2011 Jaguar XF Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
December 7, 2010

The 2011 Jaguar XF offers a compelling combination of fast, nimble performance and a classy, refined, and seductive interior; the only thing lacking is backseat space.

Introduced two years ago, the Jaguar XF lineup started a clean break from the overtly traditional Jaguar shapes of the past. At the same time Jaguar changed hands itself—from Ford to India's Tata—the very essence of the cars shifted as well. And that design direction has continued this past year with the introduction of an all-new XJ.

Last year, new XF Supercharged and XFR high-performance models were added to the lineup; now for 2011 the XF gets a very substantial 85-hp boost, with a new standard 5.0-liter V-8 replacing the previous 4.2-liter one. There have also been a number of feature and trim refinements.

Overall, there's nothing heavy-handed or retro about the look of the 2011 Jaguar XF. Even two years in, it stands out as an extraordinarily modern interpretation yet also an instant classic, with all the catlike cues and curves that should have been in Jaguar's styling notebook for the past decade. There still are mesh grilles and classic proportions, but you almost expect to see the Jaguar XF in an Infiniti showroom with its softly sculptured roofline, faceted hood, and smartly irregular headlamps. From the back, it's as close to an Aston Martin as any sedan comes (apart from Aston's own Rapide). XFR sedans get stronger chins, four tailpipes, and bigger wheels, along with a new black grille. And inside, the XF's cabin delights drivers even more than the exterior. It seems to have been lifted from the front desk at a chic London hotel. There's aluminum and wood trim, to be sure—burl walnut trim is now standard—as well as a groovy puck-shaped shifter knob that rises to attention when the ignition button's pressed (and reminds us of high-end audio systems. Vents roll open to life, and ambient lighting begins to glow. Jaguar considers it the car's "heartbeat," and it's a clever wake-up call to the reinvigorated design all around.

Review continues below

Stealthy, gripping performance is the XF's calling card. That said, the XF's powertrain itself is sneaky. This year even the base-model 2011 Jaguar XF gets a 385-horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8, while the high-performance XFR and XF Supercharged models get a 5.0-liter supercharged V-8—making 470 hp in the Supercharged and 510 hp in the XFR. A sole six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters works with all three engines, rocketing the XFR to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds, while even the standard XF can get to 60 in 5.5 seconds. Both of the supercharged models top out at 155 mph.

The rear-drive XF simply gets better with each step up the performance ladder. Despite an almost supercar-like thrust on tap, powertrains are deceptively smooth; the Jaguar XFR feels like an entirely civil car—until you open the throttle and access its full potential. The six-speed automatic transmission that's offered throughout the lineup—operated through a unique dial on the center console, and with steering-wheel paddle-shifters—offers smooth, perfectly muted shifts during relaxed driving but changes personality on full throttle, seemingly making the most of the engine's powerband. Light, direct steering and capable brakes add up to a joyful driving experience, and with 20-inch tires and electronic systems like Active Differential Control and Adaptive Dynamics shuffling power between the rear wheels and adjusting suspension and steering firmness, the 5,000-pound Jaguar XF out-nimbles some of the less weighty sedans in its class. The steering feels just firm enough in corners—and is weighted perfectly.

The 2011 Jaguar XF is packaged more like a four-door coupe than a family sedan, which limits backseat space, but the trunk is large for the class, and the rear seats fold down for access to the trunk. But the lavish materials inside set a new high-water mark for Jaguar. Leather trim is double-stitched, and LED lighting mixes with choice wood and metallic trim to turn the cabin into a most atmospheric space. The console and doors have enough small-item storage, too, even a deep cup holder. No matter where you're sitting you're surrounded by high-grade leather and other warm, soft materials. Look around, and the instrument panel and center console are appointed in aluminum finishes and wood veneers, along with contrast stitching.

