Judge by the cover. Jaguar carries a long legacy of terrific styling. The world of crossovers isn't an insignificant challenge – the market is glutted with drab marshmallows and angular faux-pas. But the brand has risen to the occasion. The 2019 Jaguar E-Pace crouches in a wide stance, hiding some of its height with flared arches and wide lines. With a simple but striking grille up front, it’s one of the better (and more distinctive) designs on the market.

Sadly, the refinement doesn't extend all the way through the cockpit. Although the dash is minimalist and spare, harder plastics are more common than we’d like. From the inside, the E-Pace doesn’t seem as special.

Cat-like reflexes. The E-Pace comes with your choice of two engines, each with a unique all-wheel-drive system, but the real story is the handling. That wide stance makes for agile turn-in. The E-Pace feels quicker than its height would indicate, rivaling some luxury sedans. For a compromise between utility and dexterity, it does remarkably well.

The rough spot here is the nine-speed automatic transmission, which can’t quite keep up under strain. Plus, while the powertrains are quick enough, they can’t match the power of tuned versions from Mercedes-Benz's AMG or BMW’s M divisions.

Space to spare. Where the E-Pace can compete is capacity. Rear leg room is more than 35 inches, which exceeds the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class by eight inches. The E-Pace boasts more cargo space as well, with 24.2 cubic feet behind the second row. Tall drivers should have no problem, either. The E-Pace makes the best of its dimensions for a spacious front row, and the roofline doesn’t encroach.

The one demon the E-Pace can’t seem to conquer is the BMW X1, which exceeds the E-Pace in leg room and cargo capacity, though not by much. Given BMW’s handling pedigree, the E-Pace faces a stiff rivalry.

Jaguar E-PACE

No savings in sight. The competition starts to look even more tempting after checking the E-Pace’s price. The E-Pace starts at $39,595, making the X1 $3,650 cheaper, and its interior is arguably better than the Jaguar's. Trim selection offers little refuge. The upper trims on the E-Pace get expensive in a hurry, and a top-spec R-Dynamic model can exceed $50,000.

The E-Pace can’t even save at the pump. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 21 miles per gallon city, 28 mpg highway, and 24 combined. That’s not awful for a crossover, but rivals from BMW and Mercedes-Benz get at least 26 mpg combined.

Final thoughts. The 2019 Jaguar E-Pace does what it can to distinguish itself. Capable all-wheel drive joins nimble handling to make a confident drive, and the interior uses its space wisely. The exterior is classic Jaguar.

But the E-Pace struggles to make a value proposition. Luxury rivals feel more premium inside, drive just as well, make fewer stops at the pump, and cost thousands less. Although Jaguar still offers a cachet that more common luxury brands lack, it looks less appealing when it comes at such a premium.

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