On first getting into the 2009 Jaguar XF, the car seems like the ultimate in automotive tech. A red backlight on the engine start button pulses with a heartbeat cadence. Push it, and panels over the air vents open up while the shift dial rises from the console. That's right, a shift dial. Recognizing that most automatic transmissions are electronically controlled, the XF does away with a big legacy shifter, opting for a big dial that you turn to the different drive modes. The touch-screen interface uses a nicely designed set of menus, reminiscent of the LCARS computer interface from Star Trek.
But there are a few signs that Jaguar isn't quite ready for this tech future. The touch-screen interface is slow, taking a few moments between the time you touch a button and the resultant action. The information architecture is also poor, with too many actions required to access the iPod integration screen, for example. It's too bad Jaguar isn't still a Ford property, as the XF could really benefit from Ford Sync. Driving tech is better, though, as the XF can be had with a blind spot warning system and adaptive cruise control, not to mention the excellent audio produced by the Bowers and Wilkins stereo system.