Range Rover Evoque gets added finesse, mild-hybrid versions
The snaking mountain roads of southern Greece's Peloponnese peninsula reward drivers with breathtaking panoramas. On clear days the vistas of sweeping coastline and the cobalt seas of the Mediterranean ensure plenty of photo stops.
These entertaining roads, with occasional gravel paths and creek crossings mixed in for good measure, were an unforgettable way to sample the new, second-generation 2020 Range Rover Evoque.
The compact luxury all-wheel-drive SUV has been a hero for Land Rover since it debuted as a 2012 model. Not only did the baby Range Rover nail a home run in sales, the Evoque's distinctive wedge shape and short overhangs impressed other automakers, evidenced by the "fast rooflines" that grace many SUVs and crossovers today.
For a volume model, an eight-year run with hardly any changes can raise eyebrows and sink sales. But Range Rover's entry-level head-turner has enjoyed long legs, was sized right and priced right, so whatever needed fixing, was done carefully.
Adopting some age-old custom tricks from car customizers, the 2020 Evoque's sheetmetal has been finessed, smoothed out and de-cluttered. Range Rover's even fitted the Evoque with retractable, flush door handles. The show-car routine continues with big (we're talking Hot Wheels proportions) wheels — all the way up to 21-inchers, depending on trim level.
2020 RANGE ROVER EVOQUE SE
TYPE: Compact luxury SUV
BASE PRICE: $47,200
AS TESTED, INCLUDING DESTINATION: $54,490
MAJOR OPTIONS: Drive pack, $1,170; fixed panoramic roof, $1,280; Meridian surround sound, $800; surround camera, $800; cold climate pack, $640; 14-way heated memory seats, $500; ClearSight rear view mirror, $475
DRIVETRAIN: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four ; 9-speed automatic; AWD
HORSEPOWER and TORQUE: 246 hp at 5,500 rpm / 269 lb.-ft. at 1,300 - 4,500 rpm
FUEL: gas, 91 octane; 17.7-gallon tank
EPA ESTIMATED MPG: 20 city / 27 highway / 23 combined or 4.3 gallons/100 miles
CURB WEIGHT: 3,935 lbs.
The signature Range Rover front "spear" has been extended along the front fender all the way to the back of the mirror, accentuating the length of the SUV's nose.
Thin LED headlights and taillights make it easy to spot the new Evoque. The corners of the lower front fascia have stylish scoops that lend a sporty touch. At the back, a horizontal wrap-around strip smartly incorporates the taillights and that sought-after Range Rover script.
The interior also takes the minimalist route with flowing horizontal lines and new, digital tablet-inspired infotainment and driver information screens. Leather covered electric seats are standard but for 2020, new cloth/suede fabrics made of recycled plastic and natural materials are optional.
Compact SUVs can accommodate four — or even five — people in a pinch, but vehicles like the Evoque are best suited for one to two people and maybe a fur baby in the back. The new platform that underpins the 2020 Evoque stretches the wheelbase a smidge, paying off with 0.8 inches more rear knee room for any back-seaters.
More important to potential buyers, we suspect, is the cargo area, which is larger and wider. Storage space is up 6 percent, to 21.54 cu. ft. With the nifty split 40/20/40 rear seat folded down, the capacity more than doubles to 50.5 cu. ft.
Land Rover said the new Evoque's architecture is 13% stiffer than the 2019's, and with the help of new subframes, that means improvements in noise, vibration and harshness.
The base turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four is rated at 246 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 269 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,300 to 4,500 rpm. EPA fuel economy ratings for Evoques with the standard four are 20 mpg city, 27 highway and 23 mpg combined. Top speed is 143 mph while 0-60 mph takes seven seconds.
The new Evoque's new platform allows Land Rover's first mild-hybrid powertrain. The 48-volt system uses a starter generator and under-floor battery to recover and store energy that's normally wasted in braking.
The mild-hybrids are zippier, running 0-60 in 6.3 seconds and topping out at 150 mph. The official mpg numbers are virtually identical at 21 city, 26 highway, and 23 mpg combined. The mild-hybrid makes its 296 horses at 5,500 rpm while the torque peaks at 295 lb.-ft. from 1,500 to 4,500 rpm.
The 2020 Range Rover Evoque is rated to tow up to 3,968 pounds with either powertrain.
A nine-speed ZF automatic, all-wheel-drive and driveline disconnect are standard on all 2020 Evoques. When cruising, the rear axles are disconnected to reduce frictional losses unless their traction is needed. Buyers also get Range Rover's Terrain Response 2, which can automatically optimize the traction and driving settings to the road surfaces (Drivers can also select their own modes which are general, ECO, sand, grass-gravel-snow and mud & ruts.) Torque vectoring is standard on more expensive trims.
The Evoque's optional adaptive suspension constantly monitors the road surface and adjusts the dampers for what its computers think is the best ride.
The Evoque serves up a smorgasbord of new tech features and capabilities inside and out. One of our favorites is that the revamped SUV — which is already graced with a 8.3 inches of ground clearance — can safely wade nearly two feet of water. (23.6 inches, to be exact.) There are even optional ultrasonic sensors housed in the mirrors that measure and report the water depth on the driver's touchscreen.
The Evoque has the federally required rear-facing video camera but ups the ante with an option that combines a conventional rear view mirror with a high-resolution monitor. The Evoque's ClearSight rear view mirror provides a wide-angle video feed showing what's behind the vehicle — darned handy if the view out the smallish window is blocked by tall passengers or cargo.
Similar technology is used up front. Range Rover's optional ClearSight Ground View shows drivers what's going on under the front of the vehicle — useful for everything from rocks and water to high curbs, potholes or parking lot wheel stops.
The new Evoque also uses artificial intelligence to track the driver's preferences and automate comfort and media settings. Parameters that are monitored include settings for seat position, music, steering column and the climate control system.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported in a big way by the Evoque's updated In Control Touch Pro Duo infotainment system's split 10-inch high-def touchscreens and 12.3-inch driver display. The standard Smartphone Pack lets drivers use the vehicle's screens to "drive" popular mobile apps such as WhatsApp, Spotify, and even Waze, for iPhones running iOS 12.
The 2020 Evoque lineup begins with the S model priced at $42,650, the SE is $47,200, a limited-run (and loaded) First Edition is $58,850. These all have the conventional powertrain. The R-Dynamic models, which all come with the mild-hybrid system, are $46,600 for the S, $51,150 for the SE and the HSE has starts at $55,800.
Whether it's ordering options a la carte or moving up in trim levels, there are dozens of ways to outfit the 2020 Evoque ranging from wheels, panoramic roof, to and driver, towing and safety assistance packages.
With the conventional powertrain, the new Evoque handles everything from freeway cruising and mountain grades to fording hub-deep creeks without fuss. Tipping the scales at just under two tons, the 246-horse Evoque may not move out like a muscle car but it's demonstrated over the years that it's a city-sized fusion of bling, practicality, luxury and off-road pluckiness.