Test Drive: 2016 Jaguar XF

Jaguar XF R_Sport_Location_Image_011415_08_LowResOn the scale of driving excitement, four-door sedans generally reside firmly at the bottom. Sure, they’re practical, come in various styles, shapes, sizes, and prices, but inspiring? Not so much. Then there’s the Jaguar XF.  You’ll pay a premium for the cachet of driving one, but boring it’s not — even for a sedan.

The knocks on Jaguar, in general, have been plenty; the reputation for reliability has been less than stellar, fuel economy numbers are often meager. But, owning one is one of driving’s guiltiest pleasures. And with a price tag just under $52,000 to start, a brand new XF is kind of a bargain in luxury circles, especially considering what you get for the money.

First, it is a handsome vehicle, with a style that reflects its brand heritage, but with a modern execution that won’t make you feel like you’re driving your grandpa’s Jag. The XF is most beautiful from a profile and in the updated front fascia with LED headlamps, whereas, from behind, it’s a little staid. The interior is impeccably appointed with leather and wood trim; you’ll fall in love before you’ve even pushed the start button. Do so, and you’re treated to the ceremonious rising of the gearshift knob from the console, and the synchronized opening of the climate vents.

Being that it is such an indulgent vehicle, I took it on the road to the land of excess — Las Vegas — to test whether it, like Sin City, is all show and no substance. I found quite the opposite to be true. On the road, our XF in the rear-wheel drive R Sport trim was balanced, precise, and comfortable. Power from the 340-horsepower supercharged V-6 engine was instant and exhilarating. Surefooted on curves, the XF climbs to triple-digit speeds with astonishing ease and minimal effort. Slow-moving RVs and Priuses disappear in the rearview as quickly as money in a slot machine. If I can find one complaint, it’s the automatic start-stop, which turns off the engine at stoplights and similar stop situations in order to save fuel. It’s a feature I didn’t like on the Range Rover I reviewed recently, but falls into the category of personal annoyance rather than actual design flaw. And, it can be turned off with the push of a button.

Jaguar XF _Portfolio_Interior_Image_010415_05_LowResThe sport seats keep you firmly in place during extreme cornering, and are firm, yet comfortable, cooling and heating your behind, depending on your preference. Tech features abound, including the InControl Touch interface on a 10.2-inch screen backed by faster internet-based navigation and other features. And of course, this includes safety technology like lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, etc., etc., etc. In fact, after a few hours on the road, the XF helpfully displayed a coffee cup icon, suggesting that it might be time to take a rest.

The XF was re-launched for 2016, with a streamlined model lineup (Premium, Prestige, R-Sport, and S), some weight loss, and design tweaks. The same engine powers all models. Most notably, new XF boasts more interior room, the lack thereof being the only major flaw we could find with the outgoing model. And, it lays to rest the brand’s fuel economy critics, boasting 20 mpg city/30 highway/24 combined.

The XF is a decadent sedan that is a treat the senses, at a reasonable price for a luxury sedan. With all-wheel drive capability and a fresh face for 2016, it continues to be an eye-opener in the sleepy sedan segment.

The Prestige model starts at $51,900. Our R Sport model came with a base price of $60,650, but retailed at $69,185, including delivery charges, after upgrading the exterior color and interior wood trim, and adding the Comfort & Convenience Pack, Luxury Interior Upgrade Pack, head-up display, and adaptive dynamics.

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