For those choosing a rugged, versatile, posh sport utility vehicle with a fabled back story, the staunchly British Land Rover family evokes images of globe-trotting adventure seekers. Families off enjoying or envisioning an elegant African safari, more times than not, get pictured in a Land Rover variant.
Rather than a rugged Jungle setting, the opulent Land Rover brand utilized the indoor creature comforts of this past February's Chicago Auto Show to showcase its newest, most diminutive selection.
The 2020 model year Range Rover Evoque made its U.S. debut in an off-beat, off-road fashion. Parent company Land Rover constructed its own mountainous, experiential off-road course inside McCormick Place's South Hall inviting showgoers to enjoy its notable off-road chops.
The 2020 effort represents a second-generation redo of the luxury-enhanced compact five-door Evoque, which made its global debut a decade earlier. Timing was spot on as compact sport utility vehicles and crossovers have rocketed in sales, representing the most sought after segment in the American market, surpassing the once dominant mid-size sedan. It's one of the smallest offerings donning a Land Rover badge.
Think of Land Rover as an upscale SUV/crossover import brand with three families here in the States: Range Rover, Discovery and returning in 2020 model year, after a two-decade absence, Defender. Evoque Remains part of the Range Rover family which also includes Sport and Velar offspring.
Evoque's Gen Two version is built off an all-new 'Premium Transverse Architecture' boasting an inch longer wheelbase (distance between front and rear axles). Gen One offered a low volume two-door convertible variant that Gen Two has no immediate plans to reintroduce. Sales commenced this past Spring with a luxurious starting price of $42,650 and quickly adding up from there. It's a more-than capable off-roader with car-like sensibility.
Evoque assembly takes place in Halewood England, a short jaunt from the industrial hub of Liverpool, making Evoque the second-most sought-after regional export behind the musical scores of John, Paul, George and Ringo.
Six trim levels include: S, SE, R-Dynamic S, R-Dynamic SE, R-Dynamic HSE and a 'First Edition' special trim only available in 2020. All trims offer all-wheel-drive standard with numerous drive mode settings built into the updated 'Terrain Response 2' system (also promoting a wading depth of 23.6 inches).
Gen Two's standard engine: a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder delivers 246 horsepower, a peppy step up from last year's 2.0-liter turbo four generating 237 horses. Built-in start-stop technology gently shuts down the engine at prolonged waits such as stop lights, while charging back into operation once the right foot lifts from the brake pedal.
In theory, both start-stop technology and turbo charging goose up fuel economy numbers, but even with these enhancements, Evoque's base engine registers middle of the pack at best results. Its start-stop technology invites a split second of hesitation when lifting off the brake which we found intrusive at times. This tech, though, may be deactivated. Brakes react quickly with a gentle foot tap.
Need a fuel economy boost? Consider Evoque's new-for-2020 'mild' hybrid system offered with R-Dynamic trim offerings combining a 48-volt hybrid-electric system with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo gas engine upping horsepower to the 300 neighborhood promised later in the model year.
Mild hybrid electric motors do not solely propel vehicles in the same fashion as 'full' gas-electric hybrids. Instead, the electric motor acts as an assistant to the gasoline engine. No plug-in necessary.
Our SE trim tester with turbo-four engine included a $47,200 starting price. Optional factory packages and many a-la-carte opportunities spiked the bottom line to $64,010.
While architecture underpinnings are all new, Evoque's eye-catching silhouette changes little; a wise call allowing its artistry to evolve. All four doors feature strap-like narrow rectangular body-color grab bars protruding out about an inch from the body for hands to wrap around when opening. Lock the vehicle via key fob, and the bars retract flush into the body. Unlock, and the handles protrude out. Side-view mirrors fold in and out when locking and unlocking, too. At night when opening doors to exit, side mirrors project a flood light design to the ground below of an Evoque pencil sketch.
Extra high side belt line creases meld with narrow side and hatchback windows. Add to the effect a roof sloping downward ever so slightly from the apex point a few inches aft of the A pillar. The roof's end point features a small spoiler with curl-up tail. Expect minimal overhang behind the rear wheels. Both headlight and tail light housing adopt narrow, wrapped designs with tail light housing connecting with side belt creases.
A standard nine-speed automatic transmission shifter stalk surfacing up between front buckets resembles something out of a 1980's video arcade game, but modified for 2020 commands. Instead of targeting white outlined asteroid rocks floating aimlessly through a stealer sky, the right hand wraps around this joy stickish stalk with the pointer finger maneuvering its own trigger mechanism to summon reverse and drive. Park gets summoned by pushing a smallish top-side button. Gently nudge the shifter left to activate the 'manual mode,' allowing drivers to manually change forward gears up or down as desired sans a foot clutch.
Evoque's interior lives up to upper-crest Land Rover billing with soft-touch materials, a bi-colored layered dash and multiple flat screens fading to black when the engine shuts off. The center console utilizes few push buttons as systems interplay occurs through touch screen icons.
An animated instrument panel includes two analog-like dials surrounding an artsy middle info screen. A four-color touch screen of rectangular proportions gets flush mounted into the upper dash, angling forward on demand to combat sun glare. This screen monitors sound, navigation and standard Smart Phone interplay (Android Auto and Apple Car Play come standard). A second 45-degree angle touch screen connects the lower center dash to the transmission area offering four selectable screens (vehicle, climate, seats, settings). Two large twist dials interplay with the screen dependent upon the function selected. Terrain 'Drive Modes' and engine 'Start-Stop disconnect' get nested inside the 'vehicle' selection.
Included in the Gen Two redesign is a pinch more back leg room, but confines remain snug for long leggers as Evoque skews to the smaller end of the compact spectrum. Row two's seat backs fold down in 40/20/40 harmony adding space to the rather diminutive hatch region. Total cargo volume with seatbacks folded reaches a rather snug 50.5 cubic feet. Two adults best travel in back or three pre-teens. When lifted, the rear hatch provides ample head clearance.
The 17.7-gallon tank recommends premium fuel for optimal results with ho-hum mileage estimates at 20 miles per gallon city and 27 on the open road from the turbo four.
2020 Range Rover Evoque
Price as tested: $64,010
Engine: 2.0-liter turbo four
Wheelbase: 105.6 inches
Overall Length: 172.1 inches
Overall Height: 64.9 inches
Overall Width: 82.7 inches
Fuel economy: 20/27
Curb weight: 3,935 pounds
Assembly: Halewood, UK