When the wraps came off the Jaguar XF in 2007, it was like the British luxury brand took its first step into the modern world. The muscular exterior shielded a cabin bathed in cool blue ambient light, with metal breaking up the seas of hide, and wood taking its rightful place as an accent. A rotary dial rose from the console and the start-stop button pulsed with red light. If the S-Type was Queen Elizabeth, the XF was Prince Harry.
That aggressive, purposeful body only got better with the XF's second generation, but the interior lost the plot. Novel features grew stale and brightwork gave way to uninteresting piano black trim, untextured plastic buttons, and dull shapes. Wood became an afterthought as a minimalist, un-English vibe took hold. The second-gen XF has never been a bad car, but it's spent years as an uninteresting one. The refreshed 2021 Jaguar XF reverses the trend, drawing on what made the original a breath of fresh air while thoroughly updating aging technology and retaining that exterior.
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|2021 Jaguar XF P300 SE R-Dynamic AWD
|Turbocharged 2.0-liter I4
|296 Horsepower / 295 Pound-Feet
|$43,995 + $1,150 Destination
Gallery: 2021 Jaguar XF: Review
- Exterior Color: Hakuba Silver
- Interior Color: Ebony/Ebony
- Wheel Size: 20-inch
If you liked the exterior that Sir Ian Callum penned way back in 2015, you'll be a-okay with the 2021 XF. This is a classic case of freshening rather than changing wholesale, with small updates at the front and back. Revised headlights draw inspiration from the I-Pace electric crossover, while the intake below the carryover grille wears a teeny, tiny spoiler that looks delicate enough to have come from Jag's Formula E car. In back, designers simplified the bumper by hiding the exhausts and then added an I-Pace–inspired taillight signature while retaining the shape of the housing.
Slot yourself behind the wheel, though, and you'll immediately see where Jaguar invested its precious pounds. I'd suggest, entirely without evidence, that the XF's revised cabin is a big reason Jaguar dealers can't keep this car in stock (or it could just be supplier woes). It once again feels like British luxury.
The dash upper wears leather upholstery with a trendy French stitch contrast, as before. But below it, designers stretched the slats of the vents the width of the cabin – the actual vents themselves are the same size but tying together the driver and passenger side of the car gives the impression of width while squashing up the huge trim piece that previously divided the upper and lower sections of the dash. Material quality is impressive throughout the cabin, with rich leather, soft-touch plastics, and reassuring fitment.
A curved 11.4-inch display spans the center stack, crowning a pair of climate control knobs that sandwich touch-capacitive buttons. The center console ditches piano black for metallic-looking plastic that feels far richer, while Jaguar Land Rover's corporate electric gear lever lives at the center of the console. That pulsing stop-start button remains, though. The seat uppers, meanwhile, wear handsome hexagonal stitching on higher-end trims that represent a small splash of the modern world.
Subtle details are what set luxury vehicles apart, though, and Jaguar took just the right approach, reminding owners of its heritage. The “Est 1935, JAGUAR, Coventry” decal below the touchscreen and on little tags attached to the leather seats, along with the Leaper logos embossed in the headrests, set this Anglophile's heart aflutter. There's no shortage of automakers with rich histories, but it seems like precious few so willingly lean into it. Jaguar does, hitting just the right tone with this small reminder of its legacy.
save over $3,400 on average off MSRP* on a new Jaguar XF
- Seating Capacity: 5
- Seating Configuration: 2 / 3
- Cargo Capacity: 10.1 Cubic Feet
Jaguar's cabin work extends well beyond styling or design. There are new front seats with wider cushions that take an already comfortable arrangement and make it comfier still. Heating and ventilation are available, although Mercedes and BMW both offer massage functionality at this price point.
