxurious tester came with a bottom-line price of $118,320. Unless you have megabucks to burn, it’s not the vehicle you’d want to scratch and bash in the outback.

As with any Land Rover, the right stuff nevertheless is there, delivering the serenity of knowing you’d have a possible exit in a dystopian scenario of aliens blowing up streets and freeways.

Other than that, most owners likely will have little inclination to learn its sophisticated all-wheel drive, air suspension system, terrain response with hill descent control, low-traction and hill launch assist, and roll stability control.

Range Rover PHEV Media Drive, March 2018

So, Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles, country clubs and cruising sedately to black-tie Oscar awards await. It’s a bit of a shame because the Land Rover Supercharged is a high-performance machine that can rip off zero to 60 mph acceleration in five seconds, with a top speed of 130 mph — notwithstanding a curb weight of 5,235 lbs.

In an era when turbocharged smaller engines are taking over the light vehicle landscape, the Land Rover Supercharged gets its motivation from a supercharged, 5.0-liter V8 engine that delivers 518 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque.

It gets the grunt to all four wheels under any road or off-road condition through an eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode controlled by paddles on the steering wheel — just like super cars — although paddles now show up on lesser cars as well.

rr19my25071810There’s a Sport setting on the rotary transmission selector that amps the acceleration and allows manual shifting. But underway in Drive you can’t get to it without shifting into neutral first.

With its air suspension system, which among other skills can lower the back end to ease cargo loading, the Land Rover Supercharged handles decently on twisting, hilly back roads. There’s little body roll or other drama unless you push it too hard. But understand that it is no sports sedan — or even a quick, smaller high-performance SUV like the Porsche Macan.

As a long-distance Interstate cruiser, however, it has few peers. The seats are sinfully supportive and comfortable, there’s minimal intrusion of wind, mechanical or road noise, and it tracks truly with few steering corrections needed.

rr19my25071817The difficulties come in little things that could be easily corrected. Worst is the so-called sun shade for the panoramic glass sunroof. Adhering to a current fad among luxury vehicles, the shade is made of a sort of perforated, cheesecloth-like cheap cloth that admits too much sunlight.

On the Land Rover Supercharged, especially on the sunny and extremely hot days much of the country experienced this last summer, the sunlight through the cheesecloth heats the cabin to the point where the air conditioning can barely keep up.

It’s reminiscent of military cargo airplanes where passengers sit in cloth sling seats with their torsos overheated while their legs freeze. The cheesecloth “sunshades” should prompt a movement among buyers to demand opaque shades that return the cozy ambiance of a closed vehicle.

rr19my25071818The Range Rover Supercharged is British, of course, which implies a certain amount of quirk. Another is the awkward power seat controls mounted on the doors. Most vehicles place them on the sides of the seat, which is way more intuitive. In Land Rover’s defense, Mercedes-Benz uses a similar system.

Then there are the Range Rover’s two big center touch screens that control vehicle and infotainment functions. They are mounted below the driver’s line of sight, at chest and belt-buckle height, and use tiny icons that require focus of the eyes and an aimed finger touch, making the driver take his or her eyes off the road.

Best to get everything set before moving off. Even better, get some lessons on how everything works to avoid angry outbursts. True, an owner’s time with the Supercharged will breed familiarity. But, as with so many luxury vehicles, these functions could easily be more intuitive.

rr19my25071811Specifications

  • Model: 2019 Range Rover Supercharged four-door sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine: 5.0-liter V8, supercharged; 518 hp, 461 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual-shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 16 feet 5 inches.
  • Height: 6 feet 1 inch.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 113/32 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 5,235 pounds.
  • Towing capability: 7,716 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 16/21/18 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $105,845.
  • Price as tested: $118,320.

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

Range Rover PHEV Media Drive, March 2018

Photos (c) Jaguar Land Rover

2018 Range Rover Velar: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Moneyed people can be picky, which likely is one reason for the all-new 2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar compact sport utility vehicle.

That’s a mouthful, but needed because all of the company’s SUVs bear the Land Rover name. The storied British company was founded after World War II and is renowned world-wide for building vehicles that can traverse almost any terrain.

Land Rover now is part of Jaguar Land Rover, still British but owned by Tata Motors of India, which has nurtured both brands to new respect in the global automotive industry.

rrvelar18mystatic070817004Land Rovers may bend — as in allowing lights or clutches to burn out in the Serengeti — but they almost never break down completely.

In recent times, with computerization and more sophisticated designs, they still project an aura of a vehicle that can go anywhere, any time. But they have morphed into the stuff of a different call of duty, one in which they serve the famous and wealthy on their rounds of country clubs and five-star resorts.

