2020 Range Rover Evoque SE AWD Review

Dec 1, 2019

Range Rover’s new Evoque stirs a $64,000 question: Do you expect your new vehicle’s climate control system and heated/cooled seats to work every time you start the vehicle?

Apparently the answer is, no!

Despite my “Yulong White” test vehicle’s $64,000 price tag, those systems worked about half of the time. I shouldn’t have been surprised — many auto writers and buyers have complained of electronic glitches in their Range Rovers through the years. I even heard of one writer having both of the giant 10-inch info screens fail to work in a test vehicle.

Lucky for me, the top screen never skipped a beat, so I had radio service. It’s just that the bottom screen occasionally worked. Here’s why that’s a problem: It’s the one that adjusts climate controls, heated/cooled seats, the rear defroster and various car function settings. Oddly, the screen controlling the heated seats was most affected by the glitch, meaning I could adjust the seats and rear defroster about half of the time during my snowy week of driving.

Naturally, this is a First World problem. And despite the single-digit temps some mornings, I could live without the seat heat. Rear defroster is another matter when there’s snow and ice, and to be honest, the two mornings I didn’t have heat for my drive were pretty nippy.

Sometime the heated seats didn't work. Sometimes there was no heat because the touchscreen for climate didn't work.
Credit Mark Savage

Obviously these were electronic glitches, possibly due to cold weather as about half of the time when I started the vehicle another electronic readout said there was a shock malfunction (although driving didn’t indicate any problem). And once the screen said I was low on coolant, but that message never reappeared, nor did the vehicle appear to be near overheating, ever.

Such malfunctions are rare in test cars these days. Most electronics work, if not flawlessly, at least well enough that you aren’t uncomfortable or too inconvenienced by their missteps.

READ: 2020 Kia Soul GT-Line 1.6 Turbo Review

It’s too bad the sharp-looking Evoque couldn’t consummate its visual promise of delivering a high-end lifestyle. From a driving perspective, the Evoque delivered a luxury feel. You’ve seen a lot of Evoques on the roads. They look like taller, more upscale Kia Souls with the same profile featuring a downward sloping roofline front to rear. Both are stylish, but I must say the value-priced Kia I drove recently had no electronic bugs.

Evoque was redesigned for 2020 although it maintains its earlier styling, but with an extended wheelbase to improve ride and slim LED headlights to update its looks. The chassis also was stiffened to improve ride and handling, plus power was boosted, along with better AWD technology added for folks intending to take their entry-level luxury utility vehicle into the brush. Other benefits of the stretched wheelbase are increased rear legroom and a touch more cargo space.

Yes, I had some hiccups. But the Evoque has sharp exterior styling.

Rover’s 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 is powerful, generating 246 horses. And its 9-speed automatic shifts smoothly to create a luxury feel. Power is strong, although there’s considerable turbo lag once you depress the accelerator, especially noted when you come out of a tight turn where you’ve let off the gas, then quickly get back onto it.

The ride is nicer than you might expect in a vehicle with less than a 106-inch wheelbase, but this is well-controlled and well-cushioned even in bumpy city driving.

The handling is good too, only a bit of side-to-side lean in sharp turns. But there’s a soft feel to the steering wheel that I’d prefer to be firmed up. Mercedes-Benz and BMW crossovers and utility vehicles have this figured out. So, the Rover tips the scales more toward luxury than performance for handling.

Then there’s full-time AWD, as you’d expect with a Land Rover product. So you could take your utility vehicle off-road if you wish. Rover’s Terrain Response2 system is an upgrade from the Evoque’s previous systems. It is adjustable for various road surfaces and conditions, from a general traction system, to Eco, Sand, Grass-Gravel-Snow, Mud & Ruts to Automatic. I left it on that setting mostly and traction in our modest snowfalls was excellent, no wheel spin or slip-sliding while cornering, even at accelerated speeds.

There’s generous room in the rear seat and good cargo space under the hatch.
Credit Mark Savage

A cool new feature on Evoque, and this was the base level in SE trim, is Wade Sensing. I didn’t have a stream to ford, but this system uses ultrasonic sensors to determine how deep the water is you’re about to drive into, then projects that info on one of the screens to indicate if it’s safe to proceed. Great if you’re doing some serious off-roading.

The interior oozes luxury with dark red quilted leather seats and door trim, the dash top also being that same red leather while the rest was black with satin chrome trim. Visually, this interior stands out from the competition: BMW’s X4, Audi’s Q5, Acura’s RDX, Mercedes GLC, and Alfa Romeo’s Stelvio, to name a few. This starts at a lower price than most of those, except the BMW, at least for starters.

Base in S trim begins at $43,645 with delivery, while the tested SE lists at $48,195. There are three models, base, R-Dynamic and First Edition, all with S, SE and HSE trims. R-Dynamic runs between about $47,500 and $56,800. The First Edition, which is loaded with equipment and goodies, starts at $57,895.

The base SE I tested added a whopping 15 options to push it up to $64,010, so you might as well start with the First Edition if you’re going to go option crazy.

