2009 Jaguar XF Reviews and Ratings

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2009 Jaguar XF
Bob Plunkett

Introduction
The 2009 Jaguar XF is a new model, replacing the aging S-Type in Jaguar's lineup. This mid-sized, rear-wheel-drive sedan offers a fresh, engaging alternative to luxury imports such as the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class, and Lexus GS. After a 300-mile test drive, we'd rank the Jaguar XF near the top of its class.

The Jaguar XF delivers everything you'd expect in a contemporary luxury sedan, and then some. The big news with XF is styling, interior design and features, though the hardware underneath is anything but ordinary. A lot of it, including the suspension design, is borrowed from the Jaguar XK.

Factor in a well-engineered body structure, and the XF is exactly what it should be: smooth, quiet and responsive. It feels lighter and more agile than some of its competitors, and it bears up like a sport sedan when driven aggressively.

The XF comes with a choice of two V8 engines. The base engine is Jag's familiar 4.2-liter V8, delivering 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. The upgrade is a supercharged version of the 4.2, generating 420 hp and 408 lb-ft and surpassing nearly all competitors in output. Both V8s come with Jaguar's six-speed ZF automatic transmission, which is one of the best automatics money can buy.

The XF will be offered in three trim levels, starting with the normally aspirated Luxury, which is better equipped than most base models in this category. The Premium Luxury adds even more stuff, including double-stitched, soft-grain leather on the dash and door panels. The SC (for supercharged) comes with just about everything Jaguar offers, including CATS automatic suspension control and 20-inch wheels.

Then there's the racy new look. The XF marks a new direction for Jaguar, but it also continues some of the styling themes that have identified Jaguars for decades. The roofline and the shape of the side glass are intended to create the impression of a sporty, two-door coupe more than a four-door sedan, and to a considerable extent it works. The XF presents one of the more interesting designs in a category full of handsome automobiles. If you're intrigued by the photographs, you'll like it better in real life.

The same applies inside. We really like the XF cabin, for both its look and overall function. Slide into this sedan, and an interactive greeting that Jaguar calls the handshake welcomes the driver and reminds him or her that driving is an active process. The wood, wool and leather create the feel and scent of a British club room, yet the design is light, airy and almost Scandinavian. The XF interior is more minimalist than its German competitors, but also more charming and easier to get familiar with.

Of course, the swoopy styling has its drawbacks. By nearly every exterior dimension, the XF is slightly larger than all competitors, but the flow of its roofline and the rake of its rear glass mean rear headroom is tight. In general, the rear seat feels more confining than that in a Mercedes E-Class or Audi A6. On the upside, the XF's trunk is larger than any competitor's, and a folding rear seat further expands capacity. The importance of these packaging issues will depend on the buyer's priorities.

In our estimation, the XF debuts as one of the most appealing cars in its class. Before the XF, well-heeled buyers seeking an option to the dense-pack switches, multi-layered interfaces and alphabet-soup of electronics in most imported luxo/sport sedans probably had to think about a brand with less cachet or dynamic capability. No more. With steady improvement in Jaguar's resale values and customer-satisfaction ratings the last several years, the new XF offers an excellent alternative.

The 2009 XF replaces the 2008 S-Type in Jaguar's line-up, though the two cars will sell concurrently during calendar year 2008. Model Lineup
The 2009 Jaguar XF is available in three trim levels with a choice of two V8 engines. All feature a six-speed automatic transmission with a paddle-operated manual mode.

The XF 4.2 Luxury ($49,200) is powered by a 4.2-liter V8 delivering 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. The Luxury is one of the best equipped base models in this class, with features like rear park assist, passive keyless entry and start and a power glass sunroof included in the price. The standard seating is bond-grain leather, with satin-finish walnut and aluminum trim, a 320-watt, eight-speaker stereo and 18-inch alloy wheels.

The XF 4.2 Premium Luxury ($55,200) has the same normally aspirated V8 as the standard model, with even more luxury features. Its standard equipment list adds a GPS navigation system, soft-grain leather on the seats, dash and door panels, three-stage heated front seats and 19-inch wheels, among other things.

Options for Luxury and Premium Luxury: The Advanced Vision Package ($1,800) adds a rearview camera, front park assist, a radar-operated Blind Spot Monitor and self-leveling Bi-Xenon headlights. Larger wheels, an electric rear-glass sunblind ($450), Sirius Satellite Radio hardware ($375) are among the standalone options. A premium audio package ($1,500) features a 440-watt Bowers & Wilkins unit with surround processing, 13 speakers, an in-dash six-CD changer and Sirius Satellite Radio.

