Among premium compact sedans, the 2019 Jaguar XE isn’t all-conquering, best-selling or most value-filled. There are some big fish in this particular pond, like the 2019 BMW 3 Series, the Audi A4 and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Where the XE excels, however, is in the driving experience. While maintaining a high degree of comfort that every luxury car should have, Jaguar has also given the XE considerable levels of poise, balance and agility.
The XE is also unmistakably a Jaguar. There’s something sinewy and nimble about it, even when it’s not moving. Those short 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. It’s an approach that keeps weight at acceptable levels, but fashioning this metal into such flowing shapes is not easy. Fortunately, there’s also a lot of substance to complement the flair.
What’s New for 2019?
Landmark and 300 Sport versions are added to the lineup. The 10.2-in infotainment touchscreen that was either optional or available in the higher trims is now standard throughout the 2019 XE range, along with a rearview camera. Apple CarPlay smartphone integration joins the options list.
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 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque. This goes in versions with a 25t badge. Rear-wheel drive is the default arrangement, while 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 in the city, 34 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg in combined driving for RWD models and 24 mpg city/34 mpg hwy/28 mpg combined for models with AWD.
A turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine comes in XE models wearing the 30t badge. It generates 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, and with RWD achieves 24 mpg city/32 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined or 22 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined with AWD.
Jaguar also offers a diesel alternative, denoted by the 20d badge. The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is rated at 180 hp and 318 lb-ft of torque. The EPA estimates fuel consumption at 32 mpg city/42 mpg hwy/36 mpg combined with RWD or 30 mpg city/40 mpg hwy/34 mpg combined with AWD.
A 3.0-liter supercharged V6 propels the S versions. It develops 340 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. Fuel consumption is estimated at 21 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined RWD or 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined AWD.
Standard Features & Options
The 2019 Jaguar XE comes in basic, Premium, Prestige, R-Sport, Landmark, 300 Sport, S and Portfolio trim levels.
The entry level XE 25t ($37,990) comes with 17-in 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, a rearview camera, a 10.2-in touchscreen, Bluetooth, plus a 6-speaker audio system with HD radio, USB port and an auxiliary audio input.
The Premium ($40,270) adds 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.
The Prestige ($44,730) entails leather upholstery, navigation, heated front seats and steering wheel, 4-way power lumbar adjustment (front seats), a powered steering column adjustment, Wi-Fi and ambient cabin lighting.
The R-Sport ($48,840) is eligible for the more powerful 4-cylinder gasoline engine. Extra equipment includes a dedicated sportier suspension tune, adaptive headlights with automatic high beams, LED daytime running lights, a rear spoiler, satellite radio, parking sensors front and rear, forward-collision warning, blind spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist.
The Landmark ($49,985) capitalizes on the R-Sport’s attitude with exclusive-design 18-in alloy wheels, its own aerodynamic additions and sport seats up front.
The XE 300 Sport ($54,395) takes the R-Sport’s equipment then adds 19-in alloy wheels and various cosmetic additions. There is no diesel version of the 300 Sport.
The S ($54,780) comes with the V6 exclusively, plus an adaptive suspension, sport front seats with 16-way power adjustment, metal-finish pedals and an S body kit.
The more luxurious Portfolio ($58,585) has the 296-hp gasoline engine, a hands-free trunk lid, heated/cooled/16-way power-adjustable front seats, heated rear seats and an 825-watt audio system.
Among the options are Apple CarPlay and a head-up display that uses laser light instead of LED, making it readable for drivers wearing polarized sunglasses. The Prestige, the R-Sport, the Landmark and the 300 Sport versions are also eligible for an 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. Having to buy a higher trim to eligible for the optional advanced safety features (including traffic sign recognition and a 360-degree camera system) feels like a misstep. Plenty of buyers looking at the Prestige trim would be interested in those functions.
To date, 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 let-down 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 takes a dent here.
Other Cars to Consider
2019 Alfa Romeo Giulia — Athletic and gorgeous. Not so many engine choices as an XE, but still desirable.
2019 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.
2019 BMW 3 Series — Other manufacturers must wonder what they have to do to beat the 3 Series. A new generation debuts for 2019 and it’s already pleasing the enthusiasts.
2019 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 Mercedes-Benz E-Class — One size larger than an XE and a high point in luxury sedan evolution. Check out the Mercedes-Benz certified pre-owned (CPO) program.
The ideal XE would be the S version. Every Jaguar should have a powerful engine to accompany its excellent chassis. Perhaps the R-Sport with the 30t engine might suit those enthusiasts happy to sacrifice some thrills for more affordable pricing.