Jaguar jumps into the crossover craze

Back in 2000 when BMW launched the X5, brand loyalists and German enthusiasts call heresy. How could BMW stoop to this? BMW is all about being “the ultimate driving machine.” Well, the naysayers kept taking hits as Audi, Porsche, and other non-SUV-type automakers jumped into the category. Now for 2017, Jaguar is taking the leap.

The F-Pace isn’t some solid-axle, old-school SUV, however. No, Jaguar designed the F-Pace using as much lightweight aluminum and high-strength materials as possible. It’s the same type construction found in Jaguar’s XE and XF sedans. In fact, a third of the F-Pace is made from a propriety aluminum alloy blended together from 75 percent recycled materials.

Inside, the crossover takes after the XE sedan. Fit and finish are all spot-on Jaguar, with all the familiar controls and digital interfaces. The F-Pace isn’t’ without its flaws, however, but I’ll get into that later.

One thing that’s not flawed is the F-Pace’s 3.0-liter supercharged V-6. Yep, it’s the same V-6 found in the F-Type – the F-Pace’s spiritual brother. The V-6 pumps out 380 horsepower in this optional tune. The standard tune dials back the all-aluminum mill to 340 horsepower. And as you can guess, Jaguar wants you to associate the F-Pace with the F-Type. It’s that air of sportiness marketing types want to convey.

So what’s it like to live with the F-Pace for a week? Keep reading to find out.

Continue reading for the full driven review.

  • 2017 Jaguar F-Pace – Driven
  • Year:
    2017
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V6
  • Transmission:
    Eight-Speed Automatic
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    380 @ 6500
  • Torque @ RPM:
    332 @ 4500
  • Energy:
    Supercharged
  • Displacement:
    3.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    5.1 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph
  • Layout:
    Front Engine, AWD
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • body style:
  • Overall:
    7.3/10

Exterior

2017 Jaguar F-Pace – Driven High Resolution Exterior Test drive Exclusive Photos
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2017 Jaguar F-Pace – Driven High Resolution Exterior Test drive Exclusive Photos
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2017 Jaguar F-Pace – Driven High Resolution Exterior Test drive Exclusive Photos
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What you see here is a 2017 Jaguar F-Pace S with the optional Black Design Package, 20-inch Blade-Contrast Finish wheels, and Gloss Black roof rails finished Glacier White paint. The black-on-white looks is popular these days, though I’m not its biggest fan.

Color combinations aside, the F-Pace is a stunning crossover. The designers did a fantastic job of incorporating the Jaguar design language on this high-riding ‘ute. The front end looks like a scaled-up XE, while the rear wears cues from the F-Type. Its styling is modern and vogue, and should weather the test of time gracefully.

Looking at its side profile, the F-Pace’s greenhouse is rather short, with a steeply slanted windshield and rear glass hatch.

Looking at its side profile, the F-Pace’s greenhouse is rather short, with a steeply slanted windshield and rear glass hatch. A coupe-like bulge over the first row slowly slopes downward towards the rear. The beltline, on the other hand, slopes upward ever so slightly as it runs towards the taillights.

Speaking of the taillights, it looks like Jaguar designers rummaged through the F-Type parts bin. That’s not a bad thing, of course, as the F-Pace wears the well. Not to mention Jaguar’s obvious paring to the “F-Things.” Down below, the F-Pace shows itself a true crossover thanks to a trailer hitch receiver. As it sits, my tester is rated to tow an impressive 5,290 pounds.

All told, the F-Type is a graceful yet powerful looking machine that catches attention everywhere it goes. In fact, I got more thumbs-ups and waves in the F-Pace that I have in many, many other vehicles. Folks just gravitated towards it. For premium crossovers, that means a lot.

Interior

2017 Jaguar F-Pace – Driven High Resolution Interior Test drive Exclusive Photos
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2017 Jaguar F-Pace – Driven High Resolution Interior Test drive Exclusive Photos
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2017 Jaguar F-Pace – Driven High Resolution Interior Test drive Exclusive Photos
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Slide into the supple leather seats and you’ll quickly realize the F-Pace is all Jaguar. Those familiar with the XE sedan will immediately recognize the dashboard and its controls. It’s a near replica save for the door panels and the new digital gauge cluster.

I found fit and finish on my tester to be typical Jaguar, which is good yet mixed with glossy plastics that show dust and finger prints. Real metal accents and intricate French stitching lend the cabin a more premium feel, as does the two wide-screen displays.

Ergonomics are good, with buttons and controls easy to find, reach, and operate. The power-folding steering column and 14-way power driver’s seat allows limitless adjustments. Rear seat comfort is also good, with a surprising amount of legroom left behind my perfectly positioned driver’s seat. Rear passengers get a folding center armrest, heated outboard seats, two HVAC vents, and a couple 12-volt power ports.

