2014 Jaguar XF Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
December 1, 2013

With backseat space as the one caveat, the 2014 Jaguar XF lineup can at once be refined, nimble, and a scorcher of a performer in XFR or exclusive XFR-S guise.

The mid-size luxury segment is full of talented players--cars like the brilliant new Cadillac CTS, the stalwart BMW 5-Series and Mercedes E-Class, and the lithe Audi A6 and A7. Now it also includes the Jaguar XF, which has been continually massaged since its 2009 introduction with new features and new powertrains, which now include a turbocharged four-cylinder and all-wheel drive at the low end, and a raucous supercharged V-8 at the top.

Even into its seventh model year, with its look only mildly smoothed over, the 2014 Jaguar XF still looks sleek, modern, and spirited. With relatively few cutlines and a catlike stance, it plays off the brand name beautifully. Jaguar found a new direction with the knockout interior as well; it's not derivative of any other model, while remaining uniquely British, quite glitzy, and a showcase of the brand's legendary attention to materials and trims. With the rotary shift knob, and vents that wake up when the pushbutton start is tapped, there are aesthetically pleasing touches and lots of 'wow' details throughout.

Last year Jaguar introduced a new lineup of engines--effectively supplementing the V-8s that the XF had offered all along with new turbo four-cylinder and supercharged V-6 alternatives. The turbo four-cylinder has 240 horsepower and moves the 2014 XF quickly enough for comfort-oriented buyers (albeit without quite as much refinement), while the supercharged V-6 makes 380 horsepower and is more a direct replacement for the V-8 (albeit with better fuel economy). We like this engine for its more classically British engine note, complete with supercharger whine. It's also equipped with stop/start to increase fuel economy, and it's a juddery system that makes plain the sacrifice to the EPA gods.

If you don't mind dipping deeper into your coffers both at the dealership and at the pump, the supercharged V-8 bring the most driving enjoyment. Whether you go for the 470-horsepower XF Supercharged or the 510-hp XFR, count on stunning, confident performance, with a brawly baritone exhaust note and 0-60 mph times of 4.9 seconds or less. All versions have a paddle-shifted eight-speed automatic, but only the V-6 offers Jaguar's new all-wheel-drive system, a traction (not performance) oriented system that should prove appealing to those in the Snow Belt.

Review continues below

New this year is the Jaguar XFR-S, a special high-performance edition that truly chases the likes of the BMW M5, Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, and Audi RS6. With 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque, plus a sharpened Quickshift transmission logic, a stiffer suspension than the XFR, and a special staggered Pirelli performance tire setup--in addition to various aerodynamic improvements and an available big, functional rear wing, the 2014 Jaguar XFR-S can get to 186 mph and to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds.

Across the entire lineup, the XF feels understated and graceful behind the wheel, with well-weighted steering, capable brakes, and smooth, muted shifts. Electronic systems like Active Differential Control and Adaptive Dynamics systems shuffle power between the rear wheels and adjust suspension and steering firmness, making this 4,200-pound sedan feel remarkably nimble.

The most significant weakness of the XF is that the swoopy roofline does cut headroom in back. With packaging that's closer to a four-door coupe than a family sedan, there's still plenty to swoon over, and those rear seatbacks do fold down for access to the trunk. The seats are supple and well-contoured, and no matter where you're sitting, you're surrounded by rich leather and other snazzy materials, from walnut to aluminum. And lavish materials in the 2014 XF continue to impress--especially against the more sterile appointments in some of its class rivals.

While some versions of the 2014 XJ are full-fledged sport sedans, all variants surround passengers with serious luxury-car features. Two USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity, and built-in music storage are included even in the base XF 2.0 sedans. Navigation, satellite and HD radio, and a rearview camera are among the options on those cars. Move up the model line, and more exclusive materials like the Warm Charcoal leather trim and contrast-color micro-piping are the real lure--not the infotainment interfaces and onboard technology. 

9

2014 Jaguar XF

Styling

The Jaguar XF's suave sheetmetal looks even better in person--and it's matched by a beautiful cabin.

The Jaguar XF looks like no Jaguar product of the past, and that's pretty much the point. With its introduction more than six years ago, the XF set the stage for a new, more contemporary look for Jaguar--and proof that going retro can be a crutch.

Ultra-modern, gorgeous, and more than a little extravagant, the XF looks like no Jag before it, and patently, doesn't need to.

All these years later, its look has been only mildly smoothed over--and there's no need for anything more than that. The 2014 Jaguar XF still looks sleek, modern, and spirited. If anything it just fits into the luxury market a little easier than it initially did, with many models since its introduction adopting some of the same cues and curves.

