Bluetooth cell phone integration is also standard at the Premium Luxury trim level. We were impressed that the car showed a unique PIN on its display when we put it in pairing mode. This feature makes it easy to pair a new phone, and keeps the system secure from other people pairing to it. The system also automatically downloaded our phone's contact list, another feature we like to see on cell phone systems. The cabin is quiet enough that people we called didn't have any problem hearing us, and they sounded fine over the car's speaker system.
Those speakers in our Jaguar XF are from British audio company Bowers and Wilkins, and are part of an optional audio upgrade. Along with the car's 14 speakers, including centerfill and subwoofer, the system includes a 420-watt amp and produces Dolby Pro Logic II 7.1 Surround Sound. This system creates some really remarkable separation and clarity. Listening to a modern classical piece, we could hear individual instruments staged around the cabin. Drum beats sounded in very specific locations. Other types of music were reproduced very well, too, with deep, rich bass and pleasant highs.
The car gives quite a few choices for music sources. It includes an in-dash six-CD changer and Sirius satellite radio, but what we ended up using the most was the iPod and USB integration. A module in the console hatch has a USB port, iPod connector, auxiliary input, and a 12-volt powerpoint, so you can keep an MP3 player or cell phone charged. The interface for satellite radio is a little busy, but fairly easy to use. With MP3 CDs and USB drives, you can browse folders to find your music, while the car offers full integration for iPods, letting you choose music by album, artist, genre, and track. Our only complaint about the system is that it buries music selection under an extra button labeled Folders. We would prefer that, as soon as we choose the iPod as our source, for example, the interface immediately lets you select albums, artists, or genres.
The XF has a few other tricks in the cabin to distinguish it from the pack. We mentioned the adaptive cruise control. It also has a blind spot warning system, an option in the Advanced Vision package. This feature turns on a warning light in the side mirrors when a car is in your blind spot. We like that this system works even at slow speeds, such as city traffic, but the warning light only comes on when a car is actually next to the XF. If you can see the car in your side mirror, the light won't come on. While this manner of operation seems logical, we like the system in the Volvo S80 better, which lights up when a car is approaching your blind spot. In practice, we find the Volvo system gives you more warning and more time to think about how you're going to change lanes.
There are a couple of other tricks that work with middling success. The XF has proximity sensors for the overhead lights and glove compartment. You open the glove compartment by passing your hand over a sensor in the dashboard, but we didn't find it opened as consistently as with a simple button. But the overhead lights worked better, coming on with a simple touch.
Under the hood
When it comes to power, the 2009 Jaguar XF is no slouch, with 300 horsepower generated by a 4.2-liter V-8 at 6,000rpm, and 310 pound-feet of torque coming on at 4,100rpm. That high torque number leads to some impressively fast starts, with a nice feeling of acceleration as you get pinned to your seat. Of course, for even more power, you can upgrade to the Jaguar XF Supercharged, which, as the name implies, adds a supercharger to the same 4.2-liter V-8. With that car you will get 420 horsepower and 408 pound-feet of torque. The V-8's engine block and cylinder head are aluminum, lightening the load on the car.
The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, and although the shifter is a nontraditional dial, it operates well in sport mode. In mountain driving we found the car downshifted subtly rather than aggressively, but would hold the lower gear, letting us keep our revs up through a turn and pretty far into the subsequent straightaway. The XF seems to benefit from its sportier stablemate, the XK, with which it shares powertrains. The dial was a little strange getting used to at first, especially as there is no tactile information about which mode you are in. However, the display on the instrument cluster clearly indicates mode and gear, if you are in manual mode.
Handling in the XF feels a little more like a compromise between luxury and sport. Driving it along rough city streets and over expansion joints, we could definitely feel many of the jolts. The car does an excellent job of damping them out, it just doesn't float over the road imperfections like other luxury cars. In more sporty driving, the car leans a little, although it does stay flatter than we would have expected. If you step up to the supercharged model, you get Jaguar's Computer Active Technology Suspension (with the clever acronym of CATS), which dynamically adjusts the suspension depending on driving style. Unfortunately, CATS isn't even an option on the Premium Luxury trim.
The EPA rates the Jaguar XF at 16 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. In our mixed city and freeway driving, we stayed well under 20 mpg, coming in with a final average of 18.8 mpg. While this number isn't great, it compares well with many V-6 cars we've tested. As of this review, emissions ratings hadn't been published for the Jaguar XF.
The 2009 Jaguar XF, in Premium Luxury trim, goes for a base price of $55,200, which is not bad for a uniquely luxurious car that comes standard with cell phone integration and navigation. The option on our car included adaptive cruise control for $2,200, the Bowers and Wilkins audio system for $1,875, and the Advanced Vision package for $1,800. Along with $1,275 for sundry other options and a $775 destination fee, our total came out to $63,125. For that kind of money you could get the less stylish but faster Lexus GS 460 or the all-wheel-drive Audi A6, but neither car offers the luxury of the XF.