The XF is one of the better options in the segment if you're regularly carrying passengers. The traditional three-box shape makes getting in and out of the back seats a cinch, and once ensconced, the outboard sections of the well-padded rear bench should satisfy most passengers on long drives. Only the Genesis G80 and the Volvo S90 (similarly priced, but almost half a foot longer) beat the Jag's second-row measurements, making it a decent way to transport adult passengers The tiny 10.1 cubic foot trunk lags all comers, though, so a party of four should pack light.
|Rear Seat Measurements
|10.1 Cubic Feet
|13.7 Cubic Feet
|14.0 Cubic Feet
|13.1 Cubic Feet
|13.1 Cubic Feet
|13.5 Cubic Feet
As part of the XF's 2021 facelift, Jaguar added active noise cancellation. It functions here as it does on other products across the market, countering unpleasant frequencies from the road. The XF's control of wind noise is decent, with only a little unpleasantness coming from around the A-pillars.
This R-Dynamic tester rode atop 20-inch alloys on 35-series tires, but despite the thin sidewalls, the XF's well sorted chassis and soft adaptive dampers make for a pleasant ride. The larger wheels are an option, though, so customers that value ride quality can save $500 and snag the standard 19-inch wheels and associated 45-series tires, which boast sidewalls with four-tenths of an inch of additional rubber.
- Center Display: 11.4-inch Touchscreen
- Instrument Cluster Display: 12.3-inch
- Wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto: Yes
Jaguar Land Rover’s Pivi Pro infotainment suite is one of the newest and hottest in the business and routinely impressed during a week at the XF’s helm. It lives on a standard 11.4-inch, thin-bezel touchscreen. While the display lacks a haptic motor to provide feedback, it's at least pretty, both in the way it sits on the dash and the graphics that appear. Pivi Pro's layout is easy to parse, too, with a bank of quick-access icons on the left and a home screen with reconfigurable tiles.
The drawback is that while the system boots up quickly, it's less responsive to inputs than BMW's iDrive system or Mercedes' MBUX. There’s also an occasional and very annoying lag in the rear-view camera, which I’ve experienced on past JLR products. If you'd rather not deal with Jag's built-in infotainment, all XFs come standard with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
My tester carried a standard 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that drivers can manage via touch-capacitive buttons on the steering wheel. With dedicated layouts for navigation, active safety, and the choice of twin or single-dial layouts, there's a cluster configuration for every driver. I just wish adjusting the display were easier. Like other JLR products, the XF's poorly defined button borders mean the touch controls are imprecise at best and frustrating at worst. But hey, the backlit icons vanish when the car's shut off, which is pretty slick.
- Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-liter I4
- Output: 296 Horsepower / 295 Pound-Feet
- Transmission: Eight-Speed Automatic
The days of six- and eight-cylinder options in the XF are long gone. This has been a four-cylinder-only affair for a few years, and with 2021, Jaguar pared back even further. Every XF comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter, packing either 246 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque or 296 hp and 295 lb-ft. My R-Dynamic test unit comes with the latter, and while I miss the potent supercharged V6 or the monstrous 5.0-liter V8, this punchy four-pot should suit most owners nicely.
Little turbo lag precedes the abundant low-end torque, but it's hard to enjoy the XF R-Dynamic knowing that the 5.8-second sprint to 60 that follows is as good as things get. JLR's decision to trim the XF's engine lineup makes sense from a business perspective – reducing configurations on a lower profit model is good for the bottom line, and a four-cylinder-only XF beats losing another sedan – but no matter how much you abuse the throttle, the performance fades too soon for true fun.
While I had issues with JLR's Ingenium family in the past, criticizing their harsh tone, JLR engineers have at least smoothed out the rough edges of this engine's character. In the 2021 XF, the tone from under the hood is refined at high engine speeds and subdued in everyday cruising.
Part of the powertrain letdown is the relaxed performance of the eight-speed automatic. It's unobtrusive and innocuous in everyday driving, which I appreciate in a luxury sedan, but select manual mode and upshifts and downshifts take just a hair too long to really make the experience enjoyable. At least working the paddle shifters – large, solid-feeling metal units – is satisfying. All-wheel drive is standard with the hi-po engine, providing some all-weather ability at the expense of an extra 200 pounds of weight.
