|Positives: Subtle but attractive sports sedan styling, improved interior luxury, composed handling, shift knob properly replaces rotary shifter.
|Negatives: Base car is underpowered with no 6-cylinder option to upgrade, two screens make controlling functions confusing and too layered.
|Bottom Line: While the XE is a handsome devil, it lacks the guts to back up the sports sedan ethos. It does have the interior look customers want, but the four-cylinder lacks the verve customers expect in the segment.
We're not quite sure why Jaguar killed their 6-cylinder engine, but it's disappointing when other premium sports sedans let you upgrade. Have two naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engines isn't how you draw enthusiasts. Otherwise, the XE is agile and balanced.
Ride Quality: The XE's suspension setup and chassis allows for a compliant ride that's neither overly firm or too cushy and isolating.
Acceleration: The 246 horsepower turbocharged engine is responsive with virtually no lag, a surprise compared to some of the brand's other turbocharged offerings. 0-60 comes in a little over six seconds, but it actually feels faster. Power comes on quickly and in linear fashion. We just miss the oomph a supercharged V6 provides.
Braking: The upsized front rotors provide plenty of bite, and the XE comes to a stop without drama. Pedal feel is good, as well.
Steering: The steering is sharp and responsive, but there's not much feedback in the experience.
Handling: The XE feels taut in corners and the torque vectoring by braking helps keep the car balanced. The optional Dynamic Handling Pack adds cornering capability, too.
Jaguar has struggled in the infotainment department for a while because it insists on using touchscreens for practically everything. This might be its best iteration. The InControl Touch Duo screens come over from sister brand Land Rover. There's also a lot of standard tech including Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and optional equipment like wireless charging and a great head-up display.
Infotainment System: Our tester had a dual-screen setup with infotainment in a 10" screen and climate controls beneath. The plus side is that you can run nav and operate some of the infotainment in the lower screen. There's a lot going on here, but it looks crisp. Responsiveness, however, could be improved.
Controls: All of the infotainment controls are operated by small icons at the base of the screen with no text. It's frustrating. The climate controls are operated by two knobs and via the lower touchscreen. We're sure buyers will get used to it, but there's too much going on for the system to be quick to use. The new shifter is a plus that's way better than the old rotary shifter.
Although the XE might not be as prominent as the BMW 3-Series or the Mercedes C-Class, it has a distinguished look that's been upgraded by the refresh. The XE is now more in line with the refresh to the F-Pace and the F-Type. The interior has also received more refinement befitting a British sports coupe. While it's still not as nice as Audi, BMW, and Genesis, it comes close.
Front: The headlights have been streamlined and are now LED, and the front bumper has a sportier look with larger intakes. The result is a front fascia that's both more aggressive and more refined.
Rear: While there was nothing really wrong with the taillights of the last XE, this one gets a slimmer LED signature that's very much in line with the rest of Jaguar's lineup.
Profile: Not much has changed in the profile of the XE. We like the absence of chrome and what appears to be a slightly shorter front overhang.
Cabin: Jaguar has upgraded the material quality inside with improved soft-touch surfaces, as well as a thicker steering wheel and better trim work. The improved center console also looks and feels more upscale.
Although the Jaguar has improved inside, there's still some compromise for rear passengers. Most sports sedans of this size fall into the same conundrum of having to maintain the right exterior dimensions for optimal handling while providing a modicum of room in the back.
Front Seats: The front seats have great support and cushioning, as well as an ideal sitting position. The steering column has power adjustability and has great range.
Rear Seats: There's room in the outboard position for normal adults, but the middle position is tight. The seat cushioning is a bit thin, unfortunately, which compromises long trip comfort.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The XE is quiet at highway speeds, and we didn't notice any creaks while testing it.
Visibility: The visibility out the back is compromised by shallow glass and a taller rear deck. The front and side views are great, and you can place the XE exactly where you want it.
Climate: Despite the frustrating touchscreen controls, the system works well. We had no trouble queueing up the air conditioning or heat.
The XE has not been crash tested, but it does come with solid safety features as standard and optional equipment.
IIHS Rating: Not tested.
NHTSA Rating: Not tested.
Standard Tech: The XE doesn't get a ton of standard safety equipment outside of the typical ABS/Traction Control/Stability Control set. It comes withn Emergency Collision Notification, Tire Pressure Monitoring System, Rear Camera, Front/Rear Parking Aids, Lane Keep Assist, and a Driver Condition Monitor.
Optional Tech: Our tester came with Blind Spot Assist, High Speed Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, 360 Parking Aid, and a Rear Traffic Monitor.
The trunk space isn't huge, but it's average in the segment. The cabin is good for front row occupants but not so much for folks in the back seat.
Storage Space: Cabin storage info front is pretty good with a large retractable door compartment, as well as a medium-sized armest. The rear occupants have limited space with small seatback pockets and door pockets.
Cargo Room: The trunk is about average in terms of volume with 12.1 cubic feet. The load floor is flat and wide, thankfully. It's about on par with the Audi A4 and the Mercedes C-Class, while the BMW 3-Series eclipses it with 17 cubes. The seat folds down in the XE to give you about 2.4 more cubes.
The turbo four is pretty efficient, and even under spirited driving managed to get just under the EPA estimate. We have no doubt the 34 mpg highway is attainable. The capable transmission and lack of turbo lag help matters.
Observed: 24.2 mpg
We enjoyed the upgraded 825W Merdian Premium Sound System that provides great bass, excellent clarity, and solid amounts of distortion-free volume.