This former SUV of the Year winner is a 2020 contender
- Hasn’t lost its good looks
- Or its sporty handling
- Or its off-road chops
- It costs how much?
- Jittery on-road ride
- Quality concerns already
Of the half-dozen former Of The Year winners present, the Range Rover Evoque looks and feels like it has changed the least. Landie lovers might (rightly, perhaps ironically) say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. On the other hand, several judges had a hard time believing this edition actually rides on a new platform and isn’t just a midcycle update.
That said, the Evoque remains a crowd pleaser. Even if doesn’t score high on the advancement in design portion of our criteria, we’re not upset about it. This is still a sharp and distinct product, obviously a Land Rover but a standout in a sea of two-row luxury crossovers. Its price, unfortunately, also stands out. Even though it sits squarely in the compact segment, our turbo-four Evoque First Edition stickered for $59,215 USD, and the R-Dynamic HSE came in at an eye-watering $67,190 USD.
What do you get for that kind of dosh? The interior, which continues to be a grab bag of Jaguar and Land Rover parts, nonetheless looks hip and modern with its digital instrument screen, pop-up infotainment screen, and combination analog/digital lower control screen. Judges were particularly fond of the tweed inserts on the P300 HSE R-Dynamic’s doors, seats, and center-console armrest. At least there’s room for your friends; despite the narrow rear-door openings, second-row seating is capacious for the compact segment.
The Evoque would’ve been more impressive were it not for a handful of quality issues. The First Edition P250’s head-up display buzzed on poor pavement, and the R-Dynamic P300’s snazzy steering wheel stitching was coming undone. The double touchscreen setup in both vehicles was a bit slow and had a tendency to freeze momentarily, and the P300’s screens required a full 20 seconds to boot up after engine start.
This dynamic carried over to driving impressions, as well. Treated like a Land Rover, it made us all fans on the off-road course. “The Sand program in off-road mode is incredible,” executive editor Mark Rechtin said. “Land Rover should consider itself ready for Dakar.”
Features editor Christian Seabaugh was impressed with how it handled transitions on- and off-road. “It’s really amazing to me how quickly, when left to its own devices in auto mode, the Evoque recognizes the terrain and makes changes,” he said. “Watching what the drivetrain was doing in the 4x4i screen, it took all of 30 seconds to switch from 2WD to AWD and then into its Sand setting. And then, once back on pavement, I watched it quickly switch back into FWD.”
We liked it on-road, as well. MotorTrend en Español managing editor Miguel Cortina, Detroit editor Alisa Priddle, and Seabaugh each specifically praised its nimbleness—but then dissent began to creep in again. Seabaugh took issue with the programming of the oft-maligned nine-speed automatic, calling it “dim-witted” and “sluggish” on-road and off. And Priddle thought the base engine had to work too hard at times and that there was too much engine noise in both cabins.
Then there’s the ride quality. “My opinions changed when I drove it on the ride evaluation course,” Cortina said, speaking for the collective. “The undulations were moving the body up and down very harshly.” Rechtin dug deeper: “The suspension responds well to the first impact, but the rebound sends it soaring. I hit the top stops a couple times as the suspension reached full droop. A lot of head toss with side-to-side split impacts, too.” Senior production editor Zach Gale just called it plain rough.
“Overall,” editor-in-chief Ed Loh said, “it just does not feel as special as the first-gen Evoque despite its substantially higher content inside.” Whereas the original Evoque was a home run, the new one is a solid double. Unfortunately, it’s still priced like a home run.
|Range Rover Evoque P250||Range Rover Evoque P300 HSE (R-Dynamic)|
|Base Price/As Tested||$43,645/$59,215||$56,795/$67,190|
|Power (SAE net)||246 hp @ 5,500 rpm||296 hp @ 5,500 rpm|
|Torque (SAE net)||269 lb-ft @ 1,300 rpm||295 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm|
|Accel, 0-60 mph||9.0 sec||8.1 sec|
|Quarter Mile||16.8 sec @ 81.3 mph||16.2 sec @ 84.5 mph|
|Braking, 60-0 mph||129 ft||129 ft|
|Lateral Acceleration||0.77 g (avg)||0.80 g (avg)|
|MT Figure Eight||28.5 sec @ 0.62 g (avg)||27.9 sec @ 0.63 g (avg)|
|EPA City/Hwy/Comb||20/27/23 mpg||21/26/23 mpg|