2009 Automobile All-Stars

Charlie Magee

The Best-Ever Jaguar Sedan:  Jaguar XF

"This is the best Jaguar I have ever driven," said one logbook note; "...a very good car that beats the Germans without feeling German," said another. The editor who penned that continued: "Just a beautiful, composed, powerful, lush car," which nicely sums up what Automobile Magazine thinks of the Jaguar XF. This is an exceptionally good product, despite financial constraints forcing use of steel bodywork on the outgoing S-type's platform. That means it is heavier than the bigger aluminum XJ sedan but still impressively quick and wonderfully refined. One staff member who drove three different XFs in a two-week period found a single flaw in all three: opening the glove box was difficult to impossible. After successive generations of trouble-prone Jags with an infinite variety of problems, this counts almost as a miracle.

The XF is not the best-looking Jaguar ever, but it elicited favorable comments from onlookers everywhere we went, and at least from the front, it is unmistakably a Jaguar thoroughbred. "Grace, space, pace" was Jaguar's mantra for decades. There is controversy concerning the first element, but the car definitely is roomier than its predecessors, and as far as pace is concerned, the 420-hp supercharged XF is absolutely astonishing. Driving it is not just about going fast, though; it is smooth, refined, and comfortable for driver and passengers alike when being pressed to deliver its full potential. There is ample luggage space, the seats are exceptionally cosseting, and it is altogether a true luxury sport sedan.

The electrically tumescent transmission selector dial may be annoying to some users, but in the case of the XF, progress is real. The improvement over everything that has gone before is tangible, not illusory. Thus, we have a worthy All-Star.

-Robert Cumberford

Base price range: $49,975-$64,475
Engines: 4.2L V-8, 300 hp, 310 lb-ft; 4.2L supercharged V-8, 420 hp, 413 lb-ft

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