Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” She was not only talking about life, but the meaning of adventure, too. Typically, the vehicles that are marketed toward adventurous buyers are pickup trucks and SUVs, whose four-wheel drive systems and generous amounts of ground clearance make them perfect for getting away from the 9-5 normal, even if that means crossing streams, powering through mud, and crawling over rocks.
However, that’s not the only kind of adventure there is. Trucks and SUVs aren’t the only vehicles built for adventure, either. There’s a man named Tim Baker who knows that well. Last year, he used a second-generation Jaguar XF with all-wheel drive to chase tornadoes. His confirmation of their locations and analysis of their paths is used to help meteorological experts study tornadoes and predict future ones. According to Jaguar, the dangerous journey “covered 2,000 miles of highway and farm tracks through seven US states, [and] saw the XF evade baseball-sized hailstones and drive through floods and high winds before intercepting a twister on the Iowa-Illinois border.” Two hours west of Chicago, Baker drove the XF toward a Category EF 0 tornado, a storm which has gusts that range between 60 and 70 mph. The XF’s all-wheel drive enabled Baker to get over the slick, debris-covered roads; its pinch-and-zoom navigation with 3D and satellite mapping showed him the best route to safety.
Jaguar recently sent us a 2017 Jaguar XF S AWD to review. Given that it was a brand new press vehicle that cost almost $80,000, we didn’t use it to go on the kind of journey storm chasers are used to undertaking. We did go on an adventure in it, though. We drove it from Austin to the outreaches west of the city to enjoy and taste a new experience (responsibly, of course): Central Texas wine country.
2017 Jaguar XF S AWD Exterior
Jaguar offers the XF in five trim levels: base, better-equipped XF Premium, mid-range XF Prestige, XF R-Sport, and top-of-the-line XF S. They all share the same basic design: a soft-edged, not-quite-rectangular grille in between sleek headlight casings that cut into the front fenders and a fast roof line that gracefully flows into a rear bookended by blade-like taillights.
However, as the range of trim lines suggests, not all XFs are fitted with the same features. Our XF S test vehicle wore a body kit that included an air-hungry front bumper, gloss black side sills, and a low-profile, trunk-mounted rear spoiler. Jaguar also installed the optional Black Design Package that added a gloss black grille and grille frame, gloss black power vents in the front fenders, and a gloss black strip between the tail lights.
Between that aggressive front end and the twin exhaust pipes in the back, there were striking 20-inch wheels. If you look closely at them, you’ll see a flash of red from the brake calipers from behind each set of 10 spokes.
2017 Jaguar XF S AWD Interior
The color scheme inside our media loaner was a combination of black, white, gray, and silver – otherwise known as neutrals. We find that ironic because our feelings about their use and placement were nothing but positive.
The two-tone Light Oyster and Jet seats and door panels were eye-catching and added highlights and personality to the cabin. The metallic trim on the dashboard gave the XF’s cockpit a modern touch that complemented the Grey Figured Ebony veneers.
We also had positive feelings about the XF S’s comfort, convenience, and infotainment features. The front seats had three stages of both heating and cooling. Connecting our phone to the Bluetooth system through the InControl Touch Pro setup was easy. We had no difficulty getting to new destinations thanks to the easy-to-use navigation system. Adaptive cruise control allowed us to select the speed we wanted to go and the distance we wanted between us and the vehicle in front of us on our way out to Becker Vineyards in Stonewall, Texas. We didn’t have to sweat the footwork of the gas and brake pedals. The XF took care of that for us.
It also looked right at home in front of the winery. As we took sips of Merlot and bites of hard cheeses on a perfectly sunlit day in the Texas Hill Country, we realized we were in the right place at the right time…and showed up in the right car.
2017 Jaguar XF S AWD Performance
A Jaguar is not just a powerful engine and a well-tuned suspension. A Jaguar is not just a set of smooth lines draped over sheet metal musculature. A Jaguar is not just a pleasant ride quality and a quiet interior. It’s all of those things – and the XF S is definitely a Jaguar. We loved the smoothly delivered, instant-on 380 horsepower and 339 lbft from the supercharged 3.0-liter V6. The eight-speed automatic it was hooked to was equally silky.
At the time of writing this review, Jaguar does not offer a second-generation version of the high-performance XFR or even-higher-performance XFR-S. That means the XF S is currently the middle ground between less speed-focused XFs and XFs that are built for as much of it as their drivers’ nerves can handle. That explains the XF S’s firm, but not punishing ride quality. Taking the curvy back roads out to Texas wine country made us aware of how well weighted the steering was. We knew just the right amount of twist to give the wheel as the pavement morphed from a capital I to a capital C. It was impossible to not hear the unusually high winds whipping against the XF during our trip (no, we were not driving toward a tornado like Tim Baker). When they died down, wind noise and other sounds from the outside world were all but muted by the time they reached our ears.
2017 Jaguar XF S AWD Safety
We enjoyed experiencing something new in the XF S. You know what we had no interest in experiencing? The Jaguar’s various safety systems kicking in. We were lucky enough to not have the airbags deploy or Autonomous Emergency Braking activate. We didn’t need the whiplash protection provided by the passive front head restraints. The roads were dry during our week with the XF S, so we didn’t even need the extra traction provided by its optional all-wheel drive.
Other safety features included front and rear parking aids, Lane Keep Assist, and a self-explanatory bit of tech Jaguar calls Blind Spot monitor with Closing Vehicle Sensing and Reverse Traffic Detection. Our test vehicle was equipped with the optional Driver Assistance Package. That added 360 Park Distance Control, a Surround Camera System, and parallel and perpendicular Park Assist, among other useful gizmos.
2017 Jaguar XF S AWD Overall
The base price for the 2017 Jaguar XF S is $63,200.* Equipping one to the level of our XF S AWD tester takes the price up to $77,085. Head over to an AutoNation-affiliated Jaguar dealer to get one for yourself so you can live life with a beautiful sedan and taste the experience of the XF S’s luxury and power. Just make sure you do it to the utmost.
*MSRP excluding tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.