The Jaguar XF is a solid, stylish sports sedan about the size of a BMW 5 Series. The Jaguar has elegant, flowing lines, more interesting than those of the BMW, and the XF has presence, that intangible quality that allows it to stand out in any line of similar luxury sport entries. Underway, the Jaguar XF is smooth, quiet, and comfortable. With a range of powerful engines, the XF delivers strong performance along with responsive handling. As with most sports sedans, the Jaguar XF uses rear-wheel drive for sporty handling and serious performance.
New for the 2013 Jaguar XF, however, is the option of all-wheel drive. All-wheel drive makes the 2013 Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD a compelling choice for driving over snow and ice.
The 2013 Jaguar XF lineup also features new engines and a new 8-speed automatic transmission that improve fuel efficiency.
Four engines are available for the 2013 Jaguar XF, all blown: an impressive new turbocharged 240-hp 2.0-liter inline-4; a superbly powerful and efficient new supercharged 340-hp 3.0-liter V6; a supercharged 470-hp 5.0-liter V8; and a supercharged 510-hp V8. All are outstanding in their own way and all come with new ZF 8-speed automatics.
Jaguar's new Instinctive All-Wheel Drive system brings needed winter capability to the lineup in the form of the 2013 Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD. According to Jaguar North America, 82 percent of luxury cars in the northern two-thirds of the U.S. are currently sold with four-wheel drive. Canada also needs AWD. Jaguar's Instinctive All-Wheel Drive is a fully automatic on-demand system that engages instantaneously when needed and provides a slight rearward bias carefully tailored to suit Jaguar's traditional chassis and handling tastes. All other XF models use traditional rear-wheel drive.
The new supercharged V6 that comes with the 2013 Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD as well as the rear-wheel-drive Jaguar XF 3.0 delivers 340 horsepower. That's 45 horsepower less than the normally aspirated 385-hp 5-liter V8 it replaces, but its performance is far from disappointing, and the new V6 improves fuel economy to an EPA-estimated 28 mpg Highway. On V6 and V8 models, automatic engine start/stop is standard, enhancing fuel savings around town.
The new 240-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that comes on the 2013 Jaguar XF 2.0 returns an EPA-estimated 30 mpg Highway, and lowers base MSRP for the 2013 Jaguar XF to $46,975. The turbocharged four has a wonderful, throaty engine note, and its 240 horsepower propel the XF with real enthusiasm. Two liters or not, it's a true Jaguar.
We found the new ZF 8-speed automatic sequential transmission, present in all 2013 Jaguars, to be excellent. Manipulated with paddle shifters, the 8-speed delivers lightning-quick shifts and, within reason, gives you the shifts you command when you command them. It's yet another example of Jaguar's respect for the driver's judgment.
For 2013, Jaguar continues to offer two wickedly speedy 5.0-liter V8 XFs: the Jaguar XF Supercharged with 470 horsepower and the Jaguar XFR with 510 horsepower.
One of Jaguar's most winsome traits is its resistance to technology for technology's sake, as found at BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi. Jaguar's strategy, instead, is to reduce complexity to benign usefulness. Instead of being needlessly confusing, driving one to the Owner's Manual, the primary precepts of the XF's controls are convenience and usability. One exception is the JaguarDrive Selector pop-up knob for selecting gears, but it's more straightforward than BMW's electronic gear selector.
The Jaguar XF interior is dignified but a good bit plainer than the deluxe XJ. Upon entering and pushing the Start button, the HVAC dash vents scroll open and the JaguarDrive knob pops up to greet you. The leather seating is all you could ask of a luxury sport sedan, and the driving experience ahead in this very adult English sedan is a thing to be looked forward to.
The 2013 Jaguar XF's exterior styling is carried over virtually unchanged from the freshened look of the 2012 model, giving little indication of the added mechanical choices lying beneath.
We parked a 2013 XF next to a contemporary BMW 5 Series and were startled by what we saw. The Jaguar and BMW are very nearly the same size. The 5 Series is nothing if not handsome. Yet next to the BMW, the Jaguar seemed not merely larger but somehow grander, more chic. The XF doesn't merely look fine; it makes an impression, requiring you to take it seriously. Some of this impression may be caused by the XF's relative rarity compared with the ubiquitous 5 Series. But bolstered by Jaguar's recent extremely high quality and reliability ratings, the XF is more than a nice-looking car. It has about it that intangible element, dignity. Even our most-affordable value XF test car had it. In spades.
The Jaguar XF applies a host of high-tech metals like high-carbon steels, dual-phase, bake-hardened steel and hot-formed boron to create a vertical safety ring around its occupant cell. This careful structural engineering pays dividends in everyday driving. Jaguar claims that the XF is the most torsionally rigid car in the class, meaning that it flexes less from end to end under pressure. This overall stiffness and rigidity is one of the factors that separate luxury sedans from less expensive, higher-volume models. It's the foundation for minimizing noise and vibration inside an automobile, and the starting point for dynamic capabilities such as good handling and ride quality.
All Jaguar XFs use quintessentially British wire mesh grille work, but the finish and shapes below the bumper vary with the model. The Jaguar XFR has black mesh and larger openings below the bumper. The Jaguar XF Supercharged hood is fitted with louvers featuring Supercharged script.
The bi-function HID xenon headlights are slim and compact but still incredibly bright, and bordered with LED running lights in Jaguar's signature J-Blade shape. The tail lights use LED elements exclusively, which extend onto the trunk lid.
The body is defined by a single, uninterrupted line flowing from the front bumper to the rear edge of the trunk lid. The beltline, or that character-building crease below the side windows, rises up into the roof while the roof drops down toward the beltline. The effect is a forward-biased wedge shape that creates an impression of speed, even when the XF is at rest. The rear deck is higher than that of any previous Jaguar sedan, but this less-formal look pays dividends in excellent aerodynamics and an expansive trunk.
The basic shape does more than create a high-impact presence. Aerodynamically, the XF is very efficient, with an impressive 0.29 drag coefficient and a front-to-rear aerodynamic lift balance of zero. That means neither end of the car is more inclined than the other to lift in the airflow as speeds increase. The excellent aerodynamics keep the XF stable at high speeds and reduce wind noise inside.
Jaguar interiors have always had a nice clubby feel, with beautiful leather seating and ample wood inlays to make the point. The contemporary Jaguar XF interior continues this tradition, but it is somewhat less formal and more straightforward.
Our Jaguar XF had handsome Figured Ebony veneer, one of several veneer choices. But the dominant theme on the dashboard was a broad expanse of scored aluminum running from door panel around the dash to door panel, bright and handsomely adorned with instrumentation. It lacked the clubby warmth of the premium XJ line, but exhibited a flinty pragmatism all its own. Unencumbered by improperly complex technology, it made us want to get in and drive.
Slide into the XF with the proximity key in purse or pocket, and the Start button glows, ready to be pushed. Press it, and the vents rotate in the dash, exposing the registers. The gear selector is a big, aluminum dial-knob that rises from the center console when the engine fires up. It's unique, nicer than the drive-by-wire shifters other luxury manufactures have developed, and more functional. Jaguar claims this electronic selector will keep working even if it's drenched with a half-gallon of coffee.
The speedometer is quite small, with small numbers and a thick indicator needle, making it difficult to determine a precise speed reading, which can be unsettling when certain civil servants are following you in a speed zone. The combination of small speed gauge lines and a fat needle made us wish fondly (and for the first time) for a digital speed readout. Fortunately, such a digital speedometer is among the options in the trip-odometer Info bulletin board between the speedometer and the tachometer. So there's our digital readout.
