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Cars 2018: Jaguar F-Pace Road Test & Review

With the Jaguar F-Pace, introduced just last year, Jag finally entered the SUV wars that have been so good to its rivals like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Lexus. This award-winning compact luxury SUV quickly became British luxury automaker’s best-selling model, as its unique blend of style, luxury, and performance immediately resonated with America’s affluent families and young professionals.

Built in the UK, the 2018 F-Pace is a favorite in the very competitive compact luxury SUV class, where it plays against a long list of popular models including the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Audi Q5, Lexus NX, Volvo XC60, and Alfa Romeo Stelvio. This year, Jaguar has enhanced the SUV with a new more fuel-efficient base engine, more comfort, and a new top trim level.

Priced from Around $43,000

Every 2018 F-Pace includes all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission with a sport mode and paddle shifters. Jaguar offers the SUV in several trim levels and with four different engines. Prices start at $43,060, including $995 delivery fee, for the base F-Pace 25t. That’s about $4,500 more than the smaller E-Pace SUV, which debuted this year. Stepping up the Premium trim level adds about $2,600.

Power on the 25t comes from a 247-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which it shares with the Jaguar XE sedan. With this engine, Jaguar says the F-Pace can sprint to 60 mph in just 6.4 seconds, which is about a quick as a base Porsche Macan. Our test vehicle used a 296-hp version of the turbocharged 2.0-liter, and Jaguar also offers a 340-hp supercharged 3.0-liter V6. However, base prices top out at just over $60,000 for the F-Pace S, which is powered by a 380-hp version of the supercharged V6. That engine makes the F-Pace one of the more powerful SUVs in its class, and Jag says it can accelerate from 0-60 mph in just 5.1 seconds.

Diesel Power is Available

For ultimate fuel economy, Jaguar offers the 2018 F-Pace with a diesel engine. The diesel-powered F-Pace 20d is sandwiched in between the 25t and the V6-powered 35t models in the lineup, with prices starting at $47,270 for the Premium model. The Prestige trim level is also offered, and the 20d R-Sport tops the range at $56,670.

These models are powered by a diesel-burning turbocharged 2.0-liter rated at 180 hp. It’s the least powerful engine available in the F-Pace. And it’s the slowest model, with a 0-60 mph performance of 8.2 seconds. However, the engine’s 317 lb-ft of torque make the F-Pace feel quicker than it really is, and the diesel model is by far the most fuel efficient F-Pace, with EPA ratings of 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. The F-Pace shares this engine, as well as others, with the more expensive Land Rover Range Rover Velar. The two models are built on the same platform and share many components.

Fun Driving Experience

Jaguars have been fun to drive since the 1930s, and the 2018 F-Pace carries on that tradition. This SUV drives like a sports sedan with quick responses and tight, stable handling. The F-Pace is engaging and fun to toss around on a twisty road. It offers one of the finest driving experiences in the compact SUV class. With its 20-inch wheels and sport-tuned suspension, our F-Pace 30t Portfolio test vehicle did ride more firmly than we expected, and some buyers may find the ride to be a bit jarring on rough roads. It isn’t uncomfortable, but you certainly feel the texture of the pavement through the Jag’s suspension. The tradeoff, of course, is the SUV’s impressive handling.

The power from our test car’s turbocharged 2.0-liter engine was also impressive, and the smooth four-cylinder is perfectly matched to the eight-speed automatic transmission. This F-Pace’s acceleration is more than enough for most buyers, although it’s not exactly breathtaking. Flipping the transmission into Sport mode increases response.

Sporty Interior

Our test vehicle was also equipped with JaguarDrive Control. With the push of a button on the console, the system allows the driver to choose Dynamic, Eco, or Rain/Snow modes, which retune the SUV’s throttle response, steering effort, and shift patterns. Changing the driving mode can also change the interior lighting and gauge layout.

