More Proof That SUV Convertibles Dont Work
The long-awaited Range Rover Evoque was finally released in the United States in October. The Evoque was first revealed publicly as the three-door LRX Concept at 2008's North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Land Rover later released a second, identical LRX concept in Geneva. This time it was appropriately named the LRX Geneva Concept.
The Range Rover Evoque production model was then unveiled at the Paris auto show in 2010. The official Land Rover introduction of the five-door production Evoque, a five-door model, was announced at the Los Angeles auto fair in 2010. To make it to October 2011, prospective buyers needed patience. However, Land Rover standards dictate that there were many buyers who were willing to wait. The Evoque was Land Rover’s second-best-selling vehicle in the U.S. by January. It had only been beaten by the Range Rover Sport. The Evoque was also the second-best-selling Jaguar Land Rover Group model.
The Evoque won awards from the beginning. North American Truck of the year, Top Gear Car of the year, Car Design News' Design of the Years, Scottish Car of the Years, Automobile Magazine All Star, Automobile Magazine All Star, Automobile Magazine All Star, Automobile Magazine All Star, Auto123.com’s Best Luxury Utility and Auto Express’s Best Compact SUV. MSN Autos' Car of the YEAR. The list goes on and on.
Land Rover has it down pat. They did it perfectly. There was nothing better. A little more power, less weight, better fuel efficiency, and a lower price would have been great. Could it not be the same for almost every new vehicle? The Lamborghini Aventador is indeed powerful and weighs in at a nice weight, but it needs to be more fuel efficient and less expensive. The Toyota Prius C is well-weighted, has a reasonable price tag, and offers top-notch efficiency. But it longs for more power. The Range Rover Evoque may not be perfect but it is better than any other vehicle.
Land Rover, despite having a solid foundation, has done something terrible. They have taken the Range Rover Evoque Coupe's roof. This is not something that an automaker should do because its engineers can. "Can" doesn't mean "should". It's awkward enough that the Evoque Convertible would require you to pay an auto shipping firm to have it taken away... after your neighbor bought one.
The Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet is worth considering. Although the Murano CrossCabriolet isn't an award-winning crossover like Land Rover's Evoque, it is an outstandingly unique design that has enough credentials to attract more than 4500 U.S. customers each month. When the U.S. market was more robust, Nissan sold nearly 6800 Muranos per month in 2006. The Murano was a great selling point for Nissan. It was not the traditional Pathfinder, the rowdy Xterra, or even the smaller Rogue or Juke. The Murano was an alternative to the mediocre Toyota Highlander or Honda Pilot.
So what did Nissan do? They took down two doors and cut off the roof. This is what they asked for.
Although it's difficult to believe that any potential buyer would ask, perhaps engineers at Nissan's utility room had a little fun when the boss unexpectedly came in and liked it.
To put it mildly, the Murano was not well-received. The top is raised and the children run screaming to their mommies. The mommies run to the minivan with their children, and roll up the windows before locking the doors.
Convertible SUVs are now possible. Jeep's Wrangler is the original SUV. It is meant to be driven with the top down. The Wrangler is a square box and the top is square. In many cases, even 2012, the Wrangler's soft roof is not replaced with a hard top. This clearly indicates the frequency at which the top will be removed and not put back on.
Range Rover Evoque isn't traditionally a soft-top vehicle. It is also not boxy. Land Rover has been experimenting with the idea, and the results have been stupendous, even terrifying. Land Rover claims they are "exploring the potential of the world's premier premium convertible SUV." However, they only want to gauge reactions at the moment. Land Rover claims it is bold and innovative. It would appeal to a new customer base, Land Rover claims. This supposedly new customer base should not be satisfied with the current vehicle lineup? Or, at the very least, with the current type.
Some will find the Range Rover Evoque Convertible Concept attractive. Because at least a few potential consumers are impressed by the design, controversial designs are often controversial. It's true that a convertible Land Rover won't be reducing sales of any other Land Rover, just as some other models cannibalize those of other models. If the Evoque droptop becomes available, will these potential buyers actually spend tens to thousands of dollars? Land Rover will alienate potential buyers for the five-door and regular Evoque Coupe by making an Evoque droptop that isn't as attractive as the Evoque Coupe.
These questions can be answered by observers, but Land Rover bosses have final word. It's likely that the reactions to the Geneva auto show won't be as positive as the one for the LRX Geneva Concept four year ago.