2020 Range Rover Evoque First Drive

Range Rover’s all-new Evoque gets a big upgrade without losing its soul

The 2020 Range Rover Evoque has been redesigned to be more of a Range Rover inside and out.
The 2020 Range Rover Evoque has been redesigned to be more of a Range Rover inside and out.
The 2020 Range Rover Evoque has been redesigned to be more of a Range Rover inside and out.

Highs

  • Comfortable, luxurious interior
  • Capable AWD system
  • Quiet and smooth
  • Great sound system
  • Increased cargo capacity

Lows

  • Slow throttle response
  • Poorly placed seat memory buttons

The Range Rover Evoque was a new idea for Land Rover when it first came out ten years ago. Creating a compact, urban-oriented crossover SUV in the first place was a big deal for such a traditionalist company. While the original Range Rovers were large luxury SUVs with legendary four-wheel drive capacity designed to conquer everything from the Scottish Highlands to the Amazon basin, the Evoque seemed more likely to conquer the shopping districts of Beverly Hills and Miami. Yet the gamble paid off, and the Evoque has been a success for Land Rover, selling more than 772,000 units worldwide. Now Land Rover has introduced the second-generation Evoque for 2020, and it has applied everything it learned with the first edition to deliver a crossover for the next decade.

The Evoque remains the most affordable way to put yourself behind the wheel of a Range Rover, starting at $42,650 for the basic S trim with the 246-horsepower engine, and ranging up to $56,850 for the top First Edition model. With the 300-hp, mild hybrid version, pricing starts at $46,600 for the R-Dynamic S trim, and rises to $55,800 for the top R-Dynamic HSE trim. Altogether there are six different trims to choose from, and there’s a $995 destination fee to add to the aforementioned pricing figures.

Interior and exterior design

The new Evoque looks very much like the old Evoque. You won’t have any trouble recognizing the vehicle. Yet there are subtle differences that make it more aggressive and, simply put, sexier than the outgoing model. A sleek new front-end design inspired by the bigger Velar and larger 21-inch wheels make the new Evoque even more of an Evoque than the old one. Land Rover also gifted the new model with the flush door handles already seen on the Velar, which is a nice upgrade that boosts its curb appeal. Don’t look for the two-door model, though; it’s not coming back.

Jeff Zurschmeide/Digital Trends

One standout feature is the truly panoramic sunroof. The optional glass roof covers the front and rear seats, and it’s great for letting the light in and creating the sense of great interior space.

As you would expect from a Range Rover, the interior is extremely comfortable and well-made. The seats are 16-way power-adjustable, with a configurable power lumbar support. The design of the dashboard and the door panels embodies the overall look stylists wanted to achieve: modern and pleasingly simple.

I had a tendency to hit the buttons with my knee when driving, causing the seat to spontaneously readjust itself.

New, eco-friendly materials include Kvadrat, which is a Danish amalgam of a durable wool blend and Dinamica suede-like fabric made from recycled plastic bottles and a Eucalyptus fiber-based textile. To bolster its green credentials, Land Rover also made the effort of using up to 72.8 pounds of recycled and eco-friendly materials to build the Evoque.

The only gripe worth mentioning is the placement of the seat memory buttons. On the driver’s side, they were immediately adjacent to our left knee, and near our right knee on the passenger side. We had a tendency to hit the buttons with our knee when driving, causing the seat to spontaneously readjust itself. That was a little disconcerting.

On the plus side, the new platform that the Evoque is built on yields extra cargo space, which the model badly needed. It now offers 21.5 cubic feet behind the rear seats, and up to 50.5 cubic feet when you fold the rear seats down. A Range Rover ought to be useful as well as luxurious, and more space helps the Evoque live up to its name. Some of its rivals are more spacious, though. The Audi Q5 offers 26.8 and 60.4, respectively. Jaguar’s E-Pace has 24.2 cubic feet with five passengers on board and 52.7 with the rear seats folded flat.

