2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque: An urban vehicle with the soul of an off-roader

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2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

I didn’t think about what I was doing before I edged the all-new Land Rover Range Rover Evoque forward onto the defunct railroad bridge. I looked down at the monitor on the center stack to ensure that the wheels were centered on the narrow platforms and maintaining a safe distance from the rails.

I was so focused on staying straight that I didn’t look around me until my backseat passenger said I should stop and look out the window.

My stomach did a flip, and I simultaneously gasped involuntarily.

The narrow bridge was straddling the Corinth Canal, which basically cuts Greece in half. About a half mile away on each side of us were proper vehicle bridges, and straight down, several football fields away, was some of the bluest water I’ve ever seen.

It was beautiful and nerve-wracking all at the same time.

The 2020 Evoque I was driving had the available Clear Sight Ground View technology that rendered the bottom of the vehicle invisible, and as I glanced at the display screen, I had a clear view of the mesh platform my wheels were touching and the rails between them.

It was a precarious perch, and I was both happy and terrified that I could see where my wheels were going.

But, happy and terrified kind of describes a lot of my time driving the new Evoque.

Happy with the overall comfort and capability. Terrified of some of the obstacles we traversed.

Oh, and utterly relieved that this smallest Land Rover was up to the task – especially when we were driving over slick and muddy mountain passes surrounded by fog and sheer, rail-less cliff-side drops.

Happy. Terrified.

The Evoque was bred for an urban environment. With a length of 172.1 inches, it’s more compact than some sedans, and with the standard backup camera and excellent front visibility, it’s easy to maneuver in tight urban spaces.

Coincidentally, that also makes it a decent off-roader when you add an 8.3-inch ground clearance, maximum wading capacity of 23.6 inches and an approach angle of 25 degrees.

Throughout my entire first-look drive, whether we were on the highway or in riverbeds, the new Evoque was comfortable, incredibly quiet and fairly smooth.

I say this with one caveat: The seats were not made for someone who’s about 5-feet tall. The seat bottoms were a bit big for me, and the headrests hit me more toward the top of my head, which encouraged a downward tilt. This was more of a problem while driving because I like an upright position and less of a problem as a passenger because I could recline.

Evoque comes standard with all-wheel drive and has two powertrains: a straight gasoline model and a mild hybrid electric vehicle (MHEV) model.

The base vehicles will come equipped with a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder turbocharged engine that delivers 246 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. These will be in the base P250 models.

The up-level powertrain is the MHEV because it delivers more power and is only found in the upper-tier P300 R-Dynamic models. Equipped with the same engine as the gasoline models, this powertrain adds a 48-volt battery pack, and the power equation is upped to 296 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.

While we didn’t have the opportunity to drive the P300 MHEVs, the P250 models were fairly peppy, with quick off-the-line starts and easy passing ability.

According to Land Rover execs, the boost in power from the MHEV will come into play more for off-the-line starts, and in fact, the 0-to-60-mph time is 0.07 seconds faster than the straight gasoline model.

Fuel economy with both powertrains is basically the same with an average EPA rating of 23 mpg in combined driving.

One of the nice things about this next-gen Evoque is it adds some nice technology as standard fair without increasing the price tag overly much.

The Terrain Response 2 makes its first appearance in an Evoque vehicle, allowing drivers to select between different drive modes based on driving conditions, and this is standard. Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is also standard.

In addition to the Clear Sight Ground View monitor, some additional available technology includes a rear camera mirror, a WiFi hotspot that connects up to eight devices, adaptive dynamics, In Control Touch Pro Duo and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go technology.

The Evoque will come in five trims, with an extra First Edition trim for the 2020 model year only. Pricing, without the $995 destination fee, is as follows:

  • S (P250): $42,650
  • SE (P250): $47,200
  • First Edition (P250): $56,850
  • R-Dynamic S (P300): $46,600
  • R-Dynamic SE (P300): $51,150
  • R-Dynamic HSE (P300): $55,800

The Evoque is on sale in the United States “imminently” according to Land Rover execs.

The Bottom Line:

Whether we were on the highway, gravel roads or intricate off-road courses, the 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque did an excellent job of maintaining the fine line between comfort and capability – and between happy and terrified.

Most owners will never ford a riverbed or do a rock crawl, but they will likely encounter inclement weather and potholes the size of moon craters, and the Evoque will be able to handle both kinds of situations equally well.

It’s quiet, comfortable and attractive, offering a petite Land Rover physique at a more affordable price.

Editor’s Note: Driving impressions in this “First Look” review are from an invitation-only automaker launch event that allowed special access to the vehicle and executives. Land Rover covered our accommodations, meals and transportation costs.