The Car Connection Jaguar XF Overview
The Jaguar XF is a mid-size luxury sedan and the latest vehicle from the brand to get an aluminum body, as it's reinvented for the 2016 model year. The XF kicked off a design renaissance at the British automaker just as it was being separated from its former parent company, Ford.
The XF is a rival for sedans such as the BMW 5-Series, Audi A6, Cadillac CTS and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
MORE: Read our 2016 Jaguar XF review
The new XF
Jaguar has unveiled its first full redo of the XF, which will go on sale for the 2016 model year. The car is lighter by 130 pounds on rear-drive models and more than 250 for all-wheel-drive versions thanks to a switch to an aluminum-intensive platform like those of its Jag sedan siblings, according to the automaker. The package keeps the same basic overall dimensions, but the wheelbase has been stretched two inches to create more room in the back seat, one of the original XF's major sticking points.
From launch, engine options will include a 3.0-liter V-6 in a choice of two strengths—340 horsepower or 380 hp—while a 2.0-liter turbodiesel will follow about a half-year later. A 2.0-liter gas engine like the one found in current base XFs is likely to join at some point as well, and a V-8-powered performance model is a given. Handling is set up more softly than some rivals, but it's engaging and predictable at the same time. Styling is in line with that of the new Jaguar XE sedan; a slightly less curvaceous take on recent Jaguar themes, but still very handsome. The XF was perhaps one of the tougher designs to follow up with a second generation, but thankfully the new version carries the themes forward with some modernity.
The XF was first shown at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit as the Concept C-XF with its clean, modern lines and a reinvented cabin full of glitzy touches of sparkling chrome and aluminum. Most of the concept car's design made it to final production form, as Jaguar revealed the sedan at the 2007 Frankfurt motor show.
The first XF's performance ranges from blinding to lurid—vastly different from the old S-Type, its almost-predecessor. Steering is light, but direct and full of feedback, and the XF feels planted and well-controlled in most circumstances. The big criticism than can be leveled against the XF is its lack of rear-seat space. It's truly tiny in back, with cramped leg space and no head room to spare for adults, thanks to the cut-down roofline.
Though the car itself changed very little since its introduction, the XF's powertrains evolved throughout its run. In its first year, the XF offered a choice of normally aspirated or supercharged 4.2-liter V-8 engines, with 300 hp and 420 hp, respectively.
In the 2010 model year, Jaguar upgraded the XF's engine lineup to include a pair of 5.0-liter V-8 engines, again with available supercharging. The normally aspirated 300-hp, 4.2-liter V-8 carried over from the first-year sedan was joined by a 385-hp, 5.0-liter V-8, and in the XFR by a 510-hp supercharged 5.0-liter V-8. In 2011, the base 4.2-liter engine was discontinued, and the XF retained its top 510-hp engine, while also adding a 470-hp version of the forced-induction 5.0-liter for the Supercharged model. A six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters worked with all three.
The XF gained some important updates for the 2013 model year, including a new all-wheel-drive model. In the XF, the system has a rearward bias that can send power to the front wheels when slip is detected. In different driver-selectable modes, the torque split varies from 100 percent power to the rear or a 30/70 split front to rear in winter mode. It's offered only with a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 that nets 340 hp, which was a powertrain that effectively replaced the former base 5.0-liter V-8 engine. The V-6 is also available with rear-wheel drive. A new 8-speed automatic replaced the older six-speed unit in all XF versions.
The 2013 model year also brought a smaller engine for base models; this 2.0-liter turbo four makes 240 hp and is mated to the same 8-speed automatic as the rest. It should hit 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, and it is rated by the EPA at 29 mpg on the highway. The engine has enough power to move the mid-size Jag, but it's not quite as smooth or refined as the larger engines that are available.
Infotainment and navigation in the XF were also updated—including new features to make navigation screens more useful. Jaguar also turned to Meridian, a British company known for high-end home audio components, for new premium sound systems across its lineup.
For the 2014 model year, a 550-hp Jaguar XFR-S was made available, albeit in very limited numbers. It's a notch or two above the XFR's craziness, with an available rear wing that puts it pretty much over the top, even compared to other super-sport sedans.
For 2015, Jaguar did away with the base turbocharged 2.0-liter model and created the 2.0T Premium in its place, which includes the formerly optional Premium Pack (navigation, keyless entry, rearview camera, front parking sensors, a 380-Watt Meridian sound system, HD Radio, and satellite radio). Jaguar has also created two different models for the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6, both new for 2015. The Portfolio and Sport are geared toward luxury and performance-minded buyers, respectively. They carry the same base price but bundle different aesthetics and features. Both are available with Jaguar's all-wheel-drive system.
Jaguar also offers a wagon version of the XF in other markets, including a long-roof XFR-S, but that body style is not sold in the U.S. in any trim. It happens to be the more attractive XF shape to our eye, but it seems the American buying public doesn't always decide on looks, or practicality for that matter.