The Jaguar F-Pace, a 5-passenger compact crossover, was introduced as a 2016 model. It was the storied English brand's first non-car and quickly became ts bestselling model. Changes over the past few years have been incremental, mostly focused on offering special editions and upgrading the interior trim and feature set. Competitors include the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, BMW X3, Lexus NX, Maserati Levante, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Porsche Macan and Volvo XC40.
For the 2020 model year, the F-Pace is offered in seven trim levels with four engine variants. All come standard with all-wheel drive and an 8-speed automatic transmission. The model lineup includes the base, Premium, Prestige, Portfolio, R Sport, S and SVR. Offered on the base, Premium, Prestige, Portfolio and R-Sport is a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes either 247 or 296 horsepower. The S gets a supercharged 380-horsepower 3.0-liter V6. SVR models are equipped with a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 that makes 550 horsepower. Towing capacity comes in at 5,300 pounds.
Prices start at about $50,000 for the base model to more than $90k for the SVR. Key changes for the 2020 model year include the full integration of Android Auto and Apple Car Play, Jaguar also added two limited-edition appearance packages based on R-Sport trim. They include Chequered Flag and 300 Sport. Not returning for the 2020 model year is the diesel engine option.
F-Pace offers buyers a wide array of engine offerings. The base 4-cylinder can be a bit of a letdown if you're expecting break-neck performance, but the level-up four with 296 horsepower provides more than adequate punch for around-town driving and highway cruising. The supercharged V6 adds a bit more grunt when pulling away from stoplights and is less affected by additional passengers. The SVR's V8 is in a class by itself when it comes to overall thrust. It's a fine match to the top engine offerings at Alfa, BMW and Mecerdes-Benz and just a tick behind the Macan Turbo. All of the engines offer smooth and refined acceleration and all-day relaxed cruising.
Jaguar's all-wheel drive system does not have a low range and is not intended for severe off-road usage. However, it's more than competent on snow-covered streets or dirt trails. Regardless of engine, the 8-speed automatic provides quick and smooth shifts and reacts promptly in passing situations.
As is the case with most offerings in the premium crossover segment, fuel economy isn't a strong point -- perhaps more so with the F-Pace. The best-performing model is the base 4-cylinder that nets a respectable-for-the-class 22 MPG city and 27 MPG highway. Stepping up to the V6, you get 18 MPG city and 23 MPG highway. The line topping SVR manages only 16 MPG city and 21 MPG highway. All engines require premium-grade fuel. In routine suburban commuting don't expect to average more than 22 MPG overall with the four, and less than 20 MPG overall with the six or eight. Interestingly the 4-cylinders get a 15.8-gallon fuel tank and the V6 and V8 get a 21.6-gallon tank, so overall range is about the same for each engine.
When Jaguar first pitched the idea of a crossover purists threw a fit -- how could a brand known for crafting luxurious and sporty cars even consider offering a crossover? However, Jaguar quickly silenced most critics by deftly infusing the F-Pace with the same refined and athletic driving characteristics found in its traditional sedans. The combination of sharp and communicative steering, powerful brakes and nimble suspension helps the F-Pace seem lighter than it's 4300-pound curb weight might suggest.
Still, there's a big caveat here and the buyer needs to beware. Base models with the smaller wheels and tires have the best overall ride quality and handling balance. Step up to the R Sport, S or SVR and you'll likely find that the ride is a bit too firm for Chicago's frost-heaved pavement. Definitely a buyer preference, some love the way the larger wheels and tires, firmer suspension and beefy brakes give the performance models sport-car-like handling and find the trade off to be more than acceptable.
Regardless of trim and tire/wheel package the F-Pace cruises quietly. The 4- and 6-cylinder engines emit a refined growl in acceleration and the snarly exhaust note on the SVR is entirely appropriate for its mission.
At introduction, perhaps the F-Paces biggest deficiency was its bland and somewhat pedestrian interior. That's no more as Jaguar has continuously upgraded both design and materials to provide a cockpit that's more than price appropriate. In fact, with the 2020 upgrades to the infotainment system, some might consider the F-Type's interior to be one of the most user-friendly in the class. Yes, you can find hints of the original bland interior in some of the center console details, but for the most part, Jaguar has done an excellent job of bringing the materials up to snuff.
Drivers face a digital display that mimics the traditional twin-dial setup. There's a programmable center information display and also an available head-up display. The center console boasts a wide and crisp infotainment touch screen with traditional buttons for the climate control system. There is a volume knob, but unfortunately its way over on the passenger side. Ancillary controls for the windows, mirror and door locks are high up on the door sill while the traditional armrest location houses memory buttons. Off-putting at first for sure, owners are sure to quickly adjust to the locations as they are easy to reach.
The front seats are firmly padded but are nicely sized and offer a good mix of comfort and support. Those opting for the S or SVR might find that they are a trifle too constrictive. Leg room is good and head room adequate. Being a compact crossover, the F-Pace isn't going to provide limousine-like comfort in the second-row seats. Still, it's one of the larger offerings in the class and has good room for two adults, three in a pinch. Outward visibility is good in all directions. Door openings are a trifle tight, but the step-in is modest, so it is easy to get in and out.
Jaguar has never been known for its electronics, quite the opposite actually. Still, consistent upgrades and revisions to the infotainment system have led to friendly and functional operation and a solid user interface. The addition of Android Auto and Apple Car Play are a nice touch. Its actually quite refreshing to find an infotainment system in a European luxury vehicle that doesn't take a PhD to operate.
Being a largish compact, the F-Pace offers exceptional cargo space. Seats up the F-Pace offers nearly 34 cubic feet of space. The seats fold easily to expand the cargo area as well. It's interesting to note that cargo capacity decreases if you opt for the full-size space tire. Interior storage disappoints with just a few open and covered bins and a smallish glove box.
Bottom Line - Though its just a few years old, the F-Pace feels like a luxury crossover veteran. Its polished road manners, wide array of engine choices and spacious interior (for its class) give it a leg up in a crowded segment. Prices are reasonable but can quickly escalate, so shop wisely and be sure to take a comprehensive test drive to ensure you'll be happy with the suspension setup.