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The 2012 Range Rover Evoque

The new Range Rover Evoque is not for shy folks. Park it anywhere and you’ll draw a crowd. Range Rovers and Land Rovers have always been scarce enough to create interest, but the Evoque is in a visual class by itself. Not just of crossovers and SUVs, but vehicles in general.

Available in three- (coupe) or five-door versions, the Evoque began life as a concept car known as the LRX, which was unveiled at the 2008 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Where it was a huge hit. Lucky for the buying public, Land Rover remained pretty true to the design of the LRX when it began production of the Evoque in July. If I had to pick one for looks it would be the coupe, which has a slightly more downward slope to the roof as it heads rearward; if I had to pick one for practicality, it’d be the five-door which has much easier access to the rear seat. And either of them would have to be in one of the darker colors with a white top. The Baltic Blue five-door I recently checked out (or is it “chequed” out?) at Northtown Land Rover was especially striking—even without the two-tone paint scheme—with a tan/ivory/espresso interior which just beckons you to—get in already!

And although that roofline looks low, there’s no problem climbing in to either the front or the back of the five-door (the coupe is a bit more complicated getting into the back, but what coupe isn’t?). Once you’re in there you’ll be treated to a ton of room. With the four wheels pushed out to the extreme corners of the car, the interior space is maximized. Even headroom is no problem for six-footers like me. Controls are logically placed and well within reach. Outward vision on the five door is a bit hampered by the door frames and small rear side window, but the coupe has a larger rear side window which makes it much easier to see back in the D-pillar area. Upward vision is something else again thanks to the panoramic glass roof which encompasses just about the entire top. It’s made of toughened, dark-tinted glass, and features an interior blind for those who prefer a little more intimacy from time-to-time. The glass is fixed and does not open, which allows for the largeness of it all. Both coupe and five-door versions have good space behind the rear seat for storage, and are equipped with adjustable tie-downs to keep your stuff where you put it. Access to the rear cargo area is made easier by the power hatch which operates with the push of a button.

All Evoques are powered by a 2.0-liter direct-injection engine, rated at 240 horsepower and connected to a six-speed automatic transmission, EPA-rated at 19/28 miles per gallon city/highway. On every Evoque you’ll also find electric-assisted power steering, four-wheel-drive, rear park aid, and four terrain response settings: general driving, grass/gravel/snow/mud and ruts, and sand. Beautiful as it is, the Evoque is a true off-road vehicle with excellent front and rear approach angles. It’s no wonder Northtown Land Rover salesman Greg Schmidt was quick to point out that the Evoque was named North American Truck of the Year and Motor Trend Magazine SUV of the Year.

This week’s featured Evoque was equipped at the Prestige trim level. The Pure is the entry-level Evoque, if you will, with a starting price of $43,995 for the coupe. Next step up is the Dynamic at $52,895. The Prestige is the top of the line five-door with a starting price of $52,395—options on our Baltic Blue example included the climate comfort package and satellite/HD radio, which brought the bottom line to $54,145.

If you could only charge people for ogling it; it’d be paid for in no time!

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Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.

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