The XF 4.2 SC ($62,200), or Supercharged, comes standard with just about everything Jaguar offers, including 20-inch wheels. Most significantly, it features a supercharged version of the V8 and CATS, the Computer Active Technology Suspension. SC options are limited to a heated steering wheel ($300) and radar-guided Adaptive Cruise Control ($2,200).

Safety features that come standard include dual-stage front airbags, front-seat side-impact airbags, head-protecting curtain airbags for all outboard seats, and a tire pressure monitor. As noted, rear park assist is standard on all models, with a graphic display on the dash. The rearview camera, front park assist and blind-spot monitor are standard on the SC and optional on other models. Active safety features include Dynamic Stability Control, with an understeer (or push skid) managing feature, and the latest-generation antilock brakes (ABS). The ABS features brake assist for full force in panic stops and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), which includes a component called Cornering Brake Control that proportions brake force from side to side to keep the car balanced while braking through a curve. Walkaround
From its basic shape to its aerodynamic characteristics to its underlying structure, the 2009 Jaguar XF sedan is a thoroughly modern automobile. It's also a Jaguar, and while its styling is intended to create a template for Jaguars to come, the XF almost requires certain traits that the world associates with one of Britain's best-known brands.

This essential Jaguar character is defined by the XF's face, and centered on a prominent grille that launches nearly all of the lines flowing rearward across the car. The grille itself is quintessentially British woven mesh, trimmed with chrome and reminiscent of the racing Jaguars that have performed so well in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Wing-shaped headlight clusters wrap around the XF's corners onto its fenders.

In profile, the XF is defined by a single, uninterrupted line that flows from the front bumper to the rear edge of the trunk lid. The beltline, that character-building crease below the side windows, rises up into the roof more than the roof drops down toward the beltline. The effect is a forward-biased wedge shape that creates an impression of speed, even when the XF is sitting still. The rear deck is higher than that on any Jaguar sedan before, but this less-formal look pays dividends in excellent aerodynamics and an expansive trunk.

The overall shape of the XF does not shout Jaguar, but the familiar design cues are everywhere. Within each new-age headlight cluster sit two round, sealed beams that maintain the brand's quad-lamp signature, complete with the traditional fluting above the lights. The chrome trim above the side windows comes straight off the historic Mk. II sedan, while the prominent hood bulge recalls the E-type, which is arguably the most famous Jaguar of all. We're not enamored with all the jewelry, however. The bright metal strip on the trunk lid looks ordinary, and the leaping Jaguar in back is overkill.

The XF's basic shape does more than create a high-impact presence. Aerodynamically, it's the most efficient Jaguar sedan ever, with an impressive 0.29 drag coefficient and a front-to-rear lift balance of zero. That means that neither end of the car is more inclined than the other to lift in the airflow as speeds increase. The excellent aerodynamics help keep the XF stable at high speeds, reduce wind noise inside and reduce fuel consumption at a given speed, compared to a car with more drag.

The XF is slightly larger in just about every exterior dimension than the Audi A6, which was previously the largest car in this class. Its underlying structural design is driven by safety considerations, and particularly by the goal of protecting against side impacts and the tendency of tall, sport-utility type vehicles to slide upward in collisions with sedans. Jaguar has applied a host of high-tech metals, including high-carbon steels, dual-phase steel, hot-formed boron and bake-hardened steels, to create a vertical safety ring around the XF's occupant cell. The company claims that the XF will deliver the best crash protection in the class with a body/frame package that is lighter than that of its competitors.

There's a second benefit to this careful structural engineering. While the XF's body is larger, Jaguar also claims that it is the most torsionally rigid car in the class, meaning that it flexes less from end to end under pressure. This overall stiffness and rigidity is one of the factors that separate luxury sedans from less expensive, higher-volume models. It's the foundation for minimizing noise and vibration inside an automobile, and the well from which dynamic capabilities such as handling, ride quality and overall responsiveness flow. Interior
Inside, the Jaguar XF has everything we want in a sporting luxury sedan, without a lot of things we don't want. We want style, comfort, features, useful technology and great ambience. We don't want the distraction or annoyance that some contemporary luxury sedans demand in return for what we do want.