The Jaguar XF is a sport sedan, with all the features of a luxury sedan. Standard equipment on the XF Luxury includes a sunroof; automatic climate control; a keyless entry and ignition system; an electronic parking brake; leather upholstery and walnut trim; heated front seats; Sirius Satellite Radio, a six-CD changer, and a navigation system all controlled via a large LCD touch screen in the dash or by voice commands; and Bluetooth connectivity. Optional equipment includes a heated steering wheel and active cruise control, while the available 525-watt Bowers & Wilkins system is one of the best-sounding audio setups the editors have heard in any vehicle, cost no object.

9

2011 Jaguar XF

Styling

The 2011 Jaguar XF is attention-getting and thoroughly modern on the outside, but it's the stunning, classy interior that's brought the brand back to luxury relevance.

Overall, there's nothing heavy-handed or retro about the look of the 2011 Jaguar XF. Even two years in, it stands out as an extraordinarily modern interpretation that traditional luxury benchmarks like Audi should note well.

The 2011 Jaguar XF continues on with the same exterior as before, however. It's an instant classic, with all the catlike cues and curves that should have been in Jaguar's styling notebook for the past decade. There still are mesh grilles and classic proportions, but you almost expect to see the Jaguar XF in an Infiniti showroom with its softly sculptured roofline, faceted hood, and smartly irregular headlamps. From the back, it's as close to an Aston Martin as any sedan comes (apart from Aston's own Rapide). XFR sedans get stronger chins, four tailpipes, and bigger wheels, along with a new black grille.

If possible, the XF's cabin delights drivers even more than the exterior. It seems to have been lifted from the front desk at a chic London hotel. There's aluminum and wood trim, to be sure—burl walnut trim is now standard—as well as a groovy puck-shaped shifter knob that rises to attention when the ignition button's pressed (and reminds us of high-end audio systems. At the same time, vents roll open to life, and ambient lighting begins to glow. Jaguar considers it the car's "heartbeat," and it's a clever wake-up call to the reinvigorated design all around.

9

2011 Jaguar XF

Performance

Erase all those stodgy expectations of how a Jaguar performs; the 2011 Jaguar XF is a serious sport sedan, and the supercharged, 510-horsepower Jaguar XFR brings this Jaguar lineup into cheetah territory.

Stealthy, gripping performance is the XF's calling card. That said, the XF's powertrain itself is sneaky. This year even the base-model 2011 Jaguar XF gets a 385-horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8, while the high-performance XFR and XF Supercharged models get a 5.0-liter supercharged V-8—making 470 hp in the Supercharged and 510 hp in the XFR.

A sole six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters works with all three engines, rocketing the XFR to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds, while even the standard XF can get to 60 in 5.5 seconds. Both of the supercharged models top out at 155 mph.

The rear-drive XF simply gets better with each step up the performance ladder. Despite an almost supercar-like thrust on tap, powertrains are deceptively smooth; the Jaguar XFR feels like an entirely civil car—until you open the throttle and access its full potential. The six-speed automatic transmission that's offered throughout the lineup—operated through a unique dial on the center console, and with steering-wheel paddle-shifters—offers smooth, perfectly muted shifts during relaxed driving but changes personality on full throttle, seemingly making the most of the engine's powerband.

Light, direct steering and capable brakes add up to a joyful driving experience, and with 20-inch tires and electronic systems like Active Differential Control and Adaptive Dynamics shuffling power between the rear wheels and adjusting suspension and steering firmness, the 5,000-pound Jaguar XF out-nimbles some of the less weighty sedans in its class. The steering feels just firm enough in corners—and is weighted perfectly.

8

2011 Jaguar XF

Comfort & Quality

The interior affect of the 2011 Jaguar XF is more sports-car than sedan in some respects, but ride quality and cabin materials are top-notch.

The 2011 Jaguar XF is packaged more like a four-door coupe than a family sedan, but the trunk is large for the class, and the rear seats fold down for access to the trunk.

The cost of the 2011 Jaguar XF modeIs' sleek styling is apparent as soon as you open the doors and get inside. In front, driver and passenger sit low, with good side support and power adjustments that multiply with each pricier model; headroom is adequate, and it's possible to get a nice, upright driving position. Behind them, it's a different story; the rear seats may as well be used for luggage because the Jaguar XF's slinky shape and low roofline cut into backseat room with no apologies. The bucket-style perches in back are comfy for smaller adults, but others will find inadequate headroom.

