Mountain Wheels: Updated Range Rover Evoque brings class and technology to smaller package
Having sold almost three-quarter million units since its introduction, Range Rover’s Evoque SUV has been successful in offering a classy and distinctive gateway to those fascinated by the British brand.
It’s certainly a big improvement from the Ford Escape-sized Land Rover LR2, and 10 years after its debut, Evoque continues to provide an eye-catching alternative to other companies’ smaller SUVs.
There’s still nothing that looks quite like it, with a big-wheeled angularity that takes the severity of the Kia Soul and incorporates technology, luxury and the ongoing commitment to off-road capability – though its marketing still suggests it is designed for well-heeled young urbanites searching for parking in Brooklyn, rather than crawling over rocks on Mosquito Pass.
So it goes with reality versus potential in the SUV world, putting Evoque into a curious upscale space of its own. But the 2020 Evoque certainly could handle almost anything you’d like to throw at a $59,215 vehicle, a First Edition model riding on upgraded 21-inch wheels, and equipped with the optional adaptive and configurable dynamics systems, providing instantaneous adjustments to ride quality.
Evoque is now capable of wading through water 23.6 inches deep, which is certainly not the case for most other off-the-shelf SUVs out there, and the vehicle’s 8.3 inches of ground clearance also give it a leg up over the competition.
Evoque was part of the first wave of a design makeover for the entire Range Rover and Land Rover family, and that process has now looped back around and given the style-heavy vehicle an even more distinctive profile and grille.
There’s forward lean to the whole shape, capped with a blacked out wall of glass, door frames and rear uprights, creating an intensely focused shape. Up front, tiny LED headlamps, a more rounded grille and face and a pair of jet engine intake-styled vents — sexed up with copper-colored highlights on my model as well as copper swatches on the sides of the cabin — all certainly make it look like a smaller rendition of the current family of vehicles.
The wheels are enormous; however, and the ride can be curve-huggingly precise and sporty on dry corners and just a little ponderous on ruts.
You may also be just a tad underwhelmed by power in the nonhybrid model. A turbocharged 2.0-liter engine puts out 248 horsepower, which got me about 25 overall mpg during my drives, but also failed to produce the flat-out blast of acceleration I was hoping to get to pass trucks during a dry-road transit over Vail Pass last weekend.
The experience is otherwise pleasant, and the nine-speed automatic transmission can be activated by paddles, useful in helping to slow Evoque down during the descents.
Inside, the vehicle has adapted the new multilevel screen layout first seen in the Velar, which includes a fully reconfigurable digital instrument panel and wide, slightly forward-pivoted navigation/entertainment screen up top. Below that, an even larger panel offers digitized and infinitely reconfigurable climate, seat heat and on- and off-road dynamic controls, all of which still can be a little overwhelming. Happily, the whole display cannot also show your favorite Netflix series as you drive along, though you can get live CNN news updates on the infotainment screen.
Switch to the Terrain Response vehicle setup, and you can scroll through various modes for snow, sand, dynamic highway driving or a new fully automatic option; off-road adventures are assisted by ClearSight Ground View, a hood-level camera offering 180-degree views of what’s actually in front of the bumper, also helpful in snagging those Williamsburg parking spots.
That stacked display system also means pretty much zero room for your regular American-styled assortment of driving junk, though there is storage underneath the arch, and a small space under the double-split center armrest. Otherwise, it’s an oversized shifter and nothing else, though you can put an iPhone-sized cover over the cupholders and risk dehydration, I guess.
Mostly it’s Evoque’s continued little-bigness that seems odd. The seats seem perched just a little too high for the cabin size and the enormous black void of window-line, rear-view mirror and roof can seem a bit claustrophobic — the sunroof begins a considerable stretch from the front of the vehicle. Rear views are also very limited, though rear seat headrests do tilt forward.
And I don’t think anybody’s going to be particularly happy in the rear seats for a long voyage, though seating throughout is at least sporty-comfortable.
Andy Stonehouse’s column “Mountain Wheels” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Stonehouse has worked as an editor and writer in Colorado since 1998, focusing on automotive coverage since 2004. He lives in Greeley. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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