My tester included the optional Dynamic Handling pack, a $1,350 option that allows drivers to tweak damper stiffness, steering weight, and powertrain behavior. But even in the more aggressive of their two settings, the adaptive damper tuning is still too focused on comfort. The XF is enjoyable to throw around, but much like the powertrain, sportier German alternatives abound, offering sharper handling (although at the expense of the cushy ride found in the XF).
- Driver Assistance Level: SAE Level 2
- NHTSA Rating: Not Rated
- IIHS Rating: Not Rated
The XF's safety suite is solid on paper, with every trim coming standard with blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and front and rear parking sensors. Adaptive cruise control is an option, but it's a pricey one at $1,200. The integration here lags the competition, too, with poorer responses to surrounding traffic from the ACC and unpredictable intervention from the lane-keep system.
Only requiring an extra expense for ACC, rather than the whole active safety suite, gives the XF a leg up on its German rivals. But while you’ll pay more for the equipment on the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, you’ll get more too. Specifically, better integration of the systems and a more relaxed user experience owing to the way the systems and sensors respond to other vehicles, which is more refined than the XF.
- City: 22 MPG
- Highway: 30 MPG
- Combined: 25 MPG
According to the EPA, the Jaguar XF R-Dynamic returns 22 miles per gallon city, 30 highway, and 25 combined while running on premium fuel. In 200 miles of testing, though, I struggled to match even the city rating, recording a computer-indicated 20.5 miles per gallon in mostly low-speed conditions. Some of this is certainly down to exuberant driving on my part, trying to coax the turbocharged 2.0-liter into matching some of the antics of its six-cylinder forebears. But there's arguing that asking a four-cylinder engine to motivate a 3,845-pound car will rarely result in explosive fuel economy.
And in the Jaguar's defense, its EPA ratings aren't far from the competition. They tie the all-wheel-drive Mercedes-Benz E350 and Genesis G80 2.5T, while the Audi A6 2.0T Quattro and BMW 530i xDrive enjoy small advantages (23/31/26 and 23/32/27, respectively).
- Base Price: $43,995 + $1,150 Destination
- Trim Base Price: $51,145
- As-Tested Price: $62,295
The 2021 XF starts at $45,145 (including a $1,150 destination charge), but my R-Dynamic tester demands $51,145. Those prices increase slightly for the upcoming 2022 model year to $46,450 and $52,150. The car shown here included a fair few options, driving the as-tested price up to $62,295. Of those items, though, only a few deserve consideration.
Drivers who regularly experience winter should pony up $700 for the Cold Climate pack, which adds a heated steering wheel, heated washer jets, and most importantly, a heated windshield. The $600 Meridian sound system is well worth the expense, and I enjoy the rear-camera mirror at just $450. Fans of soft hides will dig the optional Windsor leather upholstery, which covers the seats and door panels, although it's a bit dear at $2,600. Also plan on budgeting at least $600 for paint, unless you're happy with the no-cost Narvik Black or Fuji White.
Beyond those upgrades, though, I'd exercise restraint on the XF's price sheet. The $1,000 Convenience pack adds little (soft-close doors, an electric sun shade, and JLR's nifty Activity Key wrist band), and the $1,350 Dynamic Handling pack isn't quite dynamic enough for my taste.
Even if you build an XF just like the one shown here, you should come in ahead of an Audi, BMW, or Mercedes shopper. Including their destination charges, the Germans start in all-wheel-drive form at $56,945, $57,495, and $58,500, respectively. Indulge in a few options and these four-cylinder alternatives will easily surpass the more powerful XF. The Genesis G80 and Volvo S90 come in far closer to my tester's starting price, though, and would be the first vehicles I'd cross shop if money were a concern. A loaded G80 is available for about the same price as my $62,000 XF, and the Volvo isn't too far beyond that.
XF Competitor Reviews:
Gallery: 2021 Jaguar XF: Review
2021 Jaguar XF P300 SE R-Dynamic AWD