- The Evoque and Velar are two of Land Rover's smallest models.
- Both get a new infotainment system and mild visual tweaks for 2024.
- The new tech is generally an improvement, but we're not sure it's really moved the needle for this pair.
2024 Range Rover Evoque and Velar Review: Small Changes Only Yield Small Improvements
Some of the changes are welcome, but the Evoque and Velar still fall short of their rivals
The Land Rover Range Rover Evoque and Range Rover Velar have been updated for 2024, though the changes to both fall far short of full redesigns. Revisions to the pair generally mirror each other, with both SUVs getting new grilles, headlights and bumpers that draw more than a little influence from the recently redesigned full-size Range Rover. Other changes include a new infotainment system that removes nearly all of the buttons and knobs from the interiors and slimmed-down powertrain and trim lineups. While some of the changes are good, the vehicles are mostly unchanged. A few days behind the wheel of both the Evoque and Velar left us wishing for a more significant overhaul.
Mechanically, the Evoque and Velar are mostly unchanged, though both vehicles have slimmed-down offerings. The Evoque has lost its most powerful engine, leaving the P250 powertrain as the only option. It's a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four making 246 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque.
That same engine comes standard in the Velar (where it produces 247 hp), but the Velar also offers a more potent option. The P400 uses a 3.0-liter turbocharged mild-hybrid inline-six that makes 394 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. The Velar previously offered another six-cylinder, but it was less powerful than the P400 engine and has been dropped for 2024. The 48-volt mild hybrid system won't allow the Velar to drive on electricity alone, but it works subtly to enhance the engine's performance.
The Evoque uses a nine-speed automatic, while both of the Velar's engines are paired with an eight-speed auto. As with all other Land Rover and Range Rover models, all-wheel drive is standard. Neither system offers a low range like the Defender, though nothing in this class of SUVs really does.
Do they drive like Range Rovers?
We had a couple days on the street and a short amount of time off-road in an Evoque Dynamic SE and a Velar Dynamic SE P400. Despite the size and powertrain differences, the pair feel similar from behind the wheel. Save for a few SV-badged models tuned by Jaguar Land Rover's Special Vehicle Operations performance division, Range Rovers have never been particularly sporty SUVs. That's not to say they drive poorly, but don't get into the Evoque or Velar to experience a lot of excitement on the road.
The steering is light and direct, but there's not much in the way of feedback. Range Rover has done a fine job of making the steering comfortable but not sloppy, as there's no real play. It's easy to park or maneuver the countless traffic circles and roundabouts we encountered on our drive in France. The brakes for both vehicles feel smooth and even on the road, though the pedals in the Evoque feel too close to the driver. We couldn't find a comfortable position, with either the pedals sitting too close or the steering wheel feeling too far. We didn't have quite the same issue in the Velar.
Both vehicles were fitted with the optional Dynamic Handling Pack, which adds adjustable drive modes and adaptive dampers and, in the Velar, an air suspension. The roads in the French countryside were narrow and not particularly flat. Not broken, just bumpy. Maybe the roads didn't help to flatter these two, but we weren't impressed with the ride quality, even with the Velar's air suspension. The flagship Range Rover and the Range Rover Sport both ride like clouds, mellowing out most imperfections in the road with ease. The Evoque and Velar weren't firm but instead felt almost too soft and bouncy. There was no crashing on big bumps, and the Velar's air suspension seemed to handle the worst of the pavement better than the Evoque's fixed suspension, but neither left us with a great impression. Even though both testers were the sportiest configuration possible, these suspensions are tuned for comfort, not performance.
While both exhibit similar steering, handling and braking characteristics, acceleration is a different story. The Evoque feels a bit underpowered compared to rivals like the BMW X1 or Mercedes-Benz GLB. Range Rover estimates the Evoque will sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 7 seconds, slower than the last X1 xDrive28i and GLB 250 4Matic Edmunds tested. The lack of an optional engine in the Evoque is a bummer given both BMW and Mercedes offer spicier variants of their models. The P250 powertrain offers enough power to keep up with traffic, but the transmission tuning means it's sluggish to downshift if you want to pass someone or merge on a short on-ramp. Keeping the drive mode in Dynamic (the sportiest setting) helped, but even then it didn't feel as good as we would like.
We're happy Range Rover still offers the big inline-six in the Velar. While we didn't get the opportunity to test the four-cylinder, given how it feels in the Evoque, we imagine it would be feel overtaxed in the larger, heavier Velar. Thankfully the optional I6 makes nearly 50% more power, with a smooth, even power delivery through the rev range. Range Rover's estimated 5.2-second zero to 60 mph time is about on par with the turbocharged V6-powered Genesis GV70 but slower than the BMW X3 M40i. But it's not just the engine. The Velar's eight-speed auto is much better than the Evoque's nine-speed. Shifts are quick but still smooth, and there's not much delay on downshifts when you give the Velar some gas.
