By Colin Ryan
Suspension tuned by magicians and/or geniuses
Spacious, quiet cabin
Comfortable & supportive seats
Not so rich in gadgetry as German rivals
Fewer dealers than most rivals
Trim levels shrink to three — renamed S, SE & R-Dynamic SE
Prices are lower than last year
Exterior and interior styling revisions
Changes in standard and optional equipment
New infotainment system
Supercharged V6 engine and Sportbrake wagon variant both discontinued
The 2021 Jaguar XF is a premium midsize sedan and an excellent example of the genre. It’s the sole British contender and now, as it turns out, the only sedan currently built by Jaguar. Which is a little strange since plush Jaguar cars are part of the general automotive culture.
Culture never sits still, though, and the XF has had to change to survive. Styling tweaks inside and out accompany revisions to the trim levels and engine availability. The 2021 XF receives a new infotainment system, which it most definitely needed. And Jaguar has lowered prices while making things like blind-spot monitoring, a 360-degree camera system, and a superb Meridian sound system all part of the standard equipment inventory.
We can’t help thinking that Jaguar should have done this a few years ago, perhaps when this second generation debuted in 2016. It could have been a keener contender. After all, the XF is stylish in its own way, has an aluminum-intensive construction, and drives beautifully.
Its main problem is that it competes in a category with some of the world’s best cars that aren’t in the super-rich bracket — rivals like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Audi A6, and BMW 5 Series. But for anyone who finds those cars too commonplace, the XF could be a great alternative.
2021 Jaguar XF pricing
One of the changes for this model year involves lower prices. A base 2021 XF S with rear-wheel drive has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $43,995, which is $7,100 less than the entry-level 2020 XF.
A $1,150 destination charge brings the 2021 XF S to $45,145. All-wheel drive is another $3,000.
The 2021 XF range tops out with the all-wheel-drive R-Dynamic SE model, starting at $51,145. We clicked onto Jaguar’s online configurator and added all the options that looked attractive to us (so not the tire valve covers with Union Jack tops), and the final amount was almost $65k.
These prices put the XF way below the usual German rivals like the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. More serious competition — price-wise, at least — is the Lexus ES (from $41k) and the new-for-2021 Genesis G80 (starting at $49k).
Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area paid for their new XF. The resale value prize goes to the Lexus, with the silver medal going to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, but the XF is still a few percentage points behind the BMW 5 Series.
Which model is right for me?
2021 Jaguar XF S
247-horsepower engineLED headlights18-inch alloy wheelsLeather seating surfacesDual-zone automatic climate control11.4-inch infotainment touchscreenApple CarPlay/Android Auto12-speaker/400-watt Meridian sound system
2021 Jaguar XF SE
Keyless entry/ignition19-inch alloy wheelsAutomatic high beamsPower-adjustable steering columnUpgraded infotainment system
2021 Jaguar XF R-Dynamic SE
296-horsepower engineAll-wheel driveSport-tuned suspension
Driving the 2021 Jaguar XF
Looks are one thing, Jaguar cachet is another. But one of the main reasons for buying a new XF has to be the driving experience. The ride quality is comfortable and flowing, perfectly suitable for a luxury sedan.
Yet, the XF never loses its composure at higher speeds. It just flows at a faster rate. Other luxury cars have their own suspension talents, but this particular attribute of the XF is unmatched.
Steering feel dances on a similar line. It communicates what the front wheels are doing, but isn’t insistent. The driver can tune in to the tactility whenever the mood arises or merely waft along in a relaxed manner.
Let’s take a moment to mark the end of the supercharged V6’s reign at the top of the range. It was an ideal engine for a wonderfully immersive Jaguar experience of authoritative luxury.
The best choice now, although it doesn’t feel or sound the same, is the 296-horsepower 4-cylinder unit. The basic 247-horsepower engine often sounds as if it’s working too hard, and that doesn’t seem Jaguar-like at all.
Jaguar cabins tend to feel enveloping in a good way. These are seats you sit in rather than on. They’re especially comfortable yet also supportive. And occupants are surrounded by high-class materials.
This year sees a redesign of the Jaguar XF’s interior. The previous rotary gear selector is replaced by a more conventional unit that manages to convey a certain Englishness with “cricket ball” stitching in the leather-wrapped palm piece.
