Striking style. The 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque is a glamour car in the finest tradition. It turns heads with unusual sheetmetal and appeals from the inside with a newly enriched interior. Even if passersby can’t see the Range Rover lettering on the hood, they’ll know nonetheless that they're looking at something of continental gentry.
Swanky cabin. Those who designed the interior seem to have enjoyed a bigger spending allowance than they had on their last go-around, because the cabin has made an impressive leap forward. Beyond the excellent fit and finish and the premium materials, there's a stylish simplicity to the way everything has been pieced together. It's not outlandish or showy, but elegant by virtue of restraint.
The tasteful aesthetics are complemented by the standard 10-inch touchscreen that sits neatly within the contours of the dashboard. It handles all the usual affairs, including Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and various cloud services. Order up the optional second touchscreen – which takes the place of traditional climate-control dials for a fully digital experience – and the interior begins to give off vibes of techno-chic Tesla.
Our favorite bit, though, isn't the technology, but rather the upholstery. The available woven cloth – yes, cloth – is unique, comfortable, and surprisingly rich in appearance. For those not sold on the idea of a premium cloth, quilted Windsor leather or an eco-friendly, eucalyptus-based material are also available. Base cars get a not-so-fancy grained leather.
Improved powertrains. The preceding generation wasn't known for having a particularly refined powertrain. The 2020 Range Rover Evoque rectifies this with two new engine options: a standard turbocharged four-cylinder and a more powerful four with mild-hybrid technology.
We've yet to get our paws on one of the mild-hybrid units, so we can't pass judgment on that 296-horsepower gas/electric drivetrain. But our time with the standard gas engine showed us that Land Rover took criticism of the old motor to heart. The new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is far smoother and much quieter; it feels appropriate in a car that bills itself as luxurious, something that wasn't the case with the old motor.
The 246 hp that's on tap is enough to keep the Evoque from ever running out of breath. More importantly, the 269 pound-feet of torque shows up in its entirety by just 1,300 RPM. The net result is strong acceleration and plenty of thrust in any of the transmission's nine gears.
Like any product wearing the Land Rover badge, the Evoque also was designed to hold its own off-road. Multiple off-road modes tailor the all-wheel-drive system to the terrain at hand, and an impressive maximum fording depth of nearly 24 inches should let this baby Rover get to all but the most remote of mountain cabins. We'd proceed with caution nonetheless, as rubber-band tires fitted on rims that run up to 21 inches in diameter aren't the best choice for tackling a trail.
Space and comfort. Following the usual trend, the new Evoque has grown slightly in each dimension. The tiny growth spurt begets an interior that's more spacious than before, allowing for more breathing room in the cabin and a bit more usable space in the hatch.
Up front, the seats seemed to be better suited toward those of the European build rather than the American – tight bolsters and narrow frames make these buckets true to their name. At least their standard 10-way power adjustment should help you find a comfortable position. If that’s not enough, there’s also 14- and 16-way seats available.
The dimensional sacrifices made for style are only noticeable in the back seat, where the steeply-raked roofline and available panoramic roof eat into head room – cowboys will want to leave their 10-gallon hats at home. Knee space is also at a premium for taller riders. Luckily, the adjustable backrests and decent shoulder room don't further penalize anyone riding in back.
With 21.5 cubic feet of room with the rear seats upright and a shade over 50 cubes when folded down, the Evoque matches or exceeds the cargo capacity of most competitors. That the pitched roofline doesn't steal more rear cargo space is an impressive thing indeed.
Final thoughts. The 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque is no different philosophically than the outgoing model – it still intends to be the prom queen of any curbside or parking lot. However, the old crossover was saddled with its own demons that kept it from being the superstar it wanted to be. The new Evoque has largely addressed these flaws, and the result is a much more polished and well-rounded experience.
No longer will the engine invoke suspicions of it being pillaged from an old tractor. No more does the interior feel like a step down from similar offerings from Mercedes-Benz and Audi. The littlest Range Rover is finally a complete package. By making needed improvements without dialing back the vehicle’s signature styling, the new Evoque should find many eager buyers – and keep onlookers as impressed as ever.
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