Jaguar F-Pace — A crossover worthy of praise

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

We remember sitting at a Porsche event back in the late '90s listening to representatives of the iconic German sports car company discussing the possibility of building a sport utility vehicle. We were aghast at the revelation. What is our topsy-turvy automotive world coming to when the maker of the lauded 911 was even discussing an SUV?

It happened in 2002 when Porsche produced the first Cayenne for the 2003 model year. The Cayenne quickly became the company's best seller. Porsche had correctly analyzed the market.

So it's no surprise that Jaguar has finally entered the crossover fray with the compact F-Pace. And it's equally no surprise that the F-Pace has become a sales leader in the first few months of its existence. After driving the F-Pace we found it to be one of the most fun-to-drive sport utility vehicles we've ever encountered — while at the same time offering the passenger and cargo carrying capability not available in many luxury crossovers its size.

Add to that another beautiful design under the direction of Jaguar design director Ian Callum. Visually inspired by the F-TYPE sports car, the F-Pace features Jaguar’s current design language including the signature “J” blade headlamps found on the 2017 XE and XF sedans and the minimalistic tail lamps from the original E-TYPE Jaguar sports cars. Even the huge grille and lower air intakes are carryovers from Jaguar’s lineup of performance sedans.

The F-Pace's great driving dynamics are backed up by two very desirable engines. The supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 is the headliner producing 340 horsepower (380 in the S model) and 332 pound-feet of torque with exhilarating acceleration measured at 5.4 seconds from 0-to-60. If you opt for the S model and the 40 extra horses, you can expect a time of 5.1 seconds. Gas mileage, while not exemplary, is acceptable at 18 mpg city, 23 highway and 20 combined on premium gas.

If gas mileage is more important to you than sub-six-second 0-to-60 runs, the 2.0-liter turbo-diesel rated at 180 horsepower and 318 pound-feet of torque should be your cup of tea with EPA ratings of 26 mpg city, 33-highway and 29 overall. Performance is adequate considering the considerable improvement in mileage — figure about 8.0 seconds from 0-to-60. In our brief time behind the wheel of a diesel, we had no problem with the way it performed including merging and passing.

Both engines are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and all models come standard with all-wheel drive, paddle shifters, hill-start assist and an automatic stop-start system.

Jaguar’s new SUV is easily more sports sedan-like than most rivals in its segment and is consistent with its sedan siblings. The interior is a near perfect blend of sportiness and refined elegance with generous seating for five. The new InControl Touch infotainment system with an eight-inch touch screen and Meridian sound system is standard; the Pro version with a huge 10.2-inch screen is optional. We like the large climate controls and the new InControl system that features large virtual buttons and pleasing graphics.

The front seats offer excellent seating positions, and with all the available adjustability it was very easy to reach an optimum driving position. The rear seats offer real adult comfort with scads of legroom and decent headroom, even with the panoramic sunroof. Cargo space is exemplary at 33.5 cubic feet. Cargo space with seats folded is 63.5 cubic feet.

There are five trim levels — base, Premium, Prestige, R-Sport and S — starting at $41,985 for the 2.0-liter diesel and $43,385 for the supercharged V-6. Considering the long list of standard equipment, shoppers in this segment will find the price hard to beat. Standard equipment includes all-wheel drive, 18-inch wheels, power liftgate, keyless ignition and entry, a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control, eight-way power front seats, simulated leather upholstery, and the InControl Touch 8-inch touchscreen electronic interface. Although a rearview camera is not standard on the base model it can be added as a stand-alone option for $400.

Overall, the range of models, trim levels and options is vast and allows you to custom build the F-Pace how you like it, but the price climbs easily with added options. For example a Premium tested with just $1,550 in options priced out at $48,145 and the top-of-the-line S-model with $16,490 in options priced out at $74,185.

Our 35t R-Sport test vehicle with a couple of pricey options including the Comfort and Convenience Package at $1,800 and the Technology Package at $3,200 that includes the outstanding 825-watt Meridian surround sound system came in with a bottom line of $62,295.

Base price: $41,985; as driven, $62,295
Engine: 3.0-liter supercharged V-6
Horsepower: 340 @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 332 foot-pounds @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: all-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 113.3 inches
Length: 186.3 inches
Curb weight: 4,015 pounds
Turning circle: 38.9 feet
Luggage capacity: 33.5 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 63.5 cubic feet
Towing capacity: 5,290 pounds
Fuel capacity: 16.6 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 18 city, 23 highway, 20 combined
0-60: 5.4 seconds (manufacturer)
Also consider: Porsche Macan, BMW X3, Acura RDX

The Good
• Outstanding performance from V-6
• Excellent fuel economy from diesel engine
• Engaging to drive
• Spacious passenger and cargo space

The Bad
• Gas mileage from V-6 below average

The Ugly
• Options many and some are pricey