Two words that I never thought I'd hear together are "Jaguar" and "diesel."
Jaguar is famous for its stylish and refined cars. Diesel engines have a reputation for being noisy and dirty.
Although I know diesel technology has come a long way in recent years, I also thought the recent Volkswagen emission scandal would discourage manufacturers from adding new diesel engines to their lineups.
But I'm happy to say I was wrong. The 2017 Jaguar XF with the new optional diesel engine is the right car if you want a distinctive midsize luxury sedan that's EPA rated at 34 miles per gallon — with all-wheel-drive.
The XF is also available with two different supercharged V6 gas engines. One is rated at 340 horsepower and the other at 332. The newly available diesel is a turbocharged inline four. While it only produces 180 horsepower, it pumps out 318 foot pounds of torque, which is more than enough for quick starts from red lights and easy passing on freeways.
And, as already noted, it gets better than twice the mileage of the V6 engines.
If you're only familiar with older diesel engines, rest assured the current ones have been tamed. They are all relatively quiet now and don't put out any more visible pollution than gas engines. The 2.0-liter version in the 2017 XE is remarkably smooth through the entire power band, aided by a sophisticated eight-speed automatic transmission. Seriously, except for a very faint rattle when started cold, you'd never know it was a diesel, except at the fuel pump.
And you don't need to worry about emissions. Unlike the small VW diesels, Jaguar uses the fuel additive than allows them to meet EPA standards. It doesn't have to be added very often, so it's not even an inconvenience.
As for the rest of the car, the XF was completely redesigned last year, so Jaguar didn't feel the need for any changes. It is still very much the traditional British family car that has won a worldwide following — long and sleek, with history-evoking oval grill and a roomy interior outfitted with the finest materials, including rich leathers and real world.
Our test model was the second-from-the-top R-Sport, which came with distinctive 19-inch wheels, sport-themed exterior and interior styling accents, sport front seats, a rear spoiler and such advanced safety features as lane assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and forward collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking. It also included a Technology Package that added a 10.2-inch touch screen that reflected the improvement's in the company's infotainment system.
On the road, the 2017 Jaguar XF 20d AWD R-Sport (to use its full name) was a joy to drive. It was well balanced between comfortable and sporty, with a supple suspension remained firmly planted, no matter how bad the roads got. It would be perfect for long trips, especially with the high mileage from the diesel engine. The trunk is also larger than most other midsize sedans.
If you want more cargo space, the diesel engine is also available in a Jaguar crossover, another two words I never thought I'd hear together. But the new F-Pace SUV also lives up to the company's standards and is broadening its appeal even more.
2017 Jaguar XF 20d AWD R-Sport
Base price: $61,300
Price as tested: $68,445
Type: Luxury midsize sedan
Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-liter 4 (180 hp, 318 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic with Sport mode and shift paddles
EPA estimated mileage: 30/40
Overall length: 195 inchdes
Curb weight: 3,770 to 3,880 pounds
Final assembly: Castle Bromwich, United Kingdom