2017 Jaguar F-Pace – Driven High Resolution Interior Test drive Exclusive Photos
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Jaguar’s new 10.2-inch infotainment system is a welcomed improvement over Jaguar Land Rover’s previous system. The wide-screen format makes square infotainment systems look immediately dated. The software is also revised, with separate home pages like an iPhone or iPad. Graphic tiles link to selections like radio, navigation, and settings. A row of icons lines the bottom of the screen for quick access to other function pages.

Down below, physical buttons control HVAC function and the heated and cooled seats. The Start/Stop button and the volume knob line the base of the center stack. Just as in the XE sedan and every other JLR product, the rotary shift knob controls the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. A row of buttons behind that control Jaguar’s All Surface Progress Control System. More on that later.

The Concerns

2017 Jaguar F-Pace – Driven High Resolution Interior Test drive Exclusive Photos
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The F-Pace has a lot going for it, but there were several concerning issues with my tester. First and most annoying was a terrible squeak coming from the rear tailgate. Anytime the vehicle would flex climbing a driveway or entering a parking lot, the tailgate would announce its presence. I’ve driven open-rear cargo vans with less interior squeaks. Second, the infotainment system froze on several occasions, cutting out SiriusXD reception until the car was completely turned off and restarted. Third, there were a couple of instances where the rotary gearshift knob refused to leave park, as if I wasn’t pressing the brake pedal. After about 10 to 15 seconds, the knob brake-lockout would disengage, allowing me to select a gear.

Perhaps these are early-build gremlins. Perhaps my tester was previously abused (though with only 2,500 miles on the clock). Or perhaps these are red flags regarding Jaguar’s build quality. In all fairness, I’ve never had such problems in any of the Jaguar Land Rover vehicle’s I’ve tested over the years – and I’ve tested a lot.

Drivetrain

2017 Jaguar F-Pace – Driven High Resolution Drivetrain Test drive Exclusive Photos
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The 2017 Jaguar F-Pace is offered with a pair of powertrain choices, including the 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel and the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6. The turbodiesel is the one to pick when economy is king, but the F-Type-derived V-6 is the more lively option. The supercharged mill comes in two versions – one making 340 horsepower and the S version making 380 horsepower. Both tunes kick out 332 pound-feet of torque. Mated to the engine is the venerable and omnipresent ZF eight-speed automatic.

My F-Pace S proved plenty powerful for its 4,015-pound curb weight. The sprint to 60 mph is done in 5.1 seconds and its top speed is governed at 155 mph. Around town, the torquey V-6 combined with the low gearing in the transmission’s bottom gears allows for snappy take-offs. The AWD system ensure no wheel spin impedes forward progress. The ZF also allows for paddle shifting, making the F-Pace a more playful toy. Shifts aren’t nearly as fast as the F-Type’s, but it isn’t laggy by any means.

The sprint to 60 mph is done in 5.1 seconds and its top speed is governed at 155 mph.

The V-6’s exhaust note is also audible from inside, especially when deep into the throttle. It’s just the right about of sound, though it’s not the melodic sound I’ve come to adore from the F-Type’s 5.0-liter supercharged V-8.

Speaking of the AWD system, Jaguar says it developed this system on its own, so it’s not exactly comparable to Land Rover’s Terrain Response system. Still, Jaguar’s All Surface Progress Control allows the driver to select from Dynamic, Normal, Eco, and AdSR. That last one is called Adaptive Surface Response and it automatically adapts the throttle response, transmission shifting, and DSC system to the type of surface it detects is rolling under the tires. This is the proper setting for bad weather or light off-roading.

The AdSR system has three pre-set categories it automatically shifts into. The first is for low-traction environments like snow and ice. The second is for medium traction surfaces like wet roads or gravel. The third mode is for high-drag conditions like deep snow, deep gravel, or deep mud. Keep in mind, the F-Pace isn’t Jaguar’s version of the Range Rover Evoque. It’s not meant to tackle the Rubicon Trail.

Driving Impressions

2017 Jaguar F-Pace – Driven High Resolution Interior Test drive Exclusive Photos
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The Jaguar F-Pace proved itself a good split between sporty and utilitarian. Its powerful V-6 is matched with a large cargo area and a fold-down second-row bench. Its tall ground clearance allows it to tackle mild terrain while not compromising its on-road dynamics.

Driver inputs are well received thanks to an electric power steering system, linear brakes with good pedal feel, and a throttle that’s dialed in with no tip-in or a lazy throw. The F-Pace just seems ready to ride.

