2017 Jaguar XE Review

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Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
June 19, 2017

Buying tip

The diesel has been much abused by other automakers and their technical difficulties—but Jaguar's diesel XE is really intriguing, with sky-high

With the 2017 XE, Jaguar hopes it's built a better 3-Series. In many ways, it has.

The 2017 Jaguar XE is the British luxury brand's long-awaited BMW 3-Series fighter—though by our yardsticks, the BMW has great new rivals in the Cadillac ATS, Mercedes C-Class and the Audi A4.

For the initial 2017 model year, the XE will come in three powertrain flavors: a gas turbo-4 called the 25t, a diesel turbo-4 dubbed the 20d, and a supercharged V-6-powered 35t.

With the XE, Jaguar promises a true sport sedan in every sense, with rear-wheel drive, a lightweight body mostly composed of aluminum, and at launch, an exciting 340-horsepower supercharged V-6 engine.

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We think it works—damn well, at times. We rate it at 7.4 out of 10, giving it ups for great ride and handling. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Jaguar XE styling and performance

When your target is the BMW 3-Series, the Bimmer's shape is a convenient place to start the styling process. Jaguar's XE clearly has those German influences in mind. The XE reworks a BMW-like silhouette into one with better balance, though it's well underplayed. The jewelry's kept in moderation, though top models get a mesh grille, chrome fender vents, and big front air intakes, while R-Sport models get their own body kit and wheels.

The XE's cabin steers clear of the glitz baked into the XJ. It's a functional look dressed with lots of black gloss trim on the console. The rotary transmission control rises from a sea of black gloss plastic, while center stage is given over to a big new LCD screen, the showplace for Jaguar's brightly re-rendered infotainment interface.

You can't accuse Jaguar of burying the performance lead with the XE. All three versions offer good acceleration and sublime road manners.

Base 25t models get a 240-hp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, good for 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph. Rear-wheel drive is the only configuration. The XE has a turbodiesel with 180 hp, some lag but excellent mid-range power, and acceleration times of 7.4 seconds. At the top of the range, the XE 35t sports a 340-hp supercharged 3.0-liter V-6; it's a bit gruff but earns its stripes with 5.0-second acceleration times. All are teamed with a sweet-shifting, paddle-controlled 8-speed automatic.

The big reason to choose an XE over its rivals? Ride and handling. The XE's double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension couple with electric power steering for wonderfully responsive handling. The XE tracks exceptionally well on freeways, and gracefully pushes its limits on back roads, with an elevated sense of composure that puts it at the front of this price and size class.

Jaguar XE comfort, safety, and features

By the numbers, the XE measures in at 183.9 inches long, riding on a 111.6-inch wheelbase. The XE has sporty dimensions, and that won't make back-seat passengers happy. The front seats are grippy where it counts, forgiving where they need to be, covered in leather in most cases. It's the back seat that draws complaints: like all the cars in its class save the new A4 and 3-Series, the XE has tightly trimmed head and knee room in back, and the doors make it difficult to clamber inside.

Since neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has crash-tested the Jaguar XE, we're holding off on assigning it a safety score—but we'll point out base models don't offer a rearview camera, and only the most expensive R-Sports get the very latest safety advances, such as forward-collision warnings and automatic braking.

Base prices start from $35,895 on a base gas-powered XE, to $37,395 for the diesel sedan, to $42,695 for the XE 35t; to a gulpworthy $52,695 for XE 35t R-Sport with all-wheel drive. All cars come with power features; power front seats; a sunroof; and keyless ignition. They lack leather, a split-folding rear seat, and leather, but a 5-year, 60,000-mile warranty and service plan is included, and that's just great.

Upper trim levels add navigation; leather; wheels up to 20 inches across (big!), and a package of safety technology; R-Sport models get LED lighting and new front and rear bumpers. Major options include heated rear seats, surround-view cameras, and an 825-watt audio system.

