2018 Jaguar XE

2018 Jaguar XE Review

The Jaguar XE muscles its way into garages through style, driving experience and modern tech.
7.0 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Dan Frio
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

Jaguar has a storied pedigree, of course. Yet its efforts at building a competitive small luxury sedan have largely floundered until now. The 2018 Jaguar XE muscles its way into garages that once hosted other European stalwarts, doing it through a combination of style, performance and modern technology.

Key to this success is a varied engine lineup. There's a punchy four-cylinder gas engine, a fuel-sipping diesel four-cylinder, and a supercharged V6 available in 340-horsepower and 380-hp configurations. Pair any of these with the XE's exemplary handling and steering, and you have a clear formula for a fun-to-drive small luxury sport sedan.

There's more to this Jag than high-octane antics, though. The XE also offers much of the latest in-car tech and connectivity (including a large touchscreen interface, a digital instrument/gauge cluster and smartphone app integration) as well as a full suite of driver assistance and aids.

About the only disappointment we can level at the XE is the mediocre quality of its cabin materials and its relatively cramped backseat. But if you can live with an interior that's subpar for the class yet still pretty nice, and you don't plan to shuttle around too many friends, the XE is among the most fun and responsive sedans you can find in this group.



What's new for 2018

For 2018, the Jaguar XE gets an upgraded four-cylinder engine and new driver assistance features. There's also a new top-trim S model with a supercharged V6 engine and a limited-run Portfolio model loaded with Jaguar's latest entertainment and connected technology.

We recommend

The XE range is broad enough to satisfy most buyers, from those just looking for a classy European sport sedan to those who enjoy courting traffic violations. We think the Prestige hits the sweet spot, offering the luxury features you expect in a Jaguar sedan — leather upholstery, heated seats, navigation, premium sound system — without ascending to the high-performance realms of the upper trims. Those who thirst for more performance can order the Prestige with a V6 engine, and you can even option the driver assistance features that come standard on the higher trim levels.



Trim levels & features

The 2018 Jaguar XE is available in base (XE), Premium, Prestige, Portfolio, R-Sport, and S trim levels. The first three trims introduce increasing degrees of luxury, sport and convenience, while the Portfolio is a technology showcase. The R-Sport and S models are high-performance centerpieces. Three engines are available across the lineup, all paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. All are also available in rear- or all-wheel drive.

Base XE models start with a choice of a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine (the 25t) or a turbocharged 2.0-liter, diesel-fueled four-cylinder engine (the 20d). The gas engine makes 247 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque, while the diesel is good for 180 hp and 318 lb-ft of torque. Standard features on the base XE model include 17-inch wheels, a sunroof, power front seats, dual-zone climate control, simulated leather (Luxtec) upholstery, Bluetooth and an 8-inch touchscreen media interface. The base XE also features driver-selectable drive modes suited for rain, ice and snow conditions.

Premium trims are available with either four-cylinder engine or an optional supercharged 3.0-liter V6 (340 hp, 332 lb-ft of torque) and build on the base XE features with auto-dimming side mirrors, driver seat and mirror memory settings, a 40/20/40-split folding rear seat, a rearview camera, and an upgraded 11-speaker Meridian sound system.

Prestige and R-Sport trims also get the choice of four-cylinder gas/diesel or V6 engines. Prestige upgrades include 18- or 19-inch wheels (depending on engine selection), keyless entry, leather upholstery, heated front seats with additional adjustment, power-adjustable steering column and heated steering wheel, ambient interior lighting, a navigation system, and Jaguar's InControl apps, which enables control of various smartphone apps through the touchscreen interface.

Moving up to the R-Sport includes features such as unique 19- or 20-inch wheels and exterior trim, adaptive xenon headlights (with LED accent lights), automatic high beams, upgraded leather upholstery and panel trim, and satellite radio. A host of driver assistance aids are also standard, including blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and intervention, automatic emergency braking, and front and rear parking sensors.

The S trim is equipped similarly to the R-Sport but only offers the supercharged V6 engine (with power increased to 380 hp) and all-wheel drive. Specific features include 19-inch wheels, upgraded front seats, enhanced leather upholstery, and upgraded aluminum and metal cabin accents.