Though the Land Rover people assert that a surprising number of their customers take their expensive machines off-road purely for entertainment, it is quite likely any number of them never negotiate anything other than a paved highway or parking lot.

rrvelar18mystatic070817010For 2018, the company’s lineup has been simplified, bereft of any of those confusing alphanumeric designations. There are 11 models and trim levels, all bearing the Land Rover name. On the larger side are the Discovery and Discovery Sport models, two with 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines.

There also are eight versions of the Land Rover Range Rover: Evoque, the new Velar, Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. Smallest is the Evoque, which is the outlier of the bunch with a convertible model as well as hard tops with two or four doors and a choice of all-wheel or front-wheel drive. To satisfy customers who want their Rover just so, the Velar slots between the Evoque and Range Rover.

Though the new Velar — the name was cobbled up from letters in the Land Rover name — is classified as a compact SUV, it tilts toward midsize. Passenger space amounts to 99 cubic feet — about what you find in a midsize sedan. But it also has a whopping 34 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second-row seats. It competes against the compact Audi Q5 and BMW X3, as well as the midsize Audi Q7 and BMW X5.

rrvelar18my281glhdinteriordetails010317The Velar, which shares its underpinnings with the Jaguar F-Pace, embodies a new design language for Range Rover vehicles. Aimed at the on-road driving experience, it is more streamlined with seating for the driver down lower than on other Land Rover vehicles.

Though you can order a four-cylinder Velar with a base price of about $51,000, the tested model was the R-Dynamic HSE P380, which has a single price of $78,095 that includes a full load of optional equipment.

It is powered by a 380-hp, 3.0-liter V6 supercharged engine that delivers 332 lb-ft of torque, enough to propel this all-wheel-drive, 4,675-lb metal sculpture to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

22.12.16   V1
22.12.16 V1

Despite its bulk, the Velar has a sprightly feel in traffic. If you turn off the stop-start system, which was the preference here, there’s no hesitation off the line when you punch the gas pedal. The eight-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and you can shift for yourself with paddles on the steering wheel.

The Velar exudes luxury. Seats are supportive and comfortable, upholstered in soft leather. Sound deadening materials eliminate most road and wind noise, though some engine sounds intrude through the firewall under hard acceleration.

rrvelar18mystaticaccessories070817025Infotainment functions are controlled by two 10-inch touch screens that eliminate almost all buttons and switches. However, the screens themselves incorporate 41 (count ’em) virtual buttons. There also are another 16 buttons and switches on the steering wheel, so figure on a lengthy study period to learn the whole megillah.

One cool feature: a shockproof and waterproof “activity key” that substitutes for the ignition remote. Leave the remote in the Velar while you go swimming or kayaking; the activity key will get you back in the driver’s seat.

The Velar’s panoramic sunshade, following a current fad, is made of a cheesy cloth that admits too much sunlight. And the sun visors do not slide on their support rods to adequately block sun from the sides.

rrvelar18mystaticaccessories070817026Specifications

  • Model: 2018 Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic HSE P380 four-door sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine:0-liter V6, supercharged, 380 hp, 332 lb-ft of torque.
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 15 feet 9 inches.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 99/34 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 4,675 pounds.
  • City/highway/combined fuel consumption: 18/24/20 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $78,095.
  • Price as tested: $78,095.

Disclaimer: This test drive was conducted at a manufacturer-sponsored press event. The manufacturer provided travel, accommodations, vehicles, meals and fuel.

rrvelar18mystatic070817005Photos (c) Jaguar Land Rover

2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport HSE Td6: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

More than anything, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport imparts a feeling of superiority.

It’s not unlike imagining yourself in an episode of “The Crown,” with the trappings of Buckingham Palace. Or living in “Downton Abbey,” though more like Lady Edith Grantham instead of cook Beryl Patmore.

RangeRoverSportTd6048The superior feelings arise from the storied reputation of Great Britain’ s Land Rovers — and their Range Rover offspring — which are among the most capable passenger vehicles anywhere.

Obviously, there are others with the competences to evoke similar emotions, notably America’s Jeep. But Jeep produces workmanlike and middle-class vehicles, like the go-anywhere Wrangler and even high-performance versions of the Grand Cherokee.

Land Rover hews to the luxury side of the road in its modern iterations. It was not always so. After the company started in the wake of World War II, its vehicles were ubiquitous in rugged, road-less areas in Africa and elsewhere in the world.

RangeRoverSportTd6051Now you’re as likely to see a Land Rover or Range Rover parked next to high-end designer stores as negotiating the desert terrain of Moab, Utah.

