2016 Jaguar XF S Review

One stray cat that’s worth adopting.

After years of languishing on the luxury market’s sidelines, Jaguar is finally starting to flex its atrophied product-development muscles. This British builder of high-end automobiles has been rather quiet since Ford sloughed it off like a scab nearly two presidential terms ago.

Fortunately, this big cat landed on all fours in the waiting arms of another industrial juggernaut with a four-letter name: Tata. The Indian giant has been much more successful running things than Dearborn ever was, the fruits of its efforts are obvious with products like the F-Type.

Today, Jaguar is poised for success in the 21st century with fresh product fueling this ongoing renaissance. For the first time in eight decades, they’re about to have a five-vehicle lineup. Highlights include the new compact XE sedan, which is ready to put the hurt on rivals like the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4; the F-Pace is the brand’s first crossover vehicle and it has the potential to sell in tremendous volumes; and then there’s the XF, Jaguar’s four-door middle-child, which has just received a ground-up redesign for 2016.

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ReSTRUCTURing

Like a troubled corporation, this car has been totally “restructured,” but instead of jettisoning inept executives and performing financial sleight of hand, engineers whipped out their slide rules and got to work.

The 2016 Jaguar XF features an all-new architecture, one that’s better in numerous was compared to the structure its predecessor was built around.

For starters, the new platform is about 75 percent aluminum. The switch to aerospace-grade metal helps this flabby tabby shed some unnecessary adiposity. Rear-wheel-drive models have lost around 130 pounds, a healthy reduction; variants with the added mass and complexity of four-season traction have shed even more weight, dropping some 260 pounds.

Making the XF’s weight loss even more notable is the fact that its structure is 28 percent stiffer than before, something that helps improve driving dynamics and refinement, crash safety and even packaging.

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On the subject of size, this car’s wheelbase has grown by two inches, bringing its total span to 116.5 inches. Much of this stretch was shifted rearward to the benefit of rear-seat passengers. Six-foot persons will have no issue riding in steerage as there’s ample leg and headroom; the former is up by more than half an inch while the latter has grown in excess of one inch.

Despite its hub-to-hub stretch, the XF’s overall length is down by about a third of an inch. Part of the reason for this reduction is that designers shortened the car’s front overhang for a sportier look.

Fully Charged

For now, just one engine is offered in this shapely sedan, a supercharged 3.0-liter V6. Fortunately, it’s available in two different potencies. The base unit delivers a class-competitive 340 horsepower. Customers that want more can get an extra 40 ponies in the XF S.

No matter which engine you decide to get, torque output is the same. Curiously, both variants deliver a maximum of 332 lb-ft. Likewise, just one transmission is available, a refined and responsive eight-speed automatic.

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For drivers who want something a little different, a 2.0-liter Ingenium diesel engine will be offered around the middle of next year. This compression-ignition powerplant should provide some damn impressive efficiency scores and torque.

Speaking of consumption, rear-drive XFs should sticker at 20 miles per gallon around town and 30 on the highway. Combined, they’re expected to average 24 mpg. Figures for all-wheel-drive models are not out yet.

With a healthy stable of horses, the new XF is suitably fleet. An all-wheel-drive S model can reach mile-a-minute speed in five seconds flat. Less powerful variants are a couple ticks slower, though still impressively brisk. Top speed is electronically restricted to 155 miles an hour.

As mentioned earlier, all-wheel drive is available in the XF, and an all-new system at that. It features a chain-driven transfer case that’s 16 percent lighter than its predecessor. It’s also quieter and 10 percent more efficient.

Helping improve fuel economy, this system only works on demand. In normal driving situations, 100 percent of the engine’s torque is sent to the rear axles. When those tires start to slip twist is routed to the front wheels as necessary.

Interior Decorating

Moving inward, the new XF’s cabin is an impressive piece of work. Over the years, I’ve never really been a fan of Jaguar or Land Rover interiors, but this one changes my mine paradigm entirely.

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Past models have always seemed a bit arthritic to me, with questionable switchgear and less-than-top-shelf materials. However, this vehicle’s cabin is beautifully rendered. Everything is rock solid and properly screwed together. Even the plastic, leather and trim bits are all of high quality.