The tachometer was similarly small, running up to its 6500-rpm redline. With the superb Jaguar 8-speed automatic sequential transmission, which precludes over-revving either while upshifting or downshifting, a tachometer is becoming less relevant, more and more a curiosity. However, it does let you know how low your revs are when you're trying for maximum highway mileage. The XF was quite happy gurgling along at a low 1700 rpm on the Interstate, getting a reasonable 28 mpg.
Between the speedo and the tachometer, the Info screen delivers trip mileage, fuel range, miles per gallon, average speed, and as mentioned, digital present speed. Above this is an analog clock, a linear bar fuel gauge, and at the top, a linear gear indicator, activated when the paddle-shifters are used. When the paddles are not used, a generic fully automatic PRNDS transmission indicator is displayed.
The center stack's premier element is a fine touch-screen monitor, controlling audio, navigation, phone and climate controls. The difficulty with many touch-screens is that if their targets are too small to touch accurately, it can be difficult to make a selection while simultaneously driving over bumpy or curvy terrain. The Jaguar targets were reasonably sized, though you needed to take aim and only occasionally needed a second shot. Fine.
The audio in our test car had Sirius satellite and a fine optional 380-Watt Meridian sound system, which performed admirably, with no distortion when played louder than human tolerance. Better still, controls for manipulating stations and presets with AM/FM/Sirius were instantly intuitive. In the face of German cars with over-engineered audio-system tuning, no one even dares mention the term good ergonomics anymore. But the XF audio's ergonomics are brilliant.
Below the touch-screen is a row of buttons controlling door locks, screen on/off, hazard lights, the navigation screen, phone and main menu. Beneath these, audio volume controls and the XF climate control are, again, efficient and mercifully self-explanatory. Switch the climate control off, and the four aluminum dashboard vent doors scroll shut. Also located here are buttons for front and rear defrosters, front seat heater/coolers and air recirculation.
The center console's main feature, of course, is the pop-up knob aluminum PRNDS transmission shifter, which retracts flush with the console surface when the engine is not running. To the rear of this knob are buttons for Winter Mode, Stability Control/Off and automatic speed control, the latter protecting against the natural impulse to gradually drive faster and faster on long trips. The Jaguar switchgear are of high quality and reassuring tactile strength throughout.
Our Jaguar XF Portfolio Package had soft-grain black-leather heated-and-cooled seats with 16-way adjustment for the driver and 12-way adjustment for the front passenger. With contrasting white stitching, they were handsome and blessed with the wonderful aroma of good leather. They also had good lumbar and side-bolster adjustment, allowing an extremely personal fitment for either performance driving or long-distance cruising. In combination with properly fitted elbow rests in the door and on the console, a balanced driving position with hands at 10 and 2 o'clock can be maintained comfortably all day and all night.
The Jaguar steering wheel has the usual remotes for adjusting cruise control and audio, but they are thumbwheels placed flat in the spokes of the wheel, not protruding from its edges where they can be accidentally brushed during maneuvering. And in the lower center of the wheel is an iconic, wonderfully Mayan Jaguar's head, the growler, watching your every move. Nice.
Cubby storage in the XF is decent as luxury cars go, but not as complete as some mainstream sedans and family vehicles. The center console is wide, almost as we'd expect in a big sports car. Touch-release covers reveal easy-to-reach cupholders. Bins at the bottoms of the doors aren't very deep, but they're wide enough to lay a phone flat and lined with a soft material that keeps glasses and other delicate items from sliding or scratching. The main bin in the center console isn't large enough to hide a standard-size laptop, but there's plenty of room for cameras or a lot of CDs. There's also an easy-access power point and iPod/auxiliary jacks, with a secure place to leave the plugged-in MP3 player while driving.
