What’s Good, Bad and Weird About the 2018 Jaguar XF S Sportbrake? [Video]

A few decades ago, wagons were actually quite popular. For many, they were the go-to option if you were trying to haul an entire family. However, now they are much less common. There are only a handful offered in the US, and sales have been on the decline for some time. Between 2012 and 2016, the US market lost 7 varieties of wagon and total sales dropped 16 percent. In 2016, only 77,000 of all vehicles sold were wagons, according to Bloomberg. Some automakers are sticking with them, though. Jaguar is one such brand that still makes a wagon for our market. Specifically, they make this: the 2018 Jaguar XF S Sportbrake. Over a week with the car, we got a better sense of what is good, bad, and weird about the company’s only U.S. wagon.

The Good

The first plus point for the 2018 Jaguar XF S Sportbrake is the way it looks. Its long roof and subtle body lines, combined with a handsome face, make for a great-looking package. Some people are put off by wagons, but I think this car looks fantastic. As we took Jaguar’s wagon around the streets of Boulder, Colorado, most onlookers came to a similar conclusion.

The next good thing about the 2018 Jaguar XF S Sportbrake is its cargo space. With the rear seats folded, the Jaguar offers a class-leading 69.7 cu-ft of cargo volume. That is just 1.8 cubic feet less than the Sportbrake’s crossover cousin, the F-Pace – about the size of a microwave. If you need to carry lots of stuff, the Jaguar is perfectly capable.

For those who prefer an engaging drive, the Sportbrake provides. The 2018 Jaguar XF S Sportbrake houses a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 that makes 388 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels through a smooth, responsive 8-speed automatic transmission.

The XF Sportbrake uses a rear-biased AWD system. Power is sent to the rear wheels first, so the car feels more lively on dry roads. Furthermore, the 2018 Jaguar XF S Sportbrake has adaptive air suspension. The system offers a good compromise between a comfortable ride when you need it, and a sharper, firmer ride when you want it. You can change up the suspension settings through selectable drive modes, including Eco, Comfort and Dynamic.

The last major plus point on the XF Sportbrake is how luxurious it feels. From the supple leather to the well-styled interior and confidence-inspiring wheel, the 2018 Jaguar XF S Sportbrake is a nice place to be. Jaguar kept a largely minimalist approach with the interior, and it works well with the materials they used throughout the cabin.

The Bad

While there’s plenty to like about the 2018 Jaguar XF S Sportbrake, there are some negatives as well. The first major downside is fuel efficiency. The EPA estimates 18 City/25 Highway/21 Combined MPG. We were only able to manage 18.6 MPG in our time with the car. It’s not exactly light, tipping the scales at 4,045 pounds. That does hit home when it comes time to fill up.

The next sticking point is Jaguar Land Rover’s infotainment system. It looks fine aesthetically, but it’s not the most responsive or intuitive system out there. Especially when you go to mess with the climate controls. There is a lot of ambiguity about where you need to go to mess with certain settings. Some controls use physical buttons, while others are buried in the infotainment display. The 2018 Jaguar XF S Sportbrake does not offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto support, either.

2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake
2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake has a pleasant interior, but not the most user-friendly infotainment system. [Photo: Jaguar]
The biggest issue with this car, however, is the price. It’s MSRP kicks off at $70,045. By comparison, the Volvo V90 T6 AWD and the Mercedes-Benz E 400 4Matic, are significantly cheaper. The Volvo starts at $56,945, while the Mercedes is a little more expensive, at $63,050 and up. However, the Jaguar does come with more standard equipment. To get the Mercedes with a similar amound of stuff, you’d need to spend at least $75,000. The Volvo offers the same equipment levels for around $70,000. That said, our XF S Sportbrake came with optional equipment that bumped the price up to $84,110.

The last bad note is the rearward visibility. I mentioned the cars good looks earlier. Unfortunately, that stylish rear end has made for a tiny rear window, making it hard to see out the back. Fortunately, there are plenty of cameras to help you navigate rearward traffic.

The Weird

There were also a couple things about this Jaguar that left us scratching our heads. First is the fact that the enormous panoramic glass roof doesn’t open at all. That massive piece of glass is fixed in place. You can move around a shade, but you won’t find an opening sunroof here.

Although large, the panoramic sunroof is entirely fixed. [Photo: TFLcar]
Another weird feature is the spare rim. It’s bright orange! I have never seen a vehicle with an orange spare before, so this one took me off guard. Maybe it helps remind the driver to take it off as soon as possible? Let me know your thoughts there.

Finally, this Jag’s interior has a lot of stuff that moves. The shift dial pops out of the center console and the A/C vents glide open when you start the car. This is fairly normal for Jaguar, but there aren’t too many other companies that have so many moving parts inside their cars.

2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake
[Photo: TFLcar]

The verdict

Overall, the 2018 Jaguar XF S Sportbrake is a commendable car. It is quick, comfortable, stylish and practical. Even as a wagon, its styling will turn heads. However, the price tag may be a bit tough to swallow. For now, at least, the Jaguar has a limited set of competition, and this may be a contender if you want that blend of performance, practicality and style.

To hear more of my thoughts on the 2018 Jaguar XF S Sportbrake, check out the video above. Subscribe to The Fast Lane Car and TFLnow for more news, views, and real-world fast wagon reviews!