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2018 Jaguar XE 25t AWD

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 7/12/2018 Tony Markovich

Jaguar XE 25t AWD: Ingenium Falls Short of Genius: Jaguar adds all-wheel drive and its new homegrown turbo four to its entry-level sedan. Read our review and see photos at Car and Driver.

Jaguar adds all-wheel drive and its new homegrown turbo four to its entry-level sedan. Read our review and see photos at Car and Driver.
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After launching the XE for 2017, Jaguar made significant adjustments to the lineup for 2018, highlighted by new powertrains, more feature-rich trims, and broader availability of all-wheel drive. The XE now offers a choice of four different engine grades, three of which are inline-four (including a turbo-diesel), one of which is a V-6, and all of which employ forced induction. For this test, we had a 25t R-Sport with the new Ingenium turbo four, all-wheel drive, and nearly every options package available.

Driving Baseline

Jaguar introduced three new engine choices for the XE for 2018. Working from the top down, a new XE S model replaces the 35t as the most potent XE, with a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 rated at 380 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. The 30t is a mid-level offering that uses a new Ingenium turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four good for 296 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. At the base level, the third new powertrain is found in the 25t, where the old Ford-sourced 240-hp turbocharged inline-four has been replaced by a version of the in-house-designed Ingenium turbo four that is shared with other Jaguar Land Rover products (and is the same unit that’s in the 30t). The new turbocharged and intercooled 2.0-liter makes 247 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 269 lb-ft of torque at 1200 rpm.

This is also the first model year that the base engine in the XE can be paired with all-wheel drive. For 2018, doing so on the 25t is a $2500 upcharge no matter the trim level. And finally, all XEs are equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.

Although Jaguar claims the XE 25t AWD R-Sport can scramble from zero to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, it took 6.6 in our testing. That puts it behind the all-wheel-drive Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic at 6.1 seconds, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Q4’s 5.5 seconds, and the Audi A4 2.0T Quattro with a time of 5.2 seconds. It’s also slower than rear-wheel-drive competitors such as the Lexus IS200t and the BMW 330i.

Zero-to-60 sprints of less than seven seconds are not slow, necessarily, but of equal import is how much of this powertrain’s entry-level status can be heard as well as felt. Aurally, the four-pot groans from its efforts, and its uncouth vibrations are unbefitting a luxury car. Paired with a transmission that occasionally stumbles and hesitates, it’s an uninspired powertrain.

The new four-cylinder, at least, offers better fuel economy than its predecessor. Whereas the outgoing engine with rear-wheel drive had EPA estimates of 21 mpg city, 30 highway, and 24 combined, the 2018 25t with rear-wheel drive comes in 4 mpg better across the board, at 25 mpg city, 34 highway, and 28 combined. With all-wheel drive, the city figure for the 2018 XE 25t drops by just 1 mpg, while the highway and combined ratings are the same. In our testing, the 25t AWD returned 23 mpg overall but managed only 31 mpg on our 75-mph highway run.

Throw It Some Curves

The XE earns back some of its premium cred when it’s pushed on curvy roads. Just like our long-term 2017 XE V-6 model, this XE’s balanced chassis and sharp handling are standout features. Its quick and well-weighted steering live up to its sports-sedan billing, making the car feel lively and providing some feel of the road below. Under duress, body motions are kept in check, although grip at the skidpad was only average at 0.86 g.

Our XE was an R-Sport trim, which is available on the base-level 25t for the first time (previously it could be had only with the 20d and 35t). The upgrade, which is a $10,100 jump up from a base-trim 25t, jazzes up the exterior with a special body kit that includes more aggressive bumpers and side skirts, a satin-chrome grille surround and side vents, a trunklid spoiler, and xenon headlights with LED daytime running lamps. Beyond the visuals, the R-Sport also brings lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, automated emergency braking, automatic high-beams, and a driver-drowsiness monitor. 

Our test car was further specified with the $2235 Comfort & Convenience package (a power-opening trunk with gesture control, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, and an electric rear sun shade), the $3495 Driver Assistance package (traffic-sign recognition with an adaptive speed limiter, a 360-view camera, park assist, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitoring), and the $3265 Technology package (10.0-inch display for the infotainment system, a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, an 825-watt Meridian sound system, and Wi-Fi hotspot capability). A Black Design package, a heated windshield, blue metallic paint, and 19-inch wheels added another $2330 to the total. Although the base 25t with all-wheel drive starts at $39,220, this R-Sport totaled at a hefty $60,645, which would seem to remove it from its intended, entry-level territory.

And despite all those options, the interior was still just good, not great. The design is straightforward and clean, and while the leather and wood look and feel fantastic, they’re not incorporated enough to elevate the environment. There’s nothing daring or exciting about this cabin; the XE interior pales next to that of the Mercedes-Benz C-class, for instance.

Not So Genius

The XE’s handsome and understated design is perfect for those who don’t want to be flashy, and the Jaguar name is accompanied by slightly less badge snobbery than the German nameplate. The model’s rarity also gives it a cool factor, and its ability to eat corners is fun, even if the engine isn’t thrilling. But it’s hard to overlook the fact that this underwhelming 25t as tested is more expensive than the XE S model with its 380-hp supercharged V-6. For the money, the V-6 would be our choice.

Research the Jaguar XE on MSN Autos

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