2016 Jaguar XF Review

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2018
The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
June 28, 2016

The 2016 Jaguar XF may be made of aluminum, but it's no lightweight anymore in rear-seat space or nimble handling.

Some of the world's best luxury cars are mid-size sedans—E-Class, 5-Series, A6, and CTS—by our yardstick. Those cars will need to make room for another four-door soon. With the 2016 XF, it's Jaguar's turn to join those elite ranks.

The XF has been on sale since 2009, and well-received, if not top-tier. The first-generation car was a sleek steel-bodied sedan with a striking interior, but it was hampered by a cramped back seat and iffy touchscreen controls.

All that's been broomed, as the XF becomes the latest Jaguar to get a body made of glued-and-riveted aluminum. It cuts curb weight and permits big changes in the rear seat, turning the XF into a no-compromises sport sedan that clearly has plenty left in its tank for ultra-high-performance, V-8-powered versions to come.

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As it stands, with a choice of V-6 or coming diesel power, the XF is an excellent effort, with—finally—competitive interior space to go with its forgiving, supple dynamics.

The XF's well-wrought and handsome, with a straightforward style that's elegant, and spare. The grille pulls forward from the car, flanked by slim headlamps that arc upward in a "J" shape, and sit on big air intakes. It's subdued but sporty in the same way that Jaguar's next sedan, the compact XE, carries off well, and that's no surprise, since from the fender vents to the tilt of the front glass, the XE and XF are near-twins. At the rear of its roofline, the XF breaks away from the XE with a longer roofline and forward-canted roof pillars that give it the space to tuck in a third window behind the rear doors. The rear fascia cuts through some of the bulk of the rear end with a steep cutline.

In the XF's cockpit, Jaguar's toned down the jazzy, glitzy notes of the past XF and traded it for a layout dominated by touchscreens and pared down of details elsewhere. Some versions drop conventional gauges for a digital panel display atop the steering wheel, and the air vents are slimmer and turned up at the corners to leave more space for a larger touchscreen display atop the center stack. In other ways—the clean rectilinear shapes, the rotary control placement—the XF is the XE's fraternal twin.

Balance is the XF's hallmark; it's quick and nimble, and somewhat more softly tuned than its rivals.

Power in the XF comes from either of two supercharged V-6 engines. As in the F-Type sports car, the same basic engine design is tuned to produce two different outputs, either 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, in the lower-output edition, or 380 hp and identical torque in the uprated version. In either case, the manual transmission found in the XE sedan and now the F-Type too, is absent, at least for the first model year. An 8-speed automatic will be the sole transmission to start.

The combination makes for strong acceleration, though the quick 0-60 mph times of 5.0 seconds for rear-drive, 380-hp sedans are joined by the usual V-6 thrumble. The engine's been fitted with a balance shaft for smoother operation, but there's no mistaking it for a burbling V-8.

All-wheel drive will be an option on some XF sedans. Power is distributed as needed with the help of Jaguar's Intelligent Driveline Dynamics system; the XF also gets a novel traction control system that governs the brakes and throttle in low-friction launch scenarios, as the similar system does in the F-Type.

The XF rides atop a suspension with twin wishbones at the front wheels and an integral-link setup at the rear. Jaguar claims ideal 50/50 weight distribution. A set of adaptive dampers are available, and a set of driver-selectable programs can tailor the XF's ride quality, electric power-steering assist, throttle, and shift timing and speed through the usual sport and comfort modes. The result? A supple-riding car with direct but light steering and forgiving handling—a rival for a Cadillac CTS VSport or an Audi S6/S7, with less of the overwhelming firmness.

The XF's interior is neatly finished and spacious; the rear seat is finally friendly to adults, and the trunk's huge. Built from aluminum, the XF trades some of its curb weight for better packaging. Some versions are up to 265 pounds lighter than the previous XF—but have better rear-seat room, by far, though the new car is a touch shorter. Four adults can sit very comfortably, and there's no worrying for claustrophobics in the back seat, as was the case before.

