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2017 Jaguar F-PACE: First Drive Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Colin Ryan July 2016

The 2017 Jaguar F-PACE is the company's first-ever crossover SUV. It's a brand-new rival to other premium compacts such as the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3. Those vehicles are already well established and generally well loved, but the F-PACE has everything it needs to become Jaguar's biggest hit.

Revolution

The design of the F-PACE is a revolt against the typical, boxy SUV. Giving a sleek look to a crossover without compromising interior space takes some doing, but Jaguar makes it happen. We'll leave any positives or negatives to personal taste, but there's nothing that seems out of place on the exterior.

The interior can still comfortably accommodate adults in the rear seats. It's a mostly pleasant, quiet cabin with plenty of visibility. But there seems to be another revolution, this time against traditional Jaguar values. On the tops of the doors are hard plastics that definitely seem out of place in a luxury vehicle, but that's the only reason to grumble that we could find.

Ticket to Ride

The 2017 Jaguar F-PACE starts at $41,985 for the diesel version. Trim levels are base F-PACE, Premium, Prestige, R-Sport and S, the latter of which comes with the high-performance V6 engine only.

Standard equipment includes all-wheel drive, 18-inch alloy wheels, 8-way power front seats, a power lift gate, a panoramic sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, puddle lamps and a 380-watt audio system.

Another standard feature is all-surface progress control. Think of it as cruise control for low speeds and slippery surfaces, such as gravel or snow. It will automatically take over acceleration and braking, while the driver only needs to steer.

Among the many options are 22-in wheels, quad-zone automatic climate control, a power recline function for the rear seats, a heated windshield, a head-up display, a 360-degree camera system and a perpendicular and parallel self-parking function. If you want advanced safety features such as forward-collision mitigation and a blind spot monitoring system, you'll have to go for one of the higher trim levels.

Dear Prudence

The F-PACE range begins with a fuel-sipping diesel engine. Models with this unit wear the 20d badge. It's a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that's turbocharged to produce 180 horsepower and 318 lb-ft of torque. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doesn't have any fuel-consumption figures yet, but when this powertrain is in the new XE compact sedan, Jaguar hopes it can achieve 40 miles per gallon on the highway, so there's a good chance that the F-PACE could get fuel economy in the high 30-mpg range.

The other engine is a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 in 35t and S models. In the 35t, it makes 340 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. In the S, power is boosted to 380 hp, but torque remains identical. So far, the only EPA numbers are for the 340-hp version, which gets 18 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.

With both engines, power goes to all four wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Picture Yourself in a Boat on a River

Jaguar's optional activity key is a real innovation. It goes on the wrist and looks like a wearable fitness gadget, even down to the rubber strap. The idea behind it is for owners to go kayaking, surfing or any outdoor activity without worrying about getting the regular key fob wet or otherwise damaged.

It works by touching the activity key to the badge at the rear, which deactivates the usual key and can be left inside the vehicle. Do the same thing to unlock, and the regular key is reactivated.

Drive My Car

Despite its obvious appeal to well-off families, Jaguar also decided that the F-PACE should be a driver's machine. The all-wheel-drive system is intelligent enough to send most of the power to the rear wheels in regular situations for that traditional sporty feel, but within milliseconds, it can direct drive to the front when conditions demand. Much of the body and many of the suspension components are made from aluminum, so the F-PACE has a relatively low center of gravity. It doesn't feel tall and clumsy, yet still has the much-loved elevated driving position.

Like other Jaguar vehicles, the F-PACE also combines two traits that are often mutually exclusive: comfort and precision. The compact crossover can handle corners like few others in the segment, without a hint of harshness to the ride quality.

The diesel version was unavailable for this review, but we tested both versions of the V6. The 340-hp model will probably be the most popular. The engine is as smooth as it is energetic, with enough power to please most people. There are some who absolutely must have the top-of-the-line version, and that 380 hp will give them an extra fun edge.

Down in the cargo bay, the mat has carpeting on one side (for a little class and some sound insulation), with a washable rubberized surface on the other side. Luggage space with the rear seats up measures 33.5 cu ft. Fold them down to make a flat floor, and that area expands to 63.5 cu ft. Both configurations beat the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3, and the floor level is low enough to make loading easy.

Jaguar has created something really special with the F-PACE. Buyers should enjoy driving it, and the rest of us will enjoy seeing it on the roads.

For access to this information, Autotrader attended an event sponsored by the vehicle's manufacturer.

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Used 2017 Jaguar F-PACE R-Sport
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Used 2017 Jaguar F-PACE S
Used 2017 Jaguar F-PACE
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Used 2017 Jaguar F-PACE S
Used 2017 Jaguar F-PACE
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 Jaguar F-PACE: First Drive Review - Autotrader