Unlike some rival models, the XF’s dashboard is fairly simple, lacking superfluous swoops, curves and decorative flair that detracts from overall functionality. The layout is straightforward and clean, just the way I like things. All of the vehicle’s numerous buttons and switches are logically laid out and a snap to access.

My only ergonomic complaint has to do with the placement of certain switches on the door panels. Buttons for the seat-memory feature is right where your hand falls, which pushes the window controls far forward, making these more frequently accessed switches harder to reach. Also, if you don’t care for wide center consoles you may find the XF’s a bit intrusive, though this wasn’t an issue for me.

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As for features, LED headlamps, four-zone climate control and a heads-up display are but a few of this car’s options. A raft of driver-assistance systems like autonomous emergency braking and lane-keep assist are also available, things that are found in practically every vehicle these days.

The Drive

Staying true to its spirit animal, or at least the critter its brand is named after, the 2016 Jaguar XF has suitably cat-like reflexes. This large sedan feels quite athletic on the road, with nicely weighted steering, perfect brake-pedal feel and more than enough power.

Models with 380 horses under the hood will put a smile on your face every time you take them wide-open. The supercharged-six is well endowed with torque, pulling nicely from low speeds, yet its enthusiasm doesn’t seem to taper as velocity increases. That mechanical lung gives it impressive flexibility and a subtle whine, though a little more noise would be appreciated. This engine is also extremely refined; hardly any vibration makes its way into the passenger compartment.

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Thanks in part to its fresh architecture, the new XF has nearly perfect 50:50 front-to-rear weight distribution. With its mass evenly distributed, the car feels nicely balanced on the road, a confidence-building trait that should pay off while really cooking on crest or canyon roads.

Jaguar EliteCare

Historically Jaguar hasn’t necessarily built the most robust vehicles, something that ties into my earlier comments about their interiors feeling somewhat frail. However, the latest crop of big-cat cars is dramatically better than previous models.

And showing how they stand behind their products, the company has a protection plan called Jaguar EliteCare. Owners are covered by a five-year/60,000-mile factory warranty. They also gain peace of mind with complimentary scheduled maintenance and 24/7 roadside assistance for the same time period. This is one of if not the best guarantees in the luxury car business and part of the reason this company took home top honors in the 2015 J.D. Power Customer Service Index.

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Any potential fears about owning a Jaguar should be quickly dispelled by this comprehensive and unexpectedly generous package.

The Verdict: 2016 Jaguar XF S Review

The 2016 Jaguar XF is all new from the ground up. It’s lighter and stiffer, better equipped and more luxurious than ever before. The end result of all these enhancements is a compelling luxury sedan, one I actually prefer over a BMW 5 Series. I find it more interesting and unique, though I still have a soft spot for Audi’s A6 range, which I prefer, if only just.

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As for pricing, you can pick up an entry-level Jaguar XF right now in the U.S. for $52,895 including $995 in destination charges, though the model we evaluated was a bit richer, crossing the threshold at Jaguar’s legendary Castle Bromwich assembly facility wearing a price tag of $73,035 out the door. Extras like the comfort and convenience pack ($2,000), luxury interior upgrade pack ($2,700) and the driver assistance pack ($3,100) fattened the sticker price, though also brought with them welcome amenities.

Discuss this story on our Luxury-Lifestyle Forum

  • thatguy88

    If the styling of this car is what you call “innocuous,” then please reconsider. This car is gorgeous. The look is smoothed out and tamed without losing what makes the car such a looker.

  • Petrillo123

    I’m sorry but the author or this article must have been under a rock since 2008. Saying Jaguar has been quiet since Ford sold it is ridiculous. From the moment Ford walked away Jaguar has completely replaced its model line up and every one is award winning, modern and well regarded. The MK1 XF had a far from arthritic interior – still regarded by many as better than its replacement in the interior department including quality.

  • solomondavidson

    Can someone, please, fire Chris Blanchette? The video was off-putting to put it politely. What little this writer knows about cars in general and Jags in particular would not fill a teacup. His videos are insulting to the audience. His attempts at humor all fell flat. Why not send him back to his true avocation: doing stand-up routines on the community college circuit?