No crash-test scores are available, but the XF's bonded body structure and safety technology give it a leg up. We're curious to see how its aluminum structure will fare in Federal and insurance-industry tests. The safety technology offered on the XF is state of the art, including surround-view cameras, full LED headlights, a laser-projected head-up display, adaptive cruise, blind-spot monitors, parking assist, and an autonomous braking system that uses stereo cameras to detect obstacles and to trigger the car to stop on its own.

From in-car wireless Internet to InControl Touch Pro, the XF vastly upgrades its infotainment and tech offerings as well. On the infotainment front, the XF will offer a choice between the new InControl Touch smartphone-connectivity interface and an 8.0-inch touchscreen, or a new version with a 10.2-inch touchscreen, faster processing speeds, and a coordinating 12.3-inch instrument panel like the one found in the Range Rover.

It's the supercharged V-6 for now, but soon the XF will offer fuel-sipping 4-cylinder models—both gas and turbodiesel, the latter with fuel economy of up to 40 mpg highway. At launch, the XF will sport gas-mileage ratings of 20 mpg city, 30 highway, 24 combined for rear-wheel-drive models.

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2016 Jaguar XF

Styling

The XF's well-wrought and handsome, with a straightforward style that's elegant, and spare.

Attractively proportioned and handsomely detailed, the 2016 Jaguar XF is a well-conceived replacement for a sedan that was often called the most beautiful in its class. It's quite close in style to the smaller 2017 Jaguar XE—which is to be expected, since they share an aluminum architecture.

From the fender vents to the tilt of the front glass, the XE and XF are near-twins. The XF wears a rectangular framed grille similar to the one on the XE, flanked by big air intakes below and slim headlamps that arc upward as they wrap around the front end.

From the side, the XF begins to distance itself from the XE with a third light—an extra window that elongates the roofline at the rear. It tucks it under a roofline with a more gradual slope and pillars canted forward. To slim out the shape, the XF masks the height of its rear end with a more steeply cut rear fascia. There's one simple way to tell the two sedans apart in the dark: the XF's taillights have twin circular insets—where the XE, like the F-Type sports car, has just one per side.

Inside, the XF has an airy, elegant feel, with a clearly organized, almost spartan rigor that's a blessing in an era of luxury cars from Germany are adding clickers, switches, and chrome aplenty. Above the cabin's midline there's a "riva" line, a boat-industry cue that curves the dash around the whole cockpit to draw in occupants more closely. In the XF, it creates some relaxing visual space above the dash.

Below that horizon line, the XF's dash is defined by a touchscreen display that governs most of its user interfaces. Base models have an 8.0-inch screen featuring Jaguar's new InTouch interface, and beneath that, strips of small switches for climate and audio functions, marked well in clear, big letters and icons. On more advanced models, the screen grows to 10.3 inches and is paired with another 12.3-inch screen that replaces the gauges, governed by InTouch Pro. Those buttons get subsumed into the touchscreen on Pro.

With a big variety in trim and color choices, the XF can go from Germanic and sober inside, to semi-Scandinavian, to bawdy and British—depending on whether you choose black on black, or a wan whitewashed-wood treatment, or one trimmed in lipstick red.

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9

2016 Jaguar XF

Performance

Balance is the XF's hallmark; it's quick and nimble, and somewhat more softly tuned than its rivals.

After driving the 2016 XF over hundreds of kilometers in Spain, on public roads and on the track, it's clear a magnitude of progress has been made. The old XF wasn't a laggard, per se; the new one's just a much more fluid performer that just needs the vivid acceleration of a V-8-powered R edition to bring it all into focus. 

There's plenty of room in the existential tank left for an R, too. At launch, the XF will come with a pair of supercharged V-6 engines giving it brisk acceleration. In different tunes, the supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 puts out either 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, in lower-output tune, or 380 hp and identical torque in the uprated XF S.

The thrust is considerable. Jaguar pegs 0-60 mph times for the 380-hp, all-wheel-drive XF S at 5 seconds, and its top speed at a limited 155 mph. Rear-drive cars take a tick longer to launch to 60 mph. It's quick to launch thanks to the choice of supercharging versus turbocharging—you just have to grow to appreciate the grotty V-6 rumble, even with a balance shaft present, coupled with a little supercharger whine. It's a unique British world of noise and vibration, and not terribly evocative, but not objectionable inside the cabin, where most of it's blotted out with considerable sound deadening.

We're curious to see how shoppers will respond to the turbodiesel. It's quick, at 7.7 seconds to 60 mph, but has a classically narrow powerband that's the polar opposite of a rev-happy sport-sedan powerplant. Max torque shows up between 1,750 rpm and 2,500 rpm, where the diesel noise profile mellows out—but there's only a couple thousand rpm left. Switching the transmission into Sport mode and shifting via paddles makes things interesting, but we wonder if the way it delivers performance is just antithetical to what's expected in a Jaguar—no crackling V-8 exhaust, no copious amounts of exhaust overrun.

An 8-speed paddle-shifted automatic is the sole transmission at launch, though Jaguar has a manual shifter in its parts bin now. It's the familiar ZF 8-speed, with almost faultless gear selection and smooth shift engagement—and rapid gear changes when Sport mode comes in to play.

All-wheel drive will be an option on some XF sedans. It's a chain-driven setup, with power distributed from the rear to the front as needed. The XF also gets a novel traction control system that governs the brakes and throttle in low-friction launch scenarios, as the similar system does in the F-Type. The XF's stability control system also incorporates a torque-vectoring function which brakes an inside wheel in corners for better responsiveness.

Wherever you come down on powertrain, the XF backs it up with sublime handling that has more supple, forgiving feel than, say, a Cadillac CTS VSport or an S6/S7.

Our XF drive gave us plenty of seat time in the diesel and supercharged V-6, on glassy-smooth roads and on the Circuito de Navarra, a pristine racetrack in Basque country, and on those roads, the XF's composed, clear-headed handling stood out. It's one of those cars that immediately feels familiar, and reassuring, when you hustle. Credit some of it to near-perfect roads and conditions, to premium adaptive suspensions and to grippy summer tires, but the Jaguar XF obviously has some hardcore talent wrought into its aluminum bits.

The basics include a double-wishbone front suspension and an integral-link rear. Some versions can be equipped with a set of adaptive air dampers. Jaguar's flavor of driving modes lets the XF adopt different programming for its steering, throttle, transmission, and dampers, depending on which mode is selected. The usual economy, normal, and sport modes are joined by a track mode and a low-speed low-speed launch mode that pre-loads light throttle for crisp launches in slippery conditions.

It's a well-balanced car—Jaguar says there's a classic 50/50 weight distribution at work in giving the XF a lovely, neutral feel. The all-wheel-drive models feel at home on the track, even though there's more compliance in its suspension tuning, more body lean and lighter steering than in some rivals. On public roads, it feels ideally set up for kicking up the dust on a set of favorite corners, then settling into a 100-mile lope. The steering dials into corners accurately, and the automatic snaps off immediate shifts at the click of a paddle switch.

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2016 Jaguar XF

Comfort & Quality

The XF's interior is neatly finished and spacious; the rear seat is finally friendly to adults, and the trunk's huge.

The new XF has some history to overcome. The first-generation XF sedan was a beautiful car, but it felt confined for all passengers, especially those wedged in the back.

With the change to an aluminum body, Jaguar was able to completely reshape the XF's passenger space, giving the rear seat higher priority—and more space, period—while cutting curb weight by 132 to 265 pounds depending on the drivetrain, Jaguar says.

The new car is marginally shorter, by about one-third of an inch, from the last XF, but its wheelbase is up 2 inches. Overall height is lower by one-eighth of an inch, but the profile actually provides an inch more knee and head room—all in a design that caps out at about 3,900 pounds in its heaviest form.

Inside, the XF's sport seats are plainly shaped, with low bolsters on sides that could rise higher and more firmly—and likely will, when it becomes a more powerful XFR sport sedan. The center tunnel is wide, and though the XF itself is relatively wide too, it staggers some of that extra width to the left of the driver and steering column. Inboard, the console sits right on the driver's knee.

In back, the XF is cured of its fastback-roofline blues: the gains in interior volume give the XF a real rear seat. Six-foot adults can fit, finally, in the back and they won't be complaining about head or leg room. Their baggage is welcome, too: the squared-off trunk is immense, at a Taurus-like 19.1 cubic feet.

