Jaguar has its first sport-utility truck, the F-Pace and it’s already its best-selling vehicle. That tells you a lot.
First, it tells you that tradition and heritage take a back seat to the overwhelming popularity of sport-utes and crossovers. Second, it tells you Jaguar buyers were ready for a Jag truck. And third, it tells you that the F-Pace must be pretty good at satisfying that itch.
Jaguar smartly delivers three engine choices in its new ute. The same 3.0-liter supercharged V6 as in last week’s Jaguar XE sedan will likely be the main choice of buyers. It cranks a healthy 340 horsepower with 332 lb.-ft. of torque, but drinks premium fuel and gets just 18 miles per gallon city and 23 mpg highway.
The dark metallic gray test truck went the other way, packing an Ingenium 2.0-liter I4 turbo diesel under the F-Pace’s muscular hood that even includes a mild hood bulge. The diesel features 180 horsepower and a grunt-rich 318 lb.-ft. of torque.
Fuel mileage is impressive. The diesel is rated 26 mpg city and 33 highway. I got 27.7 mpg in driving that was heavier on city driving this time. There also is a stop-start feature here to save fuel, but it can be turned off, which makes sense from a smoothness of operation standpoint once the truck’s engine is warmed.
That’s a key because the diesel is strong and torquey, but doesn’t blast you away from a stoplight. Plus there is the low, guttural sound of a diesel instead of the whine or growl of a gas-powered V6 or V8. Diesels are much better than they were 15-20+ years ago, but are still slow to crank on a cold morning. This ran rough for at least 2-3 miles before it warmed up and felt less balky. There also is a noticeable turbo lag when you get heavy on the accelerator and on occasion I noted the hint of diesel odor inside the ute.
Shifting is smooth from the 8-speed automatic, and that helps add some refinement to the driving experience.
As with the XE last week, there are four drive modes to choose from on the console, including Dynamic, Normal, Eco and Rain/Snow. Dynamic aids the acceleration and firms up steering effort. Actually the F-Pace handled well in either Dynamic or Normal mode, just steering effort increased moderately in Dynamic.
The truck corners well though and feels incredibly stable on the road and in fast turns. Its AWD system that is biased toward rear-drive helps there. Eco mode naturally zaps your acceleration in favor of fuel economy and the Rain/Snow mode was helpful during our foot of fresh snow that fell during my drive. It changes shift points to increase low-end smoothness of power to avoid tire spin.
Ride is firm. In fact the whole vehicle, which uses a lot of aluminum in the body, chassis and components, feels stiff and well built. Yet the ute weighs in at just 4,015 lbs., fairly svelte for such a vehicle. If you expect a luxury sedan ride this may be firmer than you’d like, but it was actually more comfortable than the XE sedan a week earlier.
Braking is fine.
Inside, the F-Pace featured black dash and black perforated leather seats with bronzed-brown stitching to create a dash of pizazz. Console and center stack facing was gloss black with door trim a satin chrome. Main gauges are projected and the steering wheel is power tilt/telescope. The ute’s dash also has a similar circular design as in the XE. The design blends into the doors, but felt less confining here than in the sedan.
Front and rear seat space is generous, no legroom or headroom concerns and storage behind the second seat is best in class at 33.5 cu.ft. That can nearly double if you flip the rear seats down. Those seats also have a power function to help them partially recline for comfort on long trips.
Another hit was the wide dash touchscreen, just over 12 inches on the tested Prestige model. An 8-incher is standard at lower trim levels. This was easy to see and use while driving because it is capacitive, which means it quickly responds to a light touch, like a cell phone. Toyota also offers this, but bravo to Jag for quickly adopting this feature. Yet on another tech front it has not yet added Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Other pluses included a heated steering wheel and heated and cooled front seats with heated rear seats too. The sound system is a Meridian surround sound number with more than10 speakers and 825 watts of power. Party in the F-Pace!
The rear hatch also is powered and has a gesture feature to allow you to wave a foot or hand to open it, although I couldn’t get it to open for me. Maybe I’m not big enough or I move too fast. Doubt it!
Safety features include a blind-spot warning system, LED adaptive headlights, automatic high-beam lights, and reverse traffic alert. The Prestige also includes WiFi hookup, heated windshield and satellite radio. There was no lane-departure warning system on the test ute, nor smart cruise control.
Not surprisingly all this comes at a price. The test ute listed at $49,700 and with $995 delivery hit $50,695. That’s well within the range of its main competitors, BMW’s X3, Audi’s Q5 and Mercedes’ GLC.
Oh, and that third engine choice? It’s available in S models and higher, like the First Edition. It’s a 3.0-liter V6 that’s supercharged to 380 horses. Roarrrr! An S model goes for $57,700 and the First Edition for a much more exclusive $70,695.
For folks on a less expansive luxury ute budget, the base F-Pace with diesel starts at $41,985 and the gas-powered 35t models start at $43,385.
FAST STATS: 2017 Jaguar F-Pace 20d Prestige
Hits: Diesel mileage, AWD, a lot of torque, good handling, a giant sunroof and dash screen, heated steering wheel, heated/cooled seats, power rear hatch, roomy interior and good cargo space.
Misses: Diesel runs rough on cold mornings, turbo lag, noisy engine when cold.
Engine: 2.0-liter, turbocharged I4, 180 hp
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Weight: 4,015 lbs.
Length: 186.3 in.
Wheelbase: 113.2 in.
Cargo: 33.5 cu.ft.
MPG: 26/33 (EPA)
MPG: 27.7 (tested)
Base Price: $49,700
Invoice: $46,773 (includes delivery)
Major Options: None
Test vehicle: $50,695
Sources: Jaguar, www.kbb.com
Photos: Mark Savage