Jaguar F-Pace does an excellent job of putting just as much emphasis on sport as on utility

Jaguar Land Rover is in the business of building excellent SUVs, but until now, those SUVs were the exclusive province of Land Rover.

Even with Range Rovers and Discoverys sitting across the showroom, there’s plenty of room for more vehicles in the broad spectrum that grabs everything from the Buick Encore to the Benz G-Class. And if a sort of automotive purity test is invoked, well, Porsche’s proven that no brand can really thrive in the U.S. without some kind of crossover SUV in its lineup.

This is all a convoluted way of explaining how we got to the first Jaguar crossover SUV in history, and as luck would have it, one of the most satisfying luxury utility vehicles of all.

Bid a warm welcome to the 2017 F-Pace, Jaguar’s inaugural SUV, and a home run of a vehicle that puts just as much emphasis on sport as on utility. It earns an 8.0 on our scale, even before we get crash-test data in hand.

F-Pace design

Pretty, Mazda-like styling makes the F-Pace a standout, but its interior is more subdued. The handsome shape fits neatly alongside the XF and XE sedans. With a tall grille and available LED lighting, the F-Pace matches deft details with a traditional form in one distinctive, beautifully outlined crossover-SUV body.

The new turbodiesel inline-4 is a great companion to the F-Pace’s moderate off-road ability. The EPA has rated the gas-powered F-Pace at 18 mpg city, 23 highway, 20 combined; the diesel earns a heady 26/33/29 mpg rating.

All-wheel drive is standard here, and it can vary power equally between front and rear wheels, or send it all to the rear. It works with a programmable driving-mode system that tailors throttle, shifts, and traction-control settings based on the driving surfaces.

The F-Pace’s 8.4 inches of ground clearance has some clear Land Rover roots, but its ride and handling get the priority lane. With an independent suspension and electric power steering, the F-Pace has brilliant road manners on par with the Macan. Even though it’s working with 4,000 pounds of curb weight, it rarely feels heavy or dull—but it does feel more at ease on the mid-line 20-inch wheels and tires versus the available 22s.

F-Pace comfort and safety

Spacious and subtly well-trimmed, the Jaguar F-Pace nails the utility part of the SUV equation. There’s good space for five adults inside, and a high driving position that nets good outward vision for the driver.

The F-Pace’s seats are firm and could use more bolstering, but head room isn’t a concern even though the roofline tapers toward the rear. The back seat has enough knee and shoulder room for two adults, and the seats recline for long-distance comfort. The second-row seats are split 40/20/40 and fold down to boost cargo space from 33.5 cubic feet to 61.4 cubic feet.

No crash-test data has been published to date, but the F-Pace can be fitted with sensors, cameras, even lasers that prevent accidents.

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Source: The Car Connection

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