Is the XF cabin high-tech? We'd say so. The overhead lights, for example, work simply with a touch. Not a switch or even a click of the light lens itself, but just a soft touch. The same with the glovebox latch, which isn't really a latch at all. It's a spot on the wood trim where you lay a finger. In general, the XF's features and controls empower the driver without overpowering. They're there when you need them and not a distraction when you don't (or when you do). That's in contrast to so many luxury cars that seem to want to shove all their goodies in your face, and then make them hard to operate.

Like its exterior, the XF's interior will seem familiar to previous Jaguar owners, only different. The great leather and a choice of lacquered wood are familiar. The difference is primarily the design or layout. It's less conventional than previous Jaguar sedans, and perhaps less formal.

The materials are bit different, too. There's a lot more aluminum trim to go with the wood (though there is still a lot of wood). And while Jaguar has always delivered the requisite leather, wood and wool carpet, it has sometimes hidden behind these big-impact materials without paying much attention to lesser stuff. In the XF, even the plastic pieces inside have a rich, latex-like feel. Overall, the package is first rate. It's as inviting in design and ambience as any car in this class, and more so than many. The only potential gripe in materials and craftsmanship is the headliner. It's a woven material Jaguar calls Morzine, and it's tailored snugly to the contour of the roof. It's just that the duck-like textile seems a bit ordinary in light of the great stuff everywhere else.

All seats are leather, with perforated inserts between the bolsters. The base Luxury package gets what Jaguar calls bond-grain, and it's thick and sturdy. The Premium Luxury and SC models get soft-grain leather. It's ultra-soft to the touch, but still sturdy and substantial, and in these models it's applied on the dashboard and door panels as well, with genuine double stitching. The front seats are heavily sculpted, and they support and cushion as well as the standard seats in any car in this class, with adjustment for just about everything. Yet these seats are less massive than those in some competitors, perhaps thinner, so they seem to fill less space inside the car.

When the driver slides into the XF with the proximity key in purse or pocket, the start button glows, ready to be pushed. The steering wheel is identical to that in the XK sport coupe: grippy, with heavy spokes and the growling mug of a jaguar in the center. The gear selector is a big, aluminum dial knob that rises from the center console when the XF fires up. It's cooler than the drive-by-wire shifters other luxury manufactures have developed, and as functional as any. Jaguar claims this electronic gear selector will keep working even if it's drenched with a half-gallon of coffee.

The XF's primary gauges are slightly smaller than those in some luxury sedans, but the script is large and easy to read. They're clustered under a compact hood binnacle in the now-familiar luxo-car format: speedometer on the right, tach left, flanking an LCD message center with a bar-graph gas gauge, gear indicator, time, odometer and other trip information. The backlighting is ultra-crisp phosphorus blue, and perhaps the best going.

Jaguar is bragging about the XF's soft blue LED ambient lighting, too. Unfortunately, our test driving came primarily during daylight, so we're not sure what to think. We can say that everything on the dashboard, including the standard touch-screen control panel, is easy to read in bright Arizona sunlight, even with sunglasses.

Speaking of the dashboard, it's not the familiar rounded-end flat panel we've come to expect in Jaguar sedans. It's lower, and thanks partly to the long rake of the windshield, much deeper. The design is dominated by a strip of scored aluminum, perhaps six inches high, that runs the full length and around onto the door panels. The leather top of the dash rises slightly from this aluminum plate toward the base of the windshield, stretching a good two feet at the center of the car. Below the aluminum is a thinner strip of wood, with big planks of wood trim on the doors and the top of the center console. The XF offers a choice of satin-finish American Walnut, glossy, traditional Burl Walnut, or lighter Rich Oak.

Switches and general ergonomic function are first-rate; the best we've experienced in a Jaguar, and near the top among luxury imports. Pressure-resistant thumbwheels on the steering-wheel spokes adjust audio or cruise-control functions, and they feel right. The headlight switch is on the turn-signal stalk and the wipers are on the right stalk, and both are easy to use, first and every time. Buttons for the sunroof and rear sunshade are overhead.

In general, the XF has exactly what we look for and like. The mirror adjustor and window switches are clustered on the armrest, and easy to operate with the forearm laid flat. The elbows rest level on the door and center armrests when hands are placed at ten and two on the steering wheel, for comfortable, relaxed cruising.