The lavish materials inside set a new high-water mark for Jaguar. Leather trim is double-stitched, and LED lighting mixes with choice wood and metallic trim to turn the cabin into a most atmospheric space. The console and doors have enough small-item storage, too, even a deep cup holder.

That said, no matter where you're sitting you're surrounded by high-grade leather and other warm, soft materials. Look around, and the instrument panel and center console are appointed in aluminum finishes and wood veneers, along with contrast stitching.

Ride quality in the XF is quite impressive; the suspension is tuned to be somewhat soft in standard XF models especially, but there's no floatiness or bounciness and the body always feels under control.

8

2011 Jaguar XF

Safety

The 2011 Jaguar XF doesn't disappoint with respect to safety, although U.S.-market crash tests haven't been conducted.

The 2011 Jaguar XF has a strong roster of both traditional occupant protection measures and more advanced accident-avoidance features. Six airbags are standard, along with stability control, active front headrests, and electronic assistants like a rearview camera. Supercharged and XFR models get a blind-spot monitor, and adaptive cruise control with a collision warning system is available.

Unlike other sedans in its class, the XF doesn't offer an all-wheel-drive option, which is in some selected conditions considered a safety asset.

You won't find crash-test results for the 2011 Jaguar XF. Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have performed crash tests on the Jaguar XF. In the absence of any U.S. tests, you might potentially look to Europe, where this particular model is unchanged structurally, and see that it's earned four stars in the EuroNCAP testing program, including a great 78-percent score in adult occupant protection.

8

2011 Jaguar XF

Features

The 2011 Jaguar XF has all the features you'd expect to find in a high-end luxury sedan—plus a sound system that will woo even die-hard audiophiles.

The 2011 Jaguar XF is a sport sedan, with all the features of a luxury sedan. Standard equipment on the $52,000 Jaguar XF Luxury includes a sunroof; automatic climate control; a keyless entry and ignition system; an electronic parking brake; leather upholstery and walnut trim; heated front seats; Sirius Satellite Radio, a six-CD changer, and a navigation system all controlled via a large LCD touch screen in the dash or by voice commands; and Bluetooth connectivity.

The $57,000 Premium Luxury model adds the 5.0-liter V-8, blind-spot monitors, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, and ventilated front seats, while the Portfolio edition offers the 5.0-liter V-8 with distinct leather and suede upholstery, along with ebony dash trim. The $80,000 XFR fits the supercharged V-8; 20-inch wheels; a heated steering wheel; adaptive cruise control; and a Bowers & Wilkins audio system with HD and Sirius Satellite Radio and integration for audio players.

Optional equipment includes a heated steering wheel and active cruise control, while the available 525-watt Bowers & Wilkins system is one of the best-sounding audio setups the editors have heard in any vehicle, cost no object. For 2011, even the base model gets standard Burl Walnut trim, while a heated windshield is optional on all models. The JaguarSense glovebox release—a trick feature liked by many—has been replaced with a standard button.

The XF's navigation system also incorporates iPod/iPhone control for music. A tap on the touch screen and you're controlling the flow of tunes through a target on the display; however some drivers will be disappointed to see that many of the climate controls have been moved to screen-only positions as well.

5

2011 Jaguar XF

Fuel Economy

With fuel economy ratings toward the low end of the scale, the 2011 Jaguar XF isn't a green choice.

With the larger (5.0-liter instead of 4.2-liter) standard V-8 engine, fuel economy ratings have dropped somewhat for 2011. Standard XF models are rated 16 mpg city, 23 highway, while the 2011 Jaguar XFR checks in with a 15/21 mpg rating, which isn't outrageous considering its performance capabilities and is about the same as other rival high-performance sedans. Relative to the entire market, however, that makes the 2011 XF lineup not so green.
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8.4
Overall
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Styling 9.0
Performance 9.0
Comfort & Quality 8.0
Safety 8.0
Features 8.0
Fuel Economy 5.0
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