In addition to the fancy looking interior, the test car also featured the goodies you’d expect in a mid- to high-end luxury vehicle, although most were options. First, there was a giant panoramic sunroof. This one is fixed, so does not open. It’s part of the $4,770 Demo Speck Pack that also adds a power hatch that you can open by motioning behind the tailgate, a power tilt/telescope steering wheel, blind-spot assist and a 360-degree camera that aids in parking.

The Evoque has a giant sunroof and full complement of safety devices.
Credit Mark Savage

Also part of the package is the ClearSight rearview mirror that uses a camera to project the rear view in your mirror. So there’s no blind spot or obstructions and the image is high-definition.

Standard safety items are plentiful with emergency collision warning, lane keep assist, driver condition monitor (to avoid sleepy driver syndrome), rear traffic monitor, park assist and traffic sign recognition.

But a package adding blind-spot assist, high-speed emergency braking and smart cruise adds $1,700 to the cost. Hmm, at $48 grand I really expect all such items to be standard. Toyota, among other car makers, makes most safety devices standard now.

Ironically, the test utility vehicle added a $1,500 package to include the heated and cooled front seats (that didn’t always work), plus heated rear seats. The heated rear seats seemed fine for the couple times someone used them.

A luxury package for $2,200 added fancier leather seats, and thick leather wrapped steering wheel. The leather was nice, but there was a hard spot in the butt pocket that I didn’t find comfortable. Seat shape and materials were fine and supportive though. There’s also generous room in the rear seat and good cargo space under the hatch.

Other pluses include three memory seat settings, big round climate control temperature dials, a great sounding Meridian stereo ($800 extra), and nice head-up display, or HUD for short, ($900 extra). That HUD though is housed in a large bulge atop the instrument cluster in front of the driver. I found that hump distracting and I could find no way to dim the HUD, which seemed overly bright in night driving.

A few more minuses include a windshield that creaked when the temps were below 20 degrees, plus there’s no heated steering wheel here. At $64 grand that’s ridiculous. And lastly, gas mileage was poor. I got just 17.3 mpg, in 5- to 30-degree weather and at least a couple days of driving slick, snowy streets. The EPA estimates the Evoque will get 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway, and yes, it responds best to premium fuel.

If you’re considering an Evoque, know that the base S comes with AWD and the Terrain Response2 system, lane-keep assist, 10-inch screens, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus a rearview camera, 10-way power driver’s seat and more. Moving to the SE adds 14-way power seats, the nicer Touch Pro Duo dual 10-inch screens (when they work), power hatch, and automatic high beam headlights.

There is a stronger engine in the R-Dynamic model, a 296-horse turbo I4 with a mild-hybrid system. All HSE trim levels add ClearSight rearview mirror, motion-activated hatch, 16-way power front seats and a 380-watt Meridian sound system along with 20-inch wheels

Moving to the R-Dynamic S brings a more powerful engine with the mild-hybrid system, R-Dynamic styling and more features. The HSE version ups the game with power-gesture liftgate, 16-way-power front seats, 380-watt Meridian sound system and 20-inch wheels.

No doubt the Evoque is attractive and luxurious, now if all the electronic bugs could be exterminated.

Overview: 2020 Range Rover Evoque SE AWD

Hits: Good power, smooth shifts, nice ride, and AWD. Sharp exterior styling, giant sunroof, full complement of safety devices.   

Misses: Iffy electronics, sometimes heated seats didn’t work, sometimes there was no heat as touchscreen for climate didn’t function, info screen gave false warnings, creaky windshield in freezing temps, large HUD bulge atop dash, no heated steering wheel and poor gas mileage.

Made In: Halewood, United Kingdom

Engine: 2.0-liter turbo I4, 246 hp

Transmission: 9-speed automatic

Weight: 3,935 lbs.

Wheelbase: 105.6 in.

Length: 172.1 in.

Cargo: 50.5 cu.ft. (rear seats down)

Tow: 3,968 lbs.

MPG: 20/27, 17.3 (tested)

Base Price: $48,195 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $45,363

Major Options: Demo Spec Pack (fixed panoramic sunroof, power gestured tailgate, premium carpet mats, power adj. steering column, ClearSight rearview mirror, ambient interior lighting, keyless entry, blind-spot assist, 360-degree camera), $4,770

Drive Pack (blind spot assist, adaptive cruise, high-speed emergency braking), $1,700

Interior Luxury Pack Plus (leather steering wheel w/Atlas bezel, extended leather upgrade), $2,220

16-way heated/cooled memory front seats, heated rear seats, $1,500

Head-up display, $900

21-inch 5-split spoke wheels, gloss silver, $800

Meridian sound system, $800

Adaptive dynamics, $715

Yulong white paint, $610

Sirius & HD radio, $500

Configurable dynamics, $355

Click & Go integrated base, $305

Ebony Morzine headlining, $280

Gray ash veneer, $205

Power socket pack2, $155

Test Vehicle: $64,010

Sources: Range Rover, Kelley Blue Book

Editor's note: Mark Savage's auto review column, Savage On Wheels, looks at a new vehicle every week and tells consumers what’s good, what’s not so good, and how the vehicle fits into the marketplace.