The 2017 Jaguar XE has one thing in abundance that's often missing from other small luxury sedans: sex appeal. Even the headlights, under their own shapely hoods, have a purring, feline seduction to them. There's nothing about this car that doesn't seem to have been designed with a demure but provocative wink.
An all-new sedan for 2017, the XE fills a slot in the lineup that's traditionally been frustrating for Jaguar. Remember the misbegotten 2002 X-Type? Jaguar rather hopes you don't. But the XE is a clean-sheet design that's built using Jaguar's own modular aluminum structural architecture. It isn't a redecorated Ford or haphazard collection of random bits from other manufacturers. This one — metaphor alert — is a Jaguar from the bottom of its claws to the top of its furry noggin.
As with most of its competition, the XE can be tailored precisely to the buyer's specifications. Both rear- and all-wheel drive are available, and in addition to the standard 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four, there's a torque-rich 2.0-liter turbodiesel four and a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 rated at 340 horsepower. All send their power through an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Criticism of the XE usually centers on the rather intimate confines of the cabin and the suspect quality of some components used within it. There are four basic trim levels available — base, Premium, Prestige and R-Sport — that can be mixed and matched with the various powertrain options. The R-Sport at the top includes items such as specific bumper covers, a body kit, adaptive xenon headlamps and contrast stitching on the leather upholstery.
Jaguar knows how to build an engaging chassis, and it has delivered just that with the XE. This isn't just a nimble car; it's also a eager one. It's a car that bites into corners with a ferocious joy and bolts out of them with an appetite for more. The steering is quick and precise, the ride is always comfortable, and the self-confidence is practically infectious.
The EPA rates the XE's fuel mileage at a solid 36 mpg combined (32 city/42 highway) for a rear-wheel-drive model equipped with the diesel engine. At the opposite end, an XE with the gas-burning supercharged V6 and all-wheel drive will slurp at the rate of 23 mpg combined (20 city/29 highway).
The XE is a new entry in a crowded market. And it's a market that's overfilled with attractive alternatives. To make sense of all that, use the tools here on Edmunds and then we'll hook you up with a great dealer and a solid deal.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.