If the XF's accommodations fall short of the competition, it's behind the front seats. The rear seat itself is comfortable, with decent side bolstering for the outside passengers, using the same fine materials as in front. Yet the rear space seems more confining than the roomiest cars in this class, regardless of what the published measurements suggest. Rear passengers up to 5 feet, 8 inches will find plenty of space, but taller riders might get squeezed on leg and headroom. The back seat also has fewer amenities then some competitors. There's a power point and two amiable vents on the back of the center console, but no temperature control or fan. Storage options are limited to the fold-out pockets on the front seatbacks (good), and small bins at the bottom of the rear doors (bad). Cupholders are provided in the fold-down armrest, but they're not very deep or very good at holding cups.
The XF trunk is among the largest in class. With 17.7 cubic feet of space, it's bigger than the trunk in some full-size luxury sedans, and it's lined with carpet that's richer than that used inside some cars.
To add more cargo capacity, the XF is available with a split, folding rear seat, with clever releases that allow lowering the seatbacks from the trunk without going inside the car. This expands cargo space another 14.8 cubic feet, for an enormous 32.5 cubic feet. Perhaps as significantly, the folding seat allows alternate access to the cargo area, by leaning in through the rear side doors.
That's a lot of storage, to be sure, but loading large items could take some work, and the XF's styling is partly to blame. The rear deck or trunk lid is fairly short, and a lot of the cargo space stretches forward under the rear window, so the trunk opening is fairly small. The load floor narrows significantly between the rear wheels, and the bulkhead behind the rear seatbacks limits the height of items that will slide through. In short, there's a lot of cargo space, but it works best for a lot of smaller items. In the XF, the size of individual items is limited.
With its dramatically expanded variety of powerplants, ranging from a turbocharged four-cylinder to supercharged V6s and V8s, the 2013 Jaguar XF offers numerous levels of performance and efficiency, each delivered in a highly accomplished medium-size sport-luxury sedan.
The high-performance supercharged XFR will still streak from zero to 60 miles per hour in just 4.7 seconds, competitive with the quickest cars in its class. The Supercharged XF moves to 60 not much behind, in 4.9 seconds, with both V8 engines getting 15/23 mpg City/Highway. But the new supercharged V6 gets to 60 in a brisk 5.7 seconds while achieving 18/28 mpg. And the turbocharged four-cylinder achieves 60 in 7.5 seconds and manages 19/29 mpg. (We consider the 8-second mark generally separates the quick and the slow in 0-60 mph acceleration comparisons.)
It's important to note that, despite their varied performance and efficiency, every one of these models, including the entry-level four-cylinder we tested, feels vigorous, responsive and every bit a Jaguar. All offer strong competition for the large- or small-displacement sport-luxuries in their class, and typical of Jaguar, all deliver good value.
We approached the turbocharged four with skepticism. We were fully prepared to find a buzzy, shrill little engine hobbled by turbo lag, that annoying delayed throttle response, then sudden surge of power, typical of many turbo engines. Such performance would be anything but Jaguar-like.
But our expectations proved unfounded. The inline-4 had remarkably linear throttle response from start and when the throttle was released and reapplied vigorously; the engine had all the benefits of turbocharged power with few of the penalties. Also startling was the engine note. Far from buzzy or shrill, it had a throaty, authoritative grumble that sounded nothing like a diminutive two-liter. Jaguar has done a spectacular job of tuning the exhaust for a confident tone befitting a substantial sport-luxury sedan.
Deserving of very special mention is the new-for-2013 Instinctive All-Wheel Drive now available on the XF. We mentioned the relative rarity of XFs on the road, and the cause of this rarity is plain; in the past few years, XF's competitors from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have taken full advantage of the fact that Jaguar had no all-wheel drive. Now, finally, Jaguar has rectified that lack, and we had an intensive drive with the Jaguar XF AWD in Quebec's frozen mid-winter Laurentians.