Driven for this review was the 2017 Range Rover Sport HSE Td6, a midsize, two-row sport utility vehicle. It is the direct descendant of the Land Rovers of the 1950s and 1960s, including the 88 Series made famous in the movie, “The Gods Must Be Crazy.” The Sport can even be ordered with diesel power — a $1,500 option — like many of its predecessors.

RangeRoverSportTd6077Though it can be equipped with a winch like the one that hauled the movie’s 88 up into a tree, the new Sport is as well outfitted as any luxury car. Amenities include automatic climate control, perforated leather seats, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, touch-screen infotainment interface with a navigation system, hands-free power tailgate, rear-view camera, rain-sensing windshield wipers and a panoramic sunroof.

With all that, the tested Sport likely is as capable off-road as any of its progenitors because it came with a powerful diesel engine and modern, computer-controlled off-road driver assists. Chief among them is Land Rover’s Terrain Response system, which adjusts drivetrain components with driver-selectable settings for normal use, snow, mud and sand.

RangeRoverSportTd6083There’s also hill-descent control, emergency-brake assist, hill-start assist, low-traction launch and trailer stability control. The Sport can tow a load that weighs more than 7,700 pounds.

As a high-end HSE model, the tested Sport arrived with plenty of standard equipment and a long list of options, including quad-zone climate control, blind spot warning, adaptive cruise control, reverse traffic detection, lane keeping assist and adaptive headlights. All of this added up to a suggested delivered price of $86,445.

RangeRoverSportTd6103It is powered by a 254-hp turbocharged V6 diesel engine that develops a mighty 440 lb-ft of torque, or twisting force, that likely could pull an elephant out of a mud hole — if one could be found on Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles. Urea injection is used for pollution control.

Power gets to all four wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode. A single-speed electronic transfer case apportions the power.

The main thing you notice about the Sport HSE Td6 is what you don’t notice: Cabin noise. Land Rover’s designers and engineers have so muffled the diesel engine sounds that most people would be hard-pressed to guess that it is a compression-ignition oil burner.

RangeRoverSportTd6111What it delivers — as most diesels do — is improved fuel economy. The city/highway/combined fuel consumption of the tested Sport comes to 22/28/24 mpg — exceptional for a bulky vehicle that weighs 5,335 lbs.

On the road, however, you barely notice the bulk. The Sport has a hefty feel from its electric power steering and tracks well in a straight line. The air suspension system soaks up road irregularities.

A few quibbles are in order. The panoramic sunroof has a cheesy, perforated sunshade that admits too much sunlight. Sunshades should be opaque. Also, the sun visors do not slide on their support rods to adequately block sun from the sides.

Visibility to the rear is restricted by large, back seat headrests, the collision warning sometimes voices false alarms and setting radio presets is needlessly complicated. On the plus side, if the driver forgets to shift out of “drive” when shutting off the engine, the transmission automatically shifts to “park.”

None of the quibbles, however, impinge much on the feeling of superiority.

RangeRoverSportTd6044Specifications

  • Model: 2017 Range Rover Sport HSE Td6 four-door sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine:0-liter diesel V6, turbocharged, 254 hp, 440 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic with manual shift mode and all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 15 feet 11 inches.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 108/28 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 5,335 pounds.
  • Towing capability: 7,715 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 22/28/24 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $73,645.
  • Price as tested: $86,445.

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

RangeRoverSportTd6063Photos (c) Land Rover.

2017 Range Rover Evoque Convertible: A DriveWays Review…

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.

2017 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Convertible

by Tod Mesirow

There’s not a deep reserve of demand for an SUV convertible – as far as anyone knows.  In fact, convertibles in general make up less than 1 percent of all registered cars in America.  (Hawaii leads the way with almost 4 percent but Florida is beating California with 2.12 to 1.59 percent.)  As we all know, though, there is a growing demand for SUVs.   Even while overall sedan sales slowly decline, sales of SUVs continue to rise.  And the compact luxury crossover SUV class is especially crowded.  So maybe – just maybe – someone at Land Rover looked at the Range Rover Evoque and asked the question: “How do we get some extra attention?”  A young upstart in the back of the room timidly raised his or her hand and said, “Turn it in to a convertible.” The suggestion was no doubt greeted with uproarious laughter heavily tinged with derision.  But then, someone in authority chimed in: “Great idea!”

Looking at the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque convertible, however, I’m not so sure about how brilliant an idea it really is.  Already a distinctive looking SUV, making it a convertible is like doubling down on the odd lines, the raked rear roof and chopped look.  While driving it around a guy in a 911 convertible asked at a stoplight if it was a custom car – not an odd question, especially in Los Angeles.  When I told him “no,” he gave a thumbs-up and an appreciative head bob before blasting off.

