Species distribution models (SDMs) assume equilibrium between species' distribution and the environment. However, this assumption can be violated under restricted dispersal and spatially autocorrelated environmental conditions. Here we used a model to simulate species' ranges expansion under two non-equilibrium scenarios, evaluating the performance of SDM coupled with spatial eigenvector mapping. The highest fit is for the models that include space, although the relative importance of spatial variables during the range expansion differs in the two scenarios. Incorporating space to the models was important only under colonization-lag non-equilibrium, under the expected scenario. Thus, mechanisms that generate range cohesion and determine species' distribution under climate changes can be captured by spatial modelling, with advantages compared with other techniques and in line with recent claims that SDMs have to account for more complex dynamic scenarios.