By on January 22, 2019

2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake

2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake

3.0-liter supercharged V6 (380 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm; 332 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm)

Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive

18 city / 25 highway / 21 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

Base Price: $70,450 (U.S)

As Tested: $84,815 (U.S.)

Prices include $995 destination charge in the United States. The Jaguar XF Sportbrake is not sold in Canada.

Automotive journalists are often accused of falling in love with wagons just because of their bodystyle. Sometimes, however, a wagon is likable for reasons that have nothing to do with shape.

Take the 2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake. Sure, it’s a sexy looking wagon, but Jaguar hasn’t forgotten that there’s more to life that just being really, really good looking.

Putting 380 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque from a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 at one’s disposal doesn’t hurt. Nor does matching that engine to an eight-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive with a rear-wheel bias and torque vectoring. An air suspension underpins it all – mustn’t have one’s suit rumpled on the ride, after all. Speaking of ride, the car does so on 20-inch wheels.

It all works together on road. The XF is a blast to drive, with straight-line acceleration that backs up the listed numbers, and nimble handling that seems sedan-like. The ride can be on the stiff side, but it’s still pleasant enough on the expressway that the well-heeled commuter won’t mind.

Flick the drive-mode switch into dynamic mode, and the Sportbrake becomes even more engaging, with even sharper responses – this thing is just a joy to drive. Not something you’d normally say about a high-priced luxury station wagon, but Jaguar didn’t just slap a sport badge on it and call it a day.

2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake

Styling a wagon is always tricky – don’t want to get too boring and boxy, or too busy and fussy. Jaguar strikes a balance here, with a slickly sloping rear roofline contrasting with a long, purposeful hood up front. Slit headlights and a good-sized cross-hatch grille complete the look.

The interior story is more complicated. The simple yet sleek styling of the exterior carries over to the cockpit in some ways. The dash is laid out simply, and the infotainment system is cleanly integrated. Even the pop-up circular shifter (more on that in a minute) doesn’t stand out too much. HVAC controls are a bit fussier thanks to a litany of buttons and just one knob.

The instrument cluster also looks simple at first glance, but that’s deceiving, since the gauges are customizable. There is a bit of a learning curve to this function but, once mastered, it’s fairly effortless and you’re able to do some cool stuff, such as overlay the navigation map.

You can also customize the touchscreen for the infotainment system – just like you can with your smartphone. It’s one of the better-looking systems out there, and it mostly works fine, but it did display some buggy behavior when playing songs from my Bluetooth-paired phone.

Ah, bugs. Yes. Well, it is a British car, after all. Insert Lucas joke here.

2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake

I actually had to chat with Jaguar about four issues that cropped up during my time with the car, including the Bluetooth problem. Turns out two of the four “issues” were not issues at all, but features. Quirky features. The last issue may have been a combination of my driving style clashing with the safety nannies.

Let’s explain.

The first issue that came up involved beeps. Specifically, I kept hearing a gentle double beep that occurred at seemingly random moments. The radio volume would also lower. No warning lights would crop up, however. It took a phone call to the PR department to find out that this beep was the speed-camera alert.

So yeah, it’s a feature, and one that is likely explained to buyers when they purchase the car. Okay, no big deal. But at least once, the lane-keep assist system pushed back against me via the steering wheel, even though I had made sure to use my turn signal. I was told that perhaps I moved the wheel too quickly and the system hadn’t caught up.

That was a little more Lucas-like. Which brings me to the last issue. Jaguars shut off automatically if you open the door while the car isn’t in Park. This I knew. But at least twice, the car shut down with the shifter in Park and the doors closed. What the hell?

2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake

Turns out I had stumbled upon another safety feature that most owners would likely learn about at delivery. See, I’d taken my seatbelt off, since I was safely parked. Doing that in certain situations can lead to an engine shutoff, for safety’s sake.

There you have it. A Jaguar does some weird things in terms of electronics, and at least two of those things are actually programmed in. Even the potential bugs were mildly annoying at worst – nothing was going to strand me.

Buyers dropping $70K plus on a station wagon expect a load of content, and they’ll get it with this car. Standard features on my S AWD trim unit included a spoiler, rain-sensing wipers, LED headlamps, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, electronically adjustable steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and starting, power tailgate, premium audio, Bluetooth, USB, navigation, front and rear park assist, lane-keep assist, driver-condition monitor, and blind-spot monitoring.

