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2018 Jaguar XF Review

2018 Jaguar XF Review
The 2018 Jaguar XF lives its best life in Sportbrake form; the turbo-4 emerges here in untested form.

The 2018 Jaguar XF goes long for a winning play this model year. The new Sportbrake wagon elegantly underscores how far the British brand’s come since 2009, when the mid-size sedan joined its range.


Jaguar won’t sell many XF Sportbrake wagons, true. But in its third year on the road, as Americans head into crossover SUVs in droves (Jaguar’s F-Pace, among them), the Sportbrake keeps Jag’s luxury car dreams alive.

Jaguar sells the XF in 20d, 25t, 30t, and S forms. Choose well, and it rates as high as an 7.2 out of 10 on our scale, with good scores in feature content and performance. 

With straightforward and spare looks, the Jaguar XF strikes us as most appealing as a wagon. The sedans have lines similar not just to Jag’s own XE, but also to other luxury four-doors. It’s a shape drawn to blend in, on purpose, but the Sportbrake relieves that sameness with its stunning roofline. The XF’s cockpit wears some spartan lines, too, but when it’s trimmed in white wood or carbon trim, it’s on par with its European and American rivals.

A new turbo-4 gas engine joins the XF family this year; we haven’t yet driven it, but we’ve sampled the turbodiesel 2.0-liter turbo-4 in the lineup since 2017. It’s the fuel-conscious choice for those with a bit more time on their hands; for grin-generating speed, the supercharged 380-hp V-6 grabs us, especially in all-wheel-drive form. No matter what, every XF has an 8-speed automatic with excellent responsiveness. Most versions share a sublime ride-and-handling setup that lets moderate body lean and composed ride quality take priority over razor-edged cornering. With adaptive dampers, the XF can handle any road with casual confidence, with no jagged or brittle responses.

The latest XF has a spacious interior, though it’s let down slightly by seats that need better shapes and softer cushions. The trunk’s huge, and the wagon sports great interior space, provided the cargo isn’t too tall.

Without crash-test data, the XF testifies to safe driving with the usual features. A rearview camera is optional on base models, but full-tilt versions can have surround-view cameras, blind-spot monitors, and adaptive cruise control. Other features include widescreen infotainment, Bluetooth audio streaming, high-end Meridian audio, and a head-up as well as a digital gauge display.

Styling
The 2018 Jaguar XF doesn’t draw much drama into its sheet metal or its cabin, but it’s handsome—or beautiful, in Sportbrake form.

With its handsome details and attractive proportions, the 2018 Jaguar XF puts no foot wrong. In wagon form, it’s simply beautiful.

Its styling, though, is very close to that of the smaller Jaguar XE sedan, and from a brand with often ecstatic shapes in its past, the XF sedan comes across sober.

In the XF’s sheet metal there’s clear indication that Jaguar wants to be more like its BMW and Audi counterparts. The fender vents and the tilt of its front glass give it some distance from the smaller XE Jaguar, but the grille looks similar, and so do the slim headlights. In profile, the XF grows a third pane of glass behind the rear doors, and that has the effect of bringing the shape right in line with past generations of mid-size Audi and BMW sedans. On a competitive perspective, that’s great; from a historical Jaguar perspective, it’s a missed opportunity from the brand that brought the elegant first-generation XJ. What’s distilled so effectively in the F-Type sports car seems ignored on this generation of Jaguar sedans.

Set all that aside when you think of the XF Sportbrake. Few drivers clamor for wagons, especially with the F-Pace SUV on sale right across the Jaguar showroom. While that crossover may be attractive, the Sportbrake’s downright alluring, with its achingly long roofline and the way it clings to the road.

The XF’s sober cockpit vexes us. Functional and well-organized, it’s been pared of the glitz and glamour that decorated the last XF in such a balanced way. The basic-black interior’s on DKNY point, but still seems aimed at a luxury target at least a decade out of touch. Pitch the XF’s horizontal dash against the dramatic Benz waterfall console, and it’s clear: the XF absolutely relies on keen color combinations, from lipstick red to washed-wood white, to live its most stylish life.

