You have to give Range Rover credit for consistency. Whether it is the large flagship that easily crosses into six figures, the smaller Range Rover Sport, Velar, or smallest Evoque, all look part of a family that dates to the original country estate wagon from the 1970s. While the first generation Evoque may have been a little small and light on capability, this second generation represents a stronger embrace of its famous family.
Sleek Range Rover Style
Who would have thought that original Range Rover’s upright shape with sloping rear would translate so well into a 21st century compact crossover that spends more time shopping and traveling than surveying one’s estate. The grille is thinner and more swept back, accented by LED headlamps and traditional large "RANGE ROVER" text on the hood’s leading edge. Moving rearward, the vehicle is considerably more streamlined, but elegant with its gracefully rear-sloped roof that meets and even more canted D-pillar. Details like the hood cutline that accepts the front fender bulge, satin silver fender trim, and 21-inch wheels add modern flair.
I could name a number of compact crossovers that feel ridiculously cheap compared to their more expensive brethren, but that’s not the case with the Evoque. It starts with the deep garnet red diamond stitched soft leather seats in our test vehicle and extends to layers of stitched coverings, piano black finishes, and gray woodgrain from dash to doors to center console. It is all quite rich, as are heated/ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, panoramic sunroof, and crisp Meridian audio system.
A virtually all-glass cockpit is cohesive and surprisingly easy to use. Follow your eyes from the head-up display for speed, navigation, and safety systems to the configurable flatscreen instrument display, high-mounted touchscreen that sets audio and navigation, and finally lower for a glass panel to control climate and the vehicle’s terrain response system. Access devices through Bluetooth, Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Adaptive cruise, lane keep assist, forward crash mitigation, and blind spot systems keep everybody safe.
Peppy Turbocharged Engine
Underway, tap into the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers a peppy 246 horsepower and 269 lb.-ft. of torque. It routes to the sophisticated all-wheel-drive system through a 9-speed automatic transmission. Drive lightly to see 20/27-MPG city/highway. I never saw that, because I rarely drove lightly while storming the Interstate to see relatives or stomping through morning traffic to make an early morning conference call.
Being a Land Rover, the Evoque packs some high-tech gear for off-roading. Via icons on the lower touchscreen, drivers can configure the powertrain for varying conditions like mud, rocks, snow, and even pavement. Adjustments are automatically made to throttle sensitivity, transmission shifts, and torque transfer within the all-wheel-drive system. Unlike some competitors that feel cheap and hollow on the road, the Evoque feels almost German in how it settles heavily onto the pavement. Engineers found the right balance of sharp handling without harsh impacts, though just barely.
I liked the first generation Evoque’s style, compact dimensions, and turbo engine, but felt it was just a smidge too small for many buyers. This slightly larger version felt nearly perfect – plenty of space for four passengers and their luggage while maintaining urban-friendly dimensions. Polished road manners and considerable off-road capability meld it with its famous family. A base price of $42,650, or $64,010 as-tested, put it against the Cadillac XT4, BMW X3, Audi Q5, and upcoming Mercedes-Benz GLB.
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2020 Range Rover Evoque
- Five-passenger, AWD Crossover
- Powertrain: 2.0-liter T4, 9-spd auto
- Output: 246hp/269 lb.-ft. torque
- Suspension f/r: elect Ind/Ind
- Wheels f/r: 21”/21” alloy
- Brakes f/r: disc/disc
- Must-have features: Luxury, Performance
- Fuel economy: 20/27 mpg city/hwy
- Assembly: Halewood, U.K.
- Base/As-tested price: $42,650/64,010