Months in service: Eight months in service
Miles to date: 20,100
The saga of our year with the Jaguar XF continues. When we last posted an update, we reviewed the growing list of problems with our Four Seasons test car, from minor glitches like a bad power socket to more major issues such as a bad steering pump and a failed rear differential.
Since then, the XF has had a few more miscues, the most problematic of which was a dead battery. Now, normally a dead battery isn't that big of a deal-you hook up jumper cables and you're on your way in no time. But with the XF, things never seem to be quite that simple. First of all, virtually everything in the car is electrically--rather than mechanically--controlled, from the glove box door to the trunk release to the transmission gear selector. That means that when the battery is stone dead, there's not enough juice to open the glove box so you can retrieve the owners manual. Or to pop the trunk, which is where the battery is located. Or to put the car into neutral to roll it into position for the battery to be jumped.
There are, of course, procedures to deal with such situations. Even though the XF ignition is keyless, there is a key blade that pops out of the key fob in case of an emergency. Near the door handle and rear license plate are hidden panels that can be pried open and then operated with the key so that the door and the trunk can be unlocked. And near the gear selector, about two inches below the shifter, there's a small trim piece that pops off, underneath of which is a mechanism that will cause the rotating gear knob to pop up so that the car can be put into neutral. Unfortunately, those panels are so well camouflaged that, when production editor Jennifer Misaros, who was in possession of the car when it died, looked for a hidden keyhole to open the trunk, she wasn't able to locate it. And neither could the roadside-assistance guy.
Eventually, roadside assistance was able to work around all the obstacles. Per Misaros: "I popped the hood and the roadside-assistance guy hooked up the portable jumpers to what looked like a fuse box. After twenty minutes of this, the car finally had enough juice to pop the trunk. Then the real fun started. Because the trunk is covered in carpet, there was nothing for him to use as a ground. He finally was able to rig something up so the car was getting some power. He left the jumpers hooked up for 20-30 minutes before I was able to start the car."
Never has a dead battery caused us quite so much angst, but luckily we now are aware of the XF's secret compartments. Since the battery was replaced, the Jag has been mostly trouble-free but has still had a few hiccups. The "hood open" light has flashed intermittently, and there were a couple of incidents where the fuel-filler door wouldn't open. There's a manual release in the trunk, but it's a two-man operation, as one person can't pull the release and reach the outside fuel door at the same time.(According to Jaguar, in extremely cold climates, the activator arm of the fuel-filler door can become slightly deformed so it won't open. We are informed that there will be a production change at some point.)
In more encouraging news, we've now changed the XF back to its summer tires, and the vibrations that we felt at certain speeds have completely disappeared. With the return of good weather, we're looking forward to what we hope is a trouble-free summer of driving, because despite its flaws, the engine, transmission, and overall drivability of the XF are first-class, as copy editor Rusty Blackwell reports: "As others have noted, this car is fantastic to drive. Superquick acceleration, gobs of power, clean shifts, subtle but noticeable supercharger whine. The ride is fabulous, too, typical of Jaguar. For example, my wife was driving the other night and didn't slow down for a really nasty railroad crossing in Westland. Result: Nothing. Nothing at all. We simply sailed, cloudlike, over the bumps at 45 mph."
Here's hoping we sail, cloudlike, through the second half of our year with the Jaguar XF.
Engine: 4.2L supercharged V-8
Power: 420 hp
Torque: 413 lb-ft
2009 Jaguar XF Supercharged
Base price (with dest.): $64,675
Price as tested: $66,675
Body Style: 4-door sedan
Construction: Steel unibody
Engine: DOHC 32-valve supercharged V-8
Displacement: 4.2 liters
Power: 420 hp @ 6250 rpm
Torque: 413 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic transmission
Fuel economy: 15/23/17 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Steering: Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Turns lock-to-lock: 2.8
Turning Circle: 37.7 ft
Suspension, Front: Double wishbone
Suspension, Rear: Double wishbone
Brakes F/R: Vented discs, ABS
Wheels: 20 x 8.5 / 20 x 9.5 in (f/r)
Tires: Pirelli P Zero
Tire Size: 255/35R20 97Y X/L / 285/30/R20 99X X/L (f/r)
Headroom F/R: 39.0 / 37.4 in
Legroom F/R: 41.5 / 36.6 in
Shoulder Room F/R: 56.8 / 56.3 in
Wheelbase: 114.5 in
Track F/R: 61.4 / 61.8 in
L x W x H: 195.3 80.8 x 57.5 in
Cargo Capacity: 17.7 cu ft
Weight: 4194 lb
Weight Dist. F/R: N/A
Fuel Capacity: 18.4 gal
Est. Range: 312 miles
Front, side, curtain airbags
Heated and cooled leather seats
Adaptive Cruise Control - $2200