AUTO REVIEW: Pricey 2020 Range Rover Evoque SUV Nails the Look and Feel, But Has Maddening Oversight

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 Range Rover Evoque
The 2020 Range Rover Evoque SUV (Range Rover)

The 2020 Range Rover Evoque SUV is a masterclass in the meaning and value of a strong brand. It’s not the fastest, most powerful or most capable vehicle in its class, but people will happily pay a premium for the new compact luxury SUV. Why? Because the new Evoque nails the look and feel owners expect from Land Rover, and that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

Range Rover read the tea leaves early. The brand was among the first to realize people wanted SUVs in all shapes and sizes. The original Evoque, which went on sale as a 2012 model, was the brand’s first step beyond big boxy off-roaders to offer a full family of vehicles with a range of prices and capabilities.

Full disclosure: I never cared for that first-generation Evoque. I thought it was under-powered, overpriced and had an inconveniently small interior. The 2020 that just went on sale remedies those issues and more.

Evoque prices start at $42,650. All-wheel drive, a 2.0L turbocharged engine and nine-speed automatic transmission are standard. The base model has 246 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. Mild hybrid models badged R-Dynamic have a higher output 2.0L engine and 48-volt starter-generator to produce 296 horsepower and 295 pound-feet. The mild hybrid allows R-Dynamic models to score the same EPA fuel economy rating as the less powerful base engine.

R-Dynamic prices start at $46,600.

I tested a loaded Evoque First Edition model that had the base 246-hp engine and features including leather upholstery, 21-inch wheels, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, dual touch screens, adaptive suspension, adaptive cruise control and more.

It stickered at $58,220. All prices exclude destination charges.

 Range Rover Evoque
(Range Rover)

The Evoque’s competition includes the Audi Q3, BMW X2, Cadillac XT4, Infiniti QX30, Jeep Cherokee, Mercedes GLA 250 and Volvo XC40.

Evoque prices are at the high end of the segment.

Every time I walked up to the Evoque, I mentally evaluated its competition and decided it was overpriced. But every time I drove it, I found myself thinking, “Yeah, if I had to spend 60 grand on a small SUV, this is the one I’d get.”

That’s what happens when a vehicle’s design, features and brand align perfectly.

Is it too much to ask for a tuning dial?

The new Evoque retains its predecessor’s modern and distinctive exterior with a smooth profile, rising beltline and long roofline. The high beltline and small rear window would create very poor visibility in vehicles without blind spot alert and video rear-view mirror.

The most noticeable changes are slim LED headlights and flush door handles that pop out for opening when you press a button and retract when the vehicle starts or is locked.

The interior is similarly uncluttered. Twin touch screens and a pair of multifunction dials eliminate many buttons and dials.

The layout works well, with a couple of omissions I suspect will grow irritating over time: There’s no tuning dial for the audio system, a maddening oversight automakers continue to repeat. In addition, Apple CarPlay doesn’t start automatically. Every time I started the car, a message asked if I wanted to use Land Rover’s inferior app or CarPlay. I have never preferred an automaker’s jerry-rigged interface to Apple’s, and nothing in Land Rover’s history with advanced electronics says that’s changing today.

The interior is surprisingly roomy for a small vehicle. At 172.1 inches long, the 2020 Evoque is 10.5 inches shorter than a Honda Civic sedan, but the Evoque’s front seat and cargo space are both accommodating. Rear legroom is fine. Headroom is excellent for all passengers.

Where are the hybrid’s extra mpg?

The Evoque’s small size makes it easy to maneuver and park. The steering is direct, and the suspension absorbs bumps for a comfortable ride.

Like Jeep, Land Rover builds a little extra off-road ability into all its vehicles. The Evoque’s 8.3 inches of ground clearance is nothing special, but it’s 1.6 more than an XT4 offers, 1.1 more than an X2. It’s 0.4 inches less than a Jeep Cherokee, the other best example of a brand that knows its identity is inextricably intertwined with its off-road heritage.

 Range Rover Evoque
(Range Rover)

The base engine provided plenty of power for driving around town and fast highway cruising.

The EPA rates the 2020 Evoque at 20 mpg in the city, 27 on the highway and 23 in combined driving. The Evoque uses premium gasoline. The 23-mpg combined figure trails all comparable models except the V-6 Jeep Cherokee.

The more powerful engine in R-Dynamic models undoubtedly uses its mild-hybrid system to match the base engine’s output, but I’m disappointed that both of them are 2 mpg worse than the model the 2020 Evoque replaces. The 2019 Evoque’s combined rating was 25 mpg.

A Goldilocks SUV

The Evoque’s full name is a mouthful: Land Rover Range Rover Evoque. Try putting that on your vanity plate.

It’s a case of branding run amok. Land Rover, the mother brand that debuted in 1948, split its model line in two a few years ago.

Somewhat outdoorsy models’ names start “Land Rover”: Land Rover Discovery Sport for instance. More luxurious models begin Range Rover, like the Range Rover Evoque and Range Rover Velar.

The name may be an example of overthinking a brand, but there’s little doubt Land Rover gave the 2020 Evoque the combination of slick looks and off-road capability the brand’s fans expect.

Specifications as tested

Engine: 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder

Power: 246 hp @ 5,500 rpm; 269 pound-feet of torque @ 1,300-4,500 rpm

Transmission: 9-speed automatic

Wheelbase: 105.6 inches

Length: 172.1 inches

Width: 75 inches

Height: 64.9 inches

Curb weight: 3,935 pounds

Assembled in Halewood, U.K.

Competitive base prices

(Excluding destination charges)

(Automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive models.)

Range Rover Evoque Launch Edition: $56,850

Audi Q3 2,0 TFSI S-Line Quattro: $36,000

BMW X2 xDrive 2.8i: $38,400

Cadillac XT4 AWD Sport: $42,995

Infiniti QX30 Essential AWD: $41,400

Jaguar E-Pace P250AWD SE: $43,900

Jeep Cherokee Overland 4×4: $38,495

Lexus UX 200 Luxury: $37,350

Mercedes GLA 4Matic: $36,350

Volvo SC40 AWD R-Design: $41,950

Source: Autotrader

Competitive EPA fuel economy ratings

(Automatic transmission, all-wheel drive models.)

Range Rover Evoque Launch Edition: 20 mpg city/27 highway/23 combined. Premium gasoline

Audi Q3 2,0 TFSI S-Line Quattro: 19/27/22. Regular

BMW X2 xDrive 2.8i: 21/31/25. Premium

Cadillac XT4 AWD Sport: 22/29/24. Regular

Infiniti QX30 Essential AWD: 21/30/25. Premium

Jaguar E-Pace P250 AWD SE: 21/28/24. Premium

Jeep Cherokee Overland 4×4 V6: 19/27/22. Midgrade

Lexus UX 200 Luxury: 29/37/33. Regular

Mercedes GLA 4Matic: 23/31/26. Premium

Volvo XC40 AWD R-Design: 23/31/26. Premium

Source: www.fueleconomy.gov