The 2014 Jaguar XF seems like it would have no trouble winning a popularity contest. Good looks? You bet. Athletic? Between its 4-engine lineup -- three of them with 340 horsepower or more -- and a sport-tuned suspension that endows the car with sharp reflexes, this midsized Jaguar could be called catlike for more reasons than just the company name. Good manners? But of course -- Jaguars are still British cars first and foremost, despite the company's transition over the years to American (Ford) and now Indian (Tata) ownership.
But the XF's sales still pale relative to rivals from Audi, BMW and Mercedes -- and that's too bad, because we think the 2014 model is more appealing than ever. It's available with everything from a turbocharged 4-cylinder to a fire-breathing 550-horsepower supercharged V8, with numerous middle-ground options. And all-wheel drive is available, as well. If our editors were shopping in this segment, we suspect the XF would be a popular choice indeed.
What's New for 2014?
The XF sees only minor equipment changes this year.
What We Like
Jaguar swagger; broad range of powertrains; state-of-the-art transmission; excellent ride/handling balance; big trunk
What We Don't
Forgettable 4-cylinder engine; high price of V8 performance models; interior could feel fresher
The 2014 Jaguar XF starts with a supercharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that produces 240 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque and comes only with rear-wheel drive. Like all XFs, it uses an 8-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is estimated at 19 miles per gallon city/30 mpg hwy.
Next up are the XF 3.0 models, which feature a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that produces 340 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy comes in at 17 mpg city/28 mpg hwy with rear-wheel drive and 16 mpg city/26 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive.
The XF Supercharged boasts a 5.0-liter V8 that cranks out 470 hp and 424 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy takes a predictable hit, dropping to 15 mpg city/23 mpg hwy.
The XFR squeezes a little more supercharged thrust out of the 5.0-liter V8. Rated at 510 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque, it oddly returns the same fuel economy as the XF Supercharged.
At the top of the range is the blisteringly quick XFR-S with its 550-hp version of the supercharged V8. Fuel economy is again 15 mpg city/23 mpg hwy, but we suspect real-world results will be worse than with the other V8s.
Standard Features & Options
The 2014 Jaguar XF comes in six trim levels: base, 3.0, 3.0 AWD, Supercharged, XFR and XFR-S.
Standard features on the base XF ($47,870) include a 240-hp 4-cylinder engine, an 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters, 18-in alloy wheels, bi-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 ($51,395) and the all-wheel drive XF 3.0 AWD ($53,895) offer mostly the same standard equipment, but they add 19-in wheels and are powered by a 340-hp supercharged V6 with auto stop/start.
The XF Supercharged ($68,995) is powered by a 470-hp supercharged V8 and adds many other niceties, including 20-in wheels, upgraded brakes, front and rear parking sensors, an active rear differential, adaptive drive settings, a 16-way power driver seat and 12-way power passenger seat with heating and cooling, a heated steering wheel, softer leather upholstery, a suede-cloth headliner, a hard-drive-based navigation system and a 380-watt Meridian audio system with HD and satellite radio.
The XFR ($84,095) boasts a 510-hp supercharged V-8, 20-in alloy wheels, adaptive headlights with automatic high beams, a body kit with a rear spoiler, various interior styling flourishes, special power sport seats, a power rear sunshade and a 17-speaker 825-watt Meridian surround sound audio system.
Finally, the spectacularly powerful and rare XFR-S ($99,895) flaunts performance add-ons such as a 550-hp supercharged V-8, faster transmission shifts and racy styling enhancements with carbon-fiber trim.
Cargo capacity in the XF's trunk is a remarkably large 17.7 cu ft.
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.
Behind the Wheel
We can't help but point out that 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. We'd have a hard time resisting the 16-way power driver seat that comes standard on the Supercharged trim. Rear passengers will enjoy adequate legroom. Tall ones, however, may find their hair brushing the XF model's sleek roof. In keeping with British tradition, both rows are generally treated to liberal applications of leather and wood trim.
On the technology front, the XF is available with appealing features such as 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. However, the 7-in touchscreen is a disappointment for this segment. Despite recent upgrades, it's still relatively small, and its software feels behind the times relative to, say, Audi's MMI system or BMW's iDrive.
Under the hood, the base XF's 4-cylinder engine is not high on our list, as it's rather unrefined and barely gets better fuel economy than the supercharged V6. Since the XF 3.0 also zips to 60 miles per hour in just 5.7 seconds (6.1 with all-wheel drive), it's an easy pick here. As for the V8s, the Supercharged's 5.0 V8 is more motor than most folks will ever need -- 60 mph arrives in just 4.9 seconds -- which make us question the point of the XFR and XFR-S. But there's something to be said for belonging to the 500-hp club, and the extra rumble from these models' quad exhaust tips might just seal the deal. Watch the bottom line, though. For the price of an XFR-S, you could have two base-model XFs.
On the road, the taut and focused XF strikes a wonderful ride/handling balance. Unlike some rivals, it doesn't feel big and bulky in corners. We've done some hot laps in the XFR-S, and it attacks apexes like a purpose-built sports car. Believe it or not, the other XF models aren't that far behind. 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.
Other Cars to Consider
Audi A6 -- The A6's base 4-cylinder engine is better than the Jag's, and its supercharged V6 is a worthy rival to the XF 3.0. See also the V8-powered S6 for an alternative to high-end XFs.
Cadillac CTS -- The new CTS has wowed us with its responsive handling, and if you specify the twin-turbo V6, you have a sport sedan that can easily run with V8 competitors.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class -- Blessed with a broad engine lineup, the E-Class loves the fast lane, though it trades some XF-style athleticism in corners for a softer highway ride.
We know the V8-powered XFs are expensive, but to drive one is to need one in your life. Check out the XF Supercharged, which gives you most of the higher models' performance at a more reasonable price.