Small-item storage is fine inside the car, too. USB ports are tucked into the console if you want to stream and charge in privacy. Small pockets are molded into the doors; they have squared-off slots for water bottles, but aren't quite big enough for a Fiji.

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2016 Jaguar XF

Safety

No crash-test scores are available, but the XF's bonded body structure and safety technology give it a leg up.

We're still curious about, and waiting for the various crash-test agencies to test, how strong Jaguar's latest glued-and-riveted aluminum bodies are.

To date, neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has put one of the brand's lighter-weight cars through its crash-test programs.

To protect passengers above and beyond the novel, aerospace-style construction, the 2016 XF also adopts a slew of safety technologies, some new within the past few years. Along with standard airbags and stability control, the XF will come with a standard rearview camera and Bluetooth. On the options list: full LED headlights; a set of surround-view cameras; a laser-projected head-up display; adaptive cruise control; blind-spot monitors; automatic parking assist; and an autonomous braking system that uses stereo cameras to detect obstacles and to trigger the car to stop on its own.

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2016 Jaguar XF

Features

From in-car wireless internet to InControl Touch Pro, the XF vastly upgrades its infotainment and tech offerings.

The 2016 XF hits showrooms this fall, more attractively priced than last year, and equipped with a longer warranty and service plan. Sold in Premium, Prestige, and R-Sport trims, the supercharged V-6 starts at $52,895 including destination—a price that pits it directly against its rivals. Prices will rise to $66,695 for an all-wheel-drive XF S.

Our initial drives in the XF on European soil have given us a taste for the customization options that will be available on the new XF—choices of leather and trim. All cars have standard features such as power windows, locks, and mirrors; cruise control; automatic climate control; and a touchscreen.

That touchscreen setup for the XF's infotainment will come in two flavors. The standard setup is dubbed InControl Touch. Centered around an 8.0-inch touchscreen, with backup steering-wheel controls and voice commands, it runs the car's phone, audio, navigation, and some climate-control functions.

Upgrade to the InControl Touch Pro system, and the XF adopts a more advanced set of capabilities, with a 10.2-inch touchscreen, faster processing speeds, and an accompanying 12.3-inch instrument panel like the one found in the Range Rover. InControl Touch Pro offers pinch and zoom control for the touchscreen as well as a customizable home screen, gesture controls, and four skins—visual themes from "graphic" to "journey."

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2016 Jaguar XF

Fuel Economy

It's supercharged V-6 for now, but soon the XF will offer fuel-sipping 4-cylinder models—both gas and turbodiesel.

For its initial months on sale, the Jaguar XF will come only with a choice between supercharged V-6 engines with two different power levels. They're so closely related, their fuel economy ratings are identical. At 20 mpg city, 30 highway, 24 combined, for rear-drive XF sedans, that's a nearly 9-percent improvement over comparable XF sedans from just a year ago. All-wheel drive models manage 20/28/23 mpg.

Two new 4-cylinder engines will become available in calendar-year 2016, and will boost fuel economy figures considerably. First to arrive in mid-2016 will be a turbodiesel 4-cylinder with 178 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque. Jaguar estimates those cars will reach 40 mpg on the highway. A gasoline-fed turbocharged inline-4 shows up after the diesel, but it's unclear what mileage it may return.

The turbodiesel engine will be available for a $1,500 premium on some trim levels. The turbocharged gas 4-cylinder will sport a base price "well under $50,000" when it goes on sale.

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October 18, 2016
2016 Jaguar XF 4-Door Sedan 35t Premium RWD

Good balance between road holding of a BMW and cruising comfort of a Mercedes

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Having had BMW and Mercedes cars prior to the Jaguar I am very pleased with the all round driving experience, great motorway cruiser and very agile on twisting minor roads. I have had my XF since December 2015... + More »
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August 27, 2016
2016 Jaguar XF 4-Door Sedan 35t Prestige RWD

Really ? This is a Jaguar?

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Bye, Mercedes, BMW, others. Hello Jaguar for fun, comfort, styling. 1st Jaguar ever owned and am absolutely delighted with the car. Have owned many different cars over time, but this one pulls the heat strings... + More »
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