Station wagons have had their ups and downs with American consumers, and for some time now, they’ve mostly been down.
But with the huge popularity right now of crossover utility vehicles, the time seems right to bring some wagons back into the mix, especially if they have upscale appeal. That’s the case with the 2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake, a supercharged 380-horsepower, all-wheel-drive wagon based on the popular XF sport-luxury sedan.
It’s available in just one trim level, “S,” based on the same version of the XF sedan. Base price is $70,450 (plus $995 freight), but our test vehicle had a list of extras that ran the sticker price up to $84,245. It’s not really necessary to add everything our vehicle had to be a well-equipped Sportbrake, as the base model is already quite loaded.
Although United Kingdom-based Jaguar has been marketing an XF Sportbrake model in Europe since 2012, this is the first appearance of it in North America. This version is based on the newest generation of the XF sedan, which arrived for 2016.
“Sportbrake” is one of the British euphemisms for station wagon, a term the Brits have never embraced, anyway. Across the pond, a station wagon is generally known as an “estate.”
There is a small but growing list of wagons now available in the U.S., with one manufacturer, Volvo, the only one to keep this genre up consistently. General Motors has just introduced a wagon version of the Buick Regal premium sedan, and Volkswagen has its Golf Sportswagen. Mercedes has a wagon, and Toyota had what amounted to a Camry wagon in its recent Venza crossover, but that one was discontinued after the 2017 model year.
But with crossovers in great demand because of their versatility, there just might be room in the market for such a cool luxury wagon as the XF Sportbrake, which is lower and sleeker than Jaguar’s similarly-sized F-Pace crossover.
The XF Sportbrake also brings a level of sporty driving fun that can be lacking in the taller and boxier crossover utility vehicles. It’s just 1.5 inches taller and a fraction of 1/10 of an inch longer overall than the 2018 XF sedan, and just 165 pounds heavier. Wheelbase and width are the same as the XF sedan.
Just like the sedan, the Sportbrake seats up to five people comfortably, and it has a great view of the sky with its panoramic sunroof, which covers most of the passenger area.
Oddly, the Sportbrake has about six cubic feet more total cargo space than the F-Pace, with 31.7 cubic feet behind the second-row seat and 69.7 cubic feet with the second-row seatback folded down.
It’s quite fun to drive, with its sleek sedan-size body and sport suspension making it feel more like a sports car than a station wagon (or, worse, an SUV). Giving the Sportbrake a real kick is the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 engine with its 380 horsepower and 332 foot-pounds of torque, connected to a very smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission.
This powertrain pushes the Sportbrake from zero to 60 mph in just 5.3 seconds, and gives it a governed top speed of 155 mph. We didn’t test that last specification, though, as we had no Autobahn to drive on in the U.S.
There are perforated grained-leather bucket seats up front, with nice contract stitching. The leather rear bench seat has a 40/20/40 split-folding feature to help accommodate cargo-hauling needs.
The front seats are heated and power-adjustable, and there is lumbar support and memory for the driver and front passenger seats. The memory also works for the heated/power-fold/self-dimming outside mirrors and for the power-adjustable steering column. There is an “S” branded heated sport leather steering wheel.
Blue ambient interior lighting is provided on the front and rear doors and door handles. Keyless entry with pushbutton start is standard, along with a gesture-operated power rear hatch. Dual-zone automatic climate control is standard, as well.
Rain-sensing wipers are included, along with an infrared-reflective windshield to help keep the damaging sun rays out. Standard are 20-inch alloy wheels.
Other exterior features include adaptive LED headlights with LED signature lights and automatic high beams.
A rear-view camera and front and rear parking aids are included on the Sportbrake, along with Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Monitor with Reverse Traffic Detection, cruise control, Driver Condition Monitor and Emergency Braking.
Among other safety features are Dynamic Stability Control, front side and full-length side-curtain air bags, and tire-pressure monitoring.
In the dash, standard is a premium Meridian 380-watt audio system with satellite and HD radio, with an eight-inch touch screen and SD-card navigation system. It has Bluetooth and USB connections, along with Jaguar’s InControl Remote system, which allows for remote control of the climate system and door locking/unlocking.
The Sportbrake has a self-leveling rear Integral-Link air suspension to help balance the vehicle when carrying heavy cargo.
Also available is the Gesture Controlled Blind for the panoramic sunroof. We did not have this feature on our tester, however.
We did have a long list of extras, though. Included were the Indus Silver Metallic exterior paint ($565); carbon fiber interior trim ($810); and four packages that brought lots of cool technology.
There was the Technology Package ($3,265), which added an upgrade to the nav/audio system to bring a 10-inch Touch Pro screen with Navigation Pro, Pro Services, Wi-Fi hotspot, Interactive Driver Display, CD/DVD player, and 825-watt Meridian Surround Sound system.
The Driver Assistance Package ($3,495) tacked on Adaptive Cruise Control with Adaptive Speed Limiter, Traffic Sign Recognition, 360-degree parking aid, Surround Camera System, Blind-spot Assist, and Parking Assist (parallel, perpendicular and exit).
With the Comfort and Convenience Package ($1,805), we got heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats and the Soft Door Close system.
And with the Premium Interior Upgrade Package ($2,860) came Four-Zone Climate Control, manual rear sun blind, suede cloth premium headliner, premium carpeted floor mats, illuminated tread plates, and a 10-color configurable ambient lighting system.
Our vehicle’s interior was Oyster and Ebony.
EPA fuel-economy ratings for the XF Sportbrake are 18 mpg city/25 highway/21 combined. With mix of about 60/40 highway/city driving, we averaged about 21.2 mpg during our weeklong test.
The Sportbrake has the JaguarDrive Control system that offers a choice of driving modes such as Eco, Normal, Dynamic and Adaptive Surface Response. The standard Adaptive Dynamics with Configurable Dynamics system allows the driver to fine-tune settings for steering, transmission and throttle, and to set the suspension for a personalized driving experience,” Jaguar says.
The all-wheel drive operates automatically without any driver input necessary, but favors rear-wheel drive when extra traction is not needed.
The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @gchambers3.
2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake S AWD
The package:Midsize, five-door, five-passenger, supercharged V-6 gasoline-powered, all-wheel-drive sport-luxury station wagon.
Highlights:All new for 2018, this is Jaguar’s first wagon for the U.S. market in more than a decade. It has great styling and road handling, and a variety of standard and optional amenities and technologies. It comfortably seats up to five.
Negatives:No third-row seat available for more passenger capacity.
Engines:Supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 gasoline.
Power/torque:380 HP./332 foot-pounds.
Curb weight:4,045 pounds.
Brakes, front/rear:Disc/disc, antilock.
Cargo volume:33.5 cubic feet (behind rear seat).
Towing capacity:4,409 pounds.
Side air bags:Front seat-mounted; roof-mounted side-curtain for all rows.
Electronic stability control: Standard.
Fuel capacity/type:19.5 gallons/unleaded premium recommended.
EPA fuel economy:18 city/25 highway/21 combined.
Base price:$70,450 plus $995 freight.
Price as tested:$84,245, including freight and options.
On the Road rating: 9.3(of a possible 10).
Prices shown are manufacturer's suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.