With relatively few cutlines and a catlike stance, it plays off the brand name beautifully. Considering the slung-back silhouette, it looks like its brand name incarnate, with a catlike stance and an intense pair of eyes set off by the mesh of its grille. Call it an affordable take on Aston Martin if you want, it's sophisticated from almost every angle. There's more than a touch of Lexus or Audi in the way the XF slips through the air cleanly, but it's an instantly identifiable theme all the same--one that goes in lockstep with Jaguar's past without bowing down to it. It's more a visual onomatopoeia.

Jaguar found a new direction with the knockout interior as well; it's not derivative of any other model, while remaining uniquely British, quite glitzy, and a showcase of the brand's legendary attention to materials and trims. With the rotary shift knob, and vents that wake up (with soft lighting 'waking up') when the pushbutton start is tapped, there are aesthetically pleasing touches and lots of 'wow' details throughout. Materials are a step ahead of those in more stark, serious German sport sedans, as well; there's aluminum and wood trim, to be sure—burl walnut trim is now standard.

9

2014 Jaguar XF

Performance

There's nothing stodgy about the XF's performance--it opens at 385 horsepower, and raises the ante all the way to 510 hp.

Last year, a lot changed under the hood of the Jaguar XF, as it shed a lineup of V-8s in favor of new turbo four-cylinder and supercharged V-6 alternatives (as well as some V-8s, still). And thankfully, there's still plenty of satisfying performance in the lineup, no matter which model you're considering.

The turbo four-cylinder has 240 horsepower and moves the 2014 XF quickly enough for comfort-oriented buyers (albeit without quite as much refinement), while the supercharged V-6 makes 380 horsepower and is more a direct replacement for the V-8 (albeit with better fuel economy)--think 5.7 seconds to 60 mph. We like this engine for its more classically British engine note, complete with supercharger whine. It's also equipped with stop/start to increase fuel economy. Here, it's a juddery system that makes plain the sacrifice to the EPA gods.

If you don't mind dipping deeper into your coffers both at the dealership and at the pump, the supercharged V-8 bring the most driving enjoyment. Whether you go for the 470-horsepower XF Supercharged or the 510-hp XFR, count on stunning, confident performance, with a brawly baritone exhaust note and 0-60 mph times of 4.9 seconds or less. We've also noted smoother stop/start in these versions.

Across all XF models, you now get a paddle-shifted eight-speed automatic, but only the V-6 offers Jaguar's new all-wheel-drive system, a traction (not performance) oriented system that should prove appealing to those in the Snow Belt. It's set up with a 30:70 torque split in ordinary driving, but the power can be split evenly to the front and back when traction needs arise--or, when sport mode is dialed up, it can be tuned to a 10:90 split for something even closer to the rear-drive experience. It also sends some torque to the front wheels after every stop for a smoother launch, resetting its torque split when the traction-control and yaw sensors signal.

New this year is the Jaguar XFR-S, a special high-performance edition that truly chases the likes of the BMW M5, Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, and Audi RS6. With 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque, plus a sharpened Quickshift transmission logic, a stiffer suspension than the XFR, and a special staggered Pirelli performance tire setup--in addition to various aerodynamic improvements and an available big, functional rear wing, the 2014 Jaguar XFR-S can get to 186 mph and to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds.

Across the entire lineup, the XF feels understated and graceful behind the wheel, with well-weighted steering, capable brakes, and smooth, muted shifts. Electronic systems like Active Differential Control and Adaptive Dynamics systems shuffle power between the rear wheels and adjust suspension and steering firmness, making this 4,200-pound sedan feel remarkably nimble. 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.

The XF simply gets better with each step up the performance ladder. Despite an almost supercar-like thrust on tap with the V-8s, the XF is deceptively smooth. Even the XFR and XFR-S feel like entirely civil cars—until you open the throttle and access their full potential. They're grippy and stealthy in the way it gathers speed, even with new electric-assisted steering. It's just firm enough in corners, and has good weight. Couple that light, direct steering to capable brakes and it all adds up to a joyful driving experience.
8

2014 Jaguar XF

Comfort & Quality

Fit and finish are dazzling, but the XF's almost a four-door coupe, with its skimpy rear seat room.

The lack of back-seat headroom in the 2014 Jaguar XF sedans serves as a reminder that there's no style without sacrifice; but at the same time, there is surprisingly little else to gripe about in this sport sedan. And it especially impresses with its lavish materials and smooth, quiet ride.

Front seats in the XF are supportive and highly adjustable (18 ways in the XFR), and they have adequate leg and head room for tall drivers to find comfort--even though the position is a little low and the sunroof tends to steal a couple of inches of headroom.

No matter where you're sitting, the seats are supple and well-contoured, and you're surrounded by rich leather and other glitzy materials, from walnut to aluminum. 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. And overall, the lavish, warm appointments in the 2014 XF continue to impress--particularly against the more sterile trims and materials you'll find in many German sport sedans. Look around, and the instrument panel and center console are dressed in aluminum finishes and wood veneers, along with contrast stitching.