Performance
Strong V-6 power and supple handling sort out the 2018 Jaguar XF’s sport-sedan credentials.

Taut, fluid handling gives every Jaguar XF the road manners of a mid-size luxury thoroughbred. Just choose your powerplant wisely.

We give the XF an 8 here, with extra points for its communicative steering, its excellent transmission, and its very composed ride. 

This year the XF engine family expands to four, with a new four. Jaguar fits its latest 2.0-liter turbo-4 to the XF for the first time, and sells it in two power outputs. With 247 hp on tap, Jaguar promises this base powertrain can motivate the car to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds (in rear-drive form). There’s also a version with 296 horsepower. We haven’t driven this turbo-4 in either form yet, but will add more here when we’re able to test it.

We have driven the other variants, which include a turbodiesel version of that turbo-4. With a narrow powerband and 180 hp, the diesel XF can launch itself to 60 mph in about 7.7 seconds. It’s eager off the line, but it delivers hefty torque over a slim engine-speed range; its short-lived thrills couldn’t be more in opposition to the peaky, throbby power of an Alfa Stelvio, a car that seems to grab some of Jaguar’s old performance characteristics. Efficiency overcomes emotion in big Land Rover trucks, but we’re not sure it matches the Jag sedan personality—not on our shores, at least.

A better match is Jaguar’s 3.0-liter supercharged V-6. Now offered in a single output, the 380-hp V-6 twists out 332 pound-feet of torque and can push the sedan to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds through standard all-wheel drive. In the Sportbrake, the same feat takes 5.3 seconds, and top speed drops from 155 to 121 mph. Jaguar blots up much of its V-6’s rumble and the whine of its supercharger with plenty of sound deadening.

An 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters takes charge on all models and it’s nearly faultless in its gear choices and changes, at least when it’s dialed into Sport mode. All-wheel drive’s an option with every engine, and its traction systems can simulate torque-vectoring with selective brake application.

Sublime, forgiving ride and handling comes with each and every XF, at least the various cars we’ve driven. It’s more supple than a Cadillac VSport or an Audi S7, reassuring whether it’s hustled on lonely Spanish roads or through congested Atlanta traffic.
The talent starts with lightweight independent suspensions front and back, and on Sportbrakes, a set of air springs. Adaptive air dampers can be fitted on most models, and with them, the XF takes full advantage of the hardcore talent baked into its suspension. It has 50/50 weight balance, and a lovely, neutral feel when angled into corners. Jaguar lets the car stay compliant, rather than frantic and firm, even when the drive-mode selector’s spun into sport-plus range.

Jaguar also factors in lighter steering feel and more body lean than do its rivals. Even so, the XF never gets sloppy. The steering accurately needles through corners, the transmission clicks into the proper gear, and the car takes a lovely set.

Comfort & Quality
The Jaguar XF Sportbrake delivers useful interior space—on the horizontal—but the XF’s good interior space trims out with lots of dark matter.

The current Jaguar XF has a back seat adults can appreciate. That’s a big switch from the pre-2016 car and its cramped quarters, and you can thank aluminum for the difference.

With its trunk room that only gets better in Sportbrake form, we give the XF an 6 here. It would rate more highly if the seats themselves had more support and if the spartan interior had some more traditional Jaguar warmth.

When this XF emerged in 2016, Jaguar switched from steel to aluminum bodies. They made it lighter, so they could make it bigger. The extra inches in wheelbase and overall length make it prettier and more spacious.

In front, the XF has friendly amounts of space that surround plainly shaped seats with flat lower cushions and thinly bolstered side cushions. They don’t look very supportive, but on long trips the simple shapes hold the driver and front passenger up well enough. Front-seat space favors the outboard positions; the driver has lots of left-arm elbow room, but their right knee will contact the center console as often as LinkedIn, even after they unsubscribe.

Jaguar fits the XF with plenty of small-item storage in the doors and on the center console, near the USB port. Smart. In the back seat, the old XF’s fastback-roofline blues are old news. This car has room for 6-footers to slide in easily, with no complaints about skimpy leg or head room.

