The XF succeeded the S-Type for the 2009 model year. We review the '09 XF here, and you can compare it with the '10 here. Trim levels for 2010 include the XF Base, XF Premium, XF Supercharged and new XFR; each has its own V-8 engine. I drove an XF Premium, but also tested the base V-8 in last year's XF.
Here's to You, Mrs. Robinson
Our colleagues at MotherProof.com named the XF the top car for cougars — to drive, not to be attracted by — and I can see why. It's a well-proportioned sedan that stays reasonably close to the C-XF concept from whence it came. The tail looks especially sharp and so does the nose, though two editors likened its shape to that of a Lexus GS. (Not that the GS rates nearly as cougar-ific, evidently.)
Eighteen-inch alloy wheels are standard. Premium models add xenon headlights and 19-inch wheels; 20-inchers are optional on Premium and standard on Supercharged and XFR models.
Base models carry over last year's 300-horsepower, 4.2-liter V-8, which I've spent plenty of time driving. Blessed with an exceptionally responsive six-speed automatic, the 4.2-liter XF has a fun, free-revving character. Pushed hard, it can occasionally come off feeling only six cylinders strong, but it usually feels like it has all eight. Most competitors start with a V-6, so I can't complain.
The XF Premium is powered by a new 385-hp, 5.0-liter V-8, a handy beast with enough grunt to dig you out from corners or power past semis on the interstate. We haven't tested the new XF Supercharged, which replaces last year's supercharged 4.2-liter V-8 with a supercharged 5.0-liter V-8. Editor Mike Hanley tested out the range-topping XFR; you can read his evaluation of it here. He calls it "an enthralling blend of power and refinement."
Here's how the drivetrains stack up:
|2010 Jaguar XF Engines|
|XF Base||XF Premium||XF Super-|
|Engine||4.2-liter V-8||5.0-liter V-8||Super-|
charged 5.0-liter V-8
charged 5.0-liter V-8
|Horsepower (@ rpm)||300 @ 6,000||385 @ 6,500||470 @ 6,000||510 @ 6,000|
|Torque (lbs.-ft. @ rpm)||310 @ 4,100||380 @ 3,500||424 @ 2,500||461 @ 2,500|
|Transmission||Six-speed auto||Six-speed auto||Six-speed auto||Six-speed auto|
|Zero to 60 mph, sec.||6.2||5.5||4.9||4.7|
|EPA gas mileage (city/hwy., mpg)||16/25||16/23||15/21||15/21|
|Source: Automaker and EPA data. All engines use premium gas.|
Stopping, Turning & Cruising
Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes are standard, with beefier hardware in the XFR. My tester's brakes were strong, but some may find the pedal too grabby. The steering wheel operates with reasonably light effort at low speeds, and its turn-in precision — combined with the suspension's resistance to body roll — should please driving enthusiasts. Push the car hard through a corner, and the XF feels as balanced as any proper rear-wheel-drive sedan should. The front never feels nose-heavy, as the Mercedes E550's does, and it isn't difficult to slide the tail sideways.
My test car had optional 20-inch wheels, but not Jaguar's adaptive suspension, which goes into supercharged models. The tester's ride felt toward the firmer side of midsize luxury sedans. But Jaguar has worked some nice math out of the ride-versus-handling equation, and an XF with 20s and fixed suspension damping — theoretically the least-accommodating setup for ride comfort — doesn't beat you up. The E-Class and Lexus GS feel deliberately cushier, but an XF with 18- or 19-inch wheels likely would, too. Jaguar offers both wheel sizes on non-supercharged trims.
Road and wind noise are low overall, but there are quieter cabins yet in this segment. If you find road noise excessive, be sure to test-drive a car with 18- or 19-inch wheels; those tires may sound different.
Like most Jags, the XF's cabin offers plenty of wood and leather. Cowhide — the real deal, not a synthetic lookalike — runs across the dash and doors, and the optional suede-like headliner in our test car felt a cut above the woven fabric headliner you typically find in this class. I can't say the same for the wood trim, which seemed over-lacquered and plasticky. Other troubling signs: Our tester's turn-signal stalk had more slop than an elementary school lunch, and one piece of wood trim near the steering wheel had already worked its way loose.
The front seats are comfortable overall, though the backrest proved a bit too firm for my tastes. Still, after 160 miles of highway driving one weekend, I returned with no major complaints. An optional bottom-cushion extender expands the entire cushion as one piece — far better than cushion extenders that leave a crumb-catching gap.
Taller drivers may find headroom up front tight. It's adequate in back, but legroom is tight, and the seats don't sit high enough to afford adult-sized thigh support. There's also a large floor hump crowding foot space. That's to be expected in rear-wheel-drive cars, but even for that group the XF's is large.
Last year we praised the center controls for their no-nonsense simplicity. I'm no longer so bullish. Many functions, from the heated seats to fan-direction controls, can be found only in touch-screen menus on the central dash display. Going from one menu to the next requires waiting a few moments while one screen scrolls back and the next screen scrolls in. It's a clever bit of theatrics the first few times, but it grows old fast. The navigation map often takes an extra second or two on top of that to load, and at one point while I was using the stereo interface, the system completely froze. Not good.
Trunk volume totals a generous 17.7 cubic feet, which is near the top of this class. Jaguar also offers a standard 60/40-split folding rear seat; many competitors have a fixed seat with just a small center pass-through for skis.
Our test car had a 14-speaker Bowers & Wilkins stereo, but sound quality was merely OK. I've heard positively stunning systems in other luxury cars. For a premium stereo in this league, I'd expect more.
Safety, Features & Pricing
The XF has not been crash-tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Standard features include six airbags, antilock brakes and an electronic stability system. Options include a blind spot warning system and adaptive cruise control with radar-based forward warnings if an obstruction is detected. Click here for a full list of safety features.
The base XF starts at $51,150. That's on the high side for this class: Various competitors — the 5 Series, Infiniti M, Audi A6 and Lexus GS, to name a few — start in the mid-$40,000s, and even the new E-Class starts under $50,000. But those have six-cylinder engines to start, and the XF has a standard V-8. (Caveat: You lose a couple mpg overall compared with most competing V-6 sedans. You decide what's important.) It's well-equipped otherwise: standard features include power front seats, heated leather upholstery, a six-CD stereo with full iPod integration, rear parking sensors and a moonroof. Most German competitors charge extra for many of those things.
The 5.0-liter XF Premium starts at $56,150; the XF Supercharged and XFR run $67,150 and $79,150, respectively. Load an XF up, and you can get cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, a navigation system and a backup camera. Fully loaded, the 510-hp XFR tops out just over $80,000 — a few grand shy of BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG territory.
XF in the Market
A few negatives mar an otherwise good year for the XF. Endowed with a larger V-8, the car is as capable as any of its competitors. The wild card is reliability. Jaguar hasn't exactly been a paragon of dependability, but I had hoped that was changing. This year's J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study had the brand tying Buick for top place in three-year dependability. That's a major improvement over last year, but VDS chronicles how a Jag purchased in 2006 or late 2005 is faring today. Contrast that with this year's Consumer Reports surveys, which rate the '09 XF as the least reliable car in the upscale/luxury field.
Alas, it looks like this Jaguar is still a Jaguar.
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