British brand’s streamlined sedan

Jaguar may have added sport-utilities to its lineup, but there’s still room for a couple of cars in its mix.

This is the brand’s lone sedan, the 2021 Jaguar XF, which comes in a single trim in Canada dubbed the P300 R-Dynamic that comes with standard all-wheel drive. On the receiving end of a new interior for 2021, it starts at $60,750 before freight and taxes, while mine had a number of options that brought it to $67,065.

Styling: 8.5/10

The XF’s exterior styling is mostly unchanged, and it’s elegant and timeless. My tester was optioned with Bluefire paint for an extra $850, along with 19-inch gloss-black wheels for $500, and black trim for $535. In addition, I had a heated windshield for $450. It does a great job in winter, but it uses thin, closely spaced vertical wires in the glass that can make the windshield look hazy on bright days, and I find it hard on my eyes to constantly look through them.

The XF’s refreshed interior is the highlight, and it’s gorgeous indeed – especially with my car’s optional tan leather. The biggest change is the centre stack and console, which includes an 11.4-inch touchscreen, a push-pull gear lever in place of a rotary dial (although I preferred the simpler dial), redesigned climate controls, and bright metal accents that look good, but unfortunately can be blinding when the sun hits them.

Safety: 8/10

The XF hasn’t been rated by the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). But it does come standard with such assist features as blind-spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, lane-keep assist, automatic high-beam headlights, and rain-sensing wipers – which, as with all I’ve ever tried, worked well in moderate showers but had difficulty in drizzle.

My tester was optioned with a rearview camera mirror for $500, which broadcasts a video version of what’s behind the car, or it can be switched to a regular mirror as desired. I also had adaptive cruise control that works in stop-and-go traffic, but I was very surprised at that being a $1,200 option.

Features: 8/10

In Canada, the XF comes only in R-Design trim. It has a long list of standard features, including power-folding mirrors, auto-dimming interior and driver’s mirror, rain-sensing wipers, 19-inch wheels, a heated steering wheel, 12-speaker sound system, 11.4-inch centre touchscreen, wireless charger, power trunk, and the aforementioned safety-assist features.

Of course, more can be added, and my tester included a surround-sound stereo, along with 18-way heated and ventilated front seats, and dark wood trim for $400. Other possibilities include a Wi-Fi hotspot that includes a data plan, bright metal pedals, soft-close doors, and a waterproof bracelet that lets you lock or unlock the car without carrying the key fob.

User Friendliness: 6/10

The new, larger infotainment screen uses Jaguar Land Rover’s latest interface, and while it’s an improvement over the previous system, including a promise that everyday tasks can be accessed in two taps or fewer, it still has a long way to go. It can be slow to react, and sometimes you have to hold your finger down rather than a quick tap to get anything to happen.

There are large dials to adjust the temperature, but then you must pull or push them to morph into the controls for the heated/ventilated seats, or for the fan speed. Even the headlight switch is needlessly complicated, defaulting to a neutral position after you’ve chosen your setting. You have to find a tiny icon in the cluster to see what it’s on, rather than just glance at the switch as you do with virtually every other automaker. Really, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel, or in this case, what should be a simple switch.

Practicality: 8/10

So many drivers are moving into sport-utilities, but a sedan will still get the job done and then some for many people. Most notably, it’s often easier to get in and out because of the lower step-in height. The XF’s ease of entry and exit makes a good everyday vehicle, especially if you’re in and out of a lot while running errands. Visibility is good all around, as well.

The trunk is spacious for the car’s size, and with a standard power trunk. The low liftover makes it easy to load as well.

Comfort: 8/10

Those seats are as comfortable as they look, with just enough bolstering for support, but not so much that they’re awkward to get in or out of. Adding to my chairs was $660 for perforated leather; $300 for ventilation, 18-way adjustment and memory; and $500 for heated rear seats. But a heated steering wheel and dual-zone automatic climate control are included.

The rear seats themselves are supportive, but legroom can be relatively tight unless the front-seat occupants move their chairs far forward. The ride is smooth and the cabin is quiet, as you’d expect in a luxury sedan.

Power: 8.5/10

Last year’s supercharged 380-hp V6 is gone, and for 2021 in Canada the XF comes solely with a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder that makes 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

You don’t get the supercharged bragging rights, but for most drivers the 2.0L will prove just fine in this midsize sedan. Acceleration is strong and linear, whether from a stop or at highway speeds for passing power. The engine and transmission are smooth and refined, and while the XF doesn’t seem overly quick, it feels luxurious – and that really is the whole point, after all.

Driving Feel: 8.5/10

The XF deftly straddles athletic ability and coddling comfort. It’s a delicious highway cruiser but takes curves very well, with good steering feel and response, and a torque-vectoring system that momentarily brakes a wheel when necessary for improved handling. The transmission likes to shift into higher gears quickly for fuel efficiency, and in moderate city cruising can tend to keep the engine around 1,200 rpm where it develops a bit of a drone, but a slight push of the throttle – or a downshift using the wheel-mounted paddles – solves that.

The all-wheel drive system moves torque around as needed for traction, and you can access driving modes for eco, rain/ice/snow, comfort, or dynamic. There’s also low-speed cruise control, borrowed from Jaguar’s sport-utilities where it’s meant for off-roading and a little silly on a sedan, but perhaps some will appreciate it for their cottage roads.

Fuel Economy: 8.5/10

The XF is rated at 10.6 L/100 km in the city, 7.7 on the highway, and 9.3 in combined driving. In my time with it, I came in at a very reasonable 9.1 L/100 km. As expected, it wants premium fuel.

Most competitors are hitting just about the same number, and the XF fits well into a segment that ranges from the BMW 540i at 9.1 L/100 km, to the Genesis G80 at 9.5 L/100 km – virtually the same when you’re splitting numbers after the decimal point.

Value: 8/10

At a starting point of $60,570, the XF undercuts the base price of Audi’s A6 at $63,200; the BMW 530i at $63,500; or Mercedes-Benz’s E350 at $64,900. But while my optioned car was $67,065, getting those competitors optioned fairly similarly started at $71,000 and went up from there.

At Genesis, the G80 2.5T sedan comes with an all-in price of $66,000, including freight and with my car’s extra-charge heated rear seats and adaptive cruise control. You’ll likely add some extras to the XF, but its base price is competitive.

The Verdict

I dislike the Jaguar XF’s infotainment system, which is slow to respond and still unnecessarily clunky, but overall, it’s hard to fault the car for its looks, its improved interior, and its great-to-drive demeanour. This is a brand that usually isn’t top-of-mind when people are cross-shopping premium German brands, but if you want a sedan, give this one a look.

Competitors

Specifications

Engine Displacement 2.0L   Model Tested 2021 Jaguar XF P300 R-Dynamic
Engine Cylinders I4   Base Price $60,570
Peak Horsepower 296 hp @ 5,500 rpm   A/C Tax $100
Peak Torque 295 lb-ft @ 1,400 rpm   Destination Fee $1,650
Fuel Economy 10.6 / 7.7 / 9.3 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb   Price as Tested $68,815
Cargo Space 344 L  
Optional Equipment
$6,495 – Bluefire paint, $850; Perforated “Windsor Leather” sports seats, $660; Meridian surround sound system, $600; Smart View rearview mirror, $500; 19-inch gloss-black split-spoke wheels, $500; Black exterior pack, $535; Heated windshield, $450; Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, $1,200; Satin charcoal ash interior veneer, $400; 40/20/40 heated rear seats, $500; 18-way heated and ventilated seats, $300