The Jaguar XE aims squarely at the favorite sports sedan of most auto writers and enthusiasts. Can it keep up, and does its diesel engine hurt or help?
What is it?
The 2017 XE is Jaguar’s modern compact sports sedan. This vehicle, along with the F-Pace crossover, are the company’s two hopes for medium-volume sales.
It’s no accident that the XE looks a bit like the BMW 3 Series. This Jaguar model’s shoppers will almost all have cross-shopped the BMW sedan, and many will also consider a Lexus IS or Infiniti Q50 sedan. Our tester is the rear-drive, mid-trim, diesel version of the XE. Being a diesel luxury sports sedan, it resides in a niche within a niche.
Pricing and trims
The base 2017 Jaguar XE comes with a gasoline 2.0-liter engine starting at about $36,000. There are four trim levels and two additional engine choices. The diesel costs $1,500 more than the 2.0-liter gas engine (despite having 60 fewer horsepower), and the top-spec engine is a 340 hp 3.o-liter gasoline engine. All-wheel drive is an option.
Load up the XE-R Sport AWD, and the total would come to about $63K.
Our Jaguar XE 20D Prestige had a price tag of $53,485 and had leather seats, navigation, and the diesel engine.
The Jaguar XE has not yet been tested by IIHS, but in Euro NCAP testing the vehicle did well, earning five stars.
Our test vehicle had rear cross traffic alert and a blind spot monitor. However, forward collision prevention (FCP) with auto-braking and adaptive cruise control are not available on the XE Prestige. Only the R-Sport trim offers this important safety system now standard on affordable cars like the Toyota Corolla, and direct competitors of the XE like the Lexus IS sedan. There is no price adder for FCP in the R-Sport, but to add adaptive cruise control, usually included with FCP, the package price is a whopping $3,200.
The Jaguar XE 20D Prestige’s 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine produces 180 horsepower. That means a 7.5-second 0-60 mph sprint, and a top speed of 120 mph. In a family sedan these numbers would be just fine, but in a sports sedan costing twice what a gas-powered car like a Mazda6 with this level of performance has, the diesel seems like an odd choice of engines.
We tested the XE on a long highway trip. Over 337 miles driven very close to the speed limits of 55 MPH and 65 MPH we consumed 7.7 gallons of fuel. Thus, our mileage was 43.8 MPG. The car’s display said our mileage over the span was 46.8, so it was off by a bit. Give the car’s size and performance, we expected much better. The EPA says the XE with this drivetrain earns a 36 mpg rating.
The auto media and the green vehicle auto media in particular, have loved diesel engines for years, but there are those skeptics, like me, who note that diesel engines do not produce less CO2 per mile than gas engines that provide the same acceleration. Diesel engines also don’t use much less petroleum per mile (or per year). This is due to the fact that it takes more crude oil to create a gallon of diesel than it does gasoline. Finally, the fuel cost per mile of diesel is not much better on average due to diesel’s higher cost per gallon. The week we tested the Jaguar XE, AAA listed the average cost of regular unleaded at $ 2.25 and diesel at $2.42. Diesel fans don’t believe this. The mantra “diesel is 30% more efficient” overcomes logic for diesel fans.
The XE 20D’s diesel engine has the typical big torque number, 318 ft-lb, but it is only there from 1,750 RPM to 2,500 RPM. Thus, the eight-speed auto shifts rapidly and in short bursts from a start to your around town speed. Many drivers like this “European” type of feeling and for those fans, the Jaguar XE 20D Prestige delivers.
In addition to the normal setting, the XE has ECO, Snow, and Dynamic (Sport) modes for the driver to select using the buttons under the retractable gear selection knob. The little “A” icon to the far left is the button that shuts off the engine Auto-Stop-Start feature.
Ride and handling
One reason to buy the Jaguar XE 20D Prestige instead of an equally quick Mazda6 or Honda Accord is the rear-wheel drive handling the Jaguar offers. With its super-low profile tires inflated to 48 PSI, one would expect a harsh ride, but it isn’t harsh. Firm is the better word. I give it a thumbs up, despite my preference for a silky-smooth ride over bumps. Steering is precise and braking is excellent. On the highway, the car tracks straight and steady. This car has much more capability than one will ever use on a normal drive.
The heated and ventilated leather front seats were superb. They are both comfortable and supportive in perfect measures.
Like the BMW 3 Series and Lexus IS, the Jaguar XE series has limited back legroom due to its rear-drive design. A Camry or even a Civic has much more space in back. Consider the rear doors for occasional use, and you will be fine.
The trunk is large enough for any normal sedan duties and underneath the cargo floor is a spare tire! You won’t find that in a BMW.
Infotainment and controls
We loved the Jaguar’s 10.2″ wide infotainment screen. We loved its touch-screen controls more. This is rare in the premium makes. Usually, there is a frustrating and distracting mouse to tolerate. We would rank Jaguar’s system at the top of its segment. Note that there is also a volume knob down to the right. Our tester did not have Android Auto.
Without question, the 2017 Jaguar XE line rivals the BMW 3 Series and Lexus IS class. The chassis and handling are the match of BMW, and the interior is class competitive. One way Jaguar beats every rival is the ownership experience. Jaguar has a longer included maintenance plan, and a longer warranty than BMW and others, and its service tops its peers.
The Jaguar XE 20D Prestige is a great car with a fantastic interior and chassis. Shoppers who expect the performance of a BMW 340i or a Lexus IS 350 may want be sure they know what they are getting into before committing to the 20D Prestige version of Jaguar’s XE. However, those who want a diesel engine may fall in love immediately.
Looking for a new or used Jaguar? Check out BestRide.com’s local listings.
2017 Jaguar XE 20D Prestige
Base price: $35,895
Price as tested, including $995 destination charge: $53,485
Technology Package: $2,700
Climate Front Seats
Heated Rear Seats
Power Trunk Lid
Electric Rear Sunblind
Vision Package: $2,400
Xenon Headlights w/ LED signature
Navigation, Meridian Sound, WiFi
Head-Up Display: $990
Sirius XM SatRad Compatibility: $350
18″ Alloy Wheels: $500
Ammonite Grey Paint: $550