Len Ingrassia: New Range Rover Evoque capable on and off road

The 2020 Range Rover Evoque has been updated with new chassis dimensions, narrow LED headlamps and customary high waistline. Photos courtesy Len Ingrassia.

What other SUV has motorized pop-out door handles all around? None, you say? Right on. The second-generation Ranger Rover Evoque has one installed on each door of its sub compact crossover, an attractive and powerful machine on or off road.

Gimmicks aside, the new Evoque has not strayed far from its 2012 introduction here, and while U.S. sales are lacking, its global reach has surpassed the 750,000 mark according to United Kingdom parent company Jaguar Land Rover, a subsidiary of Indian based Tata Motors.

• Pros: standard all-wheel drive, redesigned inside and out, great curb appeal.

• Cons: infotainment system, low roofline affects entry and exit, pricey.

Evoque is available in six trim levels with an entry price of $43,645 for its S model. Stair stepping brings the SE, First Edition, R-Dynamic S, R-Dynamic SE and R-Dynamic HSE, tipping the scales at nearly $70,000 with options.

The latter was our test car for a week, and we found lots of ways to test this capable vehicle around south Florida roadways and even several canals.

Engine choices are simple. There is a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder producing 246 horsepower and a similar engine fitted with a 48-volt belt-driven mild hybrid making 296 horsepower. Don't feel too green, however, because this adds just one mile per gallon in city driving and drops one in highway travel compared with the base engine.

We found the Evoque has impressive power and control with the addition of torque-vectoring, a system that varies torque (power) to whichever rear wheel needs it most or to both. The result is a tight grip from its optional 21-inch wheels.

With our testing, the 2-ton Evoque reached 60 mph from a dead stop in 6.4 seconds, comparing favorably with rivals' Lexus NX, BMW X-3, Mercedes-Benz GLC and Audi Q5.

Its distinctive looks have not varied substantially over last year's model, although this second-generation model did add a longer wheelbase.

While the electrically operated door handles are convenient, we hope they have been tested in ice, snow and other elements to keep motoring parts moving during inclement weather.

The Evoque's high waistline is attractive from the outside, but it sacrifices rear-seat head and legroom and makes getting in and out a challenge.

Interior treatment is exquisite with generous use of leather, suede cloth headliner and comfortable front seats, each power adjustable with lumbar support. An available dual digital screen at center console adds a modern touch. We found selecting navigation, climate and audio settings cumbersome though, with numerous steps to accomplish simple tasks.

Like its larger siblings, the Evoque excels on and off road with a mostly quiet cabin and smooth shifting nine-speed transmission. With 8.2 inches of ground clearance, wading depth of up to 23.6 inches and electronic gearing controls, the Evoque is an adventure to drive in wet conditions, up and down large hills and in muddy swamps.

Its off-road prowess may well cause consumers here to overlook its minor deficiencies and spring for a true off-road experience like no other.

Len Ingrassia is an independent automotive columnist. Contact him at lenscarcorner@comcast.net.

What was reviewed

2020 Range Rover Evoque R-Dynamic HSE

Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged with mild hybrid motor.

EPA rated mileage: 21 city, 26 highway, 23 combined.

Assembled: Assembly of the Evoque is completed in Halewood, England.

Crash test rating: Testing of the Evoque had not been done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety as of this writing.

Warranty: four-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.

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