Range Rover Evoque — New and improved

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Land Rover introduced the compact Range Rover Evoque in 2011 in a nod to fashionable over the traditional squared-off SUV look of Range Rovers up to that point in time. To put an explanation point on the slick, sporty look, the company even added two-door and convertible versions.

The Evoque had a considerable presence in the marketplace during its initial year winning more than 90 awards worldwide including North American Truck of the Year and Motor Trend SUV of the Year. Its provocative styling made it trendy and chic worldwide.

For 2020, there's an all-new second-generation Evoque that seems so unchanged from the outside that it's difficult to distinguish from the out-going model without parking an example of each side-by-side. Land Rover emphasizes that this is not a freshening, but a total 100 percent makeover. Apparently the company felt the original design still stands out in the compact luxury SUV field and it wasn't necessary to take a chance on messing up a good thing.

The 2020 Evoque carries a nearly identical length as the original — 172 inches — but its wheelbase has been stretched about an inch giving rear-seat passengers more legroom. Because the rear wheels have been pushed back slightly, a bigger rear-door opening was created facilitating easier entry and exit. And luggage capacity behind the seats has been increased about a cubic foot to 21.5 cubic feet.

The new Evoque — which goes head-to-head with such competitors as the Mercedes-Benz GLC and the BMW X3 — has gone more mainstream eliminating the two-door model, incorporating a mild hybrid system to the standard turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, and adding Land Rover's sophisticated Terrain Response system that enhances Evoque’s off-road credentials.

The 2.0-liter four is the base engine making a solid 246 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. That's the engine we drove in the First Edition model and found it adequate for all driving scenarios including passing and merging, even with four passengers and cargo on board. The optional powertrain includes the same engine, but paired to a 48-volt mild hybrid system that increases power output to 296 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Both engines are mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

We discovered that once behind the wheel there is actually more to the Evoque than its styling, the beauty is more than skin deep. The small SUV is agile and fun to drive, ready to leap from a stoplight or provide exciting turbo-boosted performance in the mid ranges. The ride quality is good and Land Rover has done an excellent job creating a luxury cockpit with impeccable styling and quiet living quarters.

The interior is handsome with high-quality materials, and the new optional dual-screen display looks awesome with climate controls on the bottom and audio, navigation and video on the top. The big problem here is that searching for a feature while driving such as the heated seats can be distracting.

Even though the Evoque is a compact crossover, it still comes with most of the go-anywhere features of the bigger Range Rover including the Terrain Response system that features such driving modes as general, ECO, sand, grass-gravel-snow, and mud and ruts. Note that the crossover can be put into an Auto mode, which enables the Evoque to select the most appropriate setting for conditions. Also featured are a variety of all-terrain technologies such as hill descent control, gradient release control and all-terrain progress control.

The Evoque comes in six trim levels — three with the base engine and three with the hybrid setup — S, SE and First Edition (all with the 246-horsepower engine) and R-Dynamic S, R-Dynamic SE, and R-Dynamic HSE (all with the 296-hp hybrid – add about $4,000).

There's a host of standard features for a starting price of $43,645 including a $995 destination charge. They include, in addi
tion to what you would expect in a luxury car, 18-inch wheels, keyless ignition, dual-zone climate control, a 10-inch touchscreen, navigation, a six-speaker audio system, power-adjustable front seats, and a rearview camera with trailer hitch guidance. As noted above all models come with the Terrain Response 2 and All-Terrain Progress Control.

A couple of noteworthy features that come standard on all but the S trim level are a surround-view camera that includes a forward-facing Ground View camera for what's under the front wheels, and the dual 10-inch touchscreens.

We drove the First Edition (with the base engine), which carried a bottom line of $57,845 and the R-Dynamic HSE with the 296-hp hybrid that had a bottom line of $67,190.

Base price: $43,645; as driven, $57,845
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 246 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 269 foot-pounds @ 1,400 rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Drive: all-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 105.5 inches
Length: 172.1 inches
Curb weight: 3,935 pounds
Turning circle: 38.1 feet
Towing capacity: 3,968 pounds
Luggage capacity: 21.5 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 50.5 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 17.7 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 20 city, 27 highway, 23 combined
0-60: 7.0 seconds (estimated)
Also consider: BMW X3, Mercedes GLC-Class, Volvo XC40

The Good
• Sleek styling
• Upscale, classy interior
• Good off-road capability
• Safety features abound

The Bad
• Infotainment screen can be distracting

The Ugly
• Sloping roof forces rear passengers to duck head