By Shari Prymak

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque - I don't consider myself to be a big SUV fan, but I must admit, I do have certain soft spot for the Range Rover. In the SUV world, no name is arguably more folkloric. It was the first to blend rugged off-road capability with luxuriousness and comfort. That may not seem like a big deal in today's world where even Porsche and Bentley build SUVs, but back in 1970, that was unheard of. No SUV since has managed to top the Range Rover's ability to scale the rain forest one minute and own the country club scene the next.

It came as no surprise then when Land Rover decided to scale down the iconic nameplate into a more compact, attainable, yet no less capable and stylish version. It turned out to be a smart move. The Range Rover Evoque has been sales success for Land Rover, and it's not hard to see why.

First there's the styling, which, in my opinion, is nothing less than striking. Particularly in two-door form, the Evoque displays a certain level of style and elegance which is even unmatched by the full-blown Range Rover. There's no doubt that the Evoque would fit right at home parked in front of The Four Seasons with all the other exotic luxury. Wow factor? Check.

Step inside and you're treated to a wonderfully luxurious, and surprisingly spacious given the outward appearance, cabin. All of the expected high-end comforts, including a number of available wood veneers and contrasting leathers, are there, plus a few features not found in rivals. Start the car up and out from the center council raises a rotary knob which serves as the gear selector. Situated behind the knob are a number of buttons which control the terrain response system. This feature combines various drive modes with technologies such as DSC, ETC, HDC, HSA, and RSC. Essentially, enough acronyms to take the Evoque where other mid-sized luxury crossovers dare not tread.

The brilliance of the Evoque is not simply its style, luxury, or off-road ability, but its ability to combine these attributes into a package that's as user friendly as a Toyota RAV4. The Evoque is incredibly comfortable and easy to use as an everyday runabout. It can navigate city streets and parking lots with ease, and it can even do so with reasonable fuel consumption figures. Try managing that with the top-dog Range Rover.

True, the Evoque forgoes the V8 and V6 engines of other Range Rover models, but trust me, you won't miss it. The 2.0L, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is plenty powerful. The Evoque is not only quick, but agile too. It has a certain lightness to its cornering behaviour that makes it feel nimble and athletic.

With prices starting from $49,990, and with around 65 grand landing you a sumptuously equipped model. It's pricier than its more practical Discovery Sport showroom cousin, but I still consider the Range Rover Evoque to be reasonably good value for an SUV with this level of prestige and curb appeal.

Downsides? The striking design takes its toll on rearward and sideward visibility. It's bad to point where a backup camera is an absolute necessity in order to reverse safely. And, as with all European-brand SUVs, the long-term ownership costs are something to think about, especially given the reliability history associated with previous Land Rover products. Even though the Evoque has proven to be more reliable than Range Rovers of the past, I would still purchase an extended warranty for the case of long-term ownership.

Overall, the Range Rover Evoque is a serious achievement for the Land Rover brand. Given the oodles of style on offer for the price, you'd probably expect the Evoque to be all show and no go. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Range Rover Evoque is a stylish runabout, a luxurious transporter, an athletic performer, and an off-road animal all wrapped in one. Rivals like the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 look like bland appliances by comparison. This is one SUV that has certainly earned its success.