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Is the Most Affordable Range Rover Still a Range Rover?

The 2020 Range Rover Evoque promises most of the bigger SUV's style and luxury at less than half the price

The Evoque crosses a railroad bridge over a canal in Greece. (Photo: Land Rover)
The Evoque crosses a railroad bridge over a canal in Greece.

Starting at $42,650, this new Evoque is the most affordable way into a Range Rover badge. Can it deliver the luxury, all-weather, and dirt road performance of its bigger brothers? I spent three days in one to find out. 

What Is It? 

The Evoque is Land Rover’s entry in the compact luxury crossover class—a type of vehicle finding enormous favor with the buying public right now. Over rivals like the Volvo XC40, Audi Q3, BMW X3, and Jaguar E-Pace, the Evoque claims a legendary badge and cutting-edge looks. 

If you live in a city but need the ability to tackle inclement weather and rough dirt roads when you leave town, then the Evoque was designed just for you. 

With excellent traction and compliant suspension, the Evoque is an ideal companion on unpaved roads.
With excellent traction and compliant suspension, the Evoque is an ideal companion on unpaved roads. (Photo: Land Rover)

Design

Like the E-Pace, which shares the same chassis, the Evoque is wider than other compact crossovers. That creates a more spacious cabin without sacrificing the short, nimble wheelbase that makes smaller cars like these so easy to maneuver in tight spaces. In other words, it’s a small crossover that doesn’t feel small inside. 

This second-generation Evoque looks similar to the first-generation model (2011–2019), but look closely and you’ll see the new version is decidedly less angular, trading a few sharp angles for flowing lines. You’d be forgiven if you thought it was a midcycle update, but it shares only two parts with that previous model: a door hinge and the mount for the vehicle’s main computer. This new model is a little larger inside and a little more refined everywhere. Most notably, it adopts a the brand’s distinctive new two-screen dashboard, which replaces most of the physical buttons and knobs inside the cabin. 

The all-new Evoque continues the tradition of using a high percentage of eco-friendly reused materials (72 pounds) in the cabin, while offering a sustainable, wool-based leather-alternative seating surface called Kvadrat. It’s quite nice, and I could see it being fantastic in colder climates where leather isn’t always ideal. 

It might be a unibody, all-wheel drive crossover, but the Evoque can still handle light off-roading with aplomb.
It might be a unibody, all-wheel drive crossover, but the Evoque can still handle light off-roading with aplomb. (Photo: Land Rover)

Driving It

The Evoque’s compact dimensions make it easy to drive almost everywhere. I tackled a gravel rally stage complete with actual rally cars preparing for a race, including stream crossings, railroad bridges, twisty mountain roads, and even tight city streets through ancient Greek villages. It’s not easy for a vehicle to inspire confidence in its drivers across such diverse environments, but the Evoque managed it. It rides comfortably and facilitates control when pushed to its limits on a gravel road, yet it easily handled terrain challenging enough that it lifted a wheel into the air. 

It does this through Land Rover’s mastery of manipulating traction through its brake systems. Torque vectoring, as some call it, allows the Evoque to send the engine’s power to the wheels that need it, whether that’s the outside tire in a turn to counter understeer or the tire that has the most grip off-road. It is quite an impressive feature for such a small vehicle. 

Fitted with the turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces a healthy 246 horsepower, the Evoque returns a seven-second zero-to-60 mph time. There’s also a 296 horsepower mild-hybrid version. In either flavor, the Evoque has plenty of power. Helping there is the crisp nine-speed ZF gearbox that provides low-speed torque, midrange acceleration, and good highway fuel economy (up to 21 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway).

The Range Rover Velar, which gets height-adjustable air suspension and a rear locker, might be more capable but in comparison feels like every other crossover on the market. The Evoque is the young hero of the Range Rover family: part Kensington Palace, part rally car. 

The Range Rover lineup has some of the cleanest, most visually pleasing and functional interiors around right now.
The Range Rover lineup has some of the cleanest, most visually pleasing and functional interiors around right now. (Photo: Land Rover)

Likes

  • More personality than its dour German competition. 
  • Perceptibly good build quality.
  • Class-leading engine and transmission options. 
  • Feels more like its big brother than the price tag suggests.

Dislikes

  • Seat memory button intrudes on the driver’s knee space. 
  • The smooth, shiny dash scratches easily.
  • No high-end performance option. 

Clean lines continue outside, where the large wheels outweigh the thin glasshouse.
Clean lines continue outside, where the large wheels outweigh the thin glasshouse. (Photo: Land Rover)

Should You Buy the Evoque? 

If you’re an urbanite who needs something small and maneuverable for the city yet also wants the luxury and go-anywhere ability of a large SUV, then the Evoque will be a good fit for you. 

If you don’t like the Evoque’s distinctive look, then the similar Jaguar E-Pace offers much of the same experience in a more understated but still very handsome package.

Filed To: CarsOff-Road4x4OverlandIndefinitely Wild
Lead Photo: Land Rover
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