Nothing about the XF's various controls seems daunting, even at first blush. There's no dense array of buttons or annoying point-and-click device to learn. Every model comes with a good-sized touch-screen LCD (even without the optional navigation system), and it's within easy reach right in the middle of the dash. It's the primary interface for audio, navigation and communication functions, and its menus are straightforward and easy to learn. There's also a prominent hard button that immediately returns you to the main menu.

Better still, all frequently adjusted controls are replicated in a rational, attractive array of buttons just below the touch-screen, in the short center stack. Two rectangular clusters control audio and climate adjustments, with substantial radial knobs for volume and fan speed. Virtually every important adjustment can be undertaken with one button and one step. It's this balance between simple and in-depth adjustment, or complicated systems with easy interface, that sets the XF apart from many of its competitors.

We like the available audio systems almost as much. Even the base stereo features eight speakers and 320 watts of output. The first upgrade adds digital sound processing and a large-volume subwoofer. The range-topping, 440-watt Bowers & Wilkins audio system might be the best we've heard in an original-equipment automotive application. It was developed with B&W, the British boutique manufacturer that makes speakers and monitors for recording studios. The highs are incredibly crisp and the lows are pervasive, with virtually no muddling or distortion at either extreme, even at mega-wattage.

Jaguar claims the XF has more front-seat storage space than any car in its class. That's another way of saying storage options are decent, but still not up to snuff with some less-expensive mainstream sedans and family vehicles.

The XF's center console is wide, almost as we'd expect in a big sports car. Touch-release covers reveal three easy-to-reach cupholders, the largest of which will safely hold a super-size drink cup. With the round inserts removed, there's plenty or room in these bins for phones, remotes and wallets. The main bin in the center console isn't large enough to hide a standard-size laptop, but there's plenty of room for cameras or a lot of CDs. There's also an easy-access power point and iPod/auxiliary jack, with a secure place to leave the plugged-in MP3 player while driving. The glovebox has about twice as much space as that occupied by the owner's manual and documentation. The glovebox in some luxury sedans won't even fit the owner's manual, while others are filled by it. Bins at the bottoms of the doors aren't very deep, but they're wide enough to lay a phone flat and they are lined with a velvety material that keeps glasses and other delicate items from sliding or scratching.

If the XF's accommodations fall short of the competition, it's behind the front seats. The rear seat itself is comfortable, bolstered some for the outside passengers, with the same fine materials as the front part of cabin. Yet the rear space seems more confining than the roomiest cars in this class, regardless of what the published measurements suggest, and it's a bit short on amenities.

A big part of the problem is the XF's diving roofline and long rear window. The rear seat is placed fairly far forward toward the center of the car, so legroom is tight, particularly with anything but short passengers in front. And headroom still comes up short. A passenger taller than 5 feet, 7 inches will sit in back with hair brushing the headliner. Tall passengers might have to contort their necks in some fashion. Cupholders are provided in the fold-down rear armrest; a pair of vents on the back of the front console offer ventilation, and there's a storage bin big enough for some change or a pack of cigarettes and not much else. The only other storage space for rear passengers is a small bin at the bottom of each door.

The trunk, on the other hand, is easily the largest in this class. With 17.7 cubic feet of space, it's essentially as big as the trunk in some full-size luxury sedans such as the BMW 7 Series. Loading large items could take some work, however, and again the XF's styling is partly to blame. The rear deck or trunk lid is fairly short, and a lot of the cargo space stretches forward under the rear window, so the trunk opening is fairly small. The lift-over height seems higher than average, as well.

To add cargo capacity, the XF is equipped with a split, folding rear seat, with clever releases that will lower the seatbacks from the trunk, without going inside the car. This expands cargo space another 14.8 cubic feet, for an impressive total of 32.5 cubic feet. Perhaps as significantly, the folding seat allows alternate access to the cargo area, by leaning in through the rear side doors.

The exterior design plays a role in our biggest single gripe inside the XF: outward visibility. We wouldn't call it bad, but in any direction other than forward, the view out is more restricted than we'd expect in a sedan. The rear glass is expansive, but it's raked at a long, flat, coupe-like angle, so the view through the rearview mirror is short. The side mirrors aren't small, but they seemed to be shaped more for style or noise reduction than optimized visibility. Bottom line, it takes a while to get comfortable with the mirrors, or to get them set in a fashion that minimizes over-the-shoulder glances in traffic. However, the performance of this car suggests the driver may not have much need to worry about what's behind, except when backing up.