I did find the cabin a bit noisier than I would have expected and its long-distance highway comfort isn’t the best. Granted, this is supposed to be a sporty crossover, not some luxury boat on wheels. Overall, the F-Pace lends itself well to twisty backroads during a fun weekend adventure with the kids in tow.

Pricing

2017 Jaguar F-Pace – Driven High Resolution Exterior Test drive Exclusive Photos
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2017 Jaguar F-Pace – Driven High Resolution Exterior Test drive Exclusive Photos
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2017 Jaguar F-Pace – Driven High Resolution Exterior Test drive Exclusive Photos
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The 2017 Jaguar F-Pace comes in three flavors: the 20d AWD starting at $40,990; the 35t AWD starting at $42,390; and the S AWD starting at $56,700. My tester, the S AWD sported a slew of optional extras that ran its price tag skyward.

The extras included Glacier White Metallic Pain ($560), the tow hitch ($650), and the Load space storage rails ($150). Appearance options included the Black Design Package ($350), the Gloss Black roof rails ($350), and the 20-inch wheels ($1,000.) Packages include the Comfort and Convenience Package ($1,800) and the Technology Package ($3,200).

The Comfort and Convenience Package brings climate-controlled front seats, heated rear seats, the gesture tailgate, electrically reclining rear seats, and the rear seat remote release. The Technology Package adds the InControl Touch Pro system, 10.2-inch Capacitive Touch Screen, SSD-based Navigation, the 12.3-inch Virtual Instrument Cluster, the 825-watt Meridian Surround Sound System, and the InControl Wi-Fi system.

Add to that the $995 destination charge, and the total price of my tester came to $65,745.

Competition

Audi Q5

2015 Audi Q5 TDI - Driven Exterior
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The Q5 falls midway into Audi’s lineup of crossovers. There’s the compact Q3 and the Suburban-like Q7 bookending this middle-of-the-road, hot-selling SUV. Since it fits so perfectly in Audi’s lineup, there’s little wonder why Audi sold more than 60,000 examples in 2015 in North America alone. The Q5 provides plenty of room for four full-size adults, or five in a pinch. A decent cargo area holds a week’s worth a luggage and a roof rack allows for the adventurous types to haul kayaks and the like.

The Q5 is currently offered with two engine choices: the 2.0-liter TFSI gasoline four-cylinder making 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque or the more powerful 3.0-liter V-6 with 272 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Of course, the Audi comes standard with its quattro AWD system, making it the perfect all-weather machine. Sadly, the 3.0-liter TDI V-6 has a noose around its neck with the EPA about ready to release the trap door. Volkswagen’s #dieselgate has killed this torque-rich powerhouse.

Pricing for the Q5 starts at $40,900 for the 2.0-liter in the Premium trim. The range-topping Prestige trim with the 3.0-liter V-6 carries a starting price of $53,500. The Q5 is getting a complete makeover for the 2017 model year, so those interested may want to hold out.

Read our full driven review of the 2015 Audi Q5 TDI here.

BMW X3

2018 BMW X3 Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Unlike the Q5, the X3 has more siblings to contend with. BMW in its ever-increasing domination of every niche category has a gaggle of crossovers, including the X1, X4, X5, X6, and of course the X3. Nevertheless, the X3 lines up best with the Q5. The X3 is also available with a variety of powertrain choices.

There’s the sDrive28i with its rear-wheel drive and 2.0-liter twin-turbo four-cylinder making 240 horsepower. The xDrive28i adds AWD to the mix. Then there’s the xDrive28d with its 2.0-liter TwinPower turbodiesel and its 280 pound-feet of torque. (And it’s still legal in the U.S.!) Topping the range is the xDrive35i powered by the sweet 3.0-liter TwinPower straight six-cylinder. It makes a hardy 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque.

All this could change, however, as the X3 is undergoing a refresh for the 2017 model year. We know for sure the X3 will have a new face and an updated interior. Prices for the 2016 X3 start at $38,950 for the base sDrive28i and span to $47,650 for an xDrive35i without options.

Read more about the 2017 BMW X3 here.

Conclusion

2017 Jaguar F-Pace – Driven High Resolution Exterior Test drive Exclusive Photos
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The F-Pace ain’t no F-Type, but Jaguar did a good job of blending sport with functionality. This is an honest two-row premium midsize crossover with the heart of a sports car. It can haul the kids while hauling tail. Its AWD system further adds to the functionality, allowing this cat to claw its way through treacherous weather conditions.

All told, the F-Pace is a great first stab from Jaguar. There’s plenty done well, but there’s also several critical areas that need attention.

  • Leave it
    • * Squeaky tailgate
    • * Freezing infotainment system
    • * More sport than luxury
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