New Range Rover Evoque & Lexus UX vs Volvo XC40

The baby Range Rover has been renewed with a view to beating the brilliant Volvo XC40. Both are under threat from the all-new Lexus UX hybrid...

Lexus UX interior

Behind the wheel

Driving position, visibility, build quality

All three cars come with electrically adjustable driver’s seats. The XC40 adds a memory function, while the UX is alone in having an electrically adjustable steering column. There’s no doubt which seat is the comfiest, though: the XC40’s figure-hugger, which includes an extendable base and lumbar support adjustment. The UX’s features the latter, too, but it feels like a metal bar is being pressed slowly in to your lower back, while there’s little in the way of side bolstering. 

Disappointingly, to get lumbar adjustment in the Evoque, you have to pay £690 for the 14-way seat; without it, some of our testers found the shortage of lower back support a problem.

Other than that, it’s personal choice as to whether the Evoque’s cosseting, wrap-around interior or the XC40’s equally pleasing but more open and airier feel is better. Both are nigh on perfect in other respects and deliver an authentic, high-set SUV experience. As we’ve already mentioned, the UX places you scarcely any higher than a regular hatchback, and it doesn’t provide the same extensive range of adjustment for its steering wheel as the others. 

Range Rover Evoque interior

The UX does at least offer an array of physical buttons for common functions, such as the climate controls. These are so much easier to use while driving than the XC40’s central touchscreen, which operates almost every feature, even down to the interior temperature. 

Ordinarily, the Evoque features more physical controls, but our car was fitted with the optional Touch Pro Duo (£400) system, which adds a second touchscreen below the infotainment one. It’s easier to operate than the XC40’s display, because a couple of physical dials are integrated. These change function depending on which menu you’re in; for example, in the climate screen, they work the temperature and fan speed.

The XC40 is the easiest to see out the front of, thanks to its slender front window pillars. But as with the UX, its tapering side windows make over-the-shoulder vision problematic, at least compared with the Evoque, which has the shallowest rear screen but a far more open glass area at the sides. 

Volvo XC40 interior

Anything you can’t see from the driver’s seat of the UX and Evoque will hopefully be picked up by their standard front and rear parking sensors or rear-view camera. The XC40 gets only rear sensors as standard. The Evoque has another useful optional feature: the rear-view mirror can change into a camera feed. If the boot is loaded to the roof, blocking your natural vision, it will display what’s behind while you’re driving along for a cost of £315. Each car has LED headlights as standard.

Now, these are premium SUVs, so do they feel plush enough? Yes, very much so. Ordinarily, they would all feature leather seats (leather and nubuck for the XC40), but our Evoque had the no-cost option of eucalyptus fabric seats. The Evoque and XC40 both have choice materials elsewhere, with very few lower-rent plastics. The UX features similarly plush upper surfaces, but some of the plastics farther down feel a bit cheap. All three are extremely solidly constructed, though.

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