by Chuck Giametta
What changes will make the 2021 Range Rover Evoque different?
Perhaps return of the Autobiography flagship, but significant change isn’t likely until model-year 2022, when an all-electric model may be added. The 2021 Evoque should return mostly unaltered as Range Rover’s high-style answer to premium-subcompact-crossover-SUVs such as the Lexus NX, Cadillac XT4, Mercedes Benz GLA, and BMW X1.
Autobiography was the top-of-the-line trim during the first-generation Evoque’s 2012-2019 run. Today’s second generation debuted for model-year 2020 with a fully loaded First Edition as its top trim; a renewed Autobiography could assume that mantle for ’21. Otherwise, this fashion-forward five-seater should return P250 models starting around $44,000 and more powerful P300s priced from about $48,000, both with standard all-wheel drive.
The ’21 Evoque will again be the entry-level model from Range Rover, a Land Rover brand within the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) group owned by India’s Tata Motors Limited. The Evoque is designed, engineered, and manufactured in Britain. It belongs to the avant-garde branch of Range Rover family, mirroring the rakish pose of the slightly larger Velar, which starts around $57,000. Evoque shares underskin engineering with the Jaguar E-Pace and Land Rover Discovery Sport crossovers. Their platform accommodates battery-electric componentry and a pure-electric Evoque may be in the works for model-year ’22, perhaps borrowing technology from the Jaguar I-Pace.
Note that driving impressions and other subjective conclusions in this review are based on test drives of 2020 Evoques furnished by Range Rover. Where the ’21 might be different, we reserve judgment.
Should I wait for the 2021 Range Rover Evoque or buy a 2020?
Little reason to wait. The ’21 Evoque will be a virtual repeat of the ’20, although it’s almost certain to cost more. And if you hanker for a flagship model, a 2020 First Edition is a bird in the hand, with no guarantee an Autobiography will return for ’21.
More patience would position you to audition the possible pure-electric Evoque EV rumored for model-year 2022. If it cribs from the I-Pace, expect more than 300 horsepower, a range of around 240 miles, and a $60,000-plus base price. Don’t expect styling revisions until a midcycle refresh, around model-year 2024, at which time a two-door body style, as offered with the first-generation Evoque, could resurface.
The ’21 Evoque lineup should return P250 models in base S and upscale SE trim. The P300 line’s S and SE grades would mirror most of their equipment and again be topped by the more luxurious P300 HSE. In addition to their extra 50 horsepower, P300s will again wear Range Rover’s R-Dynamic Pack, essentially sportier exterior trim.
Whichever 2020 or 2021 Evoque you might consider, recognize that Land Rover has been challenged to build trouble-free vehicles. The brand finished next to last – ahead of only Jaguar – in the 2019 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study. Our JLR test vehicles generally have been reliable, although the 2020 Evoque First Edition we evaluated twice displayed a “suspension fault detected” message that disappeared when we restarted the engine.
Will the styling be different?
There might be a new color choice or two, but Evoque’s styling won’t change until the midcycle refresh. A toned-down evolution of the original – Range Rover calls it’s look “reductionist” — this second-generation Evoque doesn’t quite match the panache of its predecessor. Dimensionally, it’s almost identical, although the redesign increased rear legroom and cargo space slightly.
All ’21 Evoques will return with full LED exterior lighting and exterior door handles that rest flush with the body when the vehicle is locked but take a few frustrating seconds to deploy when you unlock it. Expect nonmetallic white or black to again be the only paint colors for which there is no extra charge; metallic hues should again cost $610, “premium” metallics $1,325. A black or silver contrasting roof was a $410 option for model-year ’20 and should return.
S models should be back with 18-inch alloy wheels as standard, SEs and the HSE with 20s; 21-inch alloys in a variety of polished and black styles should again be available, ranging from $300 for the HSE to $2,900 for S models. Look for the P300s’ R-Dynamic Exterior Pack to again darken the grille, mirror caps, and hood script; paint the front valance body color; and apply a burnished copper finish to the exhaust tips and to the vents on the hood and front fenders.
Elegant, modern, even environmentally sensitive, the ’21 Evoque’s interior will again feel special. Blackout glass hides instruments and many controls until you hit the start button. The digital gauge cluster displays mapping for the imbedded navigation system, which should again be standard on all ’21 Evoques. An informative, full-color head-up instrument display should return as a $900 option for all but S grades. Gone is the theater of a rotary selector that rises from the center console upon startup; this second-gen Evoque uses a conventional transmission shift lever.
Expect 2021 Evoque P250 S models to return with a single 10-inch central dashboard infotainment touchscreen and manual climate controls. Optional at $500 for the P300 S and standard on the other models should again be Range Rover’s InControl Touch Pro Duo. This adds a second 10-inch screen below, governing the front power seats, drive modes, and climate system. It also integrates beautifully rendered dials for cabin temperature and seat heating.