Rear park assist solves that problem, with audible beeps and a graphic display on the touch screen. A reverse-view camera is optional, and we strongly recommend it because it could help the driver spot a child or adult behind the car and thereby avoid a tragic accident when backing up, especially given the relatively high rear deck and the narrow view through the rear window; it's a valuable tool in the driver's arsenal. Driving Impressions
The new Jaguar XF measures up to the best cars in its class in just about every respect, and its over-the-road performance is excellent.

From the driver's seat, the XF delivers everything we like about medium-sized sport-luxury sedans. The supercharged model in particular leans toward the sporty end of the spectrum, with the BMW 5 Series and sport-tuned versions of the Audi A6, rather than the softer, cushier end. The XF is smooth, fast, and responsive, but also quiet and comfortable. Its six-speed automatic transmission might be the best in any luxury car anywhere, and contributes considerably to the enjoyable driving experience. Perhaps best of all, the XF has lots of those subtle little characteristics that some reviewers might call soul.

All XFs have proximity keys, so the doors can unlock themselves. When the driver sits down the start button on the center console pulses red. Press it and, as the V8 draws its first breathes of air, cutouts in the aluminum dash panel rotate to expose four vents. At the same time, a milled aluminum shift dial rises out of the console, ready to rotate three clicks for Drive or four if the driver prefers to shift manually with paddles on the steering column. This introduction is engaging, and perhaps a bit showy, but it's a great way to begin the job at hand. This handshake, as Jaguar calls it, reminds occupants that, while they might be ensconced in a quiet, comfortable cocoon, driving remains an interactive and sometimes demanding process. After the handshake, the soft purr of the engine at idle will leave you anticipating what lies ahead.

The 4.2 liter V8 comes naturally aspirated or supercharged. Both engines are updated versions of those used in Jaguar's S-Type sedan (which the XF replaces), with reinforced engine blocks to reduce vibration and the latest control technology. The normally aspirated V8 is no slouch in output, delivering 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. With its belt-driven, rotor-type blower, the supercharged 4.2, or SC, generates 420 hp and 408 lb-ft. It's easily the most powerful engine in this class, save those in limited-volume hotrod cars from BMW's M division, Mercedes AMG and the like, expensive cars with expensive engines.

Floor the gas pedal in the SC and you might be struck by what's missing. The supercharger whine is so subdued, compared to previous Jaguars, that it takes a couple of full bursts before the thrust convinces the driver that this is the upgrade. And thrust there is, in long, effusive swells that make you wish every road ran uninterrupted to the horizon. The supercharged V8 keeps pumping acceleration-producing torque from 2000 revs to its 6200-rpm redline, with no climax that suggests a peak. We'd estimate that the XF 4.2 SC will hit 60 mph from a stop in five seconds, or maybe a tenth more. It will go from 60 to 100 mph much faster than it takes a semi to enter two-lane in front of you. Top speed is electronically controlled at 155 mph.

Put another way, we'd guess that the XF SC is the quickest car in a group populated by some very quick sedans, except for the previously mentioned ultra-performance cars like the BMW M5 and Mercedes E63 AMG. The SC has, after all, the same mechanical package as the former S-Type R, which was Jaguar's version of the M or AMG cars. Yet nothing in XF suggests a hot-rod quality. Rather, it shoots ahead in a smooth, unruffled fashion befitting a $60,000 luxury sedan. The fuel mileage isn't bad, either, despite the power and acceleration advantage on the competition. Jaguar anticipates EPA fuel economy ratings 17 City, 23 Highway of the XF SC, which is better than any current V8-powered car in the class, and better than some six-cylinders.

The six-speed automatic contributes to the XF's sporting character, using adaptive gear-change strategies based on the type of road and the driver's application of the gas pedal. This transmission anticipates as well as any automatic, ever, generally shifting at precisely the point the driver would if he were doing so himself, and always, always, shifting smoothly. Manual shifting works nearly as well. The paddle shifts are impressively quick but never excessively harsh. In manual mode, the SC transmission stays in the driver's chosen gear at any engine speed to the redline, without shifting up on its own. Every automobile manufacturer should tune its automatic transmissions like the one in the XF.

JaguarDrive Control is a feature that lets the driver tailor various functions to taste with a single adjustment. This system, which comes standard, incorporates most electronic control programs, including: how early or late the transmission shifts; the throttle map, or how much the engine accelerates for a given dip of the gas pedal; and the Dynamic Stability Control, or skid-management electronics.