There’s still a rotary control, though. It’s for the selectable driving modes and sinks into the center console when the engine is switched off. The most obvious addition, however, is the expansive 11.4-inch touchscreen — the nerve center for an all-new infotainment system — which is set into a magnesium frame.
Rear passenger space is more than adequate for a couple of adults. The sloping roof doesn’t encroach on headroom. Trunk space measures 17.8 cubic feet. And the rear seats split and fold in 40/20/40 fashion for some extra versatility. They also include a pass-through section for things like skis.
Updates for the 2021 XF include changes to the front end. New, thin LED headlights “double J-blade” daytime running lights echo those on the F-Type sports car. The grille gains a new mesh design, which is flanked by larger and lower air intakes.
An optional Black Exterior pack brings gloss black finishes to the grille, grille surround, air intake surrounds, side vents, window surrounds, and a few other places. The R-Dynamic SE has its own treatments for things like the grille, side vents, and badges.
A lot of aluminum is used in the XF’s construction, so producing its fluid lines is tricky. Overall, the 2021 XF looks arguably handsome, with short overhangs and well-judged proportions. Even the trunk, the largest in this class, integrates nicely with the rest of the body.
Activity Key This is part of an optional Convenience pack for the top two trims. It’s like a smartwatch, waterproof and shockproof, and allows drivers to do outdoorsy things without having to store the car keys somewhere. They can be in the XF, and the wearer uses the Activity Key to lock, unlock, and/or start the car. This is now Version 2.0 that does actually include a watch and works for seven days before it needs a recharge.
Pivi Pro The previous infotainment system in the Jaguar XF was not exactly popular. It was the same setup in most Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles. Something needed to be done. And this is it, new for 2021. An entry-level Pivi setup is in the base S trim that still includes a generously sized 11.4-inch touchscreen. Pivi has its own power source for faster start-ups and enables over-the-air updates. The SE trim receives the Pivi Pro upgrade with navigation.
Lower prices don’t mean fewer features. The 2021 Jaguar XF S comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, heated/power-folding side mirrors with self-dimming on the driver’s side, heated/12-way power-adjustable front seats, leather seating surfaces, wireless charging, phone signal booster, and a powered trunk lid.
Safety equipment includes forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assistance, front/rear parking sensors, 360-degree camera system, and All Surface Progress Control (see the Safety Technology section).
The infotainment system (updated for 2021) has an 11.4-inch touchscreen, two USB ports, satellite radio, Apple /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL +0.70% CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, and a 12-speaker/400-watt sound system from the highly regarded Meridian company.
The two 2021 XF models with the 249-horsepower engine offer all-wheel drive as an option.
SE trim brings 19-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry/ignition, automatic high beams, heated/16-way power-adjustable front seats with memory settings, power-adjustable steering column, upgraded infotainment system, and road sign recognition with an adaptive speed limiter.
R-Dynamic SE comes with a 296-horsepower engine and all-wheel drive. Plus a sport-tuned suspension and its own exterior cosmetic treatment.
Both the SE and R-Dynamic SE models are eligible for an adaptive suspension, a new Clear Exit Monitor, soft-closing doors, heated steering wheel, a head-up display, digital rearview mirror, adaptive cruise control, rear window shade, Activity Key, Wi-Fi, and a 16-speaker/650-watt Meridian surround-sound system.
Engine and transmission
The 2021 Jaguar XF S and SE both have a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making 247 horsepower. The code for this unit is P250, kind of rounding up the power output.
An 8-speed automatic transmission (with paddle shifters mounted beneath the steering wheel) sends that output to the rear wheels (RWD) in standard form. All-wheel drive (AWD) is optional.
Codenamed P300, another turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine is in the R-Dynamic SE. It’s tuned to produce 296 horsepower, and that goes to a standard all-wheel-drive system through an 8-speed automatic transmission.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4247 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm269 lb-ft of torque @ 1,200-4,500 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy (estimated): 25/33 mpg (RWD), 23/33 mpg (AWD)
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4296 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm295 lb-ft of torque @ 1,200-4,500 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy (estimated): 22/30 mpg (AWD)