Options included the red paint ($565), 20-inch premium wheels ($1,020), an exterior black package ($360 for blacked-out grille and grille surround, side vents, and tailgate finisher), technology package ($3,265; 10-inch infotainment screen, navigation, customizable gauges, wi-fi hotspot, surround sound), driver-assistance package ($3,495; adaptive cruise control, traffic-sign recognition, adaptive speed limiter, 360-degree parking assist, 360-degree surround camera, blind-spot assist and park assist), comfort/convenience package ($1,805; heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, soft door close), premium interior package ($2,860; four-zone climate control, premium headliner, premium floor mats, rear sunblind, and ambient interior lighting).

2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake

Whew. Told you it was a boatload of content. Arguably unnecessary content, but luxury buyers like to be coddled. Whatever the case, it all adds up to an $85,000 station wagon. A similarly equipped Volvo V90 does undercut the XF in price, as does a similarly equipped Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon, albeit not by as much.

If I were a well-heeled commuter with a case of crossover blues, the XF Sportbrake would be one potential cure. It’s stylish, quick, and luxurious, plus it’s loaded (perhaps overloaded) with all the standard content that one expects at this price point. Even the quirky electronic behavior wasn’t a problem – some of what I experienced is programmed in, and the one bug I experienced was an inconvenience but not a deal breaker.

Just because a car is a wagon, doesn’t make it a good car. However, this particular wagon is a very good car. The price is hefty, but the country club set has its crossover cure.

[Images © 2019 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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42 Comments on “2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake S AWD Review – Sultry Styling, British Quirks...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I like the basic shape, but the details are just so…generic. I can’t tell from looking at this that it’s Jaguar. And the interior might as well have come from a Kia Stinger – which isn’t a knock on the Stinger, but it’s not a Jaguar.

    I think Jaguar has the same basic problem as Cadillac – no matter how well they drive, they aren’t distinctive.

  • avatar
    ajla

    $85,000 Dodge Magnum R/T AWD Blacktop Edition.

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      Boom.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Hmmmmmmmm what’s Jag’s CPO program?

        This “off-lease” will be $25K no negotiating in 2-3 years.

        • 0 avatar
          Null Set

          I play a drinking game in my head whenever TTAC publishes one of its few actual reviews. That is, how many minutes it will take before someone posts the inevitable “Wait three years and it will cost 1/4 as much as buying it new.” Wow. You mean, like, cars depreciate? I never knew that! Thanks Dan. You must have a garage full of three year old Jags and Lamborghinis by now that you bought with the deposit returns from all those bottles of Evian. Keep up the good work.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Beat me to it.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Yeah, but at least when you looked at a Magnum, you knew what kind of car it was.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Took the words out of my mouth, its silly how many expensive Euro-wagons need to have the Magnums “droop” in the back, which hurts cargo room.

      On another note, I once saw a Magnum with the front end of a brand new Charger. It didnt look half bad!

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        I wish they would bring back the Magnum as a segment breaker. Or a 300 version to beef up the Chrysler line.
        I’ve seen a couple of them with the 300C facade. Europe got a version called 300C touring.

      • 0 avatar
        Gedrven

        It hurts cargo room but helps aerodynamics. Losing a small portion of cargo volume in a place it’s rarely needed is, IMO, a price worth paying for more speed, less consumption, less wind noise, and better looks.

        I’ve been daily-driving an E34 wagon for about 10 years, and can count on one hand the number of times I wished it had a trunk more like a pre-95 Volvo. Those times were all short-range cargo hauling (mostly furniture) where just leaving the hatch open was an option.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Great call. I like this car very much. The problem is, it’s hard for me to like anything $85k much.

  • avatar
    Alfisti

    A slightly used E63 AMG wagon with a proper 500+ HP can be had for the same price, even less.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Gorgeous, wonderful, beautiful.

    Unfortunately, it has the one Jaguar shortcoming in the US market: The name on the hood isn’t Mercedes-Benz, BMW or Audi.

    If I had the money, I’d happily take it over all three of the above in the heartbeat.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    This is why we need a Tour-X GS model.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Raise it two inches, slap on black plastic wheel opening trim, charge an extra $5,000 instant success.

  • avatar
    Asdf

    Jaguar is Indian, not British.

  • avatar
    epaiuk

    I tried really hard to buy one, but the Jaguar dealers just wouldn’t deal…even though they had 2, just sitting there, for more than six months. This car is going to flop hard, and it’s their own fault.

  • avatar
    Fred

    I remember reviews of my TSX wagon that Acura’s had too many buttons. Compared to what’s on this Jaq wheel, it’s not.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Okay, Tim. You spent quite a bit of time in this piece discussing quirks related to the Jag’s electronic nannies. And you didn’t tell us if they can be turned off – with off remaining the default position. You should be mentioning this in every vehicle review on this site. This is now basic information as the technology is being rammed down our throats whether we like it or not.

