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First Drive: 2020 Range Rover Evoque

Evolution or Revolution?

Jun 21, 2019
If we sat down and walked through the current portfolio of Range Rover products we'd find pavement-scorching supercharged V-8 engines, go-anywhere multi-gear transfer cases paired with locking differentials, and interiors so posh the queen herself might blush. Yet despite all of this, it's the runt of the litter with an economical 2.0L four-cylinder engine, diminutive stature, and conservative styling that outsells all the rest. We're talking about Evoque, the plucky little luxury SUV that has sold nearly 800,000 units worldwide since its launch in 2012.
Now, for 2020, Range Rover has introduced an all-new second generation Evoque. At first glance one might think this iteration is but a mild refresh. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Confusion comes from the fact that the second-generation Evoque retains its classic, handsome exterior styling and stays true to what made the first generation a success. Narrow LED headlamps grace the front fascia, side windows are heavily tapered, the beltline gives rise toward the rear, and the roof slopes. Gone are the old side moldings, and door handles now retract flush into the door like those found on Velar.
Photo 2/37   |   First Drive 2020 Range Rover Evoque
The 2020 Evoque rides on the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) new Premium Transverse Architecture (PTA) that is 13 percent stiffer than the outgoing model, and utilizes a mixed-metal strategy consisting of steel, high-strength steel, aluminum, and magnesium. The only carryover parts are the door hinges.
Transitioning to the PTA also gives the vehicle a 0.8-inch-longer wheelbase. While this may not seem like much on paper, it has allowed for increased rear legroom as well as more foot space under each seat. A revised rear suspension, borrowed from the larger Velar, makes room for an additional 1.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat, bringing the total to 21.5 cubes with the seats up, 50.5 with them folded.
Photo 3/37   |   First Drive 2020 Range Rover Evoque Off Road
Under the bonnet is a pair of engine options, both variants of JLR's fabulous Ingenium turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder. The "entry-level" P250 model churns out 246 hp while the higher-trim P300 features a 48-volt mild hybrid system and bumps output to 296 hp. A plug-in hybrid electric is rumored to be coming soon, but sorry, there is no diesel option for North America. Both engines route power through the ZF-sourced 9HP50 nine-speed automatic transmission, and all models feature all-wheel drive.
For our drive JLR flew us to Athens, Greece, and placed us behind the wheel of Euro-spec P250s that were outfitted with the 48-volt mild-hybrid system in R-Dynamic trim. Stateside we'll only get these two features on P300 models. Nonetheless, they provided an adequate representation of what's to come.
Over the course of traversing more than 200 miles from the bustle of Athens to the rugged Peloponnese, we were continually impressed with the smoothness and comfort afforded by the Evoque. The P250's engine provides ample power to propel the small SUV from a stop. Passing traffic is done with little delay thanks to quick downshifts and a spool-happy turbocharger. Turbo lag is almost completely undetectable, thanks in part to the mild-hybrid system. We're excited to try this system on the more powerful P300 model in the near future.
Photo 4/37   |   First Drive 2020 Range Rover Evoque Through Water
We've talked at length about Ram and Jeep's new eTorque system and if you've paid attention to those products it's about to pay off. Range Rover's system on the Evoque works in entirely the same manner. A small 0.2 kWh lithium-ion battery, mounted under the floor, feeds 48 volts to a starter/generator unit that resides on the engine in place of a traditional alternator. This belt-driven starter/generator applies torque to boost start-off acceleration, along with handling starting duties. In fact, the system can start the engine in just 600 milliseconds, making restarts almost imperceptible. While decelerating, the system is able to shut down the gasoline engine at speeds below 11 mph, saving fuel and harvesting electricity.
Steering feel is adequate and properly weighted, though in a perfect world we'd like a touch more feedback. Braking is smooth and linear which provides a nice level of certainty and predictability while carving up twisty two-lane mountain roads. Suspension dampening is on point and body roll is kept to a minimum, even with the passive suspension fitted to our tester. Active suspension, which reacts to driver and road surface input, is also available. While the Evoque may not be a full-fledged canyon carver, it's certainly no slouch.
Photo 5/37   |   First Drive 2020 Range Rover Evoque Interior
