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Review: 2020 Range Rover Evoque goes big on luxury, price tag

There’s a certain amount of predictability that comes with a Range Rover. The vehicle is smartly designed, the interior is nicely appointed, there are some very clever bits, it’s going to offer a smooth ride—and there’s going to be some lack of attention to detail that nags at you every now and again. The 2020 Range Rover Evoque is no exception.

The second generation of Range Rover’s subcompact SUV made its US debut in February at this year’s Chicago Auto Show. Jaguar Land Rover hasn’t made massive changes, instead going for smaller tweaks to what has become its best-selling model worldwide. From the outside, the 2020 Evoque looks very similar to the pint-size SUV that debuted in 2010. Most of the changes are in the interior or under the hood. The 2020 Evoque gets the latest version of JLR’s InControl Touch Pro infotainment system, complete with optional CarPlay and Android Auto support. TouchPro is a dual-display setup, with the usual infotainment functions on top and climate and seat controls on the bottom. It’s very well-thought-out, but implementation is bumpy—a combination of small targets, noticeable lag between touch and response, and lack of tactile feedback leads to occasional frustration. It also takes too long to boot up after turning on the ignition.

JLR has equipped the 2020 Evoque with its mild hybrid EV powertrain. A 246hp (181kW) turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder gasoline engine is paired with a small electric motor that generates up to 103lb-ft (140Nm) of torque to assist with acceleration and smooth over turbo lag when you hit the gas. Combined, the MHEV powertrain churns out 296hp (218kW) and 269lb-ft (364Nm) of torque. The 48V battery lives under the passenger compartment and regenerates itself when the driver brakes or lets off the gas. While JLR claims the MHEV Evoque is 6 percent more efficient than its ICE-only predecessor, this hybrid system is intended to make for a more responsive and consistent driving experience.

Big feel, small package

Performance-wise, the MHEV works fairly well, with the electric motor masking the turbo lag when hitting the gas. And as you slow down, the internal combustion engine shuts off once the Evoque falls below 11mph, restarting once you accelerate again. The restarts were not instantaneous in the review car. At traffic lights, there was a just enough of a lag between pressing the accelerator and the engine turning over to be noticeable—to the point where it had me thinking about disabling auto stop-start.

On the road, the Evoque offers a steady ride that does a decent job insulating the cabin occupants from the worst of the roads. Despite its size, the Evoque gives the impression of something larger and more solid, like a Range Rover Sport in a pint-size package. Unlike its similarly sized corporate sibling, the Jaguar E-Pace, the Evoque doesn’t feel particularly quick or nimble. With a zero-to-60 time of 6.3 seconds, those shopping for sporty subcompacts should look elsewhere.

According to the EPA, you should expect to get 23mpg from the Evoque (20mpg city/27mpg highway). We got 19.1mpg in a week of driving.

We did not have a chance to do any serious off-roading in the Evoque, but it is designed to go places where the E-Pace and other subcompacts cannot. Ground clearance is 8.3in (212mm), and JLR’s Terrain Response 2 system makes its debut in the 2020 model. There are three off-road driving modes, and if you want to go really off-road—say across a stream (or in a more likely scenario for me, a flooded street)—you’re fine as long as the water is less than 24 inches (600mm) deep. Range Rover has also introduced ClearSight Ground View in the 2020 Evoque, which uses cameras mounted on the front grille and door mirrors to display video of what’s underneath the front of the car on the main infotainment display.

There are no surprises on the interior. I like Range Rover interiors, with their clean surfaces and uncluttered aesthetic, and the Evoque delivers. The primary infotainment display sits flush against the dashboard at an angle that makes it difficult to see in direct sunlight, but it can be tilted to a more driver-friendly position. Visibility isn’t fantastic, given the smaller windows and the height of the car, but a rearview mirror that can also display an HD video feed from a rear-mounted camera helps.

The front row feels downright roomy compared to other subcompact SUVs, and the seats are incredibly supportive and comfortable. The backseat, though, is another matter. The 2020 model has a slightly longer wheelbase than its predecessor, yielding what JLR claims is 0.8in (21mm) more legroom for back seat passengers. In spite of that, it feels every bit as cramped back there as the front row feels spacious, with my teenage son comparing the legroom unfavorably to the back seats of some of the two-door muscle cars I’ve made him squeeze into. There’s 21.5cu-ft (609L) of cargo space, which is 6 percent more than the 2019 edition, and that increases to 50.5cu-ft (1,430L) with the rear seats folded flat.

The Evoque starts at $42,650 for the base model, but the options add up fast. Our review Evoque SE carried a $64,010 price tag. That’s a $47,200 starting point for the SE trim plus another $16,000+ for the full suite of driver-assist gear, 16-way heated and ventilated seats, heads-up display, 21-inch wheels, and a bunch of other luxury-oriented features that you can live without—but that make a Range Rover feel like a Range Rover. Sixty-four large is a pretty penny—you can get into a much sportier fully loaded Audi Q3 or BMW X2 for several thousand dollars less. If luxury and smooth ride are paramount, the Volvo XC40 fits the bill nicely, again for about $10,000 less. But if you think the Evoque is the best-looking and most stylish luxury subcompact SUV—and that’s a legit take—then the Range Rover price premium may be worth it.

Listing image by Marlowe Bangeman

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