The trunk in the XF is exemplary, at 19.1 cubic feet. Opt for the Sportbrake wagon, and that cargo hold of 31.7 cubic feet behind the back seat blossoms to 69.7 cu ft when the back seats fold forward. The Sportbrake’s useful, but keep in mind the cargo height bows to the sleek roofline. A flat-screen TV fits fine, but don’t try to wedge a chandelier into it. (Doesn’t everyone think in chandelier-sized units of volume?)

In terms of fit and finish, the XF seems fine. But Jaguar’s given up on its old-world charm, and now delivers stark, dark cockpits that would make mid-1990s BMW proud. Those dark trim bits can amplify gaps and seams in the cabin but more to the point, they miss the point of Jaguar: We wonder how the XF would sell if it restored some of the old British glamour to this spartan shape.

Safety
The Jaguar XF hasn’t been crash-tested.

The NHTSA hasn’t crash-tested a Jaguar XF, and neither has the IIHS. We’ve left off a safety rating until we have data to study. 

The XF comes with most of the usual standard safety equipment, but as of early 2018, new base XF sedans do not have a standard rearview camera. That should change by at least the 2019 model year, per federal mandates.

The XF does have safety options such as a head-up display, a surround-view camera system, blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking. Many of those only come with the most costly R-Sport trim package, though.

Features
One great reason to buy the 2018 Jaguar XF: its warranty covers nearly everything for 5 years or 60,000 miles.

With a base price of just below $50,000, the 2018 Jaguar XF caps out at well over $70,000 in Sportbrake trim.

In any version, the XF gets heaps of standard equipment and optional equipment in logical bundles. We give it a 9 for those features, its excellent warranty, and its customization offerings. 

Every 2018 XF comes with cruise control, power features, an infotainment system with at least an 8.0-inch touchscreen, keyless ignition, at least 18-inch wheels, and an audio system with HD radio, USB connectivity, and Bluetooth.

With the Premium package, the XF adds a rearview camera, a power-adjustable steering column, and a split-fold rear seat. Options with this package include parking sensors, blind-spot monitors, navigation, smartphone app connectivity, satellite radio, and LED headlights.

Prestige-level XF sedans have heated and power-adjustable front seats, leather upholstery, parking sensors, navigation, and 19-inch wheels. R-Sport sedans have distinctive styling touches as well as sport seats, satellite radio, blind-spot monitors, and adaptive headlights. Options on this model include adaptive cruise control, a surround-view camera system, and an adaptive suspension.

The XF Sportbrake comes with a standard rear self-leveling air suspension, a power tailgate, and a panoramic glass roof, as well as the supercharged V-6 and all-wheel drive. All XFs have an extensive warranty that covers all maintenance for 5 years or 60,000 miles.

On the infotainment front, the 2018 Jaguar XF carries on with either the base InControl Touch system, with its 8.0-inch touchscreen. The more advanced Pro version swaps in a 10.2-inch touchscreen and a 12.3-inch panel that replaces the car’s conventional gauges. This version has swipe, pinch, and zoom control over the touchscreen and customizable themes, as well as the larger screen. Both versions have some nice touches, like starred favorite stations for the radio bands, but we’re still waiting for an automotive revelation on the touchscreen-interface front.

Fuel Economy
Turbodiesels do best, but the new turbo-4 in the 2018 Jaguar XF is no slouch.

Three years into its current generation, the Jaguar XF now has a complete range of engines, from a turbo-4 to a turbodiesel. Guess which gets the best fuel economy?

Based on the most common version, likely to be the turbo-4, we give the 2018 XF a 6 here. 

Jaguar’s long-serving supercharged V-6 slots into XF S sedans and Sportbrake wagons. In the four-door, rear-drive models earn EPA ratings of 20 mpg city, 29 highway, 23 combined. All-wheel-drive versions manage 20/28/23 mpg. The Sportbrake posts ratings of 18/25/21 mpg.

The sedan-only turbo-4 XF gets scored at 25/34/28 mpg in rear-drive form, or 23/33/27 mpg when fitted with all-wheel drive.

Jaguar’s turbodiesel inline-4 sends fuel economy soaring. Rear-drive diesel XFs are pegged at 31/42/35 mpg; with AWD, they’re rated at 30/40/34 mpg.

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