2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque SE Review

The rugged lifestyle crossover evolves, ever so slightly


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: New sheetmetal is even more attractive than before, interior space increases, fancy interior appointments, nimble handling.
Negatives: Jerky starts from a stop, brutal turbo lag saps driving joy, touchscreen control lag is frustrating, gets really pricey as you go up the trim line and add options.
Bottom Line: The Evoque keeps its iconic style in tact, while interior improvements abound. It's just too bad that for this steep price, its mostly appearances. It's not especially fun to drive, nor does it have great in-car tech. Those who want the brand on the "cheap", it's an attention-getter with some good off-road chops owners will probably never use.
No one needs an Evoque. There are nice crossovers out there with more space, more power, better tech, and better materials. But nothing out there has the combination of manageable size, unique looks, and brand cache like the Land Rover's smallest stablemate. And that's why it sells. It also has the right amount of rugged Land Rover DNA. For the 2019 model year, the brand decided to give it a redesign that essentially amounted to a refreshed exterior, a stretched wheelbase, and better tech and interior design. We got to drive it in SE trim for a week. Read on for our detailed review.
 

Driving Experience

7.3

 

Despite the added length, the Evoque is still what we'd consider small for a crossover and maintains its ability to manage pavement better than most. While it's not as agile as a BMW X2 or even a Mazda CX-5, it does lean towards sportiness. And although the Evoque can't hold an off-road candle to its bigger brothers, it can wade through 23.6 inches of water and can tow 3,968 pounds when properly equipped, making it better than the competition.

Ride Quality: The ride is comfortable but leans toward firm because of the large wheel diameter. At no point, however, did we feel it was harsh or noncompliant over bumps. The adaptive multi-link suspension manages things nicely.

Acceleration: Our tester didn't have the benefit of the 48V mild hybrid system to give it more punch. The turbo-four by itself has a decent 246 horses, but there's some initial jerkiness due to the transmission, and the turbo lag is front and center. A half-second of nothing before it hurtles you forward does not make for a satisfying experience.

Braking: The brakes in the Evoque were strong and firm, while pedal feel is progressive.

Steering: Although the steering is feel is numb, it responds well to inputs and remains on center.

Handling: There's minor body roll, but Evoque's chassis manages things well while proving a good ride.

Technology

6.6

 

Premium automakers love their digital displays, and Jaguar is no exception. Land Rover has improved their infotainment system, but that doesn't mean it has all the kinks worked out.

Infotainment System: Although the InControl system looks good enough (not as good as Audi or BMW but better than Lexus), it lacks ease of use and responsiveness. The big tile menu is easier to use, and the whole system is less confusing than before, but there's still some noticeable lag.

Controls: The rotary shifter is gone and is replaced by a more conventional looking shift knob that's electronically operated like those from BMW. The climate control knobs are fun to use but unnecessarily dual function when pushing them, making them too complex.

Styling

8.8

 

This is where the Evoque shines. It's an attractive vehicle that has nothing else to compete with in the segment in terms of unique style, except for perhaps the BMW X2. The level of style is top notch both inside and out, and owners will love the sophistication and attitude it conveys.

Front: The Velar's DNA shows up nicely here with slim headlights and a newly textured grille. The intakes on the lower fascia are now smaller, and there's a faux skid plate in a metallic finish up front.

Rear: The back end doesn't look quite as squared off as before, and the taillights now creep into the liftgate. The ellipsoid exhaust tips are now completely gone from view and exit out the bottom of the Evoque. We really hate this trend.

Profile: The Evoque thankfully keeps its sloping roofline, though it seems a little less dramatic than before. Big wheels fill the wells nicely, and the chunky fender arches are still present.

Cabin: The cabin is now more refined, and our tester had the fancy twin screens.

Comfort

8.5

 

The interior is where the Evoque has seen the most change, but that equation mostly involves ergonomics and materials rathr than overall passenger and cargo room.

Front Seats: The front seats are comfy enough, but they're a bit on the narrow side. They could've made the seat cushions wider for the derriere-blessed.

Rear Seats: Legroom actually shrinks a little, but the headroom is a bit better. Few people will notice the difference, though. Two normal sized adults can fit in the back, but three in comfort is a pipe dream.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The big tires do emit some road noise in the cabin, and the engine is a bit intrusive under hard driving. Otherwise, we didn't notice any errant noises, even at highway speeds.

Visibility: The front view is solid, but because the Evoque's slanted roof is its major style focus, rear side and rear windows are small, making it hard to see out of.

Climate: The heated and cooled seats are slow to respond, but the HVAC system works pretty well. We had no troubles during the colder days.

Safety

6.6

 

Our Evoque came standard with a ton of features, which is comforting given the fact that there have been no crash tests by the IIHS or NHTSA yet.

IIHS Rating: Not tested.

NHTSA Rating: Not tested.

Standard Tech: The SE came with Emergency Collision Notification, Tire Pressure Monitoring System, Emergency Braking, Emergency Brake Assist, Cruise Control, Rear View Camera, Lane Keep Assist, Driver Condition Monitor, Traffic Sign Recognition, Adaptive Speed Limiter, Park Pack: 360 Parking Aid, Rear Traffic Monitor, Clear Exit Monitor, Park Assist.

Optional Tech: Our SE tester was optioned out with Blind Spot Assist, a 360 Surround Camera; and the Drive Pack, which included Blind Spot Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, and a great High-Speed Emergency Braking system.

Storage/Cargo

6

 

The Evoque isn't capacious for gear and small storage items, unfortunately. It's fine for normal duties, but don't look to load it up with a ton of weekend luggage and golf bags.

Storage Space: There's not much that's immediately visible and accessible. Door pockets are medium-sized, and the cupholder in the center console is the only open space you can reach. The large climate control screen occupies real estate that could be relegated for storage. The space under the screen isn't easily reachable or easy to remember.

Cargo Room: The Evoque has 21.5 cubic feet behind row two and 50.5 cubes with it folded flat, smaller than the Audi Q5 in both sections and the Lexus NX when it comes to overall cargo space.

Fuel Economy

6.2

 

Although the Evoque has a new all-wheel-drive system in non-mild-hybrid trims that can decouple the rear axle for better efficiency, we didn't see great numbers. EPA ratings are on the low side, as were our results. We did drive exclusivly in Dynamic mode, which no doubt hampered our gas mileage.

Observed: 18.3 mpg.

Distance Driven: 81 miles.

Audio

7.9

 

The optional Meridian Surround Sound system is pretty good and only costs $800. We love that you can just add this feature without getting a pricey package loaded with stuff you don't want or need. The system sounds clear and crisp, but we would've liked a little bit more bass without the minor distortion.



Final Thoughts

We love the way the Evoque looks, and that's it's real draw. Those willing to pony up big money for a compact luxury crossover want to be noticed. The base engine isn't a thriller, nor is the throttle response, but the Evoque handles well and provide good comfort for four, if not space. If you can look past the so-so infotainment and the poor predicted reliability, you have a handsome crossover that looks premium inside and out while keeping off-road prowess at the ready, even if you never use it.
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