by Jake Lingeman
The Jaguar XF made its debut at the Frankfurt motor show in 2007 after the C-XF concept bowed in Detroit a few months prior. The midsize sedan wowed with its good looks and great engine selections, and was well-received, though it never reached the heights of segment leaders like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series. It received a second generation in 2016 and has now been updated for 2021 with a new interior, a new infotainment system, and gentle exterior updates that include a bunch of new wheel choices.
Jaguar smartly reduced the XF trim lines from 10 configurations in 2020 to just three in 2021; we also lost the supercharged V6 engine option, leaving two four-cylinder units. They're both 2.0 liters in displacement and turbocharged, making 246 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque in the base model and 296 hp and 295 lb-ft in the more expensive trims. And speaking of price, the XF now starts at just $44k, down from $51,000 last year.
Jaguar made several significant changes to the 2021 XF, including an updated exterior and an all-new interior. The new front-end design features a new grille with lower air intakes, full LED lights, and new double-J LED daytime running lights. At the rear, there's a revised bumper while the light clusters are carried over. Since the supercharged V6 powertrain never gained traction in the USA, it's been dropped from the line-up. Jag's updated XF is now exclusively available with turbocharged four-pot power. All models are equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission standard, and the XF P300 adds all-wheel drive with Jag's Intelligent Driveline Dynamics.
The most notable change is the entirely revamped interior, which was the pre-facelift model's biggest problem. Jag dumped the old clunky infotainment system and now included an 11.4-inch Pivi Pro touchscreen interface. Active Road Noise Cancellation is standard, and Jag says the new cabin features more luxurious materials and better technology, which results in a more tranquil cabin.
While trimming down the lineup, Jaguar has also substantially cut the price of the 2021 Jaguar XF Sedan to compensate for the smaller XE's departure from the US market. The entry-level XF S P250 has an MSRP of $43,995, while the SF SE P250 retails for $47,095. Jag's top-spec XF R-Dynamic P300 AWD $49,995. These prices exclude the destination charge of $1,150.
See trim levels and configurations:
We drove the all-wheel-drive P300 R-Dynamic version for our review of the Jaguar XF, in and around the streets of metro Detroit. Jaguar noted with both this vehicle and F-Pace we also drove that it was not trying to keep up with performance M and AMG versions of its competitors. And that's what we experienced. Jaguar didn't put us on a race track, it put us on a midday commute.
The new XF, even in its quickest form, isn't fast in comparison to those high-performance fire breathers, but it does match up well to those base and middle models. The BMW 540i makes 335 hp and the Mercedes E-Class starts with 255 hp. The XF, with 296 hp, is far cheaper than those two and it was fast enough to keep up with traffic under normal conditions and blow by it when we needed to.
In comfort mode, its speed was completely adequate, but when switched to dynamic using the cool, pop-up drive selector (the gearshift is no longer a dial), and moved the eight-speed automatic transmission into S mode, the XF came alive. The engine sounded louder, revved higher, the steering tightened up a touch, and the pedal was more sensitive. It also has eco and rain/snow modes, which we ignored.
Gear changes came quickly through the new paddle shifters, but no up or downshifts were hard enough to upset the car in a turn. This is still a low and wide sedan, remember, so it changed direction quickly without much body roll too. Jaguar always had a way about it. The company is able to make its suspension compliant under normal conditions, even over rough midwestern roads, but still sporty enough to enjoy the random backroad.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
The Jaguar XF Sedan is certainly a cool car, the new paint choices include British Racing Green, which we would spec on everything we own, but like the rest of Jaguar's lineup, the XF Sedan seems like the contrarian's choice. A BMW might be faster and handle a little better, the Mercedes is a little more luxurious and we'd expect the Lexus ES to outlast the XF, judging through the lens of history. The Lexus sedan is the only one that can compete on price ($40,000), but it just feels a little boring.
But the XF is good. And we'd say the benefits of going with one of its competitors might be outweighed by the fact that you don't see XFs every day as you do with the E-Class, 5 Series, and ES. That counts for something. And if you aren't looking for a weekend track day warrior along with your luxury sedan, the XF can do everything those other guys can.
When you add all of that up and combine it with the new lower pricing and the slick new infotainment setup, the XF starts to look more interesting. It was updated for this year, which sometimes leads to teething pains, but the bones and organs of this car have been around for a while, so it should be solid on that front. If you're not convinced, play with Pivi for a while. If you like it, this could be the luxury midsizer for your garage.
The Jaguar XF only has three trims for 2021, topping out at just under $50,000 before options. Even fully loaded, at $65,695, the XF is remarkably good value for money. The base rear-wheel-drive XF has a lot of features, but it isn't until the P250 SE that we get the Pro version of the Pivi infotainment system included. It also adds heated, electric, power fold, memory door mirrors, approach lights, 19-inch wheels, illuminated tread plates, and 16-way adjustable seats. That starts at about $47,000.
Some of the better options include the Black Exterior Pack for $550 and the Dynamic Handling Pack for $1,350; we loved the massaging seats but we'd skip them for $1,100. But at that point, you may as well get the R-Dynamic model with the more powerful engine and almost all of the bells and whistles for $50,000. Whatever you do, make sure to spend the extra $600 for British Racing Green paint. The Jaguar gods will thank you.
The BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class have traditionally dominated this segment, with only the Audi A6 offering real competition.
Jaguar's pricing structure counts in its favor. The top-spec XF is cheaper than the most basic 5 Series. And $4,000 is enough to make a person step back and think twice. The thing is, Jaguar addressed almost every criticism leveled against the pre-facelift XF. The clunky infotainment system is gone, it comes with more features as standard, and the average interior quality has been elevated thanks to real wood, leather, and aluminum. All of this is beautifully wrapped up in a minimalist cabin featuring a crystal clear infotainment system running the latest software and an active road noise cancellation system.
Previously, this would have been an easy selection process, but the revised XF has us wondering whether the BMW's minimal performance advantage is worth the money. Unless you have your heart set on a six- or eight-cylinder engine, the Jag's value can't be beaten. We highly recommend a test drive.
Merc's recently updated E-Class brings a lot to the party. The pre-facelift 2020 model was getting a bit long in the tooth, but the new E is a whole different ball game. Its design isn't as striking as the XF, but it is a handsome vehicle.
Once again, the XF has pricing in its favor. The entry-level Merc's base price is around $4,000 more, and that's before you start adding options. Add 19-inch wheels, LED intelligent headlights with high beam assist, genuine leather seats, and a wireless charger (all standard on the SE trim), and you have an E-class that costs $57,470. Once again, we're left wondering if the Mercedes is that good. We know it's a better car, but is it $7,500 better than the XF. We don't think so, especially in the wake of a pandemic that has left consumers demanding high value for money.
The most popular competitors of 2021 Jaguar XF Sedan: