Pros: Jaguar swagger; broad range of new powertrains; state of the art transmission; excellent ride/handling balance; big trunk

Cons: Pricey V8 models; interior could feel fresher

New for 2013: 4- and 6-cylinder engines added; 8-speed automatic; available all-wheel drive; updated infotainment system; hi-power XFR-S model tops range

Introduction

The 2013 Jaguar XF seems like it would have no trouble winning a popularity contest. Good looks? You bet. Plus, a face-lift last year turned the XF model's curb appeal up another notch. Athletic? Between its 4-engine lineup -- three of them with 340 horsepower or more -- and suspension that endows the car with sharp reflexes, this midsized Jaguar could be called cat-like for more than just the company name. Good manners? Well, Jaguars are still British cars first and foremost, despite the company being owned by an Indian company.

But XF sales have been slow, and we think it might have to do with the fact that it's been available only with thirsty V8 engines -- until now. Not only has Jaguar added a supercharged V6 to the lineup, it has also added a turbocharged 4-cylinder as well, the latter with a base price roughly six grand less than the 2012 model. It is also broadening the appeal of the XF in Snow Belt states by adding an all-wheel drive variant to the lineup.

These qualities should better the XF model's chances next to the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series, among other great midsize luxury sedans. Add in the distinctive character and swagger that comes with being a Jaguar, and our advice is to give this Jag a chance. It may not have caught on with luxury shoppers just yet, but the 2013 XF certainly has the credentials to be a success.

Comfort & Utility

The 2013 Jaguar XF comes in six forms, aligned with their powertrains: XF, XF 3.0, XF, 3.0 AWD, XF Supercharged V8, XFR and new for 2013, the range-topping XFR-S.

Standard features on the base XF ($46,975) include a 240-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters, 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights with LED accents, a sunroof, push-button start, rosewood veneers, heated power front seats, leather upholstery, Bluetooth, parking sensors and a 10-speaker 250-watt audio system with a 7-in touchscreen interface. The XF 3.0 ($50,000) and the all-wheel drive XF 3.0 AWD ($53,000) offer the same standard equipment, but are powered by a 340-hp supercharged V6. The AWD model also upgrades to 19-in wheels.

The XF Supercharged V8 ($68,100) is powered by a 470-hp supercharged V8, and adds many other niceties including 20-in wheels, 16-way driver's seat and 12-way passenger seat with heat and ventilation, softer leather upholstery, suede-cloth headliner, oak veneers, adaptive suspension, electronic limited-slip differential, a hard drive-based navigation system and a 10-speaker 380-watt Meridian audio system with iPod/USB connectivity, HD radio and satellite radio.

The XFR ($83,200) boasts a 510-hp supercharged V-8, exclusive 20-in alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, a rear spoiler, various exterior and interior styling flourishes, special power sport seats, dark oak trim, a power rear sunshade and a 17-speaker 825-watt Meridian surround sound audio system.

New for 2013 is the spectacularly powerful and very rare XFR-S (99,000), which is powered by a 550-hp supercharged V-8 and has unique transmission programming, racy interior and exterior styling enhancements and more.

The XF model's interior hails from a few years back, and it could benefit from an update stylistically. But the XF still manages to emit an upscale vibe inside, especially when Jaguar's distinctive rotary shift knob rises out of the center console upon ignition. Your passengers will love it.

Front seat comfort is generally adequate in the XF, but the base model's seats have surprisingly limited adjustability. Rear passengers will enjoy ample legroom. Tall ones, however, may find their hair brushing the XF model's sleek roof. In keeping with British tradition, both rows are treated to liberal applications of leather and wood trim.

Cargo capacity in the XF model's trunk is an incredible 17.7 cu ft.

Technology

The good news here is that the XF is available with appealing features like fabulous Meridian audio systems, Bluetooth connectivity and not one, but two USB ports for iPods and the like. Higher trims also get a standard hard drive-based infotainment system with navigation, voice recognition capability and digital music storage. The problematic touchscreen interface has been updated for 2013, which addresses some of the concern we had before about usability. Still, the screen itself measures just seven inches, which is barely half the size of some newer screens in this segment. There's plenty of functionality here, but the lack of visual flair disappoints us, especially in such a stylish car.