There was a short off-road area where we were able to drive both the Evoque and Velar, but the course wasn't particularly challenging. In fact, save for maybe one muddy stretch, you'd likely be able to drive a Toyota Camry on this same off-road area with little trouble. Both vehicles were fitted with the Terrain Response 2 system, an expanded suite of settings and modes for off-road driving that includes presets for mud, snow or sand. Each setting adjusts the suspension, stability control and the all-wheel drive system. Hill descent control is included, too, a boon on particularly steep downhill grades. The Velar's air suspension does allow for a bit of extra ground clearance, but neither SUV should have any trouble tackling dirt or gravel roads.
A new generation of tech
Maybe the biggest change for 2024 is the addition of a new infotainment system borrowed from the big Range Rover. Both the Evoque and Velar now feature floating 11.4-inch touchscreen displays with an all-new interface. Generally, it's a step in the right direction. The resolution is much-improved, as is response time. The last system could stutter, but there's no lag when you access a menu or change a setting with the new interface. No issues with Bluetooth connectivity either, another gripe with past Range Rovers.
The navigation is also upgraded, with a logical menu structure menus and easy-to-read maps. We did find the arrow was a little delayed, relative to your actual position, so it's easy to miss a turn on a roundabout if you don't pay attention. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard, as are USB-C charging ports in both rows and a wireless charging pad up front.
The problem with the new infotainment system is that it controls too many functions. Previously, both the Evoque and Velar had separate controls for the climate control system, with knobs for the temperatures, buttons for defrost, etc. Now it's all in the touchscreen, meaning it takes a couple of taps to change the temperature or fan speed or switch on the heated seats. This isn't a problem exclusive to Range Rover, as the infotainment system from BMW has some of the same issues, but it's a definite step backward in terms of how easy it is to use.
On the plus side, both models come with an impressive suite of standard driver aids, including adaptive cruise control, blind-spot warning and parking sensors all around, with a surround-view camera optional. The adaptive cruise works well in both vehicles, keeping a good gap without being too aggressive on the brake or gas. Lane centering worked well on the Velar, keeping the SUV in the middle of its lane without bouncing back and forth between the lines. On the other hand, the Evoque never seemed to know where the lane lines were on the road.
How's the interior?
The interiors for the two cars are so similar in design that we had to get out and double-check which vehicle we were driving. The overall design and interior dimensions for each remain unchanged from last year, but the new infotainment system means a slightly redesigned center console. While we wish the climate controls were still there, the space is now occupied by a small storage bin and the wireless charging pad. The cupholders are slightly larger, too.
There's decent room in the front seats, though the tall beltline on both vehicles makes it feel like you sit low in the car. That beltline hurts visibility, too, especially from the rear. Both vehicles have fairly narrow rear windows, so we suggest getting the Technology Pack for its surround-view camera system. In the Evoque, the package also includes a rear-camera mirror.
The rear seat is relatively tight on both vehicles, particularly the Evoque. The Velar is more compact inside compared to its rivals, but all but the tallest adults should be comfortable for shorter trips. The Evoque feels truly small in the rear, especially if someone tall is sitting in the front seat. It's down several inches in terms of legroom compared to the BMW X1 and Mercedes GLB. The Evoque's cargo area is on the smaller side for the class, though not to the extent as the legroom deficit. On the other hand, the Velar has a more spacious cargo area than its rivals.
What about the competition?
The Evoque and Velar are two of the smallest models in Land Rover's lineup, and as such compete in the two smallest classes of luxury SUV. In the Evoque's case, that means the previously mentioned X1 and GLB as well as other extra small SUVs like the Audi Q3, Volvo XC40 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. The Evoque, outside of the Range Rover badge and maybe a bit more off-road capability, doesn't have anything that helps it stand out in the class. It's not as quick, not as spacious and not as comfortable as rivals, and the tech doesn't stand out in any particular way. Factor in the relatively high $51,075 base price and the Evoque begins to look even worse by comparison. The XC40, Q3 and GLA all have starting prices under $40,000, and the others aren't much more.
The same is true of the Velar. A base Velar starts at $62,775. Rivals like the Genesis GV70, Mercedes-Benz GLC, BMW X3 and Acura RDX can be had for under $50,000 and offer similar features and levels of luxury. They drive as well as or better than the Velar, too, though the Range Rover does offer a bit more off-road capability than the others. The interior in the Velar certainly looks and feels premium, but the same can be said of most everything in this class.
The Evoque and Velar have a few welcome updates for 2024, but as a whole, changes to the infotainment system and styling don't do enough to offset the Range Rover premium. Other small luxury SUVs are much more competitive offerings at competitive prices.