Land Rover introduced the second-generation of the Range Rover Evoque to the world at the Chicago Auto Show last February. The Evoke is a compact crossover that seats five and comes only with all-wheel drive. Previously, the Evoque had been available as both a 2- and 4-door wagon and a 2-door convertible, however the new model is only offered as a 4-door. Competitors include the Acura RDX, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Audi Q3, BMW X3, Cadillac XT4, Infiniti QX50, Jaguar E-Pace, Lincoln MKC, Lexus NX, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Porsche Macan and Volvo XC40.
Though it looks very similar to the model it replaces, the new Range Rover Evoque is completely redesigned. Other than a 1-inch longer wheelbase, the new Evoque is dimensionally unchanged from the outgoing model. Interior space is unchanged as well. The base engine gains a few horsepower and there will be a 48-volk mild-hybrid offering later in the 2020 model year. Tech has been upgraded as well with a new surround-view camera system, clear-sight rear-view mirror and Android Auto and Apple Car Play support.
Initially, three models were offered: S, SE and First Edition. These models are dubbed P250 and powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that makes 246-horsepower. That engine mates to a 9-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive with Land Rover's Terrain Response 2 is standard. Arriving later will be R-Dynamic versions of the S and SE and an HSE trim. They are badged P300 and get a mild-hybrid version of the engine that makes a combined 296 horsepower. As with the gas-only engine, the 9-speed automatic and all-wheel drive are standard. Towing capacity is 3900 pounds.
Prices start at $42,650 for the S and climb past $55,000 on the R-Dynamic HSE. Standard equipment includes LED head and tail lights, automatic headlamps, flush door handles, 18-inch wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel, Android Auto and Apple Car Play support, analog gauge pack, rear-view camera, front and rear parking aid, lane-keep assist, forward collision warning and emergency braking and cruise control. Also offered are keyless entry, power tailgate, clear-sight rear-view mirror, Meridian sound system, dual touch screen infotainment system, head-up display, digital gauge pack, heated steering wheel, power adjustable steering wheel, leather seating and panorama roof.
To date, only the P250 models have been available for evaluation. Similar to other offerings in the class, the turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder provides robust acceleration at all times. The has ample torque to move the Evoque off the line smartly and provides plenty of passing punch. Generally, it mates well to the 9-speed automatic, which provides crisp shifts and downshifts promptly when called upon.
Typical of Land Rover models, the throttle can be a bit sensitive. This leads to more abrupt transitions in power delivery and manifests itself mostly in stop and go driving. It can grow annoying and changing from sport to normal or ECO drive mode can help smooth some of the transitions.
The Evoque's all-wheel-drive system does not have a low range and defaults to front-drive mode when the pavement is dry. That said, it is helped by a terrain response system, hill descent control and throttle management that are designed to make the Evoque significantly more competent off-road than most competitors.
EPA ratings for the Evoque with the P250 engine are 20 MPG city and 27 MPG highway. The P300 model with its mild-hybrid engine nets EPA numbers of 21/26. In both cases, those numbers trail competitors by a few MPG. In routine suburban commuting with the P250 engine, you'll likely see about 24 MPG overall, perhaps as high as 27 MPG if your commute includes a fair amount of highway driving. Like most competitors in the class, both Evoque engines run best on premium-grade gasoline.
Nearly all of the vehicles in this compact luxury crossover class have a firm ride and athletic road manners. Within that group, the Range Rover Evoque leans further toward the sport side of things. After just a few blocks behind the wheel, you'll notice that the Evoque has a very taught suspension that takes the edge off impacts rather than soften or eliminate them. That said, the ride is not harsh and secondary body motions are nicely muted. Couple the firm suspension with nicely weighted and precise steering and powerful brakes and you have formula for a sporty crossover.
On the comfort side, you might hear a few complaints from back-seat occupants, especially if the road surface is uneven or badly broken. Unfortunately, that's the price to pay in this segment, as not a one of the compact luxury crossovers have traditionally smooth and comfortable ride. Thankfully, there's great isolation from road and wind noise. On the highway, the Evoque is as quiet as a luxury sedan. In fact, it is one of those vehicles where you are always going faster than you think.
With the 2020 redesign, Land Rover took pains to completely revamp the Evoque's interior, greatly upgrading materials and adding a heavy dose of technology. The interior is still very cozy, but the fall-away dashtop and available panorama roof give the interior an airy feeling that was lacking in the previous generation. Materials are top notch and assembly quality is first rate. Just closing the doors provides a pleasant thud, rather than a slam.
The standard analog instrument cluster in the S models is readable and simple, but the up-level digital display is beautiful and customizable. There's also an available head-up display that helps reduce driver distraction. The center stack features twin touch screens. The top mostly controls the radio and infotainment system while the lower screen handles most vehicle functions like climate control and driving mode. However, both are programmable to provide just the information the driver wants to see, rather than making you scroll through a myriad of menus. Android Auto and Apple Car Play are nicely supported and integrated into both displays. Unfortunately, Land Rover is still having some teething issues with the display as it glitched and rebooted on occasion. Nothing that affected drivability, but annoying nonetheless.
The front seats are firm and deeply bolstered. The backrest is more upright than some might like -- especially in the shoulder area. Still, they are comfortable and offer adequate leg and head room. Rear seats are nicely padded as well, but don't offer much leg room if the front seats are pushed back. Entry/exit is hampered by smallish door openings and the low roofline. Outward visibility is hindered directly to the rear by a small rear window and to the rear three-quarters by thick pillars. However, there is a suite of cameras and monitors to help make up for the lack of aft visibility -- including an available magic rear-view mirror that can make rear passengers disappear.
Cargo space has never been a Range Rover Evoque strength. While it is improved for 2020, there's still only about 20 cubic feet with the rear seat in use and 50 cubic feet overall. That trails others in the class by about 10 in each metric. At least the load floor is flat and tailgate opening large. Interior storage is just adequate with a few open and covered bins throughout and smallish map pockets.
Bottom Line -- The Range Rover Evoque has been an also ran in the class for nearly a decade as other, more refined and powerful compact crossovers came to market. That all changes in an instant with the new 2020 model. It's sporty moves and fun-to-drive nature make drivers want to get behind the wheel. In addition, the added technology and safety features catapult the Range Rover Evoque to the head of the class when it comes to millennial buyers. Prices are steep, but that's standard in the class. With so much competition, it's best to try out as many offerings as you can, you'll likely find one that meets your needs and then some.