Review: 2020 Range Rover Evoque

About ten years ago the folks at Range Rover decided to tweak one of their concept cars and see if it could work as a smaller SUV in the luxury segment.

It launched in 2011 and, for the most part, has sold pretty well for its parent company, Tata.

The idea is that you’d get a nice variety of the features you love about its larger Range Rover brethren, while simultaneously downsizing. One thing the Rover people insisted on was maintaining the brand’s reputation for solid off-road performance, and on that score they succeeded.

It just becomes a question of how often you’ll be cutting across streams and over boulders, versus driving in the city. Because while it may be a solid citizen in the hills, it’s not perfect going from one red light to the next.

The Basics

The Evoque has been redesigned, and I’ll start by saying the exterior is attractive. From the moment I first noticed it in my driveway I admired the way it stands out from its competitors.

That’s not easy to do with an SUV, because they all pretty much look like . . . an SUV.

But as a smaller version, Evoque toys with unusual lines that may have some trade-offs (more on that later) but at least provides eye-appeal. That includes the futuristic door handles that meld into the doors, waiting until you unlock the vehicle before extending outward for you to grab.

Some may complain that it’s an unnecessary delay, but that makes me laugh. It takes about two seconds; who’s in THAT big of a hurry. Besides, it’s cool.

There are six separate trim levels, which sounds like overkill. The two lower trims, the S and SE, come well-equipped. The R-Dynamic versions lean toward a sportier approach, while the First Edition spoils you with upgrades.

For the week, I drove the First Edition in a snazzy color known as Nolita Grey.

Unless you opt for the extra hybrid component of the Dynamics, you’ll get a 4-cylinder engine that produces 246 horsepower, paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

The Inside

It’s a luxury vehicle, so you get luxury. No one will ever have a beef with Range Rover’s ability to surround you in creature comforts and visually-pleasing materials.

The seats are comfortable and the layout is not overly-complicated, which is good.

You get two screens, which may not be so good. There were times I found it distracting. My biggest complaint about that, however, is the sacrifice you make in storage cubbies, which is just as — if not more — important to many of us.

Even the bin between the front seats was smaller than I expected for an SUV, even a smaller one.

The finishes inside are exquisite, however, and front-seat passengers have plenty of room. Not so much for your backseat companions, partly a product of the sloping roofline that gives the Evoque the cool look I mentioned.

Always trade-offs, right?

Storage in the way back is also a bit smaller than you might be looking for. The rear seats fold to provide more space to help your friends move.

The Drive

I’m not an off-road freak. When I buy a vehicle I wanna know how it’s gonna do taking me to work, to the store, or even out on weekend drives in the hills.

The Evoque earned mixed reviews in my opinion.

Acceleration wasn’t all I’d hoped it would be. But the biggest issue there is the Stop/Start element, which is common in many vehicles. For whatever reason the Epoque’s Stop/Start seemed to linger in the “stop” mode a touch longer than others.

That means when you’re ready to pull out from an intersection there’s an annoying delay before the engine kicks in. All that does is make us nervous, and we don’t want to be nervous when we drive. Highly recommended that you turn that feature off.

Once up to speed, I sometimes found the transmission a little bit jerky.

Steering and overall handling were quite good, and the ride — for an off-road capable machine — is surprisingly smooth and quiet.

The Tech

Those dual screens can be deceiving. At first glance they’re cool and they promise so much.

But after a while you long for simplicity.

The top screen handles navigation and media, while the bottom screen keeps you updated on climate and vehicle information. I found myself having to jump through too many hoops to merely adjust the fan.

Car makers, alas, will never — and I mean never — hear our cries for simplicity in these areas. They are smitten with tech to a degree that is puzzling.

I think they just like to show off to each other.

Good news for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto enthusiasts (like me). The systems not only are standard, but they work fine. I had one glitch in my week, and otherwise had zero complaints.

The Bottom Line

Range Rover has had almost ten years to get the Evoque right, and I think with each successive generation they get a little closer.

Right now it’s one of the prettiest SUVs on the road, and it will delight people who like to slosh through the mud.

On the road it may need a few more tweaks, especially with that powertrain.

But it’s a gorgeous vehicle that will bathe you in luxury inside the cabin, and provide enough toys to satisfy most techies.


The Details

2020 Range Rover Evoque First Edition
2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine
246 horsepower
9-speed automatic transmission
All-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 20/27/23 combined
MSRP: $56,850
As tested: $59,215

Reviewed by Dom Testa
Vehicle provided by manufacturer

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