Tech features

The new Evoque is a technical marvel. As an example, our test vehicle had a very useful speed limiter that allowed us to set a maximum speed. We were driving in Greece, and we had been warned about keeping to the speed limits, so we made heavy use of this feature. The way it works is simple: You drive to the speed you want, then press the limit button. Thereafter, no matter how much throttle you give, the Evoque won’t let you go more than a few miles per hour over your set speed.

2020 range rover evoque jz 10
Jeff Zurschmeide/Digital Trends

Land Rover’s designers and engineers used the word “reductionist” several times to describe the new interior. Specifically, the team went to great lengths to simplify the cabin controls, and to give the new Evoque a clean, modern look and feel. That was a tall goal, because like all modern vehicles (and especially luxury SUVs), the new Evoque carries a long list of tech features. Of course, each and every feature needs its controls, so a major simplification program was required to keep button proliferation to a minimum.

The reductionist effort results in a two-screen center stack called InControl Touch Pro Duo in Land Rover-speak. It trickled down from the electric Jaguar I-Pace. Vehicle controls are located on the 10-inch lower screen, controlled by touchpoints on the screen and a pair of innovative dials that change function based on the screen selection. Familiarly, you can switch functions using tabs set along the top of the screen. For example, you can select the tab for all-wheel drive (AWD) drive modes and use a dial to select the right AWD presets for conditions, or punch up the climate tab and use the same dials to set temp and fan speed.

The Evoque’s quiet cabin makes a perfect palette for a nice sound system.

The Meridian audio system is as good as we expected. The Evoque’s quiet cabin makes a perfect palette for a nice sound system. The infotainment is touch-based and easy to use, though it’s slightly slower to respond to input than the software found in Audi and Mercedes-Benz models. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both supported, and being of the latest generation, you can still use the onboard navigation while playing tunes or making calls from your phone.

All the modern convenience features buyers expect in a new luxury car are available, though some are offered at an extra cost. The Evoque goes above and beyond, though. Notably, you can get features like a camera-based rear-view mirror, and the optional, segment-exclusive Clearsight Ground View cameras to see what’s under and around the Evoque for parking and off-road use. To further future-proof the Evoque, Land Rover set it up to receive wireless software updates to both the infotainment and the vehicle control systems. It is the first Land Rover vehicle to have this capability, but certainly not the last.

Driving impressions

Land Rover shares its Ingenium engines with sister company Jaguar, so the engine lineup is mostly familiar. The turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder that powers the base Evoque makes 246 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque, though selecting the mild hybrid system bumps those figures to 296 and 295, respectively. You’ll need to shop the competition if you want more power – at least for now.

The hybrid system only gets the Evoque going from a stop. It shuts off above 11 mph, meaning the electric motor exits the stage when the SUV gets moving. The extra horsepower and torque on this version come from the turbo four.

2020 range rover evoque
Land Rover

In general, the Ingenium engine delivers great performance, even in the base 246-hp configuration. However, as with many modern engines, the quest for fuel economy leads to some compromises. If you have been coasting or cruising with very light throttle, and then step on it to pass a slower car, the Evoque takes a moment to wake up the engine and drop a gear or two. Once that happens, the Evoque is quick to move out. You can work around this tendency by moving the gear lever over to Sport mode, or use the available paddle shifters to select your own gears, but it requires a bit of planning.

The Evoque delivers delightful handling and a smooth, confident ride.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not yet announced official fuel economy for the Evoque, and we did too much off-roading to get a reliable baseline.

The Evoque comes with a nine-speed automatic transmission, and one of two AWD systems. The base trims with the 246-hp engine use a torque-on-demand system to route power to the rear axle as needed. The 296-hp R-Dynamic version receives an electronic torque vectoring system to distribute power between the front and rear axles as-needed in order to improve cornering response. Both systems disconnect the rear axle when it’s not needed to save fuel.

AWD is common in the segment, but the Evoque is more of an off-roader than any model in its competitive set. Both systems are compatible with Land Rover’s innovative Terrain Response 2 tech, which adds driving modes called sand, mud and ruts, eco, grass-gravel-snow, and standard auto AWD. On one wet off-road segment, we stopped and turned off the engine for a bit and forgot to reset the AWD to mud and ruts when we got moving again. We drove the rest of the course in automatic mode. The Evoque scrambled over the rough terrain just as readily as it did in mud/ruts mode. We also learned you can take the Evoque into 23.6 inches of water safely. We don’t recommend trying that with an X3.

