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2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake review update: let’s get wheel

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Our last drive of the 2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake kept alive the dream that Americans would reject crossovers and flock en masse to gorgeous wagons.

We said dream.

A longer look at the Sportbrake rekindled that dream, but tempered it slightly. We can’t say that the XF wagon will be any more than a rounding error for Jaguar sales—at least, for now.

But we did see some promise.

Our initial rating for the 2018 Jaguar XF is based on the sedan because more buyers will opt for that model. We gave the four-door a 7.2 on our overall scale thanks to its solid performance and good features—on its own the five-door wagon would only do better. The Sportbrake is only available on top S trim, which offers better interior materials and a supercharged V-6 performance, to go with better looks than the sedan.

We took the Sportbrake for a second spin for one week to reassess our initial score, our bank accounts, and priorities in life.

MORE: Read our full review of the 2018 Jaguar XF

Hit. Looks that could stop traffic: It took us a while after driving the XF sedan recently to notice what had changed after a full-scale redesign in 2016. The wagon separates itself from the crowd not only because of its long hood, but also because of its distance from the rest of the Jag lineup. The XE and XF share similar styling cues, but the XE isn’t available as a wagon—the XF even shares some styling cues with other luxury makes that aren’t from Jaguar. The XF Sportbrake is different, but not for different’s sake. By our eyes, the XF Sportbrake is an adaptation of what makes Jaguars special and unique from every other car on the road.

Miss. Where’s the light? Our weeklong tester 2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake boasted a dark interior that belied the wagon’s luxury. Although the fit and finish was on par for a wagon that starts at more than $70,000 (our weeklong tester rung the bell at more than $80,000), the dark color schemes close the cabin and hide a lot of the XF’s better side. Only one lighter color combination is available for the XF’s interior (a high-contrast red is available, but doesn’t help much), and there are no optional dash finishes or complementary color schemes. Where’s the famed Jaguar glitz and glamour?

Miss. The numbers don’t tell the whole story: It’s true that the Sportbrake’s more than 31 cubic feet of cargo space is better than the sedan’s trunk, but the cargo opening and low height make it feel smaller than that. Ambitious runs to the home improvement warehouse dictate that the second row is folded—even still, it won’t lie flat. We don’t imagine many will confuse the wagon with a pickup, but the wagon is only mildly more useful for hauling than the sedan.

Hit. Performance doesn’t take a back seat: The only engine available for the XF Sportbrake is Jaguar’s 3.0-liter supercharged V-6. Its 380 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque offer plenty of push for the all-wheel-drive wagon. According to the spec sheets, the XF Sportbrake makes the 0-60 mph dash in 5.3 seconds (compared to 5.0 seconds in the sedan), but the wagon feels quicker than the tale of the tape. Credit the 8-speed automatic, which when tipped into Sport mode, is near telepathic in its shifts and motivation for the big wagon.


2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake

Base price: $71,445

Price as tested: $83,555

Fuel economy (EPA est.): 18 mpg city, 25 