I really liked the 2012 Jaguar XF. It's that simple. There's little about the luxury sport sedan that isn't wonderful, but it's not perfect (what is?); its fuel-economy numbers are low and it takes premium gas.
Jaguar has created a remarkably fun-to-drive luxury car that doesn't feel or look ostentatious. The five-seater has a great price tag for all the fun and pampering it brings to the table.
I'm not saying it's cheap, but the base model's starting price is $53,875, including an $875 destination charge. My Portfolio-trim test car, which starts at $59,875, rang up at $67,000, but it had just about every bell and whistle you can imagine, even a heated windshield.
The XF is a study in understated, modern elegance. The low roofline and high door sills create a sleek line, and the sculpted hood strikes an elegant vibe. My test car's grille is a black mesh that's surrounded by a chrome bezel, and it strikes the right balance between sport and beauty. The headlamps incorporate sinewy LED daytime running lamps.
Entering the XF was easy for my kids, though smaller children need a little help the first few times getting in and out. Parents are guaranteed a few head bonks with that rear-sloping roofline when getting infants and toddlers loaded into child-safety seats. Otherwise, the XF is completely welcoming.
The 17.7-cubic-foot trunk could handle a medium- to large-sized grocery trip or a smaller haul from a membership warehouse. Too many boxes of diapers will max it out, though.
My test car, the XF Portfolio, had the standard engine, a 385-horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8, that's paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. It gets an EPA-estimated 16/23 mpg city/highway and uses premium gas. Two supercharged V-8 engines are available.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great for a family of four
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Groove-On
The XF's black-colored interior is swathed in leather upholstery, including a simulated suede headliner that made me feel like a gem nestled in a fancy gift box. All the buttons and knobs had luxurious chrome bezels or leather covers. The glove box only required the casual brush of my hand over a button to open it. However, the same brush of my hand on the headliner left prints.
Once I was settled in the driver's seat and pushed the glowing red push-start button, the gearshift knob appeared out of the center console and the air vents, which were hidden behind closed panels on the dash, flipped open in a quiet tumble. I loved the abundance of storage in the center console, which housed cupholders and additional space for my smartphone.
The bolstered, power-adjustable driver's seat enabled me to find the perfect position (you'd be surprised how often this isn't the case). No detail went unattended in the XF. After just a brief acclimation period, the multimedia system was easy to understand and use.
In the backseat, my school-aged kids loved the air vents that they could aim right at their faces. They also enjoyed the optional power rear sunshade. They even marveled at the pretty carpet, which they no doubt noticed because we had been carpet shopping recently. If your rear passengers are persnickety, they may notice the backseat doesn't have the same level of niceties as the front row, but it is still a wonderful place to be, and the kids commented more than once that this was their favorite sedan test car (as opposed to an SUV or coupe).
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
The XF's three-seat bench has two sets of lower Latch anchors and easily accommodated child-safety seats. The anchors were easy to locate and access with my seat's traditional hooklike connectors. However, larger rigid Latch connectors were difficult to use in this car, according to Cars.com's Car Seat Check.
Rear-facing car seats fit well in the XF without too much legroom compromise by the front passenger. Booster seats also fit fine. I was happy to see the seat belt buckles weren't floppy, though they did have a tendency to retreat into the seat bench. This is a major frustration for smaller kids in boosters.
The 2012 Jaguar XF has standard rear-wheel drive, four-wheel-disc antilock brakes with brake assist, an electronic stability system with traction control, active front head restraints, auto-leveling adaptive headlights, a backup camera with front and rear parking sensors, and six airbags, including side curtains for both rows.
Active cruise control and a blind spot warning system are optional.
The 2012 XF hasn't been crash-tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the National Higway Traffic Safety Administration.
Get more safety information about the 2012 Jaguar XF here.