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PowerSteering: 2017 Jaguar XF Review

PowerSteering: 2017 Jaguar XF Review

By Christian Wardlaw, November 30, 2016
Introduction
Jaguar is perched upon the cusp of greatness. With a 2016 redesign of the midsize XF—which sets the styling, engineering, and technological road map for the future of the British luxury car brand—and the recent arrival of the smaller 2017 XE and the new 2017 F-Pace SUV, this trio promises to dramatically increase Jaguar sales.

Having driven all three of these models, I can say that Jaguar is better than ever at building luxury sport vehicles. Still, as some kinks with my test car revealed, ghosts of electrical and technological problems of the past may still haunt the latest crop of Jaguars.

For this review, our expert evaluated a 2017 Jaguar XF S with all-wheel drive (AWD), upgraded infotainment system, head-up display, Driver Assistance Pack, Comfort and Convenience Pack, and metallic paint. The price came to $76,735, including the $995 destination charge.


What Owners Say
Before we discuss the results of our evaluation of the 2017 Jaguar XF, it is helpful to understand who bought the previous version of this car and what they liked most and least about it.

Compared with the Midsize Premium Car segment, Jaguar XF owners are more likely to be women, slightly older, and enjoy a greater median annual household income. J.D. Power research data shows that 31% of XF buyers are women (vs. 25% for the segment), that the average XF buyer’s age is 63 (vs. 61), and that their median household income is $208,333 (vs. $196,282). Only 22% of buyers identify themselves as Gen X (born 1965-1976) or Gen Y (1977-1994), compared with 27% for the segment.

Overwhelmingly, XF buyers identify themselves as performance buyers (73% vs. 53% segment average). According to J.D. Power data, 77% of them strongly agree that they prefer a vehicle that offers responsive handling and powerful acceleration (vs. 68% of buyers in the segment). Just 29% say that their first consideration in choosing a vehicle is miles per gallon (vs. 36%) and 44% of XF buyers are unwilling to pay more for a vehicle that is environmentally friendly (vs. 50%).

Jaguar XF buyers are more likely to strongly agree that they like a vehicle that stands out from the crowd (66% vs. 51%) and are more likely to strongly disagree that a vehicle is just a way of getting from place to place (59% vs. 49%). Also, fewer XF buyers agree that their first consideration in choosing a vehicle is reliability (86% vs. 92%) or that they will pay extra to ensure their vehicle has the latest safety features (78% vs. 88%).

Buyers say their favorite things about the XF are (in descending order) the exterior styling, engine/transmission, driving dynamics, interior, and seats. Buyers indicate their least favorite things about the XF are (in descending order) visibility and safety, the climate control system, infotainment system, storage and space, and fuel economy.


What Our Expert Says
In the sections that follow, our expert provides his own assessment of how the Jaguar XF performs in each of the 10 categories that comprise the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study.SM

Exterior
Drawing upon styling themes first introduced on Jaguar’s F-Type sports car and XJ flagship sedan, the redesigned XF set the stage for new volume models that have arrived for 2017. Instantly identifiable as a modern Jaguar, the somewhat conservative XF puts not a single exterior line wrong, and it should age quite well. However, the new, smaller, and less expensive XE sedan is essentially a clone of the XF, and that could detract somewhat from the more expensive model’s appeal.

Interior
Architectural in style, featuring a 2-tone leather and trim treatment, aluminum dashboard panels, trendy gray wood, and gloss-black finishing, the test XF vehicle’s interior looked clean and contemporary. Nothing more than dated looking and somewhat haphazardly placed buttons marred the XF’s appearance, though the material covering both sides of the center console did not seem up to the standards expected in a vehicle priced north of $75,000.

Seats
Though positioned as a midsize premium car, the XF’s interior feels narrow and snug, what some people might perceive in a positive way as “intimate.” Seating is undeniably comfortable, though, up front and in the back. It would be nice, however, if Jaguar offered a massage function for the front seats, especially at the test car’s price.

Climate Control System
Jaguar’s climate system appears to be straightforward, with dual-zone temperature controls and corresponding displays within easy reach of the driver and front passenger. Remaining control buttons of various sizes are somewhat haphazardly arranged between them, and the climate system’s dashboard geography also integrates a disc player, volume control knob, hazard flasher button, and the engine start/stop button. Overall, the layout comes across as somewhat half-baked.

Infotainment System
The test car had Jaguar’s InControl Touch Pro information system, which equips the vehicle with a wide, 10.2-in. infotainment display and a 12.3-in. digital instrumentation display.

The instrumentation, similar in concept to Audi’s “Virtual Cockpit” technology, works well, though it takes a few minutes to get the hang of its steering wheel controls. The infotainment system, at least the one provided in the test car, caused significant frustration.

When using the voice-recognition system, I could not get the system to respond to a number of common prompts used to find a point of interest and program a destination. Instead, the navigation system kept asking me to sign in to my account, an odd request given that the vehicle was owned by Jaguar and used specifically for members of the media to evaluate.

Furthermore, with my iPhone paired to the system’s Bluetooth, Siri would not work. It would not work using the device, or by using the voice-recognition system. After disconnecting my device from Bluetooth, Siri worked just fine, giving me turn-by-turn directions to a restaurant via the phone’s small speaker.

