Frisky Cat

Leave it to Jaguar to come up with something seductive. The company’s first effort at crafting a crossover SUV, the new F-Pace, turns out to be a raging success. It has the sexy lines and sounds you expect from the jungle-cat brand and backs it up with superb driving dynamics. Anyone who cares about driving will immediately fall in lust.

In engineering an all-wheel-drive, go-anywhere chassis, Jaguar could call on the expertise of its corporate cousin, Land Rover. It all seems to be a complete vehicle — everything just fits right. There’s a regal comfort in its highway-cruise attitude, but when you get aggressive on the backcountry byways, it tracks with an authoritative confidence. It doesn’t insist you be sporty, but when the situation calls for a touch of snarly quickness, it seems to say, We got this.

This is certainly the first Jaguar with a 5,000-pound towing capability. And trips to ski country will be no problem. For long drives, passengers should know the cabin is a lovely place with a lean, leathery feel. Seats are comfortable, even the second row, although not quite up there with Jaguar’s sumptuous smoothie, the XJ sedan, which pampers your fanny like nothing else. Behind the F-Pace’s two rows of seats is a good-sized cargo hold. That would easily pass the unofficial “two large dogs” test.

Two models are available. You can get into the very nice 340-horsepower V-6 model for a touch over $50,000. Getting all the options, including the 380-hp engine, adds maybe another ten grand.

While the F-Pace feels plenty agile, there is a more compact E-Pace model coming in a year with an all-electric, Tesla-fighting I-Pace on its heels. This flurry of technological wizardry indicates how Jaguar has gone from strength to strength since leaving Ford for Tata eight years ago. With the F-Pace and the new sedan offerings, sales are up 26 percent. So, somebody approves. And having driven the hell out of an F-Pace, this reviewer really approves.


JAGUAR

Base Price: $58,600
Price as Tested: $62,800
Drivetrain: 380-hp supercharged V-6 w/AWD
EPA Mileage Ratings: 18 city/23 highway