What type of lifestyle would you have if you owned a Jaguar? A life of privileged opulence that includes your chauffer taking your kids to school in the morning, transporting you to your weekly mani/pedi and then a visit to your style consultant at Nordstrom? If you owned a 2010 Jag XF Premium Luxury, you'd want to fire the chauffer and drive this beauty yourself (keep the mani/pedi and style consultant, though).
During my week in this car, I got compliments out the ying-yang. Actually, the car got the compliments, including "Wow! What a beauty" to "It looks like a Maserati." The best line of all was "Your ass looks great in that car." (It'd be crude if it came from a stranger, but it was from a close friend who pulled up behind me at a stoplight; I found it highly entertaining.)
The best part of the XF is I didn't have to sacrifice mom-function, pleasurable drivability, safety or luxury for those extra - albeit pricey - style points. The XF is smooth as butter to drive; that's not margarine I'm talking about, but pure, rich, creamy European butter from cows grazing in fields lined with French lavender. It's powerful and responsive; when driving it, the XF feels smaller than it actually is.
The strange rotary knob gear selector takes a little brain re-training at first, but I loved it by the end of my week of test driving. The XF is different enough from any other car I've driven that it just feels expensive. I can imagine this car being a perfect fit for someone needing to maintain a high-end professional appearance while juggling parenthood (a real estate agent or executive who occasionally drives clients or colleagues to lunch meetings).
The XF oozes quiet sex appeal, and I attempted to embody this same characteristic while I was test driving her. Rather than my normal torn jeans spattered with the remnants of last night's dinner, I dressed for the car and put on some oversized sunglasses (much easier than actually making up my eyes) and a summer-weight scarf around my neck for European flair.
The XF is the type of woman you'd see dining with her gentleman friend at the French Laundry restaurant in California's Napa Valley. She's sporty (with her aggressive 20-inch wheels that are part of the $4,000 Portfolio Package; 19-inch wheels are standard) and sophisticated in a slinky pure silk Vapour Grey-colored cocktail dress.
Her rain-sensing windshield wipers are a great addition to effortlessly keep the windshield clear of any early evening sprinkles on a drive through the vineyards or in my case, a weekend trip to Taos, N.M.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Groove-on
Stepping into the XF Premium, the first thing I noticed is how quiet she is. On a particularly stressful evening with the kids at each other's throats, I was tempted to escape to the driveway, turn the car on, tune the bickering out and enjoy some classical tunes.
With multiple seat adjustments, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel and seats that are both heated and cooled, any driver in the family will be able to find a perfect fit in the XF. The headliner is a fabulously plush suede-like Alston material to remind you that you're being surrounded on all sides with luxury.
The touch-screen for the audio and navigation systems is simple to use and highly intuitive. I hit a roadblock, however, when I tried to figure out the voice controls. The voice-command tutorial would only operate while the car was in Park. This makes no sense to me. The whole reason I wanted the tutorial was so I could operate the navigation system...via voice command...while driving. I asked my passenger to try to get find the commands in the owners manual, but it was safely stowed in the glove box, which we couldn't seem to open.
The XF features a proximity sensor for opening the glove box; there's a little icon on the wood panel just above the glove box. Apparently, you have to hover your finger over this icon to open the glove box. However, it's really finicky; it requires that your finger be angled exactly so for it to open (see the video below).
There was plenty of legroom in the rear seats for my school-age daughters. Although I didn't install any rear-facing infant-safety seats back there, I suspect that you'd have room to do so, however, you might have problems if you're more than 6 feet tall and have the driver's seat moved all the way back. In the second row there's a large floor hump that would have been tricky for my kids to climb over with their backpacks if school was in session during our test drive.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
One of my favorite features in this car is the blind spot monitoring system. Although visibility is great in the XF, I seem to always get that guy in the little car riding my blind spot when I'm driving on the highway. The blind spot monitoring system keeps an eye out for him and alerts me with an orange-illuminated icon in a side mirror that he's there...again. This proved infinitely useful on my five-hour drive to Taos.
I also appreciated the backup camera in the XF. Although I didn't feel like I needed it most of the time, knowing that more than 50 kids are backed over every week in the U.S., according to our friends at KidsandCars.org, makes me think this feature should be standard on every car, no matter the price point. It's also useful when pulling into a tight parking spot; I wouldn't want the valet to ding this beauty's bottom.
My kids found the seat belt receptors easy to use independently, and their booster seats sat perfectly flat on the rear seats. For those needing to install child-safety seats, the Latch connectors are accessible via a covered slit in the second row.
I loved the one-touch cruise control on the XF. While most cars make you first press a button to activate the cruise control and then press a second button to set the cruise control, the XF combines these two actions into one. A quick flick of the steering-wheel-mounted toggle wheel turns on and sets the cruise control. The XF's optional adaptive cruise control system keeps the car a set distance from the car in front of it and alerts the driver if a collision is seemingly imminent.
The XF also comes with front- and side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags for both rows, antilock brakes, electronic stability system, traction control, tire pressure monitoring system and a remote security system with anti-theft engine immobilizer.
In Diapers: It'd be a tight fit for rear-facing infant-safety seats, but it's doable if motivated.
In School: Low step-in height and easy-to-use seat belts make this a good fit for school-age kids.
Teens: They'd probably be proud to be seen in such a car, but I wouldn't trust them to drive it, though.
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Mike Hanley||Cars.com National||January 29, 2010|
|Kelsey Mays||Cars.com National||October 30, 2009|
|Cars.com Staff||Cars.com National||February 27, 2009|
|Tom Strongman||KansasCity.com||December 10, 2009|
|Jim Mateja||chicagotribune.com||October 25, 2009|
|Kristin Varela||Mother Proof||August 26, 2009|
|Scott Burgess||The Detroit Newspapers||August 8, 2009|
|Scott Burgess||The Detroit Newspapers||June 27, 2009|
|Warren Brown||washingtonpost.com||June 21, 2009|
|Dan Neil||Los Angeles Times||June 5, 2009|
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