Performance & Fuel Economy

The rear-wheel drive Jaguar XF starts with a supercharged 4-cylinder that produces 240 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque. Jaguar claims that the car can accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour in 7.5 seconds. Fuel economy is estimated at 19 miles per gallon city/30 mpg highway.

Next up the ladder are the new XF 3.0 models, which feature the new supercharged V6 that produces 340 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. Rear-wheel drive models are said to hit 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, while all-wheel drive models take 6.1 seconds, which is still quick if not blazingly fast. Fuel economy comes in at 17 mpg city/28 mpg hwy and 16 mpg city/26 mpg hwy, respectively.

Delivering an exquisite combination of refinement and brute force, the XF Supercharged's 5.0 V8 is more motor than most folks will ever need, with a total of 470 hp and 424 lb-ft of torque and a 0-to-60-mph time of 4.9 seconds. You can hear a distinctive supercharger whine during hard acceleration, but that's fine by us -- it's a pleasant aural reminder that you anted up for one really fast XF. Fuel economy drops, however, to 15 mpg city/23 mpg hwy.

Still not satisfied? Well, there's also the XFR, which squeezes a little more supercharged thrust out of the 5.0-liter V8. Rated at 510 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque, the XFR isn't hugely faster than the XF Supercharged (zero to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds), though you might notice some extra rumble from the exclusive quad exhaust tips. There are some good reasons to buy an XFR, but we think its slight edge in straight-line acceleration isn't one of them. Interestingly, fuel economy is the same as that of the XF Supercharged.

At the top of the range, of course, is the blisteringly quick XFR-S, which is the quickest of the lot with its 4.4-second 0-to-60-mph time. Fuel economy had yet to be announced at the time this article was written.

All XF models come with a new, paddle-shifted 8-speed automatic transmission, with the upper-level models receiving certain performance tweaks to sharpen shift quality in sport modes.

Safety

For 2013, the Jaguar XF comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and six airbags (front, front side and full-length side curtain).

The XF has not been crash tested stateside.

Driving Impressions

The V8-powered Jaguar XF models we have driven in the past strike such a satisfying ride/handling balance that we question the need for the fancier models with their adaptive dampers and so forth. From the captain's seat, the XF has been taut and focused. Unlike some rivals, it doesn't feel big and bulky in corners. On the contrary, it hugs the road like an oversized sport coupe. Of course, those upgraded sport-tuned dampers enhance the effect, but are hardly necessary to inspire confidence. During more sedate motoring, the XF continues to impress, providing a composed ride that's supple but never floaty. Road and wind noise are low, even with the 20-in wheels and tires.

We look forward to driving the new 4- and 6-cylinder models soon.

Other Cars to Consider

BMW 5 Series - With elegant styling, world-class interiors and dynamics that more or less match the athleticism of the XF, the popular 5 Series is a very compelling and smart alternative that is worth a look.

Infiniti M37/M56 - With some of the best V6 and V8 engines in the business, the Infiniti M37 and M56 are natural XF rivals. And believe it or not, the M model's interior blows the Jag's away.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class - Blessed with a broad engine lineup, including two very fast V8s, the E-Class effortlessly runs with the big dogs in a straight line, though it trades some XF-style athleticism for a softer highway ride. Mercedes' iconic midsizer is also about to get a big time refresh for 2014.

AutoTrader Recommends

The new V6-powered XF 3.0 seems to be a smart buy at $50K. Even with more than a few options, it won't be as pricey as the next-rung-up XF Supercharged V8 while offering plenty of style, comfort and performance for the class.

What do you think of the new XF? Let us know in the comments below.

author photo

Steve Siler is a freelance automotive journalist and presenter based in Los Angeles, California. Known for his ability to make automotive subjects accessible to both enthusiast and non-enthusiast audiences, Siler has contributed to dozens of lifestyle and enthusiast publications, including The Robb Report, Automobile Magazine, Edmunds.com and Car and Driver Magazine.

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