Every now and again, an upstart luxury sport sedan comes along to challenge the status quo. But the challenge is usually unsuccessful, simply because the established German players are so good at what they do. Nonetheless, we think a happier ending is in store for the all-new 2017 Jaguar XE. The venerable British carmaker has taken dead aim at the segment stalwarts, and the result is a fully competitive sedan with thrilling performance and head-turning style to boot.
The 2017 Jaguar XE's styling evokes that of its bigger sibling, the handsome XF sedan.
The fact that the XE looks as good, if not better, than its rivals can be seen in photos. Where its inner beauty lies, however, is in the driving experience it provides. Its superlative balance between sharp, engaging handling and a comfortable, composed ride is among the absolute best in the entry-level sport sedan segment. This is a car that sets out to make a connection with the driver in a way that competitors have increasingly failed to do.
Another key to its success could be its diverse range of compelling engines. The most popular will likely be the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (240 horsepower), but there's also a fuel-sipping turbodiesel four (with a whopping 318 pound-feet of torque) and a stirring supercharged V6 (with 340 hp). The latter two are available with all-wheel drive.
Inside, the XE certainly isn't lacking on the feature content front, but its space and quality leave much to be desired. In particular, the cabin's materials and construction trail those of most competitors by a considerable margin. It feels closer to a Ford Fusion (an admittedly high-quality midsize sedan) than a Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
As such, we think the 2017 Jaguar XE is best suited to those who want to drive an engaging car and look great doing it. It's something fun, something different, and it stands out in a good way. However, there's no getting around the fact that its well-rounded German competitors will probably be a better fit for more car shoppers. These include the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4. Taking a look at the Lexus IS or the Cadillac ATS (similar to the XE in many ways) is also a good idea. Inevitably, Jaguar finally has a car that competes in this group, and we think it's definitely worth a test drive.
Standard safety features on the 2017 XE include stability and traction control, front-seat side and side curtain airbags, and hazard lights that automatically activate under heavy braking. A rearview camera is standard on the Premium trim level and above, while the R-Sport further comes with drowsy driver monitoring, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warning and intervention, forward collision warning, and forward collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking.
The R-Sport trim's standard front and rear parking sensors and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert can be added to the Premium or Prestige trim via a Vision package (which also adds the adaptive xenon headlights with automatic high beams). As noted above, there's also a Driver Assistance package (R-Sport) with additional safety technologies.
Every XE comes with InControl Protect (including SOS emergency calling, Jaguar roadside assistance and stolen vehicle location) and InControl Remote (a smartphone app with vehicle status reports, remote locking and unlocking, and other remote features).
In Edmunds testing, an XE 35t R-Sport came to a stop from 60 mph in 116 feet, which is a bit longer than average for a car with summer performance tires.
trim levels & features
The 2017 Jaguar XE is a small luxury sedan offered in four main trim levels: base, Premium, Prestige and R-Sport. Each can be paired with multiple engines, denoted in the model name by 25t (gasoline four-cylinder), 20d (diesel four-cylinder) or 35t (gasoline six-cylinder). Specifically, the base XE comes in 25t or 20d specification, while the Premium and Prestige are offered with all three engines, and the R-Sport comes in 20d or 35t form. Note too that every XE with the 35t engine includes a sport-tuned suspension, which is also included with the XE 20d R-Sport (rear-wheel-drive only).
The base XE starts with 17-inch wheels, three selectable drive modes (Normal, Eco and Dynamic), automatic wipers, automatic engine stop-start for conserving fuel at rest, an electronic parking brake, remote keyless entry, push-button start, a dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, eight-way power front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth, the 8-inch InControl touchscreen, and a six-speaker audio system with HD radio, a USB media port and an auxiliary audio jack. A navigation system with InControl Apps is optional.
Every Jaguar XE from the Premium trim on up has one of two powerful Meridian audio systems.
The Premium adds different 17-inch wheels (or 18-inch wheels if you get the XE 35t), power-folding and auto-dimming side mirrors, driver memory settings, a rearview camera, a 40/20/40-split folding rear seatback and an 11-speaker Meridian audio system with a subwoofer.
Going with the Prestige further equips the XE with 18-inch wheels (19-inchers for the XE 35t), metal doorsill inserts, keyless entry and ignition, ambient interior lighting, a power-adjustable and heated steering wheel, heated front seats with four-way power lumbar adjustment, upgraded leather upholstery and the navigation system with InControl Apps.
Finally, there's the R-Sport with its own wheel designs (18-inch wheels for the XE 20d, 19s for the XE 35t), adaptive xenon headlights with washers, LED running lights, automatic high beams, a rear spoiler, distinctive exterior trim details, sport front seats, an imitation-leather-wrapped instrument panel, satellite radio and a number of safety technologies (see Safety section for details).