The limited-run Portfolio model is equipped similarly to the S trim; it comes in only a tan interior-white exterior color combination and showcases Jaguar's technology offerings. Standard features include a navigation system, a 10-inch touchscreen interface, a 12.3-inch digital instrument/gauge display, a 3G Wi-Fi connection, a head-up display, a Meridian surround-sound system, customizable ambient interior lighting and a hands-free opening trunk. Heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and the R-Sport's driver assistance features are also standard.

Many of the additional features found on the upper trim levels can be ordered as options on the lower trims. A Driver Assistance package, available for R-Sport and S trims, enhances the standard driver aids with adaptive cruise control with traffic sign recognition and adaptive speed limiter, forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, a 360-degree parking camera system and an automated parking system. Certain XE variants can also be ordered with an adaptive suspension.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2018 Jaguar XE 25t R-Sport (turbo 2.0L inline-4 | 8-speed automatic | AWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall7.0 / 10

Driving

7.5 / 10

Acceleration6.5 / 10
Braking7.0 / 10
Steering7.5 / 10
Handling8.0 / 10
Drivability7.5 / 10

Comfort

8.0 / 10

Seat comfort8.0 / 10
Ride comfort9.0 / 10
Noise & vibration7.5 / 10
Climate control7.0 / 10

Interior

6.5 / 10

Ease of use6.0 / 10
Getting in/getting out7.0 / 10
Driving position8.0 / 10
Roominess5.5 / 10
Visibility6.5 / 10
Quality6.0 / 10

Utility

6.5 / 10

Small-item storage6.0 / 10
Cargo space7.5 / 10

Technology

6.5 / 10

Audio & navigation7.5 / 10
Smartphone integration5.5 / 10
Driver aids7.5 / 10
Voice control6.5 / 10

Driving7.5

While its thrust and braking are workaday, the XE's fundamental chassis has good bones. It's too bad that this sport model has all-season tires, which cap the fun. Nevertheless, its all-wheel drive is largely invisible from behind the wheel, affording traction without spoiling the steering.

Acceleration6.5

Acceleration is undramatic and effective. There's good response in most situations but some lag if you stand on it after a throttle-off situation. At full whack, it pulls with reasonable authority and minimal fuss. It hits 60 mph in 7.5 seconds in our testing, slightly below average for the class.

Braking7.0

Braking modulation is good around town — a touch of softness at the top of the pedal travel transitions into a reassuringly firm pedal. Pedal effort is consistent in harder-than-average traffic stops. Stops from 60 mph consumed a lengthy 134 feet in our testing, and the car wriggled slightly.

Steering7.5

Its quick, well-weighted steering doesn't exhibit a lot of feel. It's well-matched to the handling, making the XE feel lively in moderately spirited driving. The driven front wheels in this AWD model don't unduly spoil the steering.

Handling8.0

Handling is nimble and tidy, even if the ultimate grip isn't outstanding. There's more chassis than tire here — it's well-balanced yet predictable. Stability control is noticeable but subtle and doesn't ruin the plot. Odd that this sport model has such conservative (all-season) tires.

Drivability7.5

Overall, it's a pleasant driving experience. The eight-speed auto's shifts are smooth but not especially quick. In general, it is well-behaved, though it doesn't always make the right decisions in spirited driving. Adaptive cruise settings aren't retained after the car's turned off, though it will remember if it's on or off.

Comfort8.0

Don't go thinking that the R-Sport billing will ruin the ride quality. In fact, the ride is appropriately firm but never, ever harsh. It's the highlight of the XE's comfort, though its seats and well-balanced noise levels don't disappoint. While effective, its climate control layout isn't the best.

Seat comfort8.0

The seats offer very good comfort and support for long trips. The power lumbar support initially feels a bit too generous, but that sensation quickly fades. The foam is on the firm side, and the lower bolsters are fairly modest but are prominent on the seatback. It's only missing extendable lower thigh support.

Ride comfort9.0

There's a very nice ride and handling trade-off. Ride quality is fluid even on bumpy roads at a quickish pace. The car absorbs speed bumps quite nicely and recovers well. The ride is pleasant, capable and sharp enough but never harsh in any way. Note that R-Sport models have the standard suspension calibration found on all XE models.

Noise & vibration7.5

The content of noise is well-balanced among road-, wind- and engine-borne sources. It's neither the loudest nor the quietest in its class, but this balance makes it pleasant to live with. There's noticeable engine vibration at idle. Once underway, it's smooth.