Range Rover touts Evoque’s “sumptuous, sustainable” interior décor, and that’s justified. Padded and stitched surfaces abound. The R-Dynamic kit includes dark aluminum trim. All models should again be available with ash wood veneers should as a $205 option. Leather upholstery will likely remain standard across the board, with higher-grade Windsor hides included with the HSE and optional for the S and SE. The HSE will also get leather on the dash and door panels, a $1,920 upgrade for the S and SE.
Want to go animal-product-free? All ’21 Evoques should again offer the no-cost alternative of Eucalyptus-cloth upholstery produced from natural fibers grown with less water than traditional materials. A second alternative to leather, developed by Danish textile experts Kvadrat, should be available at no extra cost on the HSE and as a $1,700 option for other ’21 Evoques. This upholstery pairs a durable wool blend with technical Dinamica suedecloth made from 53 recycled plastic bottles per vehicle.
Evoque’s appeal to upwardly mobile urban couples is evident not only in its styling and décor but in its emphasis on front-seat accommodations. A power tilt/telescope steering column should return as standard on SE and HSE models. Expect S, SE, and HSE to again come with, respectively, 10-, 14-, and 16-way power front seats as standard. Various massage, memory, and front-and-rear heating combinations should return in packages priced from around $500 to $2,720, depending on model. Ventilated seats were unavailable on any 2020 Evoque. And to get a heated steering wheel you needed the $640 Cold Climate Convenience Package, although the option also included a heated windshield and heated washer jets.
In all 2021 Evoques, the rear seat will remain best suited to occasional use. It’s well-padded but the cushion is uncomfortably low, and the backrest does not recline. Adequate legroom relies on front seaters sliding no more than halfway back. Even then foot space is restricting, and tight lower door openings hinder easy exit. And only the HSE offered separate rear-seat climate controls, as a $600 option.
Interior storage space will again be fine. Door pockets hold 1.5-liter bottles and a hidden compartment behind the lower touchscreen is good for a wallet or cellphone. Cargo volume will remain below par for the segment, at 21.5 cubic feet behind the 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatbacks, or 50.5 with them dropped. For model-year 2020, a power liftgate was a $355 option for the S models and standard otherwise. Hands-free operation was standard on the HSE and optional for S models at $450 and for SEs at $100.
Any mechanical changes?
Nothing until that possible pure-electric model. The ’21 Evoque P250 line will again use a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 246 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. That’s more power than many base engines in the segment, but the Evoque is heavier than most rivals.
Expect P250 models to again suffer a delay accelerating form a stop that’s dismaying if you’re trying to scoot onto a congested cross street or turn against oncoming traffic. Once the turbo spools up, there’s adequate pep for drama-free highway merging or passing.
The ’21 Evoque P300 line will return with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four rated at 296 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. This engine provides healthy acceleration in most any situation and, vitally, overcomes most turbo lag off the line thanks to electric boost from a belt-driven starter-generator. It’s a mild-hybrid system that harvests energy normally lost during deceleration, stores it in the under-floor battery, and redeploys to assist the engine at low speeds.
A nine-speed automatic will again be the sole transmission. It shifts promptly, and R-Dynamic models get steering-wheel paddle shifters to for manual-type gear control. Neither engine is as smooth as the refinement pacesetters from BMW and Mercedes. And both restart with an intrusive roughness after automatically shutting off to save fuel when stopped. Its regeneration feature takes the P300 engine a step further, shutting it off below 11 mph if the driver is applying the brakes.
All ’21 Evoques will return with all-wheel-drive bolstered by Range Rover’s Terrain Response 2 system. It fully decouples drive to the rear axle to help boost economy when AWD isn’t needed. The driver can select five powertrain modes: General; Eco; Sand/Grass/Gravel/Snow; Mud/Ruts; and Auto, which detects the surface being driven on and automatically selects the appropriate mode. At 8.3 inches, ground clearance is about an inch more than class average, and Range Rover says the Evoque can ford water up to 23.6 inches deep.
On road, expect 2021 Evoques to handle competently but without much enthusiasm for fast driving on twisty lanes. The steering feels darty rather than linear, and body lean in tight corners is greater than expected. P300s should remain the more willing partners, though, feeling more composed in quick changes of direction thanks to torque vectoring that constantly balances power distribution across both axles. We’d suggest Range Rover offer this Active Driveline tech on P250s for 2021.
Ride quality diminishes from comfortably absorbent on the 18-inch wheels and tires to tolerable on the 20s to harsh on the 21s. Try before you buy. Look for the Adaptive Dynamics system to return as a $715 option across the board. Continuously adjusting the suspension to match road conditions, it takes the edges off the roughest impacts but can’t do much to compensate for the unforgiving nature of the 21-inch tires. On any combination, road noise is subdued. But intrusive highway-speed wind rush around the mirrors and front roof pillars is a fly in Evoque’s otherwise opulent ointment that Range Rover ought to address for 2021.
