Tom Crosby: Jaguar F-Pace SUV hitting popularity sweet spot

Tom Crosby

Introduced last year as the first Jaguar crossover vehicle, the F-PACE has become a sales winner, helping Jaguar become one of the fasted growing brands in the United States.

For 2018 the biggest change is the addition of a 2.0-liter turbo-charged gasoline powered engine, the same Ingenium engine used in Land Rover vehicles. Both Land Rover and Jaguar are owned by India’s Tata Motors.

Forward cross-traffic detection, steering alignment and parking aids are new options to Jaguar’s safety-tech suite. We test-drove – without the new options – a 2018 2.0-liter turbo-charged diesel R-Sport Jaguar, getting miles per gallon exceeding EPA estimates. (34.5 mpg with mostly highway driving; 1.5 miles better than EPA using Eco drive – one of four drive modes).

The mid-size F-PACE comes in six trims: base, Premium, Prestige, R-Sport, Portfolio and S with gas and some diesel engine options. All are four-wheel drive and need options to optimize the full Jaguar experience. We had several options with the main two being the Comfort/Convenience and Technology Packages.

On 20-inch wheels cruising the highway, the ride is compliant with double wishbone and integral link suspension with some minor tire noise. Responsive handling uses torque vectoring, plus adaptive and configurable dynamic systems. Off-road, 8.4-inch ground clearance and Land Rover-inspired all-wheel drive features allows the F-PACE to hold its own.

The F-PACE is eye-catching with a classically simple streamlined aerodynamic look mingled with muscular wheel arches, short front overhangs, sculpted hood and level beltline. Windsor soft-grain leather cosseted seats are comfortable and rear seats electrically recline, plus fold, to create ample cargo space with a reversible floor covering above a spare tire. InControl Touch Pro offers information and controls a 10.2-inch dashboard screen, swipeable like a tablet.

Inside, our light oyster color theme included premium materials, intricate fit and finish, ample knick-knack spaces, a two-row panoramic moonroof, contrast stitching, tastefully placed Jaguar icons and cutting-edge safety features. There are voice control workings but none for navigation (an option), visors don’t extend and a start/stop feature is rough but can be disabled.

Jaguars have two unique features. They have partnered this year with Shell gas to let drivers use an app to pay for gas by using the vehicles’ touchscreen. Also wearing a water and shock proof wristband lets you lock your key in the car (disabling the engine) and unlocks upon return. As of mid-2018, crash test for safety ratings had not been published.

LIKE: Mileage, profile, handling, posh interior, versatility

DISLIKE: Extendable visors, voice navigation desired

BOTTOM LINE: F-PACE has elevated the status of Jaguar’s brand

FACT FILE

JAGUAR F-PACE 20d R-SPORT

Base price only $55,675 (options not priced)

Vehicle weight 4,015 lbs.

Wheelbase 113.2 inches

Length 186.3 inches

Width 81.5 inches

Engine 2.0 liter, 4-cylinder turbo charged, diesel

Horsepower 180 hp at 4,000 rpm

Torque 318 lbs.-ft. at 1,750 rpm

Transmission 8-speed automatic, manual paddles

EPA Rating 26 mpg city and 33 mpg highway

Range 15.9-gallon tank, diesel

Performance 0-6 in roughly 7 seconds

Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.

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