By BJ Killeen.
The word “crossover” strikes fear in many car buyers’ hearts. Why? Because just about any vehicle that has four doors and sits up higher than a sedan has been tagged with that moniker. No one wants to be a wagon or an SUV anymore, and a “crossover” gives manufacturers the freedom to describe their rides as having the capability to do anything the customer wants, whether it’s going off road, taking in a fancy dinner, or hauling kids to and from activities. Two of the most interesting crossovers on sale now are the Volvo XC60 and the Range Rover Evoque.
What Statement Do You Want to Make?
What we like about this comparison is that these two rides aren’t identical in their styling. The 2013 Volvo XC60 leans more toward the traditional small SUV look, but displaying a lot of strong design cues, like character lines that flow from the –pillar into the front bumper, and strong rear shoulders that are a Volvo trademark. It’s elegant, clean, and exactly what you would expect — and appreciate — from Swedish design.
The Range Rover, on the other hand, was all about making a statement that this stately company, which supplies vehicles for the Royal Family, can step out of the box and create something in which the younger generation of throne sitters would be happy to be chauffeured. The front is all Range Rover with a strong grille, large wheels and pronounced arches, but it’s the roofline that draws your attention. It starts high and then seriously tapers down in the back to create a sporty stance. What makes the Evoque stand apart even more is that it is also available as a two-door as well as a traditional four-door. Both of these vehicles do a great job of making it harder for the buyer to decide on design alone.
His Must Be the Place
Since we spend more time inside our cars that we do outside looking at them, the environment must be a good fit. Since both the XC60 and Evoque are priced at the higher end of the spectrum, luxury features are abundant. We love the Volvo’s clean, somewhat minimalist approach to the interior styling. Knobs and switches do not overly clutter the center console, and overall you get a feeling of more space because of the sleekness. This is not to say that the XC60 isn’t abundant with features, because it is. The leather seating standard on the T6 AWD model is comfortable and soft, the aluminum trim on the doors and console add a touch of sporty high-techiness, and the standard power driver’s seat features three-position memory. As far as connectivity, Volvo offers standard Bluetooth with audio streaming, along with HD Radio, redundant controls in the steering wheel, and the ability to add a navigation system along with front and rear Park Assist cameras. All this and more makes for an above-pleasant driving experience, be it short or long trips.
If you want to step up the features, all it takes is money. Each trim level (there are three) offers a long list of options, including Keyless Drive with a Personal Car Communicator, electric folding rear headrests, power tailgate, HID headlamps, and even silver roof rails if so desired.
The Evoque also comes in three trim levels, depending on how much you want to spend, or how many features you want. The entry level “Pure” trim will net you partial leather seats, brushed aluminum trim, keyless entry, power tailgate, Bluetooth audio streaming, and an 8-inch touch screen (navigation optional). Step up to the high-end trim line called “Dynamic,” and you’ll get items like rear parking aid, surround camera with towing assist, 17-speaker Meridian sound system, perforated leather with contrasting stitching, and power everything.
Features aside, the Evoque’s interior styling is classy and classic, just in case Kate and William have to take Queen Grandma with them to a birthday party.
Although the Evoque’s interior is also lovely to look at, Range Rover’s in general, and the Evoque follows suit, tend to be a bit more difficult to interpret Contrary to the XC60’s minimalist approach to controls, the Evoque has more than its share of buttons, switches and knobs, and they aren’t always the most intuitive to use.
So we’re going to split this category. Both the XC60 and Evoque look nice inside, and the leather in the Evoque is enough to give it the upscale win, but the ergonomics and ease of use slides the Volvo into the win column there.
Performance on the Road
Under the bonnet of the Evoque is one engine choice: a 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder that makes 240 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque, which is more than adequate to move this rolling work of art down the road. The turbo is smooth, the power is instant, and it really makes the Evoque fun to drive. A six-speed transmission with paddle shifters ups the fun quotient, but the average stingy 20/28 fuel economy numbers reduce the size of the grin, especially if you drive the turbo hard and don’t get close to those targets.
There’s so much more to the Evoque than the engine though. The 2013 Range Rover Evoque prides its marquee on off-road prowess, and that holds true for this crossover as well. The full-time Haldex AWD system is incredibly responsive and tackles any low-traction situation with ease. We also love the Terrain Response System that allows the driver to select different road conditions for optimal handling. Just because this isn’t the Daddy Mack Range Rover doesn’t mean it’s any less capable.
Volvo offers two different engine choices for the XC60, including the standard 3.2-liter inline six or the turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six in the T6 AWD models. Both engines are packed with performance. The 3.2-liter naturally aspirated engine produces 240 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, relatively spot on to the Evoque. But the turbo engine on the Volvo offers a nose-snorting 300 ponies and 325 lb-ft of torque, making it the laugh-out-loud performance winner (At least until you have to fill up at the pump, with a 17/23 fuel economy rating. The non-turbo 3.2 gets 19/25 in front-drive setup.). Both engines are mated to a standard six-speed transmission.
The Volvo crossover also is capable off road, but it can’t outshine the Range Rover in this category: too much history and awards to overcome. Where it does beat the Evoque easily is in safety and driver peace of mind. Volvo offers safety features today of the kind we used to read about in science fiction books. We love the pedestrian detection with full auto braking and City Safety, which can make the difference between being late to work because you hit the guy in front of you, or stopping in time because the car is paying attention, even when you’re not.
The Good Things in Life Aren’t Free
Whoever said that the good things in life aren’t free must have been car shopping at the time. While both the Volvo and the Range Rover offer excellent performance, great features, and impressive styling, it’s going to hurt a little in the wallet. Starting with the Volvo, there are 10 different variations, beginning with the XC60 3.2 trim at a base of $34,350 and climbing north of $54,000 with all the boxes checked. The story is the same for the Range Rover Evoque. The four-door starts at $42,040 while the Coupe starts at $45,040. To get everything and then some on the top line Dynamic Coupe model will be rubbing up against $60,000. By virtue of affordability, Volvo takes this category.
Overall, we really like both vehicles a lot. The styling on the Evoque is like nothing else out there, but the safety and R-Design performance model offerings on the XC60 are also worthy. Making a choice here is a difficult one, but the slight edge goes to the Volvo. We appreciate the clean interior, amazing safety, and good value. If having a unique style is important to you, and you like to think you come from royal lineage, then the
Evoque is your ride, but for everyday driving, the XC60 suits us just fine.