2020 Range Rover Evoque: A Sleek and Fun Designer Mutt from a Breed That’s Lost Its Bite

The new-gen 2020 Range Rover Evoque was debuted in London this past month after a week or so of some very clever teasing. Looking compact but sleek, posh but approachable, and sporting loads of new tech, it is exactly the “accessible luxury” the automaker was aiming for.

Do you feel the “but” coming?

BUT, watching this admittedly popular and well-designed model, with a pedigree worthy of a royal crest, bumble around that adorable on-stage obstacle course, I couldn’t help but be reminded of that viral video from 2014 of a stately, full-bred English Mastiff trying his absolute darndest to maneuver a dog agility competition in Denver and managing, instead, to visually capture the struggle of everyone’s Monday morning.

You remember. This loveable guy:

My point?

The English Mastiff is a very old and dignified dog breed. Refined in England, “early models” spent their days roaming country estates and farms. Its capability and great temperament have set a benchmark, leading to the development of many other breeds. And today, they are a popular companion for those pet owners capable of footing the bill necessary to feed and maintain them.

You see where I’m going here, right?

No one’s debating Land Rover’s contributions to off-roading. (Neither am I discrediting the Mastiff’s ability to adequately terrify an intruder.) BUT, it’s safe to say we can all agree that the current iterations of the Range Rover have changed—drastically—from their humble beginnings. And that includes the good-lookin’ 2020 Range Rover Evoque.

Restyled from the (now bigger) wheels up, the new Evoque is smooth, with luxury and tech-savvy touches to set it apart as more than just a cheaper, mini Range Rover. It sports a longer wheelbase—all the better to fit your golf bags and high-end baby strollers. It sits on a unique mixed-metal platform—all the better to accommodate a new 48-volt “mild hybrid” powertrain that runs on electricity below 11 mph. And it has optional 4WD, 8.3 inches of ground clearance, and the ability to traverse water 23.6 inches deep—all the better to, er, handle that one dirt road on the way to the winery? “Thank GOD for that Wade Sensing feature or we would have had to turn around and miss out on this fabulous Gamay!”

Let’s be honest, the percentage of these luxury crossovers intentionally fording two feet of water is beyond slim. With Land Rover reporting that 75% of buyers reside in cities or the ‘burbs, MotorTrend sums it up best, “The Evoque is a Range Rover for the urban jungle.”

Frankly, this breed’s lost its bite (among purists, that is.)

But it wasn’t always like this!

Launched in 1970, the first-gen Range Rover sported two doors, permanent four-wheel drive, a body-on-frame design, and a spartan interior meant to be washed down with a hose. A hose! And it stayed this way for 25 wonderful years. Rugged, utilitarian and capable, with a V8 and a stiff upper lip, the Range Rover was a workhorse, an adventurer, a piece of machinery even a Luddite could get behind.

(Too much? You get the point. This thing had chutzpah.)

Then in 1994, BMW crashed the party. It scooped up the Rover Group and began sprinkling its luxury pixie dust everywhere, adding things like an automatic transmission, leather interior, and satellite navigation. Plied with undeserved biscuits and Sherpa-lined pillows, this old dog grew comfortable upmarket. And upmarket he stayed.

The 2019 Land Rover Range Rover flagship model starts at an eye-watering $89,160.

With that floating roofline, premium LED headlights, and untapered waistline, it sports an instantly-recognizable, distinctive silhouette, worthy of its pedigree. The interior is nicer than most hotel rooms, and the technology is both safety-rated and Generation Z-approved.

Despite being a bloated version of its former self, this pup can still handle a little mud on the tires. With a combo of AWD and unique all-terrain technology, ol’ Rover can “match the demands of the terrain,” as Land Rover likes to put it.

The 2020 Range Rover Evoque owes much to its roots--the flagship Range Rover.

But at a price point higher than the median home values in Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, and Shreveport, it’s no wonder the automaker had to diversify with some designer mutts to keep the brand alive.

So where does this leave us with the 2020 Range Rover Evoque?

It’s beautiful, yes. And like an overbred Labradoodle at the pet store, it catches your eye and you begin to wonder what life would be like if you brought one home. It’ll really jazz up your driveway—and your Instagram. Friends will most definitely want to come over and see it. And it’s evolutionary! That 2.0L Ingenium four-banger gets 246-hp, while the hybrid variant puts out 296 ponies. There are even whispers of a more advanced plug-in option down the line, allowing for longer trips with less pit stops.

But credit must be given where credit is due. The coolest feature of the new Evoque is the optional “ClearSight” viewing technology. Using cameras mounted under the front of the car and above the rear window, drivers can have unobstructed views in the central touchscreen and rear-view mirror of what’s both in front of and behind their vehicle. (Imagine if the hood were transparent and you could see through the pile of Christmas presents in the trunk. It’s like that… but real.) Pair this with the automaker’s new “Smart Settings” technology that uses AI to learn your habits, adjusting the seat, temperature, and music just how you like them, and you’ve got one loyal (albeit a little creepy) ride.

There’s no word yet on pricing for the new 2020 Range Rover Evoque.

Outgoing models come in just under $42,000 at MSRP. But with more than 800,000 units sold globally since the little Rover first went on sale back in 2011, we have no doubt the new Evoque will land well with audiences when it shows up at dealerships in Spring 2019.

But we can’t help to admit that every time we see one zip down a city street or suburban cul-de-sac, we’ll mutter a few special words in memory of the OG Range Rover. May he rest in peace, the good boy he was.

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