I've just spent a week in a 2006 X-Type Sportwagon, Jaguar's latest attempt to inject a little life into the model. It joined the lineup in the United States late in the 2005 model year, supplementing the sedan.
Likely some purists will balk at the idea of a Jaguar station wagon, but because BMW, Volvo, Saab, Mercedes-Benz and Audi have found ready markets for their station wagons, a Jagu-wagon makes sense, too. The X-Type Sportwagon is particularly well done, with an exterior that is suitably Jaguar, and an interior that, for the price, is pretty luxurious.
Part of the problem with the X-Type's U.S. reception is that it's well known that the car is based on a European Ford model. That model is offered in front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive overseas.
Jaguar realized that foisting a front-drive model on Americans might be pushing it, so all X-Types here have been all-wheel-drive. It's the sort of AWD that is designed more for slippery roads than any sort of off-roading, similar to Audi's Quattro system. I like AWD a lot -- I've long maintained that it adds a substantial safety margin to any vehicle -- but Jaguar hasn't done a particularly good job of touting that feature with the X-Type.
Originally X-Types were offered with a 2.5 or 3.0-liter V-6, but now the larger engine is the only choice. It has a respectable 227 horsepower, and it's matched to a responsive five-speed automatic transmission. A manual transmission used to be offered with the X-Type, but it's gone now too.
The base model in the lineup is the X-Type 3.0, a sedan that starts at $32,995, including shipping. Next up the ladder is the Sport sedan, the more-luxurious VDP sedan, and then the Sportwagon.
Jaguar's first-ever production wagon starts at $36,330. The test model had a long list of options including Bluetooth connectivity ($500), a premium package ($2,200), heated front seats ($500), a satellite-linked navigation system ($2,300), reverse parking sensors ($325) and electronic stability control ($525). Shipping and a few other features brought the bottom line to $43,940. The Sportwagon has plenty of standard features too, including side and side-curtain air bags, antilock disc brakes, a driver's side knee air bag, leather upholstery, wood interior trim, a sunroof, a 120-watt audio system with CD player and full power-operated features.
All that plus standard all-wheel-drive: This is a very nicely equipped car.
It also works very well too. The V-6 engine is quiet and reasonably powerful. Handling is crisp, though the car is no lightweight. Rear seat room is a little tight for adults but tolerable. With the seat in place, the wagon offers 24.2 cubic feet of cargo space. Fold the rear seat down, and the space available climbs to 50 cubic feet. The rear seat folds down in thirds, so you can carry quite a bit of cargo and still one or two rear passengers.
As is the case with every Jaguar X-Type I've driven, I really can't find much to fault. Compared with the European-import competition, the price seems in the ballpark, and the Jaguar name carries cache. So why aren't these cars selling better than they are?
Sentinel Automotive Editor Steven Cole Smith's TV reports air today on Central Florida News 13.