Given that J.D. Power data shows that XF buyers are happy with their voice-recognition systems and the quality of calls when using Bluetooth, my negative experience with the test car must not represent what you can expect if you buy this car.

Beyond this, on at least two days of a 7-day testing period, the radio stopped working and the touch screen’s virtual buttons for radio station pre-sets became unresponsive. Restarting the car solved the problem, but only for a short period of time.

Storage and Space
After fuel economy, XF buyers most often complain about the XF’s lack of storage and space. As mentioned previously, the interior does feel smaller than other vehicles in the Midsize Premium Car segment. Additionally, I agree that storage space is lacking, and in terms of practical size and shape, the trunk is tight on cargo room.

Visibility and Safety
Outward visibility is not a problem with the Jaguar XF. Relatively thin windshield pillars, large side mirrors, and rear quarter windows help in this regard, and while the rear-seat head restraints do block a significant part of the rear window, Jaguar’s combination of a reversing camera and park-assist sensors helps make reversing easier.

Included in the optional Driver Assistance Pack, the test car also had a surround-view camera system, a 360-degree park-distance control system, and a park-assist system that can autonomously steer the car into parallel and perpendicular spaces while the driver operates the pedals and transmission. The first two features work beautifully to help resolve visibility issues. I did not use the park-assist technology.

The test car also had an optional head-up display, and the data remains legible when the driver is wearing polarized sunglasses. Speed limit information proved occasionally inaccurate; don’t depend solely upon it.

In addition to a reversing camera, the XF S comes standard with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist system, drowsy driver monitor, and a blind-spot warning system with lane-change assist and rear cross-traffic alert. Collectively, this group of driver-assistance technologies helps improve the chance of avoiding a collision.

Jaguar’s InControl Remote and Protect services also help keep occupants safe. Features include automatic and SOS emergency call capabilities, among others.

Engine/Transmission
Equipped with a supercharged, 3.0-liter V-6 engine generating 380 horsepower and 339 lb.-ft. of torque, the Jaguar XF S provides plenty of power. When equipped with the available “instinctive” AWD system, it rushes to 60 mph in 5 seconds flat, according to Jaguar.

An 8-speed automatic transmission is charged with putting the power to the wheels. A round gear selector rises out of the center console after the driver starts the car, and if you’re in a hurry you might need to wait for it to complete its dramatic entrance before using it.

Because the XF S weighs less than 3,900 lbs., thanks in part to its aluminum architecture, it feels both light and fast. Dip deeply into the throttle and effortless acceleration is accompanied by characteristic supercharger whine. A Sport transmission mode sharpens response further.

When driven sedately, the XF S powertrain is calm, cool, and collected, traits perfectly matching this Jaguar’s overall demeanor.

Fuel Economy
According to the EPA, the 2017 Jaguar XF S with AWD should return 23 mpg in combined driving. On my official test loop, I saw 19.3 mpg.

It is worth noting that in city driving the car did achieve 19 mpg, nearly matching the EPA city rating of 20 mpg. However, once the car was climbing into the mountains and then flying down twisty roads—the supercharger regularly supplying robust amounts of power—efficiency plummeted.

After that, cruising on the coastal highway, arrow-straight farm road, and freeway segments of the test loop could not lift the test average anywhere close to the EPA’s prediction of 23 mpg.

Driving Dynamics
Helping make the XF absolutely brilliant to drive on your favorite back road, three different driving modes adjust the car’s attitude.

Dynamic mode is standard equipment, activated using a checkered flag button on the center console. It quickens the car’s reflexes while weighting up the steering. Adaptive Dynamics is optional, optimizing the available adaptive damping suspension to specific driving situations. Configurable Dynamics allows the driver to mix and match vehicle settings to a custom-tailored driving profile.

Collectively, these features have the power to transform the XF’s personality. While you might not want this sharper-edged driving character all of the time, it certainly is rewarding some of the time. This is a true luxury sport sedan, every bit as capable as an Audi, BMW, or Mercedes-Benz in similar specification when you want it to be, yet as docile as a Lexus or Lincoln when you prefer it to be.

If there is anything about which to complain, it is that road noise is more pronounced than expected. Otherwise, the XF S is thoroughly enjoyable to drive at all times.

Final Impressions
Beautifully styled and terrific to drive, the Jaguar XF looks good and feels good. While the interior could use some added attention to detail in terms of materials and layout, it definitely provides a sophisticated and upscale place from which to conduct the business of driving.

Cause for concern resides mainly with the XF’s technologies, both the infotainment system and the erroneous head-up display information. From my difficulties using the voice-recognition system and Siri to how the radio stopped functioning on a periodic basis, InControl Touch Pro inspired little confidence. Similarly, erroneous speed limit data appearing in the head-up display essentially rendered the feature useless.

Given that XF owners are not as concerned about reliability as buyers of other midsize premium cars, and considering that they are choosing this Jaguar for its design and driving dynamics, perhaps this doesn’t matter.

Jaguar Land Rover North America supplied the vehicle used for this 2017 Jaguar XF review.

For more information about our test driver and our methodology, please see our reviewer profile.


Additional Research:


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