Some of the higher trims' standard features are offered on lower trims as options. Additionally, the Prestige and R-Sport trims offer Jaguar's Adaptive Dynamics (adaptive suspension dampers and adjustable drive settings), a Black Design package (gloss-black exterior trim), a Comfort and Convenience package (ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, power rear sunshade, power trunklid), a Driver Assistance package (adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with advanced automatic emergency braking, surround-view parking camera, automated parking system, traffic sign recognition) and a Technology Pack (mobile 3G Wi-Fi hot spot, CD/DVD player, the 10.2-inch InControl Pro touchscreen and a 17-speaker Meridian audio system).
Further standalone options include some of the items from the above packages plus 20-inch wheels, a head-up display, and a handful of special interior trim and veneer selections.
The 2017 Jaguar XE comes standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission and one of three engines. The XE 25t employs a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (240 horsepower, 251 pound-feet of torque), while the XE 20d gets a turbodiesel 2.0-liter four-cylinder (180 hp, 318 lb-ft) and the XE 35t steps up to a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 (340 hp, 332 lb-ft).
Rear-wheel drive (RWD) is standard, and all-wheel drive (AWD) is offered on the XE 20d and XE 35t. Jaguar's AWD system is performance-oriented, operating mostly in rear-wheel-drive mode unless traction dictates that power be sent forward.
According to EPA fuel economy estimates, both the XE 25t and 35t should return 24 mpg combined (21 city/30 highway) with RWD. The 35t AWD should return 23 mpg combined (20 city/29 highway). The XE 20d returns 36 mpg combined (32 city/42 highway) with RWD and 34 mpg combined (30 city/40 highway) with AWD.
In Edmund testing, an XE 35t AWD went from zero to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds. This is very quick and typical for a sport sedan with an upgrade engine, but it still trails the all-wheel-drive BMW 340i xDrive's incredible 4.4-second time.
The 2017 Jaguar XE could easily win you over once you turn its rotary transmission selector to Drive. It's a car engineered for the driver who wants to feel the road through the steering wheel and the seat of the pants. While many cars, including the vaunted BMW 3 Series, have moved toward being more comfortable and isolating, the Jag XE doubles down on driving dynamics. The steering is exceptional, delivering consistent weighting and providing an impressive amount of feedback. You can feel what the car is doing.
Jaguar also knows how to tune a suspension, managing to maintain control around corners and feel perpetually composed yet still deliver a well-damped ride that soaks up bumps and never punishes you for its athleticism. This perception is even better when you choose the Advanced Dynamics Pack. Truthfully, you won't notice a big difference between its standard and Dynamic settings, but the adaptive suspension's ability to further improve upon ride comfort and handling is well worth the extra cost. Really, the XE could go up against the Cadillac ATS as the most engaging luxury sport sedan to drive right now.
Of course, the engine you select makes a difference. At this point we've only sampled the 35t's supercharged V6. Like Jag's supercharged V8s, the XE's 340-hp engine upgrade delivers silky smooth, effortless power that is pleasantly different in character compared with those offered by competitors. The fact that it gets the same EPA-estimated fuel economy as the base 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder would certainly make us think long and hard about paying extra for the 35t. Of course, the presence of a diesel engine certainly makes the 20d the engine to get for those who prioritize fuel economy. If there is one disappointment from a powertrain perspective, it's the unrefined automatic stop-start system that draws too much attention to itself.
The 2017 Jaguar XE's cabin features an attractive, uncluttered dashboard with clean lines, but it lacks the sort of visual flair that made the original Jag XF and current XJ so special. Its quality also leaves a lot to be desired. Compared to what's in its German luxury sedan competitors, the door trim looks and feels a bit flimsy, the trim that wraps around the dash is unremarkable, and the dash top itself is shiny and a bit coarse. Our test car also had more squeaks and rattles than usual, and in general, the XE's cabin feels as if it belongs to a nice midsize family sedan rather than an entry-level luxury one.
Admittedly, opting for a non-black color scheme improves things as does opting for the range-topping R-Sport model that covers the dash in stitched simulated leather. It makes a difference. So too does the 10.2-inch InControl Pro touchscreen included in the Technology Pack. It has impressively quick processing speed, responds well to inputs, and its especially wide size makes it look modern and aids functionality. Some of its audio controls are a little tricky to figure out, but in general, the system works well. The same could be said of the base InControl touchscreen, but it's smaller, slower to respond and has less advanced graphics.
The 2017 XE's interior offers plenty of tech features, but its quality could be much better.
In keeping with the segment's sporty character, the 2017 XE feels snug and intimate from the driver seat. Controls fall readily at hand and the supportive driver seat should adjust enough to accommodate taller drivers. Unfortunately, such ample adjustment up front does take its toll on the backseat. The XE's Audi, BMW and Mercedes competitors all have more spacious rear accommodations. And although the 15.9-cubic-foot trunk would seem to be among the segment-best on paper, in practice it's a bit narrow and those of competitors are likely more useful.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.