At a Glance
Smooth ride, big power, soothing atmosphere
Numb steering, less-than-taut suspension
Fuel Ecomnomy:18.4 mpg
Big news for Jag. At the time of this writing, JD Power has just published its Vehicle Dependability Study for 2009. Lexus, which consistently caps the list, has now been pushed into second place by Jaguar and Buick, which both tied for the top slot.
I can't say I'm all that surprised. Well, maybe by Buick, but not Jag. Our Botanical Green XF has performed comfortably and consistently since we took delivery. Perhaps not such a shock given that we still have yet to clock 10,000 miles on the odometer, but at the very least we seem to be off to a pretty good start in the relationship.
As I wrote before, our XF Premium (middle of the range between the base XF and the XF Supercharged) lives up to its billing. Smooth and comfortable, powerful and luxurious, it makes for the ideal street or highway cruiser.
Not so much on a canyon road, perhaps, where the big cat's considerable mass tends to push its tires to the limit. And the suspension, so unflappably cloud-like as it soaks up irregularities in the urban pavement, displays similar difficulty in containing the XF's two tons (and change) on a tight mountain road. But this should be taken with a grain of salt; mountain roads really aren't what this car is about. Still, it'd be really nice to see Jaguar's CATS active suspension available at least as an option on this $55,000 (base) luxury car. For now, CATS only comes on the XF Supercharged and on the range-topping, flame-spitting XFR. We have yet to actually test our long-termer with one of its CATS-equipped siblings back to back, but I've got to think the difference in suspension response would be significant.
At first blush the steering is slow and loose, at least until you get out of the parking lot. It then tightens nicely at cruising velocity, though it does remain pretty numb in terms of feedback at all velocities. The brakes on the other hand feel really quite good, with good pedal feel and pretty muscular bite when it comes time to really lay into them. And no complaints with throttle response, the right-most pedal wakening the V8's 310 lb-ft of torque with consistent urgency. Power delivery is what I'd call more than adequate, with urgent acceleration at just about any speed when you decide to get on the gas.
The cabin continues to impress every time you get in it. First-timers are inevitably impressed, usually very visibly so. And in spite of its 9,000-plus accrued miles, our Jag has still managed to retain an inviting aroma, almost (if not quite) that coveted new-car smell that usually lasts for only a couple weeks.
Some have complained about the touchscreen display, calling it overly complicated and ergonomically difficult, while others have gushed all over it. I remain in the middle of the road. It consolidates the various interior functions efficiently, but I've grown to find the 7-inch (?) LCD a bit too cramped to really display information in so efficient a manner.
I can't say too much, otherwise they'd have to kill me, but Jaguar has already completed the next generation of virtual information dissemination, via central touchscreen and a completely digital (and extremely futuristic) instrument cluster in the spanking-new XJ. One must imagine the next-generation XF will follow suit.
Likewise, a few have criticized the XF's ignition button as gimmicky and immature. I don't agree.
All in all, after having spent considerable time with our Green Leaper, I would have to say the company has hit its mark with this platform. And I'm starting to see more and more of them on the road, so the market response would seem heartening.
The XF doesn't drive like a BMW, but neither does it drive like an, ahem, Buick. And I've got to say it's at least as comfortable and atmospherically inviting as either of those. Likely more so.