The XF may be the most engaging offering in a segment overflowing with excellent choices. It starts with a throaty V-8, which comes in three basic flavors best summed up as fast (385 hp), faster (470 hp), and “ohmigosh” fast (510 hp). Even in its brawniest R guise, however, the XF remains refined and luxurious thanks to its sublime ride as well as its plush, modern interior. In any form, it steers and handles like a much smaller car, and yet it rides better than many of its competitors. But as enthralling as this car is to drive, the XF falls short in some areas. Finicky controls, a frustrating infotainment system, and less-than-perfect quality marred our yearlong test of an XF back in 2009. Jaguar says it has since fixed the car’s early teething issues, namely, by strengthening the failure-prone rear differential. A 2012 update addresses some of our other complaints. We’ve not yet had a chance to see if the revised touch-screen interface is quicker, but the additional physical buttons mean you no longer have to sift through several on-screen menus to turn on your seat heater. The exterior, which had looked a bit timid and generic, now wears a face similar to that of the larger XJ, and the racy XFR enjoys more visual distinction.

Drive: Rear-wheel
Trim levels: XF, XF Portfolio, XF Supercharged, XFR
Body style: Sedan, 5-passenger
Engines: 5.0L V-8, 385 hp, 380 lb-ft
5.0L supercharged V-8, 470/510 hp, 424/461 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Passenger volume: 95.0 cu ft
Cargo space: 17.7 cu ft

A more pronounced grille and squinting, LED-trimmed headlights are the most obvious new cues in a 2012 refresh for Jaguar’s most affordable model. The rear fascia and the taillights are revised, as are the seats and interior trim. The slow, finicky touch-screen interface is updated. The XFR receives similar changes and now has more distinguishing touches, including an aggressive front grille with massive lower air intakes.

Front, side, and side curtain air bags; ABS; and traction and stability control are standard.

All: 15-16 mpg city/21-23 mpg highway

  • Engaging to drive
  • More distinctive exterior
  • Warm interior
  • Thirsty engines
  • Finicky interior controls

The most emotional luxury mid-size sedan gets more expressive.

  • Audi A6
  • BMW 5-series
  • Infiniti M56
  • Mercedes-Benz E-class
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