Finally, Jaguar brings its latest InControl infotainment system to the XE in two flavors. There's a standard version with an 8-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth with audio streaming, and USB connectivity. InControl Pro ups the screen size to 10.2 inches and adds SD card navigation, mobile hotspot capability, and access via a remote app that lets drivers perform some functions from their smartphone, such as remote starting and locking or unlocking the vehicle. It's a colorful system with some familiar touch-and-swipe features, but it's occasionally finicky, and it's wedded to a thin-sounding audio system.

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2017 Jaguar XE

Styling

The Jaguar XE keeps its wilder thoughts tucked away in well-tailored but unexciting sheetmetal.

The Jaguar XE reinvents nothing, in terms of styling. Designers have captured the right proportions, but nothing in this class is a sheet-metal standout.

We give the XE a 7 for interior and exterior styling, pointing out that it's better than a 3-Series, while longing for more of the wacky Giulia excesses Jaguar used to make a part of its identity. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The BMW influences are clearest in the Jaguar XE's side view, where it might do a better job even than the 3-Series in summing up the customary sport-sedan look. It's better here, through the kinked roofline and in the pronounced Jaguar nose, decorated on the supercharged S model with a mesh grille and big air intakes. The rear-quarter cutlines do a better job than Munich does at propelling the shape forward, while the tail perfectly restates the Jaguar F-Type's themes in sedan form. The bling is kept in check, save for chromed fender vents and 20-inch wheels—all the better to play up its low, 0.26 coefficient of drag.

The cabin is trimmed in a choice of aluminum, wood, or piano-black trim, and dials up a suitably sporty looks that's not as glitzy as the cockpits of the big XJ and XF sedans. A rotary transmission control dominates the center console, and gauges styled like those on the F-Type are framed by a thick steering wheel. We're torn as to whether the cabin is discreetly in tune with the traditional British persona—or if it's just been dialed back too much, for the sake of fitting in.

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2017 Jaguar XE

Performance

The big reason to choose an XE over its rivals? Ride and handling.

With three engines to choose from, and rear- and all-wheel-drive configurations, the Jaguar XE has the breadth of performance to tackle its big rivals: C-Class, 3-Series, A4.

It takes some of them down at the knees with ride and handling that's as sweetly composed as our best-in-class choice, the Cadillac ATS.

We give the XE an 8 for performance, thanks to its fine transmission and road manners. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Jaguar XE drivetrains

The XE will be offered in its first year with three different engines. In XE 25t form, it gets a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, making 240 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of torque. Jaguar promises a 0-60 mph time of 6.5 seconds, and a top speed of 155 mph. This is the only XE that's only offered with rear-wheel drive.

The XE 20d has a turbocharged diesel 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, making 180 hp and 318 lb-ft and based off the same Ingenium architecture as the XE 25t's gasoline four. Its acceleration is predictably more leisurely, at 7.4 seconds, and top speed is lower, at 140 mph. All-wheel drive is available with the diesel. This powertrain is quiet—remarkably quiet for its kind—smooth, and well-matched to the gearbox. It acts like a small-displacement gasoline turbo, not a surprise given that it's on the same architecture as one, and has a little lag to go with good mid-range grunt.

The XE 35t model sports Jaguar's well-known supercharged 3.0-liter V-6. With 340 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque, the big, graunchy V-6 is set to idle low, so initial impressions mostly consist of thrummy, not so good vibrations. That's erased by a deep dip in the throttle: the supercharged engine drop-kicks the XE from 0-60 mph in 5.0 seconds when it's coupled to all-wheel drive (5.1 seconds with rear-drive) and throws it toward a 155-mph top end.

The now-familiar ZF 8-speed automatic is a friendly, predictable piece. With paddle shifters and well-spaced gears, it launches the XE and clicks off shifts with only a mild bit of shock.

XE ride and handling

Under the aluminum skin, the Jaguar XE rides on a double-wishbone front suspension partly composed of aluminum, while the rear suspension uses a multi-link setup. Its lighter-weight aluminum body and electric power steering all work together to deliver vehicle dynamics easily on par with the best in this class—which we still put in Cadillac's hands, with BMW still in clear contention.

Ride and handling vary among the XE models, thanks to the 17-inch wheels and tires on base cars with the turbo-4, to the 20-inchers stuffed into the wells on V-6 models. Among all our editors, we've sampled all the drivetrains and come back to the same conclusion: the XE has exceptional freeway tracking, like the ATS, and has a fluid, graceful feel that elevates it above the second-tier players in this price and size niche.

