Gotta love a Jag finished in British Racing Green.
For a brand that built much of its reputation on fancy four-doors, Jaguar really doesn’t seem to give a flip about sedans anymore. Of course, considering current consumer trends, it’s hard to blame the British automaker for this shift in priorities. For 2021, the XF is the last sedan standing in Jaguar’s lineup and, despite receiving a refresh, it’s arguably harder to recommend than ever.
LikeAttractive exterior designComfortable cabinRelatively fuel efficient
Don’t LikeHarsh ride on large wheelsSloppy handlingTouchy infotainment tech
Still a looker
It hasn’t always been this way; the XF was the absolute business when it launched in 2007. It not only put Germany’s stalwart sedans on notice, the XF totally OK-boomer’d the stodgy old S-Type that came before it. With style, power and a much more youthful attitude, the original XF was the progenitor of Jaguar as we know it today.
Not all of that verve is lost in the 2021 XF, it’s just a lot harder to find. There’s still an inherent athleticism to the XF’s front fascia, but walk around back and the taillights look drowsy and dull. The XF’s base 18-inch wheels look tiny and cheap, so you’ll definitely want to option larger 19s or 20s if only for improved curb appeal. (All modern Jaguars look bad on their smallest wheels.) My R-Dynamic test car is by far the most attractive of today’s XF lineup with its large air intakes and black exterior accents. Oh, and kudos to Jaguar for spec’ing this one in British Racing Green. Great color.
The interior gets a more significant overhaul, with higher-quality materials and better attention to detail, including updated climate controls, a redesigned electronic gear-selector (remember when it used to raise up out of the center console?) and, on higher trims, a digital instrument cluster. The front chairs are cushier than before and the cabin’s overall design is appealing. Aside from somewhat cramped back seats, the XF is as comfy as ever.
Pretty Pivi Pro and new standard equipment
The redesigned center console flows upward to meet the interior’s most significant upgrade: Jaguar’s Pivi Pro infotainment system, housed on a 11.4-inch screen. The display itself is curved ever so slightly and housed in a magnesium frame. The graphics are high-def and colorful, and the standard (but wired) Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integrations use the full real estate afforded by the larger screen without a hint of low-res stretching.
Pivi Pro certainly looks great.
Beautiful as it looks, Pivi Pro definitely has its issues. The software occasionally struggles to multitask and takes a minute to get going on wake-up (I can relate). There’s an occasional lag following requests and the menu structure itself is a little convoluted at times. Also, my success rate for getting the steering-wheel buttons to register inputs is about 50%. Scrolling through audio tracks on my USB-tethered iPhone is kind of a chore, though speaking of which, Jaguar now offers both USB-A and USB-C ports. All told, competing sedans from Audi, BMW, Genesis and Mercedes-Benz all have richer, easier-to-use multimedia setups. Even with updates, Pivi Pro can’t stand up to the segment’s best.
Jaguar upped the XF’s list of standard equipment for 2021, giving every trim goodies like wireless phone charging, 360-degree camera coverage and a 12-speaker Meridian sound system. My top-cat XF R-Dynamic packs blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist and traffic-sign recognition, as well as a new feature called Clear Exit Monitor, which should hopefully keep you from pulling a bonehead maneuver like opening your door into a cyclist or passing car when parallel parked. Weirdly, though, even with all these standard features, adaptive cruise control is a $1,200 standalone option, even on this most expensive model.
Dull to drive
Throughout its life, Jaguar offered the XF with four-, six- and eight-cylinder engine options — there was even a hilarious XFR-S. Now, a 2.0-liter turbo I4 is the XF’s exclusive powertrain, though it’s at least offered in two states of tune. The XF P250 S and SE have 246 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque, while the P300 R-Dynamic SE gets 296 hp and 295 lb-ft. P250 models use rear-wheel drive while the P300 gets all-wheel drive and, no matter the model, every XF uses a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission.
These 20-inch wheels look great but hurt the Jag’s ride quality.
Jaguar says the P300 can accelerate to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, which is perfectly adequate for this 3,845-pound midsize sedan, but it’s kind of crummy to think that’s as quick as any XF gets. At least the XF is relatively efficient, estimated to return 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway, according to the EPA. On a 120-mile drive from Los Angeles to Palm Springs, I actually saw 31 mpg without even trying.
Long highway drives are what the Jaguar XF does best… for the most part. Light steering and a nicely damped suspension are great for eating up highway miles, though the 20-inch wheels and requisite low-profile tires make for a choppy ride over highway expansion joints and rough pavement. Thankfully, the XF is nice and quiet thanks to now-standard active noise cancellation tech.
On more exciting roads, the XF is underwhelming. The steering is always too light and too vague for sporty driving, and the sedan’s body motions are very pronounced. The aluminum-intensive chassis pitches and rolls like a creaky old ship and despite having “Dynamic” right there in the name, this XF feels anything but. Driver excitement might not be mission critical in a midsize luxury sedan like the XF, but for a company so hellbent on creating a high-performance image, I definitely expect better. The Audi A6, BMW 530i, Genesis G80 and Mercedes-Benz E300 are not only more athletic, they’re more comfortable, too.
The taillights look so drowsy.
Back of the pack
A base 2021 Jaguar XF costs $45,145 including $1,150 for destination and my nicely optioned P300 R-Dynamic SE rings up at $62,695. That’s within a couple thousand dollars of similarly equipped competitors, all of which are better in basically every meaningful aspect. My pick of the litter? A Genesis G80 2.5T AWD, which fully loaded costs $60,695 delivered and is totally the new hotness among luxury sedans. Anyone seriously considering an XF should stop by a Genesis dealer ASAP.
The XF still has a few good attributes, namely its quiet cabin and sharp style. But without additional attention or big-deal reasons to buy it over the heavy-hitters in the luxury space, customers will undoubtedly continue to steer away from the XF in favor of the better-equipped F-Pace SUV. I won’t be surprised if the XF soon meets a fate like that of Jaguar’s other sedans.