DETROIT -- In what some journalists considered an upset, considering that American companies with traditional trucks most often win the annual truck of the year award, the Range Rover Evoque won the North American International Auto Show Truck of the Year award Monday.
The SUV made by Land Rover's Range Rover brand, called by one pundit small but capable and luxurious, beat out other award finalists the BMW X3 and Honda's CR-V. The Evoque went into production in July 2011.
The car and truck of the year awards, in a 19th year, are chosen by 50 automotive journalists. To be eligible, a vehicle must be all new or substantially changed. The Hyundai Elantra won the NAIS Car of the Year award Monday.
Here's what jurors who voted had to say about the Range Rover Evoque in naming it 2012 North American Truck of the Year:
Frank A. Aukofer, Driveways -- There's only one totally new vehicle in this class, which should not even be classified as a truck. It's the Range Rover Evoque. It would be my top choice except for its high price and laggard multipurpose touch-screen, which reacts in slow motion. Nevertheless, it's an entirely new direction for Land Rover, more a sports-car hatchback than off-road basher.
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Karl Brauer -- Land Rover has met the demanding needs of luxury crossover buyers with the introduction of the Range Rover Evoque. Not only does the Evoque set a new class standard for interior design, driving dynamics and high-tech features, it does so without compromising the off-road prowess on which the brand built its reputation. Buyers looking for a nimble and engaging luxury SUV without fault have found it in the 2012 Range Rover Evoque.
Dan Carney, MSNBC.com -- Auto shows normally bring introductions of exotic-looking concept cars that invite fantasies but not purchases. The Evoque is an auto show concept come to life, with head-turning, traffic-stopping looks that draw attention everywhere it goes. With Land Rover's signature 4x4 capability intact under the zoomy sheetmetal, the Evoque is impressive for its combination of styling fantasy with real-world capability.
John Gilbert, CarSoup/NewCarPicks -- Remaining true to concept form, the Evoque is the smallest and lightest Range Rover, and strikes a dramatic new look that is sleek rather than stylishly square -- and even more sleek as a 2-door. Familiar Range Rover cues are everywhere inside, especially the terrain-management switch. The new, Ford-sourced, EcoBoost 2.0-liter 4 is swift, powerful, and capable of near 30-mpg through its 6-speed automatic.
Ken Gross, Playboy -- Under that sleek shape is a true Brit, with all the suspension agility, electronic trickery, and go-anywhere tractabillity you'd expect from Land Rover. The Evoque's 2-liter Turbo I-4 gets decent mileage, and you won't feel you've been handed half a V-8. There's a beacoup of torque for serious rock climbing and plenty of passing power. Visibility is compromised a tad, but whether you choose the coupe or the just-as-attractive four-door, the Evoque will delight you with its head-turning good looks, while it whisks you through a snowstorm, babies you in a blizzard and impresses everyone when you make your entrance at The Club.
Alex Taylor, Fortune Magazine -- Range Rover successfully charts a new direction for the venerable SUV trailblazer with a fresh design and advanced thinking about environmental issues.
Paul Weissler, Motor -- This represents a radical new model for the company, and overall a good execution. The Ford-sourced turbo 4 launches reasonably well, in fact surprisingly well for what it is, and overall performance is good. You have to park it alongside other crossover vehicles to realize how relatively small it is. But the interior packaging is good, and the premium interior is absolutely as well stitched together as any vehicle we've seen. Although the base price is about $44G, like other luxury models the price jumps with the trim levels and accessories, in this case to about $57G.
Drew Winter, Ward's -- The compact cross/utility vehicle segment is the fastest growing niche in North America, yet the popularity of the cute ute light truck segment is making it difficult to tell many of these vehicles apart. Bold design inside and out create a strong value proposition for the Evoque, despite its premium price.