Refreshed for the new model year. The 2020 Jaguar XE received a fresh look with its updated headlights and taillights, but it doesn’t stray far from its source material elsewhere. It also received an updated list of engine options that drops its V6 powerhouses and the thrifty diesel four-cylinder. On paper, losing these engines may seem counterproductive, but they were never the best part of this well-balanced sedan.
What’s always been the focus of the XE is its value, class-beating ride and handling, and classic styling. This is where it delivers the goods, but is this enough to lump it in with the elite in its class? Find out below.
Watered-down silhouette? The Jaguar XE is careful not to stray from the mold of the compact luxury sedan, resulting in a silhouette that looks like it could have been traced from a BMW designer’s sketchbook.
This is great for the typical luxury car buyer who’s become accustomed to this over the past decade, but it lacks any of the sharp Jaguar cues to pull in new buyers. Sure, its R-Dynamic trim adds a little extra in the style department, but it’s not enough to attract the younger crowd.
Inside, the XE is muted with a toned-down design that feels about 20 years behind its competitors. This simpler look caters to an older crowd that has tired of all the ambient lighting and gadgets and gizmos cluttering up today’s luxury sedans, but it does little to draw the attention of the up-and-coming younger buyers.
Surprisingly capable all-four-cylinder lineup. The Jaguar XE has dropped its wilder V6 engines and the thrifty diesel unit, which may disappoint some. That said, this line of four-cylinder engines performs admirably with the base unit pumping out 247 horsepower and delivering a 6.2-second 0-60 mph sprint.
Opt for the higher-powered four-pot, and the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine’s needle moves to 296 hp, which drops its sprint time to 5.4 seconds. The latter number puts it right in the mix with competitors like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3-Series, which sprint to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds and 5.7 seconds, respectively, with their base four-cylinder engines.
The Jaguar XE’s powertrain isn’t all you’ll fall in love with. It also boasts an aluminum suspension that delivers a smooth ride, even with larger wheel options. Opt for the available adaptive dampers that Jag packages with performance brakes, driver-programmable drive modes, and more, and it becomes a capable handler that easily matches the 3-Series.
Premium features pad its value. The Jaguar XE may look classic, but its features scream that it's anything but old. Inside, buyers are treated to an array of standard goodies, including 12-way power front seats, leather seating, a leatherette dash, ambient lighting, and lots more.
The cherry on top is its infotainment system that includes a 10.3-inch touchscreen and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The touchscreen beats the C-Class' and Audi A4’s standard screen by 3.3 inches, and it beats the 3-Series’ standard touchscreen by 4.6 inches.
On the outside, the XE is equally well equipped with standard 18-inch wheels, a sunroof, LED headlights, automatic high beams, and more.
Looking for safety? The XE continues to pad its standard features list with rear parking sensors, lane keeping assist, and the all-important automatic emergency braking. The latter matches leaders in the class, like the 3-Series, A4, and C-Class.
Plenty of comfort up front. As with most compact luxury sedans, all the comfort is in the front seats. The Jaguar XE features supportive front seats with strong bolstering to hold you in place in the twisties without feeling too tight on your daily commute.
The issue that plagues the XE is the same that plagues most of this class: its tiny rear seat. The XE’s 35 inches of rear leg room falls short of the 3-Series and C-Class by 0.2 inches, and the A4 by 0.7 inches.
The XE also fails in trunk space with just 12.1 cubic feet, which comes up 0.6 cubic feet short of the C-Class, 0.9 cubes short of the A4, and a whopping 4.9 cubic feet short of the 3-Series.
Final thoughts. The 2020 Jaguar XE remains a great option for buyers looking for a luxury sedan that fits the typical mold but offers more features for their dollar, but there are also some serious trade-offs to opting for this Brit.
The XE excels with its wide range of standard features inside and out while also delivering outstanding value with a starting price of just $40,895 including destination. This makes it significantly cheaper than the 3-Series at $41,745 and C-Class at $42,395. The trade-off is an unexciting design inside and out, making it blend in with all of the other compact luxury sedans at the office.
The XE delivers in four-cylinder performance too thanks to a 5.3-second 60 mph sprint with its optional engine. Where it falls short of the leaders in its class is its lack of V6 or V8 options in 2020. This lack of cylinders will cause performance-focused buyers to almost immediately cross the XE off their lists.