Climate control7.0

Climate control is effective, with an odd layout. Its two rows of buttons all look and feel the same. Some climate functions reside in the seat control screen. Fan noise is higher than expected. Our tester came equipped with heated and cooled front seats, which is nice.

Interior6.5

The interior is a mixed bag. Though the cabin has solid front headroom, this is a small cabin that feels even more so due to the sweep of the dashboard. The driving position is quite good, but visibility could be better. None of its shortcomings are deal-breakers, but competitors are more consistent.

Ease of use6.0

The main controls are well-placed, and the chunky steering wheel buttons are intuitive and easy to use. But the arrangement of controls on the door are counterintuitive — seat memory controls are where window switches are expected to be — and the row of various buttons at the base of the shifter is confounding.

Getting in/getting out7.0

Entering or exiting is pretty typical for this kind of car save for a few minor observations. The sill is easy to navigate, and the seat poses little hindrance. But the door opening is pinched somewhat by a protruding HVAC vent and the raked windshield pillar. Backseat access is not ideal, owing to a narrow door opening at the sill.

Driving position8.0

The steering wheel is sized right, and the seat has a long range of height adjustment. Fore-aft seat travel is good, too — tall people will have no problem fitting up front, but anyone sitting behind them won't be happy. The steering wheel's tilt range is average, and its reach range is above average.

Roominess5.5

This is not a large cabin, though the low center console helps make it feel airier. Front space isn't an issue, even with the panoramic sunroof, but the door armrests are weirdly sloped, making your elbow prone to slipping off. Rear headroom is tight, 6-footers will graze the headliner, and kneeroom is marginal.

Visibility6.5

Visibility is below class standard. The cowl is a bit high, and the side mirrors and front pillars form wide blockages, especially on the passenger side. The rear pillars and headrests are large; and a tall hat shelf and high beltline are obstructive in some way. Avoid the heated windshield, too, unless you don't mind peering through glass filled with small squiggly lines.

Quality6.0

A design-led execution that trades off some functionality and is let down by materials. The dash sweep induces some perceived confinement, the plastics on the door panels and console sides are disappointing, and the fit could be better. Some buttons creak, which doesn't help either.

Utility6.5

Its trunk is reasonably deep with a low liftover height, but the cabin storage is skimpy. The nooks it has are small, and the door pockets are suitable for maps only. Car seat anchors are very prominent, however, though the limited backseat space may be an issue for packaging the car seat.

Small-item storage6.0

In-cabin storage is not that great. Front occupants get narrow front door pockets with no bottle storage, an average glovebox, a little nook at the base of the console, and a small console bin. Small door pockets are the only rear storage.

Cargo space7.5

While the trunk is deep and larger than average at 14.7 cubic feet, its opening is on the small side. It has a power-operated lid and fairly low liftover height. A 40/20/40-split folding back seat is a nice feature to enhance its usefulness.

Child safety seat accommodation8.0

Very well-labeled lower anchors under plastic lids and upper tether points allow a child seat to be situated in any of the three rear seating positions. The lack of space in back is the limitation, not the prominence or accessibility of the anchors.

Technology6.5

The XE's optional upgraded navigation system interface is a fast, feature-laden and worthwhile improvement over the standard one if you're not a smartphone nav user. The smartphone integration can be clunky. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto would be a prime solution for this.

Audio & navigation7.5

Audio and navigation system is logical to operate, with good graphics. Our test car had the optional 10-inch Touch Pro system, with quick responses and pinch/zoom functionality. But there's no radio tuning knob, so you must use the tiny arrows on the screen. The optional 825-watt Meridian system delivers good sound quality.

Smartphone integration5.5

Interface is nice and easy to navigate, but the system fails to provide consistent control to a smartphone. Songs are missing, commands are nonresponsive, and sometimes songs are repeated. It's better to initiate playback from the device. Bluetooth would not connect. There are two USBs and four 12-volt outlets.

Driver aids7.5

Our test car had the optional Driver Assistance package with adaptive cruise and blind-spot and park assist. The systems performed well without any false positives.

Voice control6.5

The system will execute commands related to music and Bluetooth phone commands but nothing beyond that. The voice recognition works well and provides prompts to follow. There's no voice-programmable navigation, which is puzzling.

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.