2017 Jaguar F-Pace First Review: First-Class Freshman

By Richard Homan on May 9, 2016 10:00 AM

The wait is over: One of the last carmakers on the planet without an SUV to its name, Jaguar, now has a high-riding, all-wheel-drive sport-utility vehicle in its stable. The 2017 F-Pace compact crossover SUV lives happily on-road, and it can play well off-road too when the need arises. Best of all, the F-Pace carries the spirit of Jaguar around with it wherever it goes.

Precisely executed, the Jaguar F-Pace offers generous seating for five, excellent engines, solid road manners, strong all-wheel drive standard on all models, stronger in-car tech which becomes more available and more impressive as you move up the price ladder, and plenty of luxury and sport variation for buyers to choose from. The new F-Pace is a worthy luxury contender, facing off against such compact SUV stalwarts as the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC, and it even offers a 5.1-second to 60 mph version at a price that could almost make you think twice about a Porsche Macan.

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So worth the wait

It feels very good to be able to sit high in the F-Pace's driver's seat and confidently aim that bulging hood down the road, and you have two engines to choose from: At launch this May, the F-Pace will come with the same 3.0-liter supercharged V6 that's making a legend out of Jag's F-Type sports car. This sweetheart of an engine comes at two levels of boost: 340 horsepower for the non-S models and 380 horsepower for S versions. In September 2016, the F-Pace will welcome the addition of a potent and fuel-miserly 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel 4-cylinder available on all but the S models. Fear it not: This "Ingenium" diesel engine's 318 lb-ft of torque -- produced from just off idle to 2,500 rpm -- pulls the F-Pace off the line and into traffic easily for hours with barely a dent to the fuel gauge. Standard with both engines, the 8-speed ZF transmission provides the perfect salt to the pepper of the F-Pace engines, shifting precisely and quickly with no "hunting" back and forth for the right gear even on roads through inconsistent rolling hills.

No amateur on rugged roads and even moderate off-roads, the F-Pace's full-time all-wheel-drive system defaults to a rear-wheel-drive bias while seamlessly dividing torque between the front and rear wheels as needed. Extensive use of aluminum in the body panels, unibody architecture, and suspension components (all adapted to accommodate an SUV's need for more ground clearance and suspension travel) accounts for one-third of the F-Pace's structure and gives it a decided weight advantage over the competition. As a workhorse, the new F-Pace boasts a 5,290-pound towing capacity.

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Luxury and logic

Looking inside the new F-Pace inspires both familiarity and surprise. The quiet interior feels new-Jag familiar, with good workmanship and materials, and the space offered -- especially in the just-right stadium-seating second row and immense rear cargo area -- feels calculated to an exact algorithm to fit five adults comfortably. This feeling of roominess is enhanced by one of the biggest panorama roofs in the business, but it is compromised for the driver by a thick B-pillar and a narrow view through the rear window. The standard power rear tailgate opens wide to accommodate a best-in-class 33.5 cubic feet of your stuff (almost twice that with the rear seatbacks folded down).

As you can well imagine, this new Jag's interior can be optioned with things like a 17-speaker surround-sound setup and 14-way power front seats, but the standard 11-speaker Meridian sound system and 10-way-adjustable (8-way power adjustable) fronts seats more than hold their own. If you want to pull out all the stops, treat yourself with Jaguar InControl Touch Pro, available as part of the $3,200 "Technology Pack" option on F-Pace Prestige and above models. A powerhouse infotainment/navigation system, InControl Touch Pro includes a widely configurable 12.3-inch high-definition touch screen, an ultra-quick solid-state-drive navigation system, and the 17-speaker Meridian digital surround-sound system. One shortcoming is that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will not be available out of the box. Jaguar is promising it at some unspecified future date.

Pricing on the 2017 Jaguar F-Pace SUV starts at about $42,000 for the F-Pace 20d (for diesel). The MSRP and feature sets move up from there, and you can add $1,400 to almost any F-Pace to get the "35t" supercharged V6 gasoline engine. Well-appointed and our recommendation is the F-Pace Prestige, starting under $50,000. The sports-car F-Pace S model (starting at about $57,700) comes with the 380-horsepower V6, 20-inch wheels with low-profile tires (good for handling, but not for comfort), and manually configurable adaptive suspension dynamics. Things you won't always finds as standard equipment on compact luxury SUVs -- like all-wheel drive and the panorama roof -- come on every F-Pace which keeps the Jag price competitive with the rest of the compact luxury SUV crowd.

Here's our full review on the 2017 Jaguar F-Pace.


 

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