This all-wheel-drive is fully automatic and on-demand, engaging instantly whenever needed, and it is sensationally effective. Using a system of electronic clutches to transfer power to the front wheel when needed, it follows Jaguar tradition by being somewhat rear-drive biased. But even driven enthusiastically on snow and ice, the system delivers balanced, grippy drive force that is the match for its German competitors. If wet or snowy weather is a concern in your area, the XF must now be added to the list of serious mid-size luxury combatants.
Similarly successful, spectacularly so, is the new-for-2013 8-speed automatic sequential transmission. Once you have selected D, for Drive, with the big shift knob on the console, you may let the transmission make all the decisions for itself automatically, which it will blissfully do. In daily commuter traffic, that will be most drivers' choice. But the XF is a performance-oriented sport-luxury, and getting the best out of the drivetrain means using the excellent, lightning-quick Jaguar paddle shifters behind the steering wheel.
If you are seriously intent on good performance, at the cost, of course, of some fuel mileage, you will shift the aluminum knob on the console from Drive to Sport. Immediately, the engine note changes as the throttle and shift mapping is changed. In Sport, the transmission holds each gear higher up through the rev range before shifting. With all XF models, the days of false-alarm onboard reprogramming that really does nothing at all are gone. Using Sport and shifting manually with the paddles, the chassis comes alive. What was a quiet, smooth, unruffled luxury commuter is suddenly an aggressive, run-for-daylight apex-strafer. Turbo four to supercharged XFR, the car in your hands is a pur sang, hard-cornering demon, the car you dream of crossing the Alps in, even if this is only Sunset Boulevard.
Not enough can be said of this 8-speed transmission. Its fast, glass-smooth shifts allow constant refinement of engine speed that will suit the driver's wishes. If cruising gently in Drive, the transmission slips softly down into the lowest efficient gear for fuel mileage. And if going for the lap record, each flip of a paddle brings the right amount of engine braking or continued acceleration, all with effortless elegance that is beyond pleasurable.
The XF variable-ratio steering was developed to reduce parking effort at low speeds while maintaining precision and feedback at higher speeds. Jaguar has weighted it carefully, avoiding the airy, no-effort feel that's become all too common in this class. Nor is the XF's steering overly quick, wherein a little twitch sends you to the next lane over. It is nicely linear, with no dead spot in the center. Turn the XF's steering wheel a little and the car turns immediately, but only a little. Lane changes are accomplished at interstate speeds with an eighth of a turn. The XF tracks neatly into bigger, slower curves, always where the driver aims it.
Complementing good steering feel, the XF has an excellent ride and handling balance. It rides firmly, but it glides over most bumps, and the reward for firmness is that it doesn't lean in fast curves. It stays level front to rear under hard braking or hard acceleration, and it's stable as granite at high speeds.
JaguarDrive Control is a feature that lets the driver tailor various functions to taste with a single adjustment. This system incorporates most electronic control programs, including: How early or late the transmission shifts; the throttle map, or how much the engine accelerates for a given dip of the gas pedal; and the Dynamic Stability Control, or skid-management electronics.
The driver can switch through three options. Winter is the most conservative: The transmission shifts up at low engine speeds, the throttle works lightly and the DSC intervenes quickly, all useful in slippery conditions. Dynamic is the most aggressive setting, best for driving hard in dry conditions. There is also a set-and-forget Automatic mode.
Still, the slickest electronic systems aren't worth much if the underlying mechanical components aren't up to snuff. The XF's are first-rate. It starts with a tight, flex-free unitized chassis and body, the foundation for all of the car's dynamic behavior. The suspension uses a sophisticated multi-link arrangement in back and aluminum components to reduce weight and improve response time. The Supercharged and XFR models also have Adaptive Dynamics, a damping system which automatically adjusts shock absorber settings to suit both road conditions and the way the vehicle is being driven.
A drive in the rain demonstrate two important things: First, the XF is inherently balanced, meaning it's no more prone to slide on its front tires than it is to spin out at the rear; and second, the Dynamic Stability Control does a great job. In the Automatic mode, where most drivers will keep it, the DSC works early, throttling the engine back or tapping the brakes before the driver anticipates that one end of the car or the other might be sliding.
