If you’re looking for information on a newer Jaguar XE, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Jaguar XE Review
The 2018 Jaguar XE is still trying to make an impact among premium compact sedans. The main players are the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, each one a big seller for their respective companies.
Despite tough competition, the XE has one major aspect in its favor, albeit a subjective one. People will come up to you in the parking lot and ask what it is. The XE finds admirers wherever it goes.
Take away the badges, and it still looks like a Jaguar. There’s something sinewy and agile about it, even when it’s not moving. Those short front overhangs not only help the stance and steering feel, they also convey the enthusiast side of the XE’s rich character.
The styling is all the more remarkable because there’s a lot of aluminum in the body. This approach keeps weight at acceptable levels, but this metal is difficult to fashion into such flowing shapes. Fortunately, there’s also a lot of substance to complement the flair.
What’s New for 2018?
The range expands with two higher trim levels. A new turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine joins the club, while the entry level engine gains seven horsepower and 18 lb-ft of torque. See the 2018 Jaguar XE models for sale near you
What We Like
Superb looks; energetic supercharged V6 engine; fabulous suspension
What We Don’t
Disappointing interior design and materials; the most advanced safety features are only available with the upper trims
Every XE has an 8-speed automatic transmission.
The entry level engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder unit making 247 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. This goes in cars with a 25t badge. Rear-wheel drive is the default arrangement; all-wheel drive is optional. It also has a stop/start function to save a little gas while waiting at the traffic lights. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) puts fuel consumption at 25 miles per gallon city, 34 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined (rear-wheel drive) and 24 mpg city/34 mpg hwy/28 mpg combined (all-wheel drive).
This year sees a new turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine generating 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. However, it’s so fresh that the EPA did not have any fuel figures at the the time of writing this review. The relevant car badge is 30t.
Jaguar also offers a diesel alternative, denoted by the 20d badge. This has four cylinders, a turbocharger and 2.0 liters of displacement. Output is 180 hp and 318 lb-ft of torque. The EPA estimates fuel consumption at 32 mpg city/42 mpg hwy/36 mpg combined with rear-wheel drive, or 30 mpg city/40 mpg hwy/34 mpg combined with all-wheel drive.
At the top of the engine range is a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 (in versions wearing an S badge). It develops 340 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. Fuel consumption is estimated at 21 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined with rear-wheel drive, or 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined when all four wheels are connected up to the drivetrain.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 Jaguar XE comes in basic, Premium, Prestige, R-Sport, S and Portfolio trim levels.
The entry level XE 25t ($36,720) comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, keyless entry/ignition, Normal/Eco/Dynamic driving modes, dual-zone automatic climate control, 8-way power-adjustable front seats, rain-sensing wipers, heated side mirrors, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, an electronic parking brake, a self-dimming rearview mirror, 8-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth plus a 6-speaker audio system with HD radio, a USB port and an auxiliary audio input.
Premium ($39,320) adds a rearview camera, self-dimming side mirrors with a power-folding function, memory settings for the driver’s seat, rear seats that split-fold in 40/20/40 fashion, and an upgraded 380-watt/11-speaker audio system.
Prestige ($43,220) entails keyless entry, leather upholstery, navigation, heated front seats and steering wheel, 4-way power lumbar adjustment (front seats), powered steering column adjustment and ambient cabin lighting.
R-Sport ($46,820) is not available with the smaller gasoline engine. Extra equipment includes a dedicated sportier suspension tune, sport seats up front, adaptive headlights with automatic high beams, LED daytime running lights, a rear spoiler, satellite radio, parking sensors front and rear, forward-collision mitigation, blind spot monitoring and lane-keeping assistance.
S ($53,270) comes with the V6 exclusively, plus 19-in alloy wheels, adaptive suspension, sport front seats with 16-way power adjustment, metal-finish pedals and a S body kit.
The more luxurious Portfolio ($57,495) has 19-in wheels, hands-free trunk lid operation, heated/cooled/16-way power adjustable front seats, heated rear seats, a 10.2-in display and an 825-watt audio system.
Among the options are Wi-Fi and a head-up display that uses laser light instead of LED, making it readable for drivers wearing polarized sunglasses. Prestige and R-Sport versions are also eligible for the adaptive suspension.
Trunk space measures 15.9 cu ft., which is above average for this class. Cleverly, the styling manages to disguise such a generous caboose.
All the mandatory safety features (airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control) are present and correct. Not having a rearview camera as standard in the basic trim seems unnecessarily penny-pinching. And having to pay out for a higher trim for the advanced safety features (including traffic sign recognition and a 360-degree camera system) feels like a similar misstep. Plenty of buyers looking at the Prestige trim would be interested in those functions.
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have crash-tested the XE.
Behind the Wheel
The cockpit-like cabin can seem a tad constricting. Admittedly, this is a compact sedan, but most rivals feel roomier. This could be a matter of taste, because it also feels good to sit "in" the driver’s seat and have all vital controls a fingertip away. No complaints about comfort levels in the front or the back. Rear passenger space is adequate for an adult male of average size, in regard to both headroom and legroom.
In the higher trim levels, the XE offers a more extensive range of selectable driving modes that adjusts various aspects such as throttle response, suspension settings and steering feel. In sportier modes, there’s a pleasant weight to the steering, providing just enough information coming up to the hands for a driver to "tune in" to it for greater involvement.
Another positive trait is the suspension, which achieves what in theory should be mutually exclusive goals. It’s composed, stable and sporty yet still not overly firm. That famed Jaguar suppleness shines through and makes the XE a joy to drive for any distance.
The diesel engine provides a pleasant low-end push, yet soon runs out of muscle when the revs increase. On the plus side, it has the virtue of being quiet. But the V6 is where chassis and power align to form a much more satisfying combination.
The only real letdown is the quality of some plastics used in the cabin — on the tops of the doors and the dash, for example. They’re a bit hard and would be more appropriate in a mainstream car than a premium model from across the Atlantic. Jaguar has an enviable reputation for sophistication, but it’s going to take a dent here.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Audi A4 — Up-to-the-minute technology and attractive down-to-the-finest-detail interiors. Its entry level gasoline engine also comes with more power than the XE’s.
2018 BMW 3 Series — One of the best in the class. A new generation is set to arrive in 2018 as a 2019 model.
2018 Cadillac ATS — Anyone looking at alternatives to the German giants, as a potential Jaguar buyer would be, will find much to like about the ATS.
2018 Lexus IS — A mid-generation revamp is due for the 2019 model year. As ever, build quality is superb, but current power levels aren’t as good as the competition.
2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class — Every C-Class has been popular, and this current generation is relatively new. So the tech is fresh and the underlying hardware is as good as it gets.
Used Audi A6 — Bigger and plusher than an XE, and attractive in its own way. Plenty of power, capability and equipment as well.
For the full-on Jaguar experience, there has to be a big engine under the hood. The S would be wonderful, or perhaps an R-Sport with the most powerful 4-cylinder unit.