The significant weakness of the XF interior is that the swoopy roofline does cut headroom in back. With packaging that's closer to a four-door coupe than a family sedan; getting in and out is perhaps a little harder than it should be, and we don't see those much over six feet tall being able to fit comfortably back there (it's definitely smaller than a Mercedes E-Class or BMW 5-Series).

But there's still plenty to swoon over, and those rear seatbacks do fold down for access to the 17.7-cubic-foot trunk.

7

2014 Jaguar XF

Safety

Safety features abound, but the Jaguar XF hasn't been crash-tested.

There aren't any U.S.-market crash tests for the 2014 Jaguar XF. And while it doesn't offer the kind of advanced accident avoidance features you'll find in rivals like the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, all the protection basics are here. 

The XF's standard safety set includes six standard airbags to go with its anti-lock brakes, stability control, and active front headrests. Rear parking sensors are standard, and front sensors are optional on base versions and standard on more expensive models. Supercharged and XFR models get blind-spot monitors, another great feature in a car with limited visibility, while adaptive cruise control with a collision warning system is an option on all versions.

A rearview camera is an option on most models, and given the XF's narrow window of rearward visibility, it should be included as standard. 

Jaguar is offering all-wheel drive now, on models equipped with the 340-hp supercharged V-6. Jaguar is noting that this system is oriented toward safety and traction, rather than all-out performance.

Although there aren't any U.S. test results for the XF, it's earned a decent four-star rating in rigorous European crash tests.

8

2014 Jaguar XF

Features

High-end features are par for the Jaguar XF course; we'd listen to the 1200-watt Bowers & Wilkins audio system any day.

While some versions of the 2014 XJ are full-fledged sport sedans, all variants surround passengers with serious luxury-car features.

Two USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity, and built-in music storage are included even in the base XF 2.0 sedans, which start at well under $50k. Navigation, satellite and HD radio, and a rearview camera are among the options on those cars. Move up the model line, and more exclusive materials like the Warm Charcoal leather trim and contrast-color micro-piping are the real lure--not the infotainment interfaces and onboard technology.

Major options include a premium leather interior; satellite radio; navigation; HD radio; a choice of two Meridian high-output audio systems with 380 or 825 watts of output; a rearview camera and front parking sensors; ventilated front seats; and adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitors.

The nav, audio and most climate functions are controlled via a large LCD touchscreen on the dash. 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. Jaguar has made attempts to increase the functionality of this system, but it still lags behind all-encompassing features like iDrive; at the same time, we do like the level of redundancy provided by physical buttons.

V-6 (XF 3.0) versions gain a Dynamic mode for its adaptive drive controls, but otherwise their equipment is essentially the same as with the four.

Jaguar XF Supercharged models make the biggest leap in luxury equipment. They add the adaptive suspension and an active rear differential; 20-inch wheels and tires; more adjustments and finer leather for its front seats, as well as ventilation; a heated steering wheel; a suede headliner; keyless entry; blind-spot monitors, front parking sensors, and a rearview camera; the 380-watt Meridian sound system with satellite and HD radio; and voice-controlled navigation.

The Jaguar XFR carries all those features standard, and also gets the top Meridian audio system standard, as well as even more adjustment and premium leather for its seats; fold-down rear seats; adaptive headlights with automatic high beams; and a black-finished grille. Adaptive cruise control is one of the only options. In addition to all that, the XFR-S gets all sorts of performance improvements, as well as a unique front airdam, a carbon-fiber rear diffuser, a performance exhaust, special 20-inch wheels, and a suede headliner.

6

2014 Jaguar XF

Fuel Economy

Gorgeous looks always come with a pricetag, and with the Jaguar XF, you'll pay half of the bill at the gas station.

Jaguar made major improvements in its fuel economy of the XF lineup last year, with the introduction of two new, more efficient engines, and an eight-speed automatic for the whole model line.

This year, the XF gets a model at the other end of the scale--the all-new high-performance XFR-S, which is even more powerful than the XFR. Luckily, the XFR-S is able to match the same mileage figures as the XFR: 15 mpg city, 23 highway.

With the supercharged V-6, the XF achieves 16 mpg city, 26 highway (all-wheel drive), or 17/28 mpg (rear-wheel drive).

The new turbo-four XF, meanwhile, equals the numbers of some mid-size sedans. It's rated at 19 miles per gallon city, 30 mpg highway, or 23 mpg combined.

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8.2
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Styling 9.0
Performance 9.0
Comfort & Quality 8.0
Safety 7.0
Features 8.0
Fuel Economy 6.0
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