The Motor Trend 2012 SUV of the Year winner is the new compact luxury crossover Land Rover Range Rover Evoque. In a crop of few new models for 2012, the Evoque stands out for its combination of style, roominess, quality of materials, power, and fuel economy in a compact crossover package.
Motor Trend puts all new or significantly refreshed SUV models each year under a variety of different tests to determine how they measure up. They use six criteria to determine which model stands out. These criteria are listed below, along with comments of how the Evoque was rated.
1. Advancement In Design. The Evoque is aptly named. Its evocative, striking styling drew raves. It is rare to have an SUV that combines sexy and sophisticated, appealing to both genders. The Evoque is based on the Land Rover LR2.
2. Engineering Excellence. With its curvy, rakish lines, one might think that the Evoque would sacrifice most al of its utility. However, the Evoque still offers seating for five. Even though the model is a crossover with a high ride quality and agile handling, it has stayed true to Land Rover’s roots with its awesome off-road ability. The model also uses lightweight materials that help fuel economy.
3. Efficiency. The Evoque uses a Ford sourced 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 240 horsepower. The model gets class leading fuel economy of 19-mpg city and 28-mpg highway among its gas engine competitors. This is very good for an SUV model with its power and standard all-wheel drive (AWD). The Evoque has a 0-60 time of 6.7 seconds.
4. Safety. The Evoque comes with a long list of standard safety features including a knee airbag for the driver, rain sensing wipers, and adaptive headlights.
5. Value. The Evoque has a starting MSRP of $43,995, which is expensive for a luxury compact crossover. However, the Evoque comes with a lot of standard features that its competitors do not. For example, the Evoque features the latest version of Haldex’s AWD system.
6. Performance of Intended Function. The Evoque is the lightest, smallest, and most efficient vehicle ever built by Land Rover. The model hits the mark in terms of what consumers are looking for in a compact luxury crossover.
The Evoque is a worthy 2012 SUV of the Year winner in a weak field. Its competitors include the Acura ZDX, Infiniti EX, Volvo XC60, Audi Q5, Cadillac SRX, as well as 2011 SUV of the year winner, the Porsche Cayenne. Other models competing for the 2012 SUV of the year award included the BMW X3, Jeep Wrangler, and Mercedes-Benz ML. The all-new Honda CR-V was not available at the time of testing.
It will be interesting to see how the 2013 Ford Escape fares in this contest next year, as it will offer the same 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine found in the Evoque.