In particular, the XE 35t is beautifully consistent at speed, in Sport mode. Its steering doesn't crawl or knuckle its way over the pavement. Likewise, the ride quality is non-adaptive, perfectly damped for a car riding on 19-inch wheels, so long as you don't expect the flying-carpet ride of a vintage Jag. There's a bit of bounding baked into a standard suspension that refuses to clamp down harshly on the road; its tires are just soft enough to smooth the edges of almost everything it encounters. There's an adaptive suspension package offered; we'll update these driving impressions once we've spent more time with it.

The brakes work effectively, though there's clearly room for improvement as future performance models loom over the horizon. They sum up the message: these initial XE sedans are fun weekday drivers, not the inevitable SVR trackboi to come.

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2017 Jaguar XE

Comfort & Quality

With the XE, Jaguar pares down to sporty dimensions, but that won't make back-seat passengers happy.

The Jaguar XE is built on the same aluminum-intensive architecture as the bigger, more expensive XF. It's cut down to compact dimensions—it's a sport sedan, not a luxurious mid-sizer—and that sticks it to adults who need to ride in back for any length of time.

We give the XE a 7 for comfort and quality. The front seats are great, and storage is ample and useful, but in other respects, interior room is just average. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

It's an issue the XE has in common with other cars in its class: the C-Class isn't very big back there, the ATS is practically punitive. By the time a car swells to usable rear-seat size for fully grown adults, it's almost a mid-sizer (3-Series, we're looking at you).

By the numbers, the XE is some 183.9 inches long, and rides on a 111.6-inch wheelbase, measurements that butt right up against the current C-Class.

We've no qualms with the XE's front seats. They grip us where it counts, let up where we don't need to be tackled by overly aggressive upholstery. Base cars get synthetic leather trim; you'll pay more for real hides and heating and ventilation, but at least where we live, they're both worth the upcharge.

The back seat is just plain tight, even more difficult to get in than to sit in. On this shorter-wheelbase sedan, the rear door cuts are small at the bottom and wide at the top. Shoulders slip in easily; feet, not so much. Once inside, a reasonably sized 6-foot adult can sit behind themselves, but we're not promising any grand vistas or excesses of head or knee room.

All models but the base XE have a fold-down rear seat; the trunk is usefully sized at 15.9 cubic feet, and shaped regularly to maximize its usefulness. There's enough in-car storage for all the usual uses, from smartphones to spare change.

The XE's cabin is put together well, though we take some issue with the very plain styling. The swank of the glitzy XJ is all but left on the drawing board here—and the XE seems to go out of its way to create visual drama with concave door panels and a high beltline, which make it seem more cozy and confining than it might be. Some fiddly control placements annoy us, too—why are the window switches up high on the door caps, and the door lock button down low—the opposite of what we expect?

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2017 Jaguar XE

Safety

The XE doesn't have crash-test data yet.

Since neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has crash-tested the Jaguar XE, we're holding off on assigning it a safety score. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

All XE sedans get the usual airbags and stability control.

The XE also offers a passel of active safety equipment in the name of accident prevention. A traction-control system uses sensors to apply power gently and precisely below 19 mph for smoother launches.

Other safety features will include adaptive cruise, blind-spot monitors, parking assist, a laser-projected head-up display, and an autonomous braking system that uses stereo cameras for obstacle detection. Most of these are only available on the most expensive XE R-Sport model.

However, the XE does not have a rearview camera in base trim cars. Outward vision is an issue: the view over the driver's shoulder is almost completely blocked by the wide B-pillar, and the rear glass is slim. 

We'll update this page when more data is available.

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2017 Jaguar XE

Features

Base models are missing some features, but will be rare; Jaguar's service plan can't be beat.

Jaguar sells the XE in trim packages based on powertrain choice—so first, you'll pick between gas and diesel, 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder, rear- and all-wheel drive.