Will fuel economy improve?
Unlikely. Expect 2021 Evoque EPA ratings to repeat the 2020 figures, again putting this crossover among the less fuel-efficient in the segment. The ’21 Evoque P250 models should again rate 20/27/23 mpg city/highway/combined. Despite their extra power, the mild-hybrid P300s should again rate a close 21/26/23 mpg city/highway/combined. Range Rover will continue to recommend premium-octane gas for both engines.
Will there be new features?
Nothing new is likely. A broad range of amenities is already available, so expect little more than some shuffling of features among options packages, if that. We do urge that blind-spot and rear cross traffic detection be among safety features made standard on all 2021 Evoques. For 2020, that driver assist was optional as part of packages starting at $1,100. It’s a technology that’s standard on many far less expensive vehicles.
Otherwise, every ’21 Evoque will return with most of today’s safety basics as standard: autonomous emergency braking to automatically stop it to mitigate a frontal collision from around-town speeds; adaptive cruise control to maintain a set distance from traffic ahead (and also recognize traffic signs and adjust speed accordingly); and lane-maintaining autonomous steering correction. A driver-condition monitor and front and rear obstacle detection are also standard.
In addition to blind-spot detection, safety-related options for 2020 Evoques included rear and rear cross-traffic detection with autonomous braking; adaptive cruise control with semi-autonomous steering assist; assisted steering in and out of parking spaces; and warnings of approaching traffic when you open a door. The ’20 SE and HSE models could also be ordered with autonomous emergency braking that worked at all speeds. All these features were included in packages priced from $800-$3,600, depending on model.
Expect the ’21 Evoque to again offer interesting opportunities to see what’s above, below, and behind. An expansive panoramic glass roof with a power sunshade should again cost $1,280 with fixed panels, $1,800 with a power sliding front panel. Included in most of the abovementioned safety packages, as part of the 360 Surround Camera technology, are two features that provide a virtual view under the vehicle and to the rear.
ClearSight Ground View allows the driver to “see” through the hood and under the front of the Evoque by projecting a 180-degree image of the ground onto the upper touchscreen. It stiches live feeds from cameras in the grille and door mirrors and is useful in off-road driving or even in tough parking spaces.
The ClearSight Rear View Mirror can project a rear video feed onto the inside rearview mirror, allowing drivers to “see” through the heads of back-seat passengers or tall objects in the cargo hold. It’s useful, too, although it can be tricky for bifocal wearers to focus on its image.
Expect Apple Carplay and Android Auto to return as standard, with a 4G WiFi hotspot included in the Touch Pro Duo infotainment system. Audio upgrades should again top out with a 14-speaker 825-watt Meridian Surround Sound system optional at $800 for SEs and at $450 for the HSE.
Also available again will be Range Rover’s InControl Remote smartphone application to locate your parked Evoque or monitor its remaining range, control its door locks, and remotely preheat or cool the cabin. Wireless software infotainment updates will be available, as will “Smart Settings” technology. The latter uses artificial intelligence to learn the driver’s habits. It recognizes who is approaching from their keyfob and phone and sets up their seat and steering-column position. After a few journeys, it also remembers the driver’s preferred temperature settings, media choices, and commonly dialed numbers depending on the time or day of the week.
The 2020 Evoque First Edition came with most of these comfort, convenience, and connectivity features standard, although it was offered only as a P250 model. If its role is assumed by a 2021 Autobiography model, it could be offered in both P250 and P300 guise.
Will 2021 prices be different?
Anticipate modest base-price increases, given almost-inevitable year-over-year escalation and possible shuffling of features. For reference, here are 2020 Evoque base prices, including Range Rover’s $995 destination fee.
In the 2020 P250 line, the S started at $43,645 and the SE at $48,195. In the P300 line, base prices were $47,595 for the 2020 R-Dynamic S, $52,145 for the R-Dynamic SE, and $56,795 for the R-Dynamic HSE.
The 2020 P250 First Edition was priced from $57,845, so if there’s a corresponding 2021 Autobiography model, expect it to start around $58,000 in P250 form and around $61,000 as a P300.
In any event, the 2021 Evoque should again be priced on par with European-brand direct competitors, its value proposition lifted by its sense of style inside and out but diminished by potential quality risks.
When does it come out?
Expect a 2021 Range Rover Evoque release date in fall 2020.
Audi Q3, BMW X1 and X2, Cadillac XT4, Jaguar E-Pace, Lexus NX and UX, Mercedes-Benz GLA, Volvo XC40