I was never really good at sharing. Seeing friends mess up my carefully assembled Lego sets made me cringe. I held on tight to the remote when watching TV with my sister, and I refused to trade my sandwich at lunchtime. So knowing our California-based colleagues were enjoying the Four Seasons 2015 Jaguar F-Type S without the Detroit crew getting in on the fun was driving me batty. It was high time to get the F-Type to Michigan.
I hop in the F-Type at our Los Angeles HQ and set the navigation for McCarran airport in Las Vegas, where I’ll pick up my father, Nigel, who has bravely volunteered to keep me company on the 2,000-plus-mile drive and to serve as my photographer. I depart my L.A. hotel early in case the city’s infamous traffic slows my progress, but it’s early enough that the highways flow freely, and I pull onto Las Vegas Boulevard with time to spare. I use the extra time for a pilgrimage to In & Out, along with about a million other tourists.
Stomach full, it’s off to the airport, where pops from the Jag’s exhaust ricochet off the parking garage as I roll up in the sleek silver 2015 F-Type. Dad’s grinning widely and quickly snaps off a Facebook photo to show friends and family the cool cat he’s about to spend several days driving. Alongside my bags, my dad’s duffle bag, backpack, and camera gear fill the Jaguar’s trunk to the brim, but we make it all fit beneath the cargo cover.
We hop on U.S. 95 and blast southeast to the astonishing marvel that is the Hoover Dam. After sitting in a line of traffic for a security check, we park about a mile away from the dam and climb 69 steps to a walkway along a highway bridge to take in the jaw-dropping view. The vertiginous best wait in the car. We don’t linger too long, as it’s already late in the day and we’ve got a long way to go before we bed down for the night.
I point the 2015 Jaguar F-Type southwest toward Kingman, Arizona. Once there we bypass the most direct route east, I-40, to trace a more circuitous path along one of America’s most storied roads: Route 66. Much of the road has been abandoned or replaced with interstate highway, but this stretch of two-lane remains in a semicircle that cuts north between the small towns of Kingman and Seligman. Only scattered houses, dirt road intersections, and the adjacent railroad tracks interrupt the view of mountains to the north. There ain’t much out here.
“Are you getting your kicks?” Nigel cracks wise. You know, like the song first recorded by Nat King Cole that we’ll listen to a couple of times over the next few days. I am, but not as much as you might expect in a 380-hp car on nearly deserted roads. Yes, we could blitz across the countryside with the supercharged-six firing away, but we deliberately chose a more relaxed agenda so we could actually appreciate the land we’re traveling through. As we head toward Flagstaff for the night, I’m happy with our decision. Sticking close to the speed limit gives us a chance to marvel at the way the sunset turns the clouds ablaze with red and orange light as night falls. It’s a magnificent first day.
Arizona to New Mexico: Taking It Easy across the desert
The following morning we take a detour to Arizona’s Meteor Crater Road, which leads from the highway to the eponymous crater. About 50,000 years ago, a 150-foot meteor slammed into the Arizona desert at more than 26,000 mph, leaving a three-quarter-mile-wide crater deep enough to contain the Washington Monument. There are only a handful of other cars in the parking lot, likely belonging to the friendly staff pointing us around the small museum and gift shop. A cutesy sign near the entrance notes that, while the speed limit for meteors is 26,000 mph, for cars it’s 50 mph.
Nigel is behind the wheel as we leave, enjoying his first few dozen miles at the helm of the F-Type. Aside from marginal rear visibility, he finds the Jaguar pretty tame to drive normally. That doesn’t mean it’s boring. “I can see why you’re addicted to this!” he says as he blasts up an on-ramp at full-throttle.
We take a break in Winslow, the small town along Route 66 that might well have vanished if not for a song by the Eagles. The locals have erected a small fake storefront and parked an old Ford truck in honor of the 1972 hit, “Take It Easy.”
Well, I’m standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona/
And such a fine sight to see /
It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford/
Slowing down to take a look at me.
Like many of the towns along our route, I’m reminded of the parable from Pixar’s “Cars.” Winslow was probably a pretty impressive town when every traveler on Route 66 stopped in, but now that I-40 neatly bypasses Winslow, there are dozens of boarded-up buildings. We can’t even find an open coffee shop, but we stop to buy a Route 66 T-shirt in the store across the street from The Corner before we leave. The lone cashier says we’ve come in the off-season. Check back in the heat of summer, she says, when the town is thick with tourists like us squeezing in a brief
Eagles nostalgia trip.
Turning back onto I-40 takes us through barren plains dotted with red rocky cliffs and outcrops. My knowledge of the American Southwest consisted only of what I’d seen in movies and read about in books, so I eagerly take it all in.
The terrain rises and falls, but the F-Type doesn’t gasp for air. With the cruise control set to take advantage of Arizona’s 75-mph speed limit, the car stays in eighth gear on uphill stretches and takes advantage of the supercharged engine’s 339 lb-ft torque.
Meanwhile, Dad’s telling me about John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath,” in which migrant Oklahomans traced our route in reverse. Our journey is infinitely easier than that migration. We’ve got air conditioning, satellite radio, and so on, and we can travel many times faster.
