Road Test Review – 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque First Edition – By Carl Malek

When Land Rover first unveiled the Range Rover Evoque a few years ago, it represented a bold and key step for the British SUV maker. Penned with input from controversial style and music figure Victoria Beckham, the Evoque straddled the line between being a stylish accessory, and a go anywhere bruiser that promised higher levels of capability and ruggedness for the chic clientele that chose to welcome it into their homes. The Evoque proved to be a big seller for the company, but it was admittedly a bit rough around the edges in some aspects, especially in engine and infotainment technology. Land Rover has made note of these flaws, and has unleashed the improved 2020 version to the masses. But does the 2020 Range Rover Evoque have the same magic that helped define its predecessor? Or has the quest for maturity and cohesiveness robbed the Evoque of its unique identity?


Familiar Styling Language Stays For 2020:

The 2020 Ranger Rover Evoque comes at a time when the JLR is facing a very big crisis with the firm recently reporting a $4.4 billion dollar loss and unveiling plans to lay off thousands of workers. As a result, it comes as no surprise that the design elements here represent more of a light refresh versus an all out effort to revamp its identity. While the Evoque did not sell in huge numbers in the United States, the company still managed to move over 77,000 worldwide, so naturally, Land Rover designers chose to largely stick with what works when it came to the redesign, with splashes of Velar influence scattered throughout. The front fascia features narrow LED headlights, a rising beltline, as well as tapered side windows that allow the Evoque to have a much cleaner profile. There is currently no plans for a two door version of the Evoque, but this makes sense considering that the two door coupe version always was the outlier in sales especially when compared to the far more popular four door variant. Deployable door handles (again borrowed from the Velar) move inward or outward depending on whether the Evoque is locked or unlocked. A spate of cold Michigan weather did not affect their operation, and Land Rover has mentioned in the past that they have been tested to withstand cold climates.

The rear fascia has a new taillight design, but it still retains the squat shape that defined older Evoques. This includes the narrow windows as well as the fat rear pillars. The 172.1 inch length has grown by only a millimeter, and the wheelbase was only expanded by 0.8 inches. This means that the Evoque is shorter than a Audi Q3. Our Nolita Grey First Edition tester came equipped with some exclusive details including 20-inch gloss grey wheels, First Edition motifs throughout the SUV, as well as minor trim and equipment differentiations. While a high degree of familiarity will certainly help the Evoque retain the bulk of its customer base, we hope that JLR will eventually give the Evoque a much more extensive makeover to make it standout better against slicker rivals especially those from Mercedes and BMW.


Bite Sized Interior Leaves Cramped Vibes For Passengers:

The minimal increases in length and width do leave their marks on the interior with Land Rover designers not altering the packaging to enhance space. The end result is a gloomy cramped cave for second row occupants, with tight amounts of leg, elbow and headroom for passengers. The narrow windows make it even more claustrophobic, and the fat rear pillars still leave the Evoque with horrendous blind spots that make lane changes on the freeway an arduous chore. Thankfully, front occupants have a better existence with decent amounts of legroom and commendable headroom especially with the massive sunroof that our tester arrived with. Our rig also arrived with the all new Jaguar InControl Touch Duo system, but while it is a notable upgrade over the older and balkier unit that defined the first generation Evouqe, we still had to occasionally deal with slow boot up times especially when first starting our tester. When it was fully awakened from its digital slumber, the system did wow us with crisp graphics, and the upscale way it incorporates some features into the trick control knobs. We also like how further upscale the trim pieces have gone versus the old model, but while they did help make our tester feel like a miniature version of Land Rover’s full size luxury utility, these welcome touches cannot hide some of the odd ergonomic choices that are abundant in the Evoque. For example, operating the climate controls is now a two step process, and the lack of formal grab handles means occupants looking to brace themselves during sharp turns will have to hold onto the door pulls.

The digital instrument cluster was also clear and relatively easy to customize to our tastes. The lone wart here is the sheer amount of steps that is needed to access certain menus including the setting that allows the map from the navigation system into the gauge cluster itself. As such, we recommend that new owners dedicate a few minutes to reading the instruction manual to help them get better acquainted with the electronic side of the equation. The leather seats in our tester were firm in typical JLR tradition, but they were still very comfortable, and the included heater function proved to be a very welcome ally in colder weather.  Cargo space has increased slightly, but with only 22 cubic feet on hand with the second row in place, the Evoque is on the smaller end of the spectrum when compared to some of its luxurious rivals. Folding down the seats does increase the amount of space that is available, but it is still very tight, and bigger loads will either have to stay at home, or be assigned to a bigger SUV. Thankfully, the liftover is manageable, and we were able to load cargo easily into the space during our time with our tester.


Athletic Performance:

While the 2020 Range Rover Evoque might be the middle of the pack when it comes to ergonomics and usability, it more than makes up for it in terms of performance. Our tester gets its grunt from a 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder that makes 246 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque. While these figures might not seem very impressive at first glance, when paired with the all-wheel drive system, the Evoque turns into a very competent driving companion, with our tester making the sprint to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds even. The noisy four banger is happiest in the lower parts of the rev band, where it rewards the driver with good acceleration and passing power. A nine speed automatic is the sole transmission offering here, and like other JLR products with this transmission, we liked how smooth and silky the shifts were when commuting out in town. Like many in its breed these days, the Evoque comes with a Stop/Start system that shuts the engine off when sitting at traffic lights, and the transitions were noticeably rougher than what we have come to experience in other luxury CUV models.

Handling in our tester was very composed with very minimal amounts of bodyroll present. The suspension tuning is a bit on the firm side (more so in sport mode) but the chassis balance is very stable and neutral. In short, it is a very balanced compromise with the Evoque delivering a reasonably comfy ride, yet still having the tools to take a corner with a good amount of confidence if pushed hard. Our tester arrived with all-season tires, and while their grip was far from impressive, they proved to still be competent enough for the wintery weather that arrived during the tail end of its stay with us. But at the end end of the day, the Evoque still remains a legit go to option for budget focused adventurers with the model easily capable of fording up to 23.6 inches of standing water in the event you have to go to the Cabelas that’s situated in the middle of the woods, while the 8.3 inches of ground clearance can easily cover the hilly terrain separating you from your Cheesecake Factory outlet.


Value Quotient:

Even with the off-road capabilities and the luxury that comes bake into the broader Range Rover brand, justifying the steep price for its still cramped interior can be a very tough proposition for many buyers. The entry level S P250 starts at $43,645 while the typically range topping R-Dynamic model ratchets the price up to $46,600. In the case of our First Edition tester, it is a limited production exclusive that is available for the 2020 model year. To go along with its increased rarity, it also gets a nice bump in price, with base models starting at $56,850. Our lightly optioned tester had a final sticker price of $59,215. That’s just under $60,000 though a more extensively optioned First Edition model can easily cross that threshold in short order. For comparison, a base Audi Q3 starts at $34,700 with even Prestige grade models still undercutting the spunky Brit with their $42,900 sticker. Meanwhile, a Mercedes GLA also starts out cheaper than the Evoque, but unlike the Evoque, the GLA offers a dedicated AMG model for maximum performance, and a better quality interior to boot when equipped correctly.


At the end of the day, there is a good deal to love about the 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evouqe. It’s a welcome attempt to freshen a design that is familiar yet so distinctively stylish at the same time, but without losing all the core elements that have made the Evoque a success in many of the markets that it is sold in. However, while we like the revisions and updates that Land Rover engineers have made to the smallest Range Rover offering, ultimately it is let down by its high price tag as well as its cramped accomodations for cargo and passengers.