With an aluminum turbocharged four-cylinder engine putting out 240 hp, we weren’t going to be able to keep up with the 911.  And yet the Evoque manages to feel sure-footed and capable of effective highway speeds.  It’s also able to pull its way up one of the steepest streets in California, Baxter Street, where limousines have been known to become teeter totters, and grown drivers pull over part of the way up to stop and cry.

When I was growing up, my parents each had their own convertible.  Our two family cars were a 1970 Ford LTD convertible – yellow – and a 1970 Mustang convertible – orange. I knew those cars pretty well. One of my weekly chores was to wash each of them. Driving them was fun for a teenager, sometimes, but the Washington, D.C. weather didn’t do me many favors. Instead of becoming a life-long lover of open air cars, I have in fact never owned one, and have never considered owning one. I find them too windy at speed and too hot sitting at a stoplight.  Maybe 17 percent of the time there’s a great feeling of whisking along with a 360-degree unobstructed view – if in fact it was possible to be owl-like with one’s head and swivel the whole way around.

Getting into the Evoque is easy – it’s not a giant climb up like some full-sized SUVs.  And the mechanism for putting the top down – and up – has been amazingly well-crafted. There’s just one button that needs to be engaged throughout the brief process. It causes the windows to go down, and the top to unlatch and fold its way back behind the rear seats.  Simple.  Putting it up works just as easily. Unlike my parents’ old cars, there’s nothing to be done beyond engaging the button. No seating of pins, placing of latches, matching sure things are aligned. The mechanism works smoothly and easily.

With the top down, it’s off we go. The Evoque has the full complement of modern systems available, including proximity warnings while parking and driving, rear-view camera, guiding stripes placed on screen, full touchscreen access to the temperature controls, navigation, seat adjustments, entertainment systems and cell phone connections. It’s becoming standard to feel like settling in to the cockpit of some modern space age vehicle when getting in to a new car, and there’s something reassuring about all of that technology.

Out on the road, the Evoque handles the basic tasks as it should – cornering, accelerating, braking.  It’s not a giant SUV, so there’s no ungainly feeling to driving along the Pacific Coast Highway, which is where convertibles belong.  Looking to the left while driving north, the ocean glimmers with its perpetual motion.  To the right, the hills are pregnant with houses.  It’s easy to imagine a small surfboard or boogie board stuck into the foot wells of the back seat. Okay maybe not a boogie board – the wind would whip it up and away. But a surfboard – that image works. And the trunk, while not very large because of the space necessary to stow the convertible top, is plenty big enough for a few boogie boards.

The back seat, as well, is not as big as it would otherwise be, again because of the top.  It has to go somewhere.  Which makes the Evoque convertible a three-person car for adults, or four if the two in the back are smaller children.

Comparing the Evoque convertible is difficult – because since the demise of the Nissan Murano Convertible, there are no other SUV convertibles. But it might be instructive to look at two others in the same compact luxury crossover class – the BMW X3 and the Audi Q5 and compare things like horsepower, size, MPG, and price.

The X3 with a turbo four-cylinder produces 240 hp, the same as the Evoque convertible.  The Audi Q5 also with a turbo four-cylinder produces 220 hp, the lower of the three, with an eight-speed automatic transmission and AWD.   MPG is 20 city/28 highway and has a $42,750 price tag.  The Q5 is 182.6 inches long.  The Evoque is 172 inches long.   The X3 is 183.4 inches long, also with AWD and eight-speed transmission.  MPG is 21 city/28 highway, and carries a $40,950 ticket.  The hardtop version of the Evoque five door model for a straight comparison is $51,470 msrp, with a nine-speed transmission and 4WD.  The convertible version is only slightly more – $52,095, which is a departure from cars like the Mustang and the Camaro, where convertible versions incur a $5,000 and $7,000 premium over their hardtop siblings. The Evoque convertible is rated a similar 20 MPG city/ 28 highway – though one has to imagine that with the top down highway mileage would be lower due to the reduction in the streamlined shape cruising up the California coastline.

Regardless of the details, for most drivers the big questions come down how does it feel to drive, and how do I feel driving it?  The 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Convertible feels like a luxury vehicle while driving it, but I feel like I’m in an oddball when I think about how it looks. Almost as if it came from an alternate bubble universe, where things were familiar, but somehow just off that little bit. For the right person, the Evoque convertible is a dream car. For everyone else, it’s a bit of a curiosity, an ugly duckling that looks like a swan to those who fall for it. And for Land Rover/Tata, their new model may just be the thing that calls attention to the rest of their flock, which can’t help but be a good thing.

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

 

Photos (c) Tod Mesirow.

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