The 2018 Jaguar E-Pace is the brand's newest and arguably the most important part of its expansion into the SUV segments. This compact model seats five, starts at a reasonably price, and matches the handsome styling of other Jaguar products. It delivers a planted and confident drive, although the lagging drivetrain tempers our praise.

Best Value

The Jaguar E-Pace's trim walk is complicated – a base model, S, and SE typify the mainstream P250, while the more powerful R-Dynamic featuring S, SE, and HSE variants. And for its first model year, there's even an E-Pace First Edition. The middling E-Pace SE P250 is the smartest buy, though, ringing up at a reasonable $45,295, a hearty $5,700 over the E-Pace's starting price but bringing plenty of gear along for the ride.

It features LED headlights with automatic high beams, plush leather upholstery, a 380-watt, 11-speaker audio system, a powered tailgate, and a few important active safety systems, like lane-keep assist and automatic emergency braking.

Unless your color choice is Fuji White, you’ll pay the $590 extra for one of seven metallic paint choices or $1,200 for a pair of high-end metallic colors. We chose the middle ground as it offers a wide selection of patinas. It's easy to elevate the E-Pace's price with upgraded leather upholstery, bigger wheels, and a classy black styling pack – avoid them if you can. Instead, we'd grab the heated, 14-way front seats, the head-up display and digital instrument cluster, the Cold Climate Package, and the 360-degree camera rig to get an E-Pace that is just a hair over $49,000 but that will satisfy the needs of 99.99 percent of owners.

  • Model: 2018 Jaguar E-Pace SE P250
  • Engine: 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder
  • Output: 246 hp / 269 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
  • MPG: 21 City / 27 Hwy
  • Options: Metallic paint ($590), 14-way heated front seats with memory ($510), head-up display ($970), digital instrument cluster ($565), Cold Climate Package ($795, heated steering wheel, heated windshield, heated wiper jets, soft-grain leather steering wheel), 360-degree camera ($360)
  • Base Price: $45,295 (including $995 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $49,085

Performance

Jaguar E-Pace

Jaguar and Land Rover are joined at the hip, so it’s no surprise that the 2018 E-Pace has a similar platform to the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport. The Jaguar offers a pair of all-wheel drive systems, with the top one ported directly from the Evoque, making for a strong selling point for this model. Otherwise, the standard arrangement is pleasant, although not as inspiring.

The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers 246 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. A version of this engine has extra boost, raising performance to 296 horsepower on select trims. The engine is loud, even obnoxious from the outside, but at least the cabin is sufficiently quieted. The nine-speed automatic transmission seems indecisive at times, especially at the low end. As for the top-spec model, getting to 60 miles per hour in less than six seconds is within your reach.

Style

The lines of the F-Pace carryover to the E-Pace and that’s a good thing. Other than that, it borrows some shapes from other manufacturers. Its grille matches the size of this SUV, but the thin headlights seem misplaced at the lower fascia. Handsome overhangs add muscle, although the faux ducts just seem wrong on this model.

Inside, the environment is small, as expected, with its chief strengths found in the comfortable and supportive design of the front seats as well as the generous amount of cargo space. The sight lines are quite good thanks to the high-set seats and short hood. The back seat is much more tolerable than you might expect, with three able to sit in relative comfort, at least for short trips.

Folding down the rear seat supplies 52.7 cubic feet of cargo space, more than double the standard 24.2 cubic feet. In comparison, the competing INFINITI QX30 offers just 34.0 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.

The Best and Worst Things

The Jaguar is fun to drive, especially in its top trim guise with extra power and the upgraded all-wheel drive system supporting it.

The low starting price quickly vanishes as you add options. Fully loaded and its top price pushes near $60,000.

Right For? Wrong For?

Jaguar E-Pace

Customers wanting to give the Jaguar brand a try will gravitate to the E-Pace. The XE sedan is less costly, but the SUV supplies the storage space.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for ample room for five, your search should begin with the F-Pace.

The Bottom Line

Jaguar delivers a sub-$40,000 crossover, but that’s only a starting point for this model. Any trim above it offers a more luxurious and better appointed cabin. Competition in this segment is fierce with every luxury manufacturer participating. The E-Pace targets the same customers as the Range Rover Evoque, but the styling differences offer a clear distinction between the two.