Another unique feature that is useful both off-road and on is the Gradient Release Control hill holder. Unlike most hill-hold functions, this one doesn’t time out after a few seconds. When the Evoque senses that you’re stopped pointed up a hill, it hangs on and modulates power to all four wheels to give you a smooth sendoff. We tested it at about 45 degrees of inclination on a gravel path, and it works admirably. The hill descent control works well, too, as we discovered coming down the same grade. Additionally, the Evoque comes with Land Rover’s All Terrain Progress Control, which allows you to set a low speed using the cruise control, and just let the Evoque manage its own traction.

The takeaway from all this is that you can drive an Evoque much further into the wilderness than you’d ever actually want to go. It’s a real Range Rover.

2020 range rover
Land Rover

On the road, the Evoque delivers delightful handling and a smooth, confident ride. Land Rover updated the Evoque to the same rear suspension design used in the Range Rover Sport. This compact layout delivers a great ride while increasing cargo space. The suspension delivered control and comfort, especially considering the 21-inch wheels and low-profile tires we were riding on, the. Optionally, the Evoque offers an adaptive suspension system with continuously variable dampers that monitor and adjust to road conditions every 100 milliseconds.

Rivals

It’s no exaggeration to say that the Evoque leads its class, and that’s no small feat considering the models it’s up against. Its competitive set includes the Audi Q5, the Jaguar E-Pace, the Volvo XC60, and the BMW X3.

Audi Q5 ($42,950): The Audi Q5 rivals the Evoque in the tech department, and it comes with a long list of standard features, but it’s not as comfortable off the beaten path. It may not look as distinctive as its Land Rover-badged sibling, but it’s more spacious inside.

Jaguar E-Pace ($38,900): Jaguar and Land Rover are owned by the same company, so it’s no surprise that the E-Pace is built on the same basic architecture as the Evoque. That worked fine for years, but the E-Pace kept the original Evoque’s hardware so it’s a generation behind the new model.

BMW X3 ($41,000): The BMW X3 offers power-hungry buyers an available six-cylinder engine with an additional 50hp compared to the Evoque. It’s also more spacious, but its interior isn’t as nice. It’s more expensive, too; buyers seeking all-wheel drive will need to pay at least $43,000.

Volvo XC60 ($39,800): The Volvo XC60’s Scandinavian roots are apparent as soon as you slip behind the wheel. Every part of the cabin feels nice to look at and to touch. Leather upholstery and a panoramic sunroof come standard, but the XC60 is happier when it’s cruising down the highway nonchalantly than when it’s crawling over a boulder or carving corners.

Peace of mind

The 2020 Range Rover Evoque is covered by a four-year or 50,000-mile general warranty, and a six-year unlimited mileage rust-through warranty.

Land Rover stayed true to its original vision, and made the Evoque more remarkable.

Standard safety equipment includes lane-keeping assistance, emergency braking support, front and rear parking proximity sensors, and a rear-view camera. Optionally, the Evoque can be specified with active parking assistance, 360-degree parking aid, rear cross-traffic monitor, and a clear exit monitor to help you exit the car safely. For driving assistance, you can add adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and high-speed emergency braking by paying extra for the Drive package.

How DT would configure this car

If we were buying an Evoque for ourselves, we’d spend the money on the P300 engine, because more power is something that you’ll never regret buying later. We’d also be sure to get the full tech suite with the Park and Drive feature packages. All in, our dream Evoque would pencil out at $59,445.00, but we could be perfectly happy with the base engine and the base trim at $43,645, too.

Conclusion

Land Rover has done what comparatively few automakers have achieved: it not only kept the soul of the Evoque intact, it enhanced it by completely redesigning the vehicle. It would be normal for a second-generation vehicle to grow by 10%, sprout a bunch of new trim levels, and generally be less remarkable. Pleasantly, Land Rover stayed true to the original vision and made the Evoque more remarkable.

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