Those who want to see a little more of what the XF can do may choose the Dynamic mode. This allows the XF to move a bit more laterally, and it allows the driver to slide the car a little, as enthusiast drivers are wont to do, before the DSC clamps down.
Especially when equipped with all-wheel drive, the XF delivers the best of all worlds: A comfortable ride, responsive, consistent handling, stress-free, secure skid-management in the rain or a bit of latitude that allows capable drivers to express themselves.
The brakes are outstanding. All models have large rotors and calipers, and the brake pedal has a consistent solid feel. It's progressive in application, meaning that a little bit of pedal delivers a little bit of deceleration, while a lot of pedal stops the XF right now. In repeated hard applications, furthermore, there is no hint of brake fade.
Dynamically, the XF is first rate, but performance is only one requirement in this class. Luxury buyers expect extra-smooth, quiet operation and the XF excels there as well.
Cruising at 70 mph is generally a serene experience, with minimal wind noise to interrupt the solitude. The biggest noise-maker might be the low-profile sport tires available on the Supercharged and XFR, because they can crack soundly over pavement seems. And of course, in the bigger-engined XFs, cracking open the throttle may wake up the slow lane. All around, the XF is a thoroughly wonderful ride, with fewer of the cookie-cutter qualities that increasingly pervade this class of all-things-to-everyone luxury cars.
If we have a complaint, it would be the slightly less-than-average outward visibility, due in part to the XF's sexy exterior design and roofline. We wouldn't call it bad, but in any direction other than forward, the view out of the XF is more restricted than we'd expect. The side mirrors aren't small, and with the steeply raked windshield pillars, they form a triangle of mass that blocks chunks of vision when the driver glances slightly left or right, as when pulling from a parking lot onto a busy street. The rear glass is expansive, but it's raked at a long, flat, coupe-like angle, so the view through the rearview mirror is short.
It takes a while to get comfortable with the XF's mirrors, and to set them in a fashion that minimizes over-the-shoulder glances in traffic. We found the blind spot warning valuable and easy to use. Backing up, rear park assist helped, with audible beeps and a graphic display on the touch screen, while front parking warnings also proved useful. We strongly recommend the optional rearview camera in this car, given the relatively high rear deck and the narrow view through the rear window. Besides making parking quicker and more efficient, it can help the driver spot a post or, more important, a small child behind the car when backing up.
If you seek a sport luxury sedan that will stand apart from the hordes of Audi A6s, BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class, and Lexus GSs on the street, a Jaguar XF is worthy of your consideration. It has performance, reliability, capability, comfort, and a unique presence that sets it apart from the crowd. But above all, the winsome driving experience of this Jaguar, whether commuting in town at midweek, or flying through the country on weekend, may convince you that it has style and charm few fine sedans can match.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Ted West reported from Quebec, with Sam Moses reporting from Portland and J.P. Vettraino in Detroit.
Build and price your dream Jaguar XF in just a few easy steps.
|Build & Price|
2013 Jaguar XF$39,991 | 5,726 mi
2013 Jaguar XF$41,991 | 9,177 mi
2013 Jaguar XF$49,981 | 6,692 mi
2013 Jaguar XF$49,999 | 4,020 mi
2012 Jaguar XF$39,995 | 9,721 mi
2012 Jaguar XF$43,991 | 15,496 mi
2012 Jaguar XF$45,995 | 6,051 mi
2011 Jaguar XF$33,995 | 55,648 mi
2011 Jaguar XF$36,995 | 15,339 mi
2011 Jaguar XF$39,991 | 9,778 mi
2010 Jaguar XF$27,888 | 56,533 mi
2010 Jaguar XF$28,988 | 49,890 mi
2009 Jaguar XF$25,995 | 59,141 mi