The 2016 Jaguar XF may not look too different from the previous model, but it uses a new, primarily aluminum chassis that helps make it lighter and more fuel-efficient. Though somewhat smaller on the outside, its interior volumes have increased, and still it does exactly what you'd hope for from a Jaguar: Look great, and go quickly.
What Is It?
The Jaguar XF is a four-door, five-seat midsize luxury sedan. The 2016 version may look similar to last year's model, but it actually received a full overhaul under the skin. Where last year's XF was made from steel, the new XF chassis is 75 percent aluminum. This results in a loss of 132 pounds compared to last year's rear-drive model and 265 pounds from the all-wheel-drive model.
This XF evolves the sleek design of the previous car, making subtle and welcome additions and changes. The roof is lower, while the wheelbase is longer. And though it may not look it, the overall length is actually shorter. By expanding the wheelbase, Jaguar has pushed the wheels outward and brought the bumpers inward, giving the XF a taut appearance while still managing to increase the interior volume.
What Engines Does It Offer?
At launch, the new XF will offer a single engine in two levels of tune. The base setup is a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 rated at 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. Stepping up to the "S" model bumps power to 380 horses while the torque number remains the same. The power difference doesn't come from mechanical changes, but from reprogrammed engine software tuning. An eight-speed automatic is the only transmission choice. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available for either trim.
In mid-2016, the XF will add gas and diesel four-cylinder engines to the lineup. We also expect a high-performance XF R with a powerful V8 in the future.
How Does It Drive?
We drove three variants of the XF: a rear-drive diesel and the S model with rear- and all-wheel drive. All were on summer tires that the U.S. market isn't currently slated to receive, so some aspects of the ride quality and handling may not reflect how the XF will feel when it arrives at dealers here.
That said, the XF feels pleasantly light and nimble. The increased stiffness from the aluminum chassis doesn't adversely affect ride quality, and combined with accurate and light steering, it helps make the XF feel small. Also aiding this sensation is a smart ABS system that can apply the brakes to the inside wheel to help the car turn in quicker.
An active and electronically adjustable suspension is standard on S models and a $1,000 option on lesser trims. Putting the car in Dynamic mode firms the ride up, while the Normal mode provides a more comfortable ride when you're just cruising on the freeway.
The supercharged V6 delivers more than ample acceleration. Jaguar says the all-wheel-drive S will reach 60 mph from a stop in 5.0 seconds, while rear-drive models will take a few tenths longer. The power and response are there, but the sound isn't as sweet as we would like. The engine may be shared with the F-Type sports car, but it doesn't sound as enthusiastic in the XF.
The 2.0-liter diesel seems more powerful than its 160 hp would suggest, and it's impressively quiet and vibration-free. It's such that you might not realize it's a diesel unless you're standing outside or ignoring the tachometer's low redline. Only during full throttle does the diesel timbre become slightly apparent. It might be worth the wait if you're more interested in efficiency than all-out power.
What's the Interior Like?
The XF's interior boasts an attractive design and materials befitting a luxury sedan. On startup, the rotary shifter rises out of the dash and the air vents open up as if to greet you. It's a welcome piece of theatre that doesn't impede functionality.
The seats are comfortable and supportive, while outward views aren't obstructed. Despite the lower roof, the interior dimensions have actually increased. Much of that has to do with the longer wheelbase that delivers slightly larger leg-, knee- and headroom measurements. Still, it's still a midsize sedan so taller occupants might brush their hair against the roof.
A new infotainment system called InControl Touch has an 8-inch touchscreen and smartphone connectivity. Though improved, the system reacts to inputs more slowly than we'd like, and the center armrest has barely enough storage space for a smartphone. There's also available WiFi that can turn the car into a hotspot, but only at 3G speeds.
An optional Pro version of the system enlarges the touchscreen to 10.2 inches and replaces the gauge cluster with a 12.3-inch LCD display. The gauge cluster turns red when you put it in Sport mode, and cleverly places the tachometer in the center of the screen. Put it in navigation, and all displays are minimized while the map takes up the entire display. The deeply customizable system will take some time to learn, but will likely be appreciated by owners who take the time.
What About Fuel Economy?
The weight lost during the aluminum transformation, combined with slippier bodywork and standard stop-start brings the rear-drive XF's EPA rating to 24 mpg combined (20 city/30 highway), regardless of trip. That's 2 mpg more than the 2015 model, though you'll likely lose an mpg or two if you go with all-wheel drive.
How Safe Is It?
Though many safety and driver assistance features are optional, all XFs have a standard back-up camera and a feature called All-Surface Progress Control. Think of the latter as a low-speed launch control for snow. When engaged, you set a target speed with the cruise control and the XF selectively applies power to get it moving.
All-wheel-drive models optioned with the adaptive suspension get Adaptive Surface Response Mode. The system attempts to determine the quality of the surface and automatically adjusts the throttle, brakes, transmission and stability control system to maintain traction. We tried it out on a very wet surface, and the system did an impressive job of keeping the XF on its intended path. We could feel it smartly restrict power and dither the brakes to keep the car going where it was pointed, even when we deliberately turned in the wrong direction.
A bevy of near-autonomous driving features are available, from active cruise control that can read speed limit signs and adjust automatically, to lane-keep assist, to semi-automated parallel parking that does the steering work while you control the throttle. There's also driver drowsiness monitoring that alerts you if the system thinks you're falling asleep, and a collision mitigation system that preloads the braking system if it senses a looming forward impact. If you don't react, it applies the brakes to minimize the impact.
How Much Does It Cost?
The base 2016 XF starts at $52,895 in Premium trim. That's $5,275 less than the 2015 V6 XF and comparably priced with six-cylinder luxury sedan rivals. The $56,500 Prestige trim gains standard navigation, keyless entry, heated front seats and steering wheel, 19-inch wheels and front and rear parking aids. At $60,650, the R-Sport offers more aggressive bodywork, chrome exterior trim, lane-keep assist, satellite radio and LED headlights with auto high beam. The more powerful S model starts at $62,700 and includes new bodywork, adaptive suspension, red brake calipers and new seats. Adding AWD raises the price $3,000 across the board. All models come with a free scheduled maintenance plan for five years or 60,000 miles.
We expect the gasoline four-cylinder to be priced under $50,000 when it goes on sale next year, and the diesel to slot between it and the V6.
What Competing Models Should You Also Consider?
The Audi A6 has a comparable focus on design and a supercharged V6 of its own. It's less powerful, but the 3.0-liter A6 returns better fuel economy even with standard all-wheel drive. A turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder is currently available, as is a turbodiesel V6 with a potent 428 lb-ft of torque.
For enthusiast drivers, the Cadillac CTS vSport undercuts the XF S by $2,365 and offers more power from its twin-turbo V6 (420 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque). Its handling is more engaging and enjoyable thanks to an electronically controlled limited-slip differential and active, magnetic fluid-filled shocks.
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class may not look as sexy as the XF or drive with the same athleticism, but it provides an extremely comfortable ride and advanced safety and technology features. Powertrain options are similar in breadth, from a turbodiesel four-cylinder, naturally aspirated and twin-turbo V6, to a high-output twin-turbo V8.
Why Should You Consider This Car?
It's enjoyable to drive, attractive on the outside and even more comfortable than before on the inside. It also features a more competitive price that includes more features, free scheduled maintenance and a longer warranty.
Why Should You Think Twice About This Car?
There are competitors that offer better fuel economy and a broader range of engine options. Some aspects of its latest driver interface are frustratingly slow.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.