REVIEW: 2017 Jaguar F-PACE 35t Prestige – Snow Cat

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We put the Jaguar F-PACE Prestige AWD through a thorough winter test and came away very impressed.

What is it? 

At the conclusion of the New England Motor Press’s annual winter testing session, I was told my ride home would be the 2017 Jaguar F-PACE 35t Prestige (with AWD). Having just hopped out of the 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4X4, I wondered if the sporty F-Pace could handle the white stuff as well as the amazing Jeep. After a week of testing, the clear answer is a definitive and surprising “Yes!”

The F-PACE is a two-row crossover that falls at the small end of medium size or the large end of compact. It is shorter in length than the Lexus RX 350 F Sport AWD by about seven inches and is a few inches shorter in overall height, but it is a bit wider.

From our point of view, the volume leader in this segment is the Lexus RX 350. However, many F-PACE shoppers might consider sportier BMW models or perhaps even the Porsche crossovers. Jaguar’s new F-PACE is that good. It can go up against the mainstream premium leader and also the niche sports models. Since Lexus outsells the rest by a huge margin, we’ll stick to the RX for our comparisons where necessary.

Pricing and trims

The Jaguar F-PACE line comes in five trims and three engine offerings are available. The Base F-PACE starts around $43,000 and a fully-loaded S with most of the options offered will run up to the low $70Ks.

Our 2017 Jaguar F-PACE 35t Prestige had no options but came with most of what one would expect from a premium midsize crossover. At $52,095 it was just slightly more expensive than the last well-equipped Lexus RX 350 we tested. This vehicle may well be the best value of any Jaguar offered in the current line up.

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Safety

Our Jaguar F-PACE 35t Prestige came without Forward Collision Prevention (FCP) and also lacked adaptive cruise control. Since our tester had no FCP system, it would not be eligible for the Top Safety Pick Plus designation from IIHS, the defacto standard for safety in this class. The R and S-Sport trims of the F-PACE do offer active safety systems.  Our 35T Prestige trim did have Adaptive LED Headlamps, a backup camera and backup sensors, blind spot detection, and reverse traffic detection.

Although it is now in its second model year, the F-PACE has not been tested by IIHS and likely will not be until its sales volume increases. Based on our research, all-wheel drive has a distinct safety advantage in the real world, and the F-Pace has a very effective system.

Performance

The F-PACE 35t Prestige uses the same drivetrain we have tested in other Jaguars and we feel its 340 hp and automatic transmission are perfect for the vehicle. The AWD system offers a snow mode we put to full use, and the 35t Prestige has multiple drive modes available that make the ride sportier. There is also an ECO mode.

The Jaguar F-PACE 35t Prestige feels very quick. Jaguar says that the 340 hp engine will move the F-PACE 35t from 0-60 MPH in just 5.4-seconds. That’s as quick as a decent compact sports sedan and the Lexus RX 350’s 7.9 seconds to 60 MPH seems slow by comparison. Jaguar bumps up the power to 380 hp in its top trims and the added power shaves about 0.3 seconds of the sprint time.

Merging onto the highway, the F-PACE 35t Prestige feels downright fast. Frankly, we’ve driven crossovers with more power and in a vehicle of this type more power is not really helpful. Jaguar’s supercharged six-cylinder engines are just right. Jaguar does offer a 180 hp 4-cylinder diesel engine in this vehicle as an option. However, it changes the F-PACE’s 0-60 MPH time dramatically, to 8.2 seconds.

The eight-speed automatic transmission in our tester was smooth and offered quick shifts. Even in ECO mode it was pleasant to drive. In normal mode, the transmission never seemed to hunt or to be in the wrong gear. The large paddle shifters offer involvement and the S mode quickens the throttle a bit and holds gears. With a 20 MPG Combined fuel economy rating the Jaguar falls in between the V8 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4X4’s 17 MPG Combined and the Lexus RX 350 F Sport AWD’s 22 MPG.

Ride and handling

The Jaguar F-PACE is a blast to drive in snow. We were happy that our tester had the base 19″ wheels with 55-series all-season rubber and not the taller 22-inch wheels that are optional on other trims. Note how well the snow sticks to the tire treads in this image. Snow on snow has more friction than rubber on snow and the all-season tires on this Jaguar were darn near as good as dedicated winter tires by our estimation. They are also predictable.

In a large empty snowy parking lot, we were able to easily toss and then catch the F-Pace 35t Prestige in hard cornering. On the road at safe speeds, it always felt secure and safe. When braking and cornering in the snow the F-PACE was always reliable and we applaud Jaguar for keeping the tires suitable for real-world weather rather than equipping the vehicle with low-profile tires and hard summer compounds. It made all the difference in our week of driving. Bravo Jaguar.

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Seating

Jaguar absolutely nailed the driving position in the F-PACE. Although not low like a coupe, the driver’s seat location feels just right in this crossover; High enough to see over snow banks, but not so high that one feels tippy in corners.

The Perforated leather seats were excellent and very comfortable. If we had one request it would be to move the seat heat and cooling controls out of the infotainment screen menus and use a mechanical switch that could remain at the driver’s preferred setting.

The F-PACE can easily accommodate adults in back, and legroom is adequate. Note the all-weather floor mats. The F-PACE does not fit neatly into any set segment, so we hesitate to do a numerical comparison to the other vehicles of similar size. Let’s leave it at “Bigger than the compacts and smaller than the midsize crossovers.”

Cargo

The F-PACE 35t Prestige came with a form-fitted rubber cargo floor mat. Small things like this make a big difference when all the vehicles in a segment are good or great. Under the cargo area floor is a spare tire.

Infotainment and controls

Jaguar’s touch-operated infotainment system is easy to learn and operate. With no complicated mouse-type controller to struggle with, the system delivers what you need with little fuss. The F-PACE 35t Prestige comes with Navigation standard and the audio system is clear and offers good bass.

Ownership Experience

An important aspect of any premium or luxury vehicle is the overall ownership experience. Here Jaguar shines. Its fixed, five-year cost of ownership is the best in the business. No maintenance costs to worry about and a warranty that runs for the duration of those years. Jaguar also enjoys high marks from consumers who grade the company on customer service surveys. Jaguar made it a point to top Lexus and BMW in this regard and has succeeded.

Overall

There are so many superb premium and luxury crossovers on the market now it is difficult for any vehicle to stand out. The Jaguar F-PACE 35t Prestige is one that clearly does. This is a vehicle that is fast, nimble, comfortable and comes with a measure of exclusivity. Many also consider it the best-looking crossover (including this author).

That the 2017 F-PACE 35t Prestige is so real-world usable is the exceptional part of this Jaguar. This is not a vehicle that needs to be babied in bad weather. In fact, it may well be the ideal partner for a 3-season Jaguar F-Type in a fortunate owner’s garage.

Test 2017 Jaguar F-PACE 35t Prestige (AWD)

Base price: $43K

Price as tested, $ 52,095 including $ 995 destination charge:  

Options: None

Likes:

  • Perfect Driving Position
  • Great Handling and Driving Comfort
  • Good Value

Dislikes:

  • Seat Heat and Cooling Controls Should Be Mechanical and Not In Infotainment Menus
  • Tiny Wires In Windshield Obscure the View

 

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John Goreham

John Goreham