When the Range Rover Evoque was launched for the 2012 model year, it had its share of skeptics. And understandably so. It was small, with a puny 2.0L 4-cylinder engine, had a different, more urban look to it and cost far less than anything the company was producing.

Since then, the Evoque has silenced nearly all of its doubters, winning the love of critics and consumers nationwide -- it won Motor Trend's 2012 SUV of the Year and has become an enormous seller for Land Rover.

So what's all the fuss about? You've probably read or seen headlines about how this non-Range Rover became one of the best Range Rovers around. I took hold of the keys of a 2013 Evoque -- which comes with some new tweaks -- and set out for a week-long urban adventure in and around the Bay Area to see where this luxury SUV stands both as part of a legendary automaker and as an everyday commuter car. After all, most Range Rover buyers aren't sloshing through mud and snow despite what the advertising may imply.

The littlest Rover has more than a couple of surprises up its sleeve. Click on through to see what I found and whether the Evoque is worth considering as your next vehicle.

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The Basics

The Basics

MSRP: $41,145 - $44,145
Invoice Price: $37,648 - $40,393
As Tested (with options): $55,240

Engine: Turbocharged 2.0 liter I-4

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Performance: 240 hp, 270 lb-ft of torque

Fuel Economy: 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway

Seating: 5 people

Cargo: 19.4 cubic feet/47.6 cubic feet (with seats down)

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Exterior Design

Exterior Design

Land Rover likes to use similar design elements across its lineup to keep its look consistent. THe Evoque includes some of those classic design cues: The hood is designed to look like a clamshell, and the wheels come right out to the four corners of the car, giving it an aggressive look.  Land Rover also included a trick it calls the "floating roof", which is a visual scheme that makes the roof look like it is hovering above the car by painting the pillars black.

Sleek, curvaceous, aggressive and modern, the Evoque stands out on the road as a vehicle that is urban and outdoorsy at the same time. Other automakers such as Honda and GMC have attempted the urban-SUV design before, but no one has come close to nailing it like Land Rover has here.

Aspects of Evoque design are starting to pop up in other vehicles in the Land Rover family, like the Range Rover Sport, proving that the design is resonating with the luxury SUV crowd.

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Interior

Interior

Inside, drivers and passengers are greeted with a spacious, plush and remarkably quiet cabin. With comfortable seats, an ergonomic layout and a general nice aesthetic, this is a great place to drive. Everything you touch feels luxurious.

This car comes with a new way to shift into park, reverse, neutral and drive: You use a dial instead of a conventional stick shifter. I haven't made up my mind on whether I like it. On one hand, it sets Land Rovers apart with a feature that doesn't see much innovation in other cars.

On the other hand, it's not really improving on anything. It seems gimmicky. Given that the feature did not make an appearance on the new Range Rover Sport when it was shown in New York, I'm guessing buyers haven't fallen in love with it, either.

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Passenger And Cargo Space

Passenger And Cargo Space

Passenger space is quite good inside, even in the back. Adults shouldn't have too much difficulty sitting in the rear seats for extended periods of time.

Cargo space leaves a little to be desired. With the seats down, the Evoque has 51 cubic feet of room for your stuff. But when the seats are up, that space is severely limited. If you often have someone riding in the back and you often cart around medium or large boxes, you're going to get annoyed pretty quickly having to put the seats up and down all the time in order to make room.

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Driving Dynamics

Driving Dynamics

You wouldn't expect an SUV with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine to have much pop. And such small displacement seems out of place within the Land Rover milieu where big supercharged sixes and eights are the engines of choice. But, trust me, this engine works.

While you won't be treated to the goose-pimple-inducing roar of the 5.0-liter V8, this is a more than capable engine. With the help of a turbocharger, the Evoque puts out a solid 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. 

Coupled with nicely tuned handling and balance, this is one of the more fun SUVs for around-the-town driving -- especially on long freeway on ramps. I had the opportunity to drive some of the snakelike roads of the Santa Cruz Mountains, which the Evoque tackled effortlessly, proving that this can be as sporty as a sedan at times.

The Evoque comes complete with several different drive modes for different terrains. These include general driving, grass/gravel/snow, sand and mud and ruts. Just know that the general driving mode is very good, since I doubt most Evoque buyers are blasting through sand with any regularity.

But it's nice that you certainly could if you wanted to.

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Tech And Infotainment

Tech And Infotainment

The Evoque uses an 8-inch touch-screen display for most functions. All in all, the system is clean, easy to use and responsive.

A cool feature added for 2013 is Land Rover Off-Road navigation. The system provides information such as topographic contour lines, latitude, longitude, altitude, trace, waypoint and compass functions. Although most drivers won't get to use the system the way it's truly intended, it's still noteworthy nonetheless. It offers more evidence that this is, after all, an offroading Land Rover at heart.

I did find the low-definition of the back-up camera display a little odd. It's strange being inside such a refined vehicle and having what appears to be a feed from a mid-1990s camera projected directly in the center of it all. This is far from a deal-breaker, but it's certainly noticeable.

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Fuel Economy

Fuel Economy

Fuel economy for the 2013 Range Rover Evoque is rated at 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined. That's not bad for an SUV, especially one loaded with features. 

The Evoque was designed to be an overall lightweight and aerodynamic vehicle and that allows for pretty decent fuel economy. 

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Bottom Line

Bottom Line

I've covered almost every aspect of the 2013 Range Rover Evoque of the course of this slideshow, but there is still one thing remaining that absolutely deserves mention. And it's not something you generally find with a Land Rover. It's the Evoque's value.

When I looked at my tester's sticker price, I was shocked -- in a good way. Including basically every option available, the total was $55,240. Which is a lot of money, but not a bad deal considering what you get for that price: The Range Rover badge and all of the cache, versatility and capability that comes with it, a luxurious and plush interior, beautiful exterior aesthetics, and decent fuel economy.

That's a deal that luxury vehicle shoppers would be remiss to not give a shot.

After a week of driving around San Francisco, the Silicon Valley and the Santa Cruz Mountains, I had decided that the Evoque had become one of my favorite SUVs. When my time with it was up, I did not want to give it back. That's a sentiment I think most Evoque buyers will come to develop as well.

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