Not that we don’t need to plan ahead a bit when traveling through sparsely populated areas. Intermittent cell reception and sparse exits make us appreciate that the 2015 Jaguar F-Type can manage more than 400 miles on a tank of premium. While the trip computer says we manage 29 mpg, careful math with our paper logbook reveals a figure closer to 25 mpg. Still, that’s an impressive number for a luxury sports car.
Stomachs growling, we look up the nearest restaurants on the Jaguar’s navigation system. When the screen shows the closest fast-food joint is 36 miles away, I wonder about the accuracy of the map data. But sure enough, that’s the first time we finally spot somewhere to stop and eat. We’re in Gallup, New Mexico, a tiny town 6,512 feet above sea level. The sun beats down from clear blue skies, but the elevation means the air is crisp and patches of snow dot the ground. I buy a snow brush at a truck stop, as I know at some point on our approach to Michigan we’ll probably run into more white stuff.
We stick on the highway until we reach Route 117, a two-lane road that tracks south past long-solidified lava flows to La Ventana, an enormous arch that wind and rain have carved out of sandstone. We’re miles from anyone and anything, and it’s deathly silent as we marvel at the incredible natural formation. Admiration time over, I thumb the Jaguar’s start button and shatter the silence with the crackle and snarl of dual exhausts before setting the navigation to Albuquerque, where we bed down for the night.
New Mexico to Oklahoma: Scenic vistas and colorful Caddys
The next day we continue east toward Texas and Oklahoma. By now we’re getting pretty tired of the monotony of I-40, so we jog north via the Turquoise Trail, a scenic two-lane winding between ranches and rolling hills. We eventually cut over to Route 104, another nearly traffic-free stretch that our guidebook says will be more picturesque than the freeway. The guidebook proves correct. The road affords fabulous views of New Mexico’s rock formations, far-off mountains, and desert scrub. Still, I’m slightly disappointed that we still have yet to find a road that really puts the F-Type to the test.
That first test finally arrives outside of the tiny town of Trujillo, where a bright-yellow sign warns of a 9 percent descent. We round a corner, and the landscape drops away to reveal a spectacular spaghetti-like piece of asphalt leading down the side of the cliffs. Nigel furiously snaps photos while I flick the left shift paddle and summon more engine braking ahead of the tight corners. Given that I’m unfamiliar with the route, I don’t push too hard, but hard enough to give the big cat coupe a healthy workout.
We continue east on I-40 through northern Texas to exit 60, site of the amazingly bizarre Cadillac Ranch. Imagine a muddy field with 10 technicolor Cadillacs embedded nose-first in the ground. Empty cans of spray paint and plastic bags litter the ground. A shirtless man sprays one of the famous decaying Cadillacs white while a young family tags another one. The “art” exhibit is set far enough back from the freeway that you wouldn’t stumble upon it, yet there’s steady stream of cars stopping by.
We don’t linger long, setting the navigation for a hotel in Elk City, Oklahoma. Panic starts to set in when we arrive as the first three restaurants are closed, but we finally find an open bar inside a decaying train station. Our 2015 Jaguar F-Type is the only vehicle in the parking lot without four-wheel drive and a tow hitch. As a friendly hostess shows us to our table, two men flag us down to ask, “What is that car you drove in?” They haven’t even heard of the F-Type let alone seen one. They walk around the car and stare before they leave.
Oklahoma to St. Louis: Time to rack up the miles
We wake up the next day and prepare for the long haul from Oklahoma to St. Louis. Nigel sets the cruise control, plugs in his iPod, and we relax as the Jaguar soaks up the miles. At this point, we’ve sort of exhausted our list of conversations, and we’re both ready to bathe in some silence. Oklahoma and Missouri, with flat fields and plains, aren’t as visually stimulating as the rocky terrain of the Southwest we enjoyed, but there’s still plenty to see. We stop for lunch at a highway exit in the middle of nowhere at a gas station-cum-sandwich shop. “How fast does it go?” the lone employee eyeing the F-Type through the window asks as he layers turkey and cheese on my sandwich. “If you want, I can take it down the next few exits and back and let you know.” I decline his offer, but quickly double check the car’s spec sheet on my phone. Maximum velocity, according to Jaguar, is 171 mph. We’ve kept it under triple digits thus far, but it’s good to know, just in case.
After a few hours on the freeway toward St. Louis, we decide break up the monotony by turning north toward what looks to be a great driving road, but we left Oklahoma too late, and the sun’s setting earlier than we expected. Thankfully, though, the road to get to that road turns out to be plenty fun. I blast along Route 19 toward the small Missouri town of Hermann, which was settled by Germans who found some success growing grapes and making wine until Prohibition. With the Jaguar’s transmission in Sport mode and the exhaust flaps fully opened, I have a blast hustling along the road. It’s spoiled only slightly when I fatally strike a jaywalking squirrel. What, the firecracker exhaust note didn’t get his attention? Condolences to the squirrel’s family.