The interior is where the remake is most noticeable. Now residing in the center stack is the company's TouchPro Duo system, comprised of two 10-inch touchscreens. Nearly every aspect of the vehicle is controlled from these two panels, from infotainment and navigation to heating and ventilation, along with suspension and steering. We've noted in previous reviews that we find this system difficult to use at times. It requires too much attention to perform even simple tasks while driving, for example changing the cabin temperature can be a two-step process. We love the sleek and modern design, but for safety's sake, we'd like to see the return of physical buttons and knobs. While our tester featured an analog instrument cluster, rest assured a purely digital setup is optional.
Listening to Land Rover Chief Design Officer Gerry McGovern speak about the 2020 Evoque, he eloquently quipped that "the little back window that no one can see out of," is still present. Fortunately Range Rover has now added an optional ClearSight camera-based rear-view mirror. With the flip of a switch a high-definition (1,600 x 300 pixel) camera feeds a wide-angle view of what's behind the vehicle to the mirror. We have loved this option on other vehicles such as the GMC Sierra and find that it's right at home on Evoque. It really does bias a crowd though, ask ten people and you'll get a dozen different opinions. Also available is the new ClearSight Ground View, which uses a trio of cameras to stitch together an ultra-crisp 180-degree view of the ground and the front wheels beneath the Evoque. Shown as "transparent bonnet" technology on the show circuit some years ago, this system can display views of tall curbs or trail obstacles that may otherwise cause damage or impede movement.
Photo 6/37   |   First Drive 2020 Range Rover Evoque 019
While there are many SUVs on the market that appear capable of taking on the toughest off-road terrain, very few can hang when tarmac gives way to dirt. Staying true to the brand, the second-generation Evoque does not disappoint. Should the opportunity present itself, the Evoque can wade through 23.6 inches of water, which is almost four full inches more than the Jeep Cherokee can ford. It sports 8.3 inches of ground clearance and has a 25-degree approach angle, all impressive stats in their own right. The vehicle also employs technological wizardry in the form of speed-adjustable Hill Descent Control and All-Terrain Progress Control (fancy off-road cruise control for dummies). Finally, a new "gradient release" system will hold the vehicle in place on steep inclines for an infinite amount of time, think of it like hill start assist on steroids. Also new is the addition of the company's Terrain Response 2 system, which features different off-road mode settings that include Auto, Sand, Grass-Gravel-Snow, and Mud & Ruts.
We were treated to all sorts of off-road goodness while exploring the Greek countryside, from parts of a former professional rally circuit, to rocky streambeds, and finally steep climbs on loose soil. The Evoque conquered all of these tasks with ease, which shouldn't be overly surprising as the Rover folks carefully picked the lines. Nonetheless, we pushed the little Evoque harder and further than any owner likely ever will.
Ride quality on graded gravel roads was good, with plenty of suspension travel to keep the vehicle off the jounces, while in Sport mode we were able to channel our inner rally driver for some juvenile fun. Traversing bigger holes and rocky roads is slow going, however we expect nothing less from a vehicle of its size. Sure, locking differentials and a low-range gearbox would increase capability exponentially, but in current trim it'll have no issue getting to the ski lodge.
Photo 7/37   |   First Drive 2020 Range Rover Evoque 003
Our biggest complaint, naturally, revolved around wheel and tire choice. We picked up a rock in the tread of our optional 21-inch Pirellis and flatted the right rear. Our sadness (as this was this author's first puncture on a press drive) quickly went away when we heard others had the same issue. Standard wheel size for the 2020 Evoque is 18-inch, which would have been a better fit given the conditions.
Like the first-generation model, sticker shock can come on strong if you check all of the boxes. A fully loaded R-Dynamic HSE, with all of the most expensive goodies, tops out at just over $70,000. If that leaves you in a cold sweat know that a base Evoque starts at just $42,650, and if you keep control of the options—this means living without a panoramic sunroof or Meridian audio system—you can easily park one in your drive for under 50 large. Sure, you could opt to purchase one of Evoque's cousins, the similarly sized Jaguar E-Pace or Land Rover Discovery Sport, and save yourself about $5,000, but you certainly won't look quite as classy waiting in the middle school pickup line.
2020 Range Rover Evoque R-Dynamic HSE
Vehicle type: 5-passenger compact SUV
Base price: $43,645
Price as tested: $65,000 (est. )
Engine: Turbocharged Ingenium 2.0L I-4
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Horsepower: 246 @ 5,500 RPM (P250); 296 @ 5,500 RPM (P300)
Torque: 269 lb-ft @ 1,300 RPM (P250); 295 @ 1,500 RPM lb-ft (P300)
Curb weight: 3,950 - 4,100 pounds
Towing capacity: 3,968 pounds
EPA mileage rating: 20 city, 26 hwy, 23 comb (P250); 21 city, 27 hwy, 23 comb (P300)

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