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Early in the 21st century, Jaguar and then parent company Ford decided to expand the reach of this historically upper-crust British automotive marque. On the surface, the Jaguar X-Type sedan represented a revolutionary step for the brand when it debuted for the 2002 model year. Not only was it compact in size and comparatively affordable, it featured all-wheel drive -- a fact that also set it apart from most German and Japanese competitors in the entry-level luxury sedan segment.
Alas, the Jaguar X-Type's engineering underneath wasn't as newsworthy. The basic steel structure of the car and many of its drivetrain and suspension components were shared with the Ford Mondeo, a regular family sedan sold in Europe. Though car companies with regular and upscale brands frequently cross-pollinate hardware, the X-Type's plebian roots were always too apparent. Even when it was fresh on the market, the compact Jag was hard-pressed to compete with most rivals in terms of both driving dynamics and cabin furnishings. Consequently, the X-Type was relegated to bottom-feeder status in a highly competitive segment full of younger, quicker cars until it was discontinued for 2008.
If you want a Jaguar on the cheap, the X-Type is the way to get into one -- but doesn't mean you should do it. It may be a pleasant enough daily companion for those fixated on "leaping" hood ornaments, but entry-luxury car shoppers with an eye for detail will be put off by its overall lack of refinement. The bottom line is that newer, better engineered competitors offer more value for the money. We recommend that you check them out first.
Used Jaguar X-Type Models
The Jaguar X-Type was produced from 2002-'08. Available as a sedan and later Sportwagon (beginning in '05), the X-Type featured Jaguar's classic exterior styling cues, with flowing lines, hooded oval headlights, a rectangular grille and elegantly arched roof. All were meant to recall the elegant XJ-series sedans.
Originally, Jaguar offered X-Type buyers the choice of a 194-horsepower 2.5-liter V6 or a 3.0-liter V6 (first rated at 231 hp and later 227). A five-speed manual gearbox was available, but most buyers still ordered the five-speed automatic transmission. Note that Jaguar dropped the 2.5 model altogether after the 2005 model year (the smaller engine was never available on the Sportwagon). All-wheel drive, which helps to improve traction in wet or snowy conditions, was always standard.
Like most small luxury cars, the Jaguar X-Type was comfortable for up to four passengers but cramped for five. Buyers should also note that the car's dramatic roof line made for tighter headroom than in some other entry-luxury compacts. The Sportwagon at least provided a bit more rear headroom than the sedan, and up to 50 cubic feet of storage space out back when the split rear seat was folded down. On both the sedan and wagon, the rear door openings were on the small side, making ingress and egress difficult.
Our editors were generally put off by the X-Type's interior, which had an unfortunate blend of traditional Jaguar elements -- wood veneers, supple leather upholstery and a restrained use of chrome trim -- and mundane plastic parts more appropriate for a Ford rental. We also noted build quality problems on early models. Things improved somewhat following a 2004 freshening, so if you feel absolutely compelled by the X-Type, we'd at least recommend sticking with the examples produced for that model year or later. Also, features like satellite radio and Bluetooth were added in its twilight years.
On the road, the Jaguar X-Type offered a comfortable ride for the most part, but the suspension transmitted too much harshness over bumps. Handling was tepid as entry-level luxury sedans and wagons go, and the all-wheel-drive system was slow to transfer power when wheel slip occurred. Acceleration was passable, but hardly thrilling on a car with a mid-$30Ks price tag.
Overall reliability was never impressive on the Jaguar X-Type, specifically during early model years.