Forward visibility is excellent thanks to the low cowl and thin pillars, and the 10-inch touchscreen is one of the largest in its class. The infotainment system — which includes navigation, a premium sound system, and onboard Wi-Fi — is quickly mastered with a little time, and the graphics are class-leading. Overall, the interior has an upscale feel, high build quality, and rich materials, including a beautiful headliner crafted from soft suede, glossy wood trim, and a rotary shifter that rises dramatically from the console when you start the engine. Our test car’s heated and cooled front seats were well-shaped and comfortable, but some may find them to be overly firm.  Other ergonomic oddities include window and mirror controls mounted high on the door sill and a radio volume knob placed on the passenger side.

Family-Friendly Space

Like many of its rivals, the 2018 Jaguar F-PACE has not received safety rating from either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. However, younger families will appreciate the SUV’s easy-to-reach LATCH connectors in the outboard seats and three easily accessed upper tether anchors and power-operated child locks on the rear doors. Our test car also offered rear-seat passengers their own air conditioning vents, their own climate controls, and adjustable headrests. The Jaguar’s rear seat was also heated and provided a surprising amount of headroom. The 2018 F-Pace is best when used as a four-seater, but the rear seat does fit three full-size adults if the ride is short.

Overall, fuel economy is about average for this class. When equipped with either 2.0-liter gas engine, the F-Pace is rated at 22 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, while the more powerful V6 models are rated 18 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. I averaged 23 mpg during a week of mixed driving in the 2.0-liter.

Large Cargo Area

Storage inside the Jaguar’s luxurious interior is also very well thought out. The center console bin is large enough and felt-lined, and the door pockets are sizable and have slots for water bottles. There are also a couple of well-placed cupholders.

Cargo space is large for this class as well. The 2018 F-Pace offers 33.5 cubic feet of space behind its rear seat, much more than you get in a Porsche Macan, Audi Q5, or Lexus NX. Every F-Pace comes standard with a 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat, which easily folds flat for your larger items. With the seats down there’s a cavernous 63.5 cubic feet of space. Standard equipment includes a power liftgate, a cargo area power port, and hooks to stabilize grocery bags.

Advanced Safety Systems

Jaguar offers a long list of advanced safety systems and driver aids on the 2018 F-Pace, but it does save most of them for the higher trim levels and extra-cost packages. Our test vehicle, which cost $65,422 with options, included every system available, including a head-up display; a rearview camera; front and rear parking sensors; adaptive LED headlamps with automatic high beams; lane-keep assistance, which intervened smoothly and was pleasantly unobtrusive; a blind-spot monitor; and rear cross-traffic detection.

Our vehicle was also equipped with adaptive cruise control; a driver condition monitor, which will detect if the driver is feeling drowsy and suggest a break from driving; and intelligent emergency braking that scans the road ahead and will apply the brakes for you in an attempt to avoid a collision. Most of these systems are programmable or can be deactivated from the driver’s seat.

Looks Sporty and Expensive

Dressed in a beautiful and fitting shade of British Racing Green, our 2018 Jaguar F-PACE test car was a looker. The Jag’s sleek design and voluptuous curves are a big part of its popularity. The design team has created a shape that’s pure Jag but without any old-school baggage or retro missteps. The F-Pace, with its large grille, low roofline, and radically canted rear end, looks fresh and youthful but never comes across as overstyled. It will look good for years to come.

Those tight proportions and sporty details, which include a rear spoiler and large dual exhaust pipes, also make the F-Pace look smaller than it really is. At 186.3 inches long, 82 inches wide, and 65 inches high, the F-Pace is almost as long as a Mercedes-Benz GLE, while it’s wider and lower than a Porsche Cayenne.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a sporty luxury suv, the 2018 Jaguar F-PACE is a very desirable overall choice. This SUV is comfortable, fun to drive, beautifully appointed, and looks expensive. We were also impressed with the Jag’s build quality. Our test car’s paint quality was exceptional, its body gaps were tight and perfectly uniform, and its doors closed with a solid thud.

Although we were satisfied with the performance and fuel economy of the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, power-hungry buyers would be smart to step up to the supercharged V6 engine. Although both engines are shared with the Jaguar F-TYPE sports car, the V6 offers a significant jump in performance.