In downtown St. Louis, we check into our hotel and I have to carefully spell out “F-hyphen-Type” when we’re asked for the make and model of our car. Do I look like a spoiled brat, I wonder, a 26-year-old in a University of Michigan hoodie showing up in a $92,575 sports car?
Missouri to Michigan: Let’s just get home
The next morning we drive across the Missouri River to look back on the Gateway Arch as the sun rises. I shiver as Nigel futzes with his camera’s settings, trying to get the exposure just right. I think his shots look great, but Dad wishes he had more time to better capture the city’s skyline against the dawn light. We need to get on the road because we’re still a long way from Michigan, and there’s snow in the forecast.
The Jaguar’s navigation system guides us toward Fort Wayne, Indiana, where we encounter the first of the white stuff. When I take over driving from Nigel, I switch the car into its winter driving mode but still spin the rear tires all the way through first gear pulling away from a stop sign. It’s slippery out there, an observation proven every couple of miles when we spot yet another car that has slid into the median. I’m extra glad we put winter rubber on the F-Type before our trip.
We press north as the sun and the temperature fall. The California-spec washer fluid freezes in the lines, and I’m struggling to keep the windshield clear of salt and spray as we trudge into Michigan through more snow and sleet. This feels like hard work. The fun is over.
It’s 7 p.m. when we finally get home after 2,786 miles in the Jag, and I’m of two minds about reaching the end of the trip. On the one hand, I’m ready to sleep in my own bed after several nights in crummy hotel rooms. But I’m still not sick of the 2015 Jaguar F-Type, even after all those miles of freeway driving. With beautiful looks, unforgettable noises, and a lovely cabin, the F-Type was a pretty great way to get across the country. Above all, it didn’t let us down even once as we crossed dozens of states and drove for hours at a time.
In fact, there’s only one downside to reaching the end of my trip: Now I have to share the 2015 Jaguar F-Type with my colleagues in Detroit.
Just as much as I needed more sleep, our 2015 Jaguar F-Type needed servicing after its long journey westward. Once the weather warmed up, we had the nearby Jaguar dealership in Troy, Michigan, swap the original Pirelli P Zero summer tires back onto the car, which cost $95. Technicians noted the rubber had worn unevenly, so we also paid $149 for a four-wheel alignment back to the factory specs. While they were swapping the winter tires for the summers, the Jaguar dealership’s technicians also found that both front wheels were slightly bent. Having the 19-by-8.5-inch wheels repaired and rebalanced hurt our wallets to the tune of $250. We also asked Jaguar to replace some of the car’s speakers under warranty, as they had started to rattle and buzz when we turned up the bass.
- Body style 2-door coupe
- Accommodation 2-passenger
- Construction Aluminum unibody
- Base price (with dest.) $77,925
- As tested $92,575
- Engine 24-valve DOHC supercharged V-6
- Displacement 3.0 liters (183 cu in)
- Power 380 hp @ 6500 rpm
- Torque 339 lb-ft @ 3500-5000 rpm
- Transmission 8-speed automatic
- Drive Rear-wheel
- EPA Fuel Economy 19/27/22 (city/hwy/combined)
- Steering Electrically assisted
- Lock-to-lock 2.5 turns
- Turning circle 35.8 ft
- Suspension, Front Control arms, coil springs
- Suspension, Rear Control arms, coil springs
- Brakes F/R Vented discs
- Wheels 19-inch aluminum
- Tires Pirelli P Zero
- Tire size 245/40R-19 (94Y), 275/35R-19 (96Y)
- Headroom F/R 37.0 in
- Legroom F/R 43.0 in
- Shoulder room F/R 56.5 in
- Wheelbase 103.2 in
- Track F/R 62.8/64.9 in
- L x W x H 176.0 x 75.7 x 51.5 in
- Passenger capacity 51.9 cu ft
- Cargo capacity 11.0 cu ft
- Weight 3514 lb (est.)
- Weight dist. F/R 50.0/50.0% (est.)
- Fuel capacity 19.0 gal
- Est. fuel range 410 miles
- Fuel grade 91 octane (premium)
- Adaptive suspension
- Active exhaust
- Limited slip differential
- High-performance braking system
- Dynamic and winter driving modes
- Xenon headlights
- Dynamic stability control
- Meridian surround-sound audio system
- Keyless entry and ignition
- Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity
- Sport seats
- 6-way power seats
- Remote hatch release
options for this vehicle:
- Performance package S- $3400
- Performance seats
- Configurable dynamic mode
- Super performance brakes w/red calipers
- Flat-bottomed steering wheel
- Selectable active exhaust
- Interior black pack
- Extended leather package- $2700
- Vision package two- $2400
- Adaptive and intelligent front lighting
- Front parking assist
- Rearview camera
- Blind spot monitoring system
- Premium package two- $1800
- 14-way power seats
- Automatic dual-zone climate control
- 19-inch black Centrifuge aluminum wheels- $1500
- Panoramic glass roof- $1200
- Rhodium Silver metallic paint- $600
- Climate package w/heated seats and steering wheel- $600
- HD radio and SiriusXM satellite radio w/trial subscription- $450