Vehicles | July 5, 2016 9:00 am

Finally, a Luxury SUV Designed for the True Outdoorsman

How Jaguar’s F-Pace puts the Sport back in Sport Utility

It used to be when someone said “Jaguar,” you thought of one car and one car only: a ‘64 E-type.

Oh, how the times have changed.

The famed British marque has finally bit the bullet and rolled out a mid-sized SUV: the 2017 F-Pace. But before completely throwing in the towel on the super cool stylings of Jaguar’s erstwhile golden era, we thought we ought to give the new kid a fair shake and take it for a test drive.

Broad strokes: if you fancy yourself one part Bond and one part Bear Grylls, this one’s got your name all over it. The mostly aluminum build has tapered, aerodynamic alloy wheels with all-wheel drive, an eight-speed transmission and paddle shifters that make for controlled, lightning-quick turns and a smooth ride. Inside, there’s room for plenty of gear or a small family — Jag says it seats up to five, but we say it’s more like comfortable four, which still makes it a mansion compared to the interior and cargo space of any other Jag in history.

Under the hood: your choice of a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine (pick 340 HP or 380 HP) or a 2.0-liter, 180 HP turbocharged diesel model. That said, we’ll come to your house and revoke your “I drive a Jag” bragging rights if you opt for anything but the 380. You’re not buying a Kia, man.

Prices start at $40,990 and go all the way up to $69,700 for the F-Pace First Edition, which will only yield a production run of 275. We think that’s a fair dollop of loot if you compare it to the Porsche Panamera ($99k) or the Maserati Levante ($72k).

The F-Pace also comes with a “Build Your Own” option, including optional factory-fit roof rails and Jaguar-branded Roof Cross Bars for strapping on any and all adventure gear you can throw at her, from bikes to boards to kayaks.  

But the most superior feature by far for this sports-minded vehicle is the Activity Key. It’s optional, but outdoorsmen everywhere are likely to find that they soon can’t live without it. What it is: a waterproof, shatterproof bracelet that allows you to leave your keys in your car and lock ‘er up while you do things that require water- and/or shatterproofing. For anyone who has ever stabbed themselves through their wetsuit with an unwieldy house key, this is a godsend.

Despite the sportiness of the build, it was the All Surface Progress Control (ASPC) that reminded us we were driving a luxury SUV. The ASPC is a unique intuitive system that helps the driver with challenging conditions like climbing a snowy driveway or towing on wet grass at the push of a button. Basically, it negates any need to sharpen your off-roading skills.

Like any modern vehicle, the F-Pace will also take even more of the driving out of your hands, should you need it: Park Assist handles parallel parking for you, Lane Keep Assist makes certain you don’t stray out of your lane, and Driver Condition Monitoring knows when you are drowsy and sets off flashing lights and alarms before telling you to take a break.

Overall: The F-Pace is fun, dynamic and very much still a Jaguar. That said, something about sitting 8.4 inches above the road — rather than gripping it — and being told when to go to bed still had us dreaming a bit of that classic E-type.