    • 0 avatar
      Gedrven

      +1

    • 0 avatar
      Gedrven

      +1, especially with so much stuff to turn off.

      Particularly egregious is unwanted interference with the steering. If a passenger grabbed the steering wheel while I was driving, they’d get thrown out of the car. Well… I guess if they apologized convincingly, I might stop first. And yet I’m expected to put up with a dumb machine that fights me for control of the car because “the system hadn’t caught up?” That had better be permanently disableable, or else we bust out the wrenches and the livid phonecalls.

      Turning itself off when it feels like it? What if I just got a jumpstart and need to charge the battery? Or have another reason to keep the engine running? Or am just plain wary of Jaguar’s famously reliable electrics having that much control over the car? As Yoda would have put it, “my own counsel will I keep on steering, braking, and shutting off.”

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      That’s a good point. I can check with Jaguar on this and will be more in tune to this going forward!

  • avatar
    energetik9

    “….but Jaguar hasn’t forgotten that there’s more to life that just being really, really good looking.”

    Nice on the Zoolander reference. Well done.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Great wagon, no market at that price.

  • avatar
    Gedrven

    Pretty on the outside, decent but a bit mundane on the inside, questionable electrics (whether by design or by accident, it matters little), mandatory AWD, and priced like that? Were I in the market, I’d pass.

    Yet another review that doesn’t even mention weight, much less put it at the top where it belongs. 1884kg (4145lb); not bad by 2019 standards.

    Briefest mention of ride quality and no mention of seat comfort and noise? Those seem important on an $85000 luxury car… how were they?

    Random idea: have a series of reviews that test new cars back-to-back with their ancestors. Say, this vs. a Series 3 XJ, or the new Golf GTI vs a Mk.I? Truth, including about cars, is best understood in context.

  • avatar
    PwrdbyM

    I hate to complain about price, I know how expensive cars have gotten in 2019, however I really feel like Jag has missed the mark on price. $84k is just too much. I’ve seen these at local dealers marked $10k off and still they sit, which makes me think they’re still $10k too expensive. I could see $64-68k.

  • avatar
    jatz

    Now this would make more sense for DCI Barnaby to drive than those ever-lowering Volvos.

    Neil Dudgeon isn’t getting any sprightlier.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    “…the lane-keep assist system pushed back against me via the steering wheel…”
    “…I’d taken my seatbelt off, since I was safely parked. Doing that in certain situations can lead to an engine shutoff, for safety’s sake.”

    It’s a pity Jaguar has ruined what looks like a very interesting automobile. My present vehicles have ABS and ESC but nothing else that interferes with my control. I need to take very good care of them because they are becoming irreplaceable. There will never again be automobiles not laden down with obnoxious “safety” nannies.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    “Quirky” features….wait until DeMuro gets ahold of one to review.

    Nice looking car, but I loathe rotary shifters…moreso in a Ram.

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    Which is the world’s most beautiful wagon?

    The XF Sportbrake or the Alfa 159(rip)?

  • avatar
    legacygt

    How does a wagon review not contain a picture of the cargo area or a discussion of cargo room. While much of this car is interesting, everything that makes it unique takes place behind the C pillar. Yet the review doesn’t really go further back than the dashboard.

    • 0 avatar
      Jagboi

      I have driven one in the UK. Cargo area is generous, 2 large suitcases can fit with the rear seat up, but the rear seat does fold forward for more cargo room. It is more style heavy than cargo heavy, so the emphasis is on a good looking car with more cargo room than the sedan, rather then the way cargo capacity was emphasized in a Ford Country Squire of many years ago. It’s a similar equation to the MB E Class and BMW 5 series wagons.

      From the drivers seat you’d never know it was a wagon, the road noise and handling is identical to the sedan version.

      I didn’t experience any of the electrical things the reviewer did; but things like lane departure can be turned off if you want. Both the displays and driving experience are very customizable to your individual preferences, and it depends if you’re in normal or sport mode what comes on and off. Again, all customizable for personal preference.

      I never tried opening the door with it running in drive, so I have no idea if it shuts off.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    late comment here, but I’ve had the same infotainment,shifter in our 2017 LR, and its been trouble free. Shame on the reviewer about not knowing about the car turning the car off and automatically putting the car in park when the door is open.It’s to prevent the car from running over the car. Silly ,but you can blame idiots in older MB/FCA products for running themselves over whilst their car is in drive ,like the poor actor from Star Trek who ran over himself w/ a JGC
    A good salesman would’ve gone over this during delivery. Of course auto journos are above this, because they’re experts of course.


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