The first thing you need to know about daily driving Range Rover's Evoque is that getting gas takes a lot longer in this vehicle. This has nothing to do with the intake flow rate of the Evoque's fuel filler, and everything to do with the eye-catching, kinetic styling that Rover managed to shrink-wrap around its tiny crossover. In the time it takes to fill its tank with premium, no fewer than two or three fellow gas-station patrons will inquire about the Evoque. When you're on the road, people whip their heads around as they drive by, tapping their passengers on the shoulder and pointing. It got to the point where I was almost certain I was going to witness an accident right in front of me. Luckily, that didn't happen, but people are drawn to the car's striking appearance, and many want to know what it's like to own one.

I too was curious when I ordered a five-door version for our long-term test fleet after the staff named it Motor Trend's Sport/Utility of the Year for 2012. Once I took possession, I vowed to introduce it to as much of the wilderness as my weekends would allow, exploring its ability to wander freely off the beaten path. Task number one was to find out how many off-road ingredients Land Rover baked into its Evoque cake.

A camping trip to California's Los Padres National Forest provided the opportunity to test the Terrain Response system. Working as advertised, it easily scooted to the top of a loose-dirt ridge, then safely modulated the vehicle's downhill speed using Hill Descent Control. Both systems proved Land Rover had placed lots of importance on electronic-aided systems that boost driver confidence once the small 'ute leaves the pavement.

A backpacking trip to Lake Tahoe began with some quick dashes through the paved back roads of the Sierras and a solid flogging of the car's aggressive on-pavement talents with the Terrain Response flipped to its most gnarly setting. This setup proved that although the Evoque lacks the spryness and agility of an all-out sport sedan, it does display a high amount of road-holding competence and can be fun to throw into a corner. The turbo-four is no hindrance to said fun, and, coupled with the six-speed transmission in Sport mode, has plenty of punch to make the Evoque feel downright quick.

As Tahoe approached and the road came to an end at the rudimentary parking lot adjacent to the trailhead, the Evoque showed its best party trick yet: squeezing itself between a slab of granite and a large pine tree, creating an extra spot in the otherwise full lot.

A few months later, a co-worker borrowed the Evoque to take to Mammoth Mountain. She noted that on a snow-covered roads in and around the ski resort, the Evoque would occasionally lose grip, but the traction system would quickly actuate, catch, and correct any sliding. As she rolled up the long driveway of her cabin, the Evoque easily plowed through 6 inches of freshly fallen snow.

Though the exterior design package is what compels passersby to approach the Evoque, it also compromises outward visibility. The high beltline and small windows look stunning from the outside, but when parking, the driver has a frustrating lack of view. This became painfully obvious after a staffer returned from running a lunchtime errand and attempted to park the Evoque next to our long-term Nissan GT-R. The passenger door of the Evoque met the front corner of the GT-R, and the result was a bit of bent Range Rover metal. Though most of the fault belonged to the driver, the high beltline made things worse. That incident aside, the Evoque's short 172 inches of length and surround-view camera help its parkability.

The Evoque didn't require its first oil/filter change until the odometer ticked 16,000 miles. Such long intervals between required service meant that only one oil change was required during our year-long test. Our overall fuel economy penciled out to 20.1 mpg, just 1.3 shy of the EPA combined figure, which is impressive for a small turbocharged engine in our hands.

Just a few issues arose during the Evoque's stay. The first -- loose bolts on a door hinge -- caused the door to make a popping sound when opened. The dealer tightened the bolts and the sound stopped. The second issue involved broken connectors that hold the cargo cover to the rear hatch. The connectors required a special order by the dealer, but were otherwise easy to replace. Last, the red leather on the driver-seat bottom became prematurely stretched and deformed, and no longer fit tautly between the bolsters.

The Evoque is a design statement that unequivocally puts fashion first. With this car, Range Rover has proven that melding alluring styling with a compact, versatile chassis (on- and off-road) creates a unique SUV package that makes a persuasive proposition for those with an active lifestyle.

Our Car
Service life 12 mo/25,600 mi
Base Price $41,995
Options Dynamic Premium Package ($9500: 17-speaker Meridian sound system, xenon headlights, surround camera system), Adaptive Dynamics featuring MagneRide ($1250), Climate Comfort Pack ($1000), Special Paint ($950), Satellite radio ($750), Contrast black roof ($650), Ebony headliner ($275)
Price as tested $56,370
Average CO2 0.97 lb/mi
EPA City/Hwy/Comb Fuel Econ 18/28/22 mpg
Average Fuel Economy 20.1 mpg
Unresolved Problems None
Maintenance Cost $0 (1-oil change, inspection, cabin-air filter, engine-air filter)
Normal-wear cost $0
3-year residential value* $27,058
Recalls None
*Automotive Lease Guide