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2019 Jaguar F-PACE: New Car Review

Although the 2019 Jaguar F-PACE is a premium compact crossover, that doesn’t mean it exists only to satisfy a marketing need. Competing in a segment that’s insanely popular, the F-PACE has some qualities that make it distinct from its rivals. The styling and handling in particular. That first trait is apparent just by looking; the second is discovered by driving.

Beauty or beast, you’ll have your opinions, but the F-PACE has a recognizable Jaguar character to its design. It avoids the boxiness that afflicts the crossover genre, yet still retains a high level of practicality. We go deeper into the driving aspect below, but here’s one crucial piece of information — the F-PACE uses a lot of aluminum in its construction, including on body panels and suspension parts. This use of lightweight metal keeps the center of gravity fairly low, which brings a benefit to the chassis. We’ll say this right now: Not many contenders are as pleasurable to drive.

What’s New for 2019?

Grabbing the headlines is a new range-topping SVR version with a super-powerful 550-horsepower V8 and a claimed top speed of 176 miles per hour. On a more sensible note, the base model gains a rearview camera, forward-collision mitigation, lane-keeping assistance, driver-fatigue monitoring and parking sensors at both ends. Other advanced driver aids become available in option packages rather than having to buy the most expensive model to get all the safety features. Jaguar has also improved its traffic sign recognition function, and a 10-inch touchscreen is now standard throughout. See the 2019 Jaguar F-PACE models for sale near you

What We Like

Styling; supercharged engines; excellent road manners; passenger and cargo space

What We Don’t

Some cabin materials lack the typical Jaguar classiness

How Much?

$45,595-$80,985

Fuel Economy

The base engine in the 25t is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder unit turbocharged to produce 247 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 22 miles per gallon in city driving, 27 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg combined.

In 20d versions is a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder diesel developing 180 hp and 317 lb-ft, and returning 26 mpg city/33 mpg hwy/29 mpg combined.

The engine in 30t models is a version of the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder unit boosted to produce 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. EPA figures are the same as the 247-hp unit at 22 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined.

A supercharged 3.0-liter V6 developing 380 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque is in the S version. It achieves 18 mpg city/23 mpg hwy/20 mpg combined.

The new F-PACE SVR is propelled by 550 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque from a supercharged 5.0-liter V8. No EPA figures were available at the time of compiling this review, but someone interested in this much power probably doesn’t have fuel consumption as a high priority.

Every 2019 F-PACE has an 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive as standard.

Standard Features & Options

The 2019 Jaguar F-PACE comes in base, Premium, Prestige, R-Sport, S and SVR trim levels. The S is the only version to have the V6, while 20d and 30t models start at the Premium level.

The F-PACE 25t ($45,595) has the 2.0-liter gasoline engine. A power lift gate is standard, along with 18-in alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 8-way power-adjustable front seats, simulated leather upholstery, rain-sensing wipers, LED running lights, a rearview camera, forward-collision mitigation, a self-dimming rearview mirror, parking sensors front and rear, a 10-in touchscreen, Bluetooth, a 380-watt/11-speaker audio system, USB, HD Radio and an auxiliary audio input.

The Premium ($47,995) comes with 19-in alloy wheels, memory settings for the driver’s seat and self-dimming/power-folding side mirrors.

The F-PACE 20d Premium ($49,495) starts off the diesel-powered variants, skipping the base level and going up to R-Sport.

The Prestige ($52,595) adds real leather upholstery, heated front seats with 4-way power-adjustable lumbar, a heated windshield and steering wheel (which becomes power-adjustable), Wi-Fi, navigation and traffic sign recognition.

The R-Sport ($56,895) rolls on 20-in alloys and incorporates blind spot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance, sportier front seats and fog lamps.

The S ($62,495) puts the V6 into the engine bay, while an adaptive suspension is also added. Otherwise, the equipment list is similar to the R-Sport.

The 30t Portfolio ($63,995) brings a head-up display, satellite radio, adaptive headlights with automatic high beams, heated/cooled/20-way power-adjustable front seats, power-reclining rear seats with heated outboards, quad-zone climate control, a gesture-controlled tailgate and an 825-watt Surround Sound system.

As well as the big V8, the SVR ($80,985) has its own cosmetic additions inside and out, an aero kit, 21-in alloy wheels, quad exhaust tailpipes, bigger brakes and a dedicated suspension setup.

Much of the standard equipment in higher trims, such as quad-zone automatic climate control, navigation, a 825-watt/17-speaker Surround Sound system and a laser-based head-up display (rather than LED, so drivers can wear polarized sunglasses and still read it), is available at extra cost in less expensive variants. Higher trims also offer a TFT/LCD instrument display. A basic driver-assistance package is available from Premium trim, while a more comprehensive array becomes eligible at the Prestige level.

Other options include 22-in wheels (that will affect ride comfort), cabin air ionization and a perpendicular/parallel self-parking function. One noteworthy extra is the Activity Key. It’s worn on the wrist and looks like a fitness gadget; it’s waterproof and shockproof, so it can be worn while surfing or rock climbing. It enables the user to leave the regular key in the F-PACE, then lock the vehicle by placing the Activity Key on the J of the tailgate’s Jaguar badge. No batteries are required.

Cargo space with the rear seats in place is 33.5 cu ft. and 63.5 cu ft. when they’re folded down flat. Both figures have the edge over the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3. The mat in the F-PACE has carpet on one side and a washable rubberized surface on the other. Maximum towing capacity is 5,290 pounds.

Safety

The F-PACE has not yet been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Full-length side curtain airbags are among the standard safety features. More advanced features, such as adaptive cruise control and road-sign recognition, are available.

Behind the Wheel

Space is excellent for occupants in both rows. A clever yet subtle piece of packaging makes the F-PACE slightly wider than the XF sedan on which it’s based. The payoff comes in the form of generous shoulder and hip room and a really stable road stance.

The F-PACE exhibits some typical Jaguar traits. One is a chassis that’s composed and poised but not in the least bit jiggly or harsh. The low-ish center of gravity certainly helps. And that’s despite an elevated driving position and with relatively generous ground clearance of 8.4 inches. Should anyone want to take their F-PACE crossover for some mild off-roading, that figure is good to know. Jaguar’s sister company, Land Rover, has contributed some expertise in the form of All-Surface Progress Control, which is like a slow-motion cruise control for when things get tricky underfoot.

Handling is further enhanced by Jaguar’s "torque vectoring by braking" system that subtly applies the brakes to one or some wheels to maintain the desired line through a corner. This is a crossover with the talents of a sport sedan, while the SVR has abilities akin to a high-performance sedan. For comparison, the wonderfully quick Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 "only" has 469 horsepower.

The SVR version of the F-Pace is the Jag we hoped we would get when the F-Pace was invented. The SVR does that thing that Jaguar does so well — combines gut-sloshing acceleration, braking and handling with a refined attitude, plush interior and good tech. Jaguar finally has Apple CarPlay and that really serves to make the F-Pace SVR as useful as it is quick. But it’s really the performance aspects of the car that deserve attention. You feel all 550 supercharged-horsepower when you step on the gas. It’s very rewarding to drive hard but also has the ability feel like a real luxury SUV when you’re in the mood for that. That’s further enhanced by the selectable drive modes so you dial in the exact kind of feel and response you want. The SVR also makes all the right performance car noises. Jaguar call this “…a race-car-inspired crescendo for a deep, dramatic sound.” The sound alone is a perfect microcosm of the car itself; a compelling combination of old school American V8 vibe with European sophistication at its core. The four exhaust outlets and 21-inch wheels give the car a tough stance as does the body kit that’s part of the SVR treatment.

Inside, the quilted sport seats are both comfortable and good-looking. They also do a great job of holding you in place while cornering aggressively. One thing about the non-SVR F-Pace we don’t like is that, in certain trims, the interior isn’t what most of us think of when seeing the Jaguar badge. However, the SVR remedies that. It’s not just the seats but the overall treatment — even the color choices add to the luxury vibe of the F-Pace SVR. Adding to the utility of the F-Pace is a decent size cargo area.

One thing we don’t like, and this seems like an overlooked hold-over from the more “normal” F-Pace, is the feel of the volume knob. Yes, that sounds petty, but in an $80,000 car the volume knob feels like it belongs in a much lesser car. We have similar complaints with the SVR’s electronic features — the touch screen and associated features are sometimes slow to respond. Although the look, feel and function of the information and entertainment features are a dramatic improvement over previous Jaguar models, they can still be slow.  None of this is enough for us to steer anyone away from the F-Pace — especially the F-Pace SVR. It’s worth a test drive and easily matches or exceeds the best performance SUVs from BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover and Porsche.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Audi Q5 — The first generation was talented and popular, while this second generation repeats the formula.

2019 BMW X3 — Superb to drive, well packaged, extremely practical, somewhat pricey.

2019 Lexus NX — Great build quality. Not that inspiring to drive.

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class — Based on the excellent C-Class sedan platform. Classy, slightly understated, yet well equipped for the price.

Used Porsche Macan — The F-PACE was benchmarked against the Macan when Jaguar was tuning the suspension. The Porsche is more expensive as a new vehicle, but a recent certified pre-owned (CPO) version is absolutely worth checking out.

Autotrader’s Advice

A Prestige version, preferably with the more powerful 4-cylinder gasoline engine, achieves a balance of luxury appointments while staying on the reasonable side of the price range. Find a Jaguar F-PACE for sale

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