We give the Jaguar XE an 8 out of 10, for its good options list, infotainment, and its warranty and service plan. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The gas-powered turbo-4 only comes in base, Premium, and Prestige trim, with rear-wheel drive. Diesel XEs come in either drivetrain configuration, and in all trim levels: base, Premium, Prestige, and R-Sport. V-6 models cannot be ordered in base trim.

Base prices start from $35,895 on a base gas-powered XE, to $37,395 for the diesel sedan, to $42,695 for the XE 35t; to a gulpworthy $52,695 for XE 35t R-Sport with all-wheel drive.

Base cars get 17-inch wheels; power features; cruise control; automatic climate control; eight-way power front seats; fixed rear seat; paddle shift controls; synthetic leather; sunroof; LED taillights; and keyless ignition. At this level, there's no rearview camera, no leather, no split-folding rear seat—but all cars come with Jaguar EliteCare, which offers bumper-to-bumper warranty and maintenance for 5 years or 60,000 miles. It's a serious reason to consider Jaguar above its luxury rivals.

Jaguar XE option packages

Other features are bundled into those trim packages. Premium models get a folding rear seat; rearview camera; a 380-watt audio system with 11 speakers; and either 17- or 18-inch wheels, depending on whether they're fitted with or 4-cylinder or the 6-cylinder.

The Prestige package is the one we'd start with. It adds navigation with voice control; metallic trim; leather; power front seats; heated steering wheel; keyless entry; 18-inch wheels (4-cylinders); 19-inch wheels (V-6); and heated front seats.

The spicier R-Sport adds blind-spot monitors; parking sensors; forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking; lane-departure warnings with active lane control; satellite radio; automatic high beams; LED daytime running lights; sport seats; an R-Sport front and rear bumpers and side sills.

Notable options in packages include heated seats, steering wheel, and windshield (base and Premium); blind-spot monitors and parking sensors (Premium and Prestige); cooled front and heated rear seats and a power trunklid (Prestige and R-Sport); surround-view camera system, adaptive cruise, and parking assist (R-Sport); and InControl Touch Pro with 825-watt audio (Prestige and R-Sport).

Stand-alone options include that rearview camera; satellite radio; InControl Touch navigation; a head-up display; and adaptive driving modes.

Jaguar XE infotainment and audio

Jaguar brings its latest InControl infotainment system to the XE in two flavors. There's a standard version with an 8.0-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth with audio streaming, and USB connectivity. InControl Pro ups the screen size to 10.2 inches and adds SD card navigation, mobile hotspot capability, and access via a remote app that lets drivers perform some functions from their smartphone, such as remote starting and locking or unlocking the vehicle.

InControl Pro is also able to stream audio directly from apps on a connected Android or Apple smartphone; Spotify is a new addition to the roster. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are not yet a part of the firmware, however.

In our experience, the InControl systems are pretty and have a lovely touch-and-swipe functionality, with smart ideas like star-based favorites accessible across the system. We've also experienced glitchy Bluetooth streaming, stiff radio toggles on the steering wheel, and thin and reedy sound from the Meridian sound systems. In the end, we give it credit for big displays and lots of functions; just double-step the smartphone systems and we'll be happy.

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2017 Jaguar XE

Fuel Economy

The Jaguar XE offers a diesel that's reasonably quick and great on fuel.

Jaguar held off on bringing the XE to the U.S. until it offered a complete range of powertrains. Now that the EPA has certified all its engines and transmissions, the numbers suggest it was worth the wait.

On our scale of 10, the Jaguar XE's fuel economy ratings earn a 7. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

In 4-cylinder turbo form, the XE's numbers are utterly unspectacular. The EPA pegs the rear-drive base car at 21 mpg city, 30 highway, 24 combined. Compared with the 37-mpg highway rating of an Audi A4, the XE is down on its luck.

With the supercharged V-6, the rear-drive XE is rated at an identical 21/30/24 mpg; add all-wheel drive, and it drops to 20/29/23 mpg. 

It's the diesel, of course, that turns in the best figures. It's pegged at 32/42/36 mpg in rear-drive form, 30/40/34 mpg when fitted with all-wheel drive.

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7.4
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Styling 7
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety N/A
Features 8
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