The driver can switch through three options: Winter is the most conservative; the transmission shifts up at low engine speeds, the throttle works lightly and the DSC intervenes quickly, all useful in slippery conditions. Dynamic is the most aggressive setting. There is also a set-and-forget Automatic mode. All of the electronics are state of the art. The DSC electronic stability control includes an Understeer Control Logic that helps manage sliding front tires or pushing, which is more likely for the typical driver on a dry road than a fishtail-type skid (called oversteer). The ABS (anti-lock brake system) features Cornering Brake Control, which balances brake application from side to side in a curve, allowing the inside and outside tires to brake with the same effective force.

Still, the slickest electronic systems ever aren't worth much if the underlying mechanical components aren't up to snuff. Our test drive suggests that the XF's are first-rate. It starts with a tight, flex-free unitized chassis and body, which lays the foundation for all of a car's dynamic behavior. The XF's suspension design is taken from Jaguar's XK sport coupe and roadster, with a sophisticated multilink arrangement in back and aluminum components to reduce weight and improve the suspension's response time. Normally aspirated XFs are equipped with conventional, passive shock absorbers, while the supercharged model has Jaguar's Computer Adaptive Technology Suspension. CATS uses electronically controlled shocks to vary the dampening rate, optimizing ride comfort or handling response depending on road conditions or the driver's preference.

If the engineering talk looks like gobbledygook, the bottom line is simple. The XF delivers a ride-handling balance and steering response that match its sporty looks nicely. Measured by overall, balanced performance, the Jaguar XF surpasses many other cars in a category populated by some of the best cars in the world. The XF glides over bumps that ruffle some luxury sedans more, yet it never leans excessively through fast curves. It stays nice and level front to rear under hard braking or hard acceleration, and it's as stable as granite at high speeds.

The steering uses variable-ratio technology, which was developed to reduce parking effort at low speeds while maintaining precision and feedback at higher speeds. Generally, the XF's steering leans toward the light side, but not toward airy, and it's quick for a fairly large sedan. Lane changes at interstate speeds are accomplished with a flick of the steering wheel. The XF turns neatly into bigger, slower curves, always where the driver aims it, and the SC's standard sport tires deliver sports car-style grip.

In its most sporting mode, CATS nearly eliminates squat, dive or lean. But even with the shocks doing their absolute best to keep the tires pressed to the pavement, ride quality never suffers much. Much of our test drive transpired in the rain, which demonstrated two things: First, that the XF is inherently balanced, meaning it's no more prone to slide on its front tires than it is to spin out in back, and second, that the Dynamic Stability Control does a great job.

In the Automatic mode, where most drivers will keep it, the DSC works early, throttling the engine back or tapping brakes before the driver anticipates that one end of the car or another might be sliding. Yet those who want to see a little more of what the XF can do can choose the Dynamic mode. This allows the XF to move a bit more laterally, and it allows the driver to slide the car a little, as enthusiast drivers are want to do, before the DSC clamps down. In a sense, the XF delivers the best of all worlds: comfortable ride, responsive, consistent handling, stress-free, secure skid-management in the rain or bit of latitude that allows capable drivers to express themselves. There's even a track mode for those who want to play race driver. This switches the DSC off completely and allows big fishtails and smoking tires, though we can't imaging the typical XF owner using it very often.

The 4.2 SC might be the XF for ruffians, but the Luxury and Premium Luxury models aren't exactly slouches. Their six-speed automatic works just as well in typical driving, even if it doesn't seem to hold first or second gear as diligently as the SC does when used in manual mode. The normally aspirated V8 delivers power in the same linear fashion, and it's even smoother, and the acceleration can still be exhilarating. We'd peg 0-60 mph times in the low six-second range, which is more than respectable by just about any standard. The normally aspirated XFs also deliver better mileage: 18 City, 26 Highway, according to the EPA.

The Luxury and Premium Luxury XF sit more toward the center of the ride-handling spectrum, with more emphasis on a traditional, plusher luxury ride. They're sprung more softly, not having CATS, so they respond to the driver's inputs a little less immediately than the SC. Yet they are no less balanced than the SC, and no less assured or consistent.

The brakes are outstanding in all cases. All XFs have large rotors and calipers, and the brake pedal has a nice solid feel. It's also progressive in application, meaning that a little bit of pedal delivers a little bit of deceleration, while a lot of pedal stops the XF right now.

Dynamically, we like most everything about the XF, but performance is only one requisite in this class. Luxury buyers expect extra smooth, quiet operation for the money and the XF holds up its end. It starts with that solid underlying structure, which is the first defense against vibration and harshness inside the car. From there Jaguar adds more measures, including a double bulkhead in the front of the cabin and rubber mounted subframes for the suspension, which minimizes the transfer of road vibration inside.

Cruising at 70 mph is generally a serene experience, with minimal wind noise and only an occasional slap of the tires on bumps to interrupt the solitude, or the assertive growl of the V8 if the driver decides to slam that gas pedal. Overall, the XF might be the smoothest, quietest Jaguar in memory. It's at least as smooth as Jaguar's larger XJ sedan, and quieter around town than any mid-size luxury sedan we've driven recently, even with the SC model's rubber-washer tires on 20-inch rims. It was so quiet that the slap of the wipers working at high speed seemed excessive and out of character, though Jaguar attributed this to sub-production tolerances on the pre-production pilot XF we tested. Summary
The all-new 2009 Jaguar XF, which replaces the S-Type sedan, has all the earmarks of a hit. It's great looking, smooth and comfortable, with the features buyers expect in this class, and then some. Perhaps best of all, it accelerates quicker and handles as well or better than some of the best cars in its class, including the BMW 5 Series, Audi A6, and Lexus GS. The XF's interior is both gorgeous and charming, and less confusing or annoying than some of its competitors. The 2009 XF offers a choice of powerful V8 engines, and both get excellent mileage for cars with this performance. The least expensive V8 model is priced the same or less than some comparably equipped, six-cylinder competitors.

J.P. Vettraino filed this report after his test drive of all the Jaguar XF models in the Phoenix area.

Model as tested
Jaguar XF 4.2 SC ($62,200)
Basic Warranty
4 years/50,000 miles
Assembled in
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Destination charge
775
Gas guzzler tax
N/A
Base Price
49200
Price as tested
65475
Options as tested
radar-guided Adaptive Cruise Control ($2,200); heated steering wheel ($300)

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
Jaguar XF 4.2 Luxury ($49,200); 4.2 Premium Luxury ($55,200); 4.2 SC ($62,200)
Safety equipment (standard)
dual-stage front airbags, front passenger side-impact airbags, curtain-type airbags for all outboard seats, front and rear park assist with graphic display, electronic stability control, antilock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), tire pressure monitor
Safety equipment (optional)
N/A
Engines
4.2-liter dohc 32v supercharged V8 with variable valve timing
Transmissions
6-speed automatic

Specifications as Tested
soft-grain leather seating, dash and upper door panels, oak veneer and aluminum trim, heated 16-way power-adjustable driver and front passenger seats with forced-air cooling and two-position memory, automatic dual-zone climate control, one-touch power windows, cruise control with automatic speed limiter, GPS navigation with integrated touch-screen control for climate, telephone and audio, voice command, Bluetooth phone and electronic device interface, 440-watt Bowers & Wilkins audio with 13 speakers, subwoofer, 6CD changer, Sirius satellite radio and auxiliary input jack, keyless passive entry and start, Homelink programmable garage opener, tilt-and-slide glass sunroof, rear-window sunblind, reverse-view camera, front and rear park assist with graphic display, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming mirrors, Bi-xenon auto-leveling headlights with power washers, 60/40 split folding rear seat, Computer Active Technology Suspension (CATS), 20-inch alloy wheels

Engine & Transmission
Engine
4.2-liter dohc 32v supercharged V8 with variable valve timing
Drivetrain type
rear-wheel drive
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
420 @ 6250
Transmission
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
17/23
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)
N/A

Suspension
Brakes, front/rear
vented disc/vented disc with ABS, EBD, Brake Assist
Suspension, front
independent unequal-length wishbones with coil springs and electronically adjusted shocks
Tires
255/35R20 front, 285/30R20 rear
Suspension, rear
independent multi-link with coil springs and electronically adjusted shocks

Accomodations
Seating capacity
5
Head/hip/leg room, middle
N/A
Head/hip/leg room, front
39.0/NA/41.5
Head/hip/leg room, rear
37.6/NA/36.6

Measurements
Fuel capacity
N/A
Trunk volume
17.7
Wheelbase
114.5
Length/width/height
195.3/73.9/57.5
Turning circle
37.7
Payload
N/A
Towing capacity
N/A
Track, front/rear
61.4/63.2
Ground clearance
4.7
Curb weight
4194


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