By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
After 26 years of writing auto reviews we have developed certain biases about the cars we test. To be more specific, we’ve developed a passion for luxury cars, diesel engines, and all-wheel drive (AWD) along with a variety individual safety and design features. The appeal of the luxury vehicles is a given – who doesn’t like an opulent vehicle? The strong torque and excellent fuel economy make diesel powered cars appealing and AWD adds superior traction and handling.
When we have an especially interesting car that has one or more of these elements, and when we had the time, we immediately think, “road trip.” When we found out that our next test car was the 2017 Jaguar XF 20d AWD R-Sport, it easily fell into that category, so it was “road trip” time and we immediately made reservations at our time share at Discovery Bay in North East Washington state.
One of our travel rituals is to download several audio books on Bill’s smart phone and listen to them via Bluetooth as we drive. Jaguar has dramatically improved the way their communications and infotainment systems works. Linking to the audio system was quick and intuitive. We also punched resort address into the navigation system, and we were off early in the morning listening to a book by a favorite author through the 825-watt Meridian Surround Sound System. Our car had the optional Technology Package ($3,200) which included a 10.2-inch Capacitive Touch Screen mounted at the top of the center stack and the impressive new 12.3-inch Virtual Instrument Cluster, that allows the driver to customize the instrument panel.
The aluminum-intensive architecture of the latest XF is 28 percent more rigid than the previous XF with the aluminum making up to 75 percent of the body and underpinning’s weight. In a construction where ounces can make an improvement, imagine what happens when the engineers remove 132 pounds out of the rear-drive versions and 265 pounds from the all-wheel drives – it makes a huge difference. The aluminum structure also allowed the engineers to increase the rear seat passengers space and to make a notable improvement to the driving dynamics.
The real driving improvement showed up on the winding roads we took on our road trip. Armed with an aluminum double wishbone front suspension (the same as is used in the F-Type sports car), sophisticated aluminum link in the rear and a near perfect 50/50 front/rear weight distribution, this car flows through the corners, staying flat and holding tightly to the road. There is also an available Adaptive Dynamics system which enhances low-speed ride comfort, handling and high speed agility by using adaptive dampers.
The new XF lets the driver adapt to driving conditions with the JaguarDrive Control™ which can be adjusted to four driving modes: Normal, Winter, ECO and Dynamic. On all-wheel drive models the Adaptive Surface Response system is designed to distinguish between road surfaces and adjust the level of traction accordingly.
A 180-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine powers the 20d model we drove. The engine is available in both rear- or all-wheel drive versions on four of the five trim levels. It is the first application of a new family of light weight and highly efficient diesel and gasoline Ingenium engines. With 318-lb.ft. of torque the engine produces strong linear power, while weighing in a svelte 304 pounds. The transmission is a smooth, fast-shifting eight-speed automatic with steering wheel mounted shift paddles.
manual shifts. This is one of the best transmissions in the business providing quick smooth shifts. The transmission is linked to the JaguarDrive Control which also monitors the driving style and adapts its shift pattern accordingly. The electric power assisted steering is on the light side, but feels accurate and the boost adjusts with the mode changes made by the JaguarDrive.
The engine is smooth and powerful, but not quite as quiet as we expected during harder acceleration. The 20d AWD accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds and has a top speed limited to 121 mph. Where it really shines in the fuel economy, which the EPA rates at 30 mpg city, 40 mpg highway and 34 mpg combined. We averaged 37.8 mpg on our 500-mile road trip with much of the driving just over the posted 65 & 70 mph speed limits. Had Barbara been driving we think the number would be around 42 mpg. Shoppers wanting more power could choose either the 340- or 380-hp supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine.
The diesel engine uses a cooled low pressure exhaust recirculation system, diesel particulate filter and a Selective Catalytic Reduction system (which injects Diesel Exhaust Fluid into the exhaust) to convert NOx into harmless nitrogen gas. This does require the owner to replenish the inexpensive DEF about every 1,000 miles.
The XF advances the Jaguar technology toy box with features like the standard Jaguar InControl Touch™ and optional InControl® Touch Pro™. This is the most sophisticated system ever developed by Jaguar and we were impressed by how much faster it is than previous systems and new graphics. It uses a quad-core processor and has a fast new navigation system. It can be customized by adding widgets and data stored in a super-fast solid-state drive.
Working seamlessly with Apple® and Android™ smartphones InControl® allows the owner to control apps, remotely control and check vehicle functions and provide a menu of emergency services.
Some of the other new available technologies include autonomous emergency braking, lane departure and lane keep assist, driver drowsy monitoring, traffic sign recognition, intelligent speed limiter and laser heads-up display. There are other systems that detect rear traffic, steer in and out of parking spaces, and keeps the car a fixed distance behind a vehicle ahead even in stop and go traffic.
The 2017 Jaguar XF 20d is available in four models (XF 20d, Premium 20d, Prestige 20d and XF R-Sport 20d). All-wheel drive is a $3,000 option. Pricing ranges from $50,270, including the destination charge, for the XF 20d with rear-wheel drive up to $63,620 for the XF R-Sport AWD. Selecting an XF R-Sport AWD with all the options can push the MSRP to just over $80,000.
Someone shopping for a great looking, well equipped, fun-to-drive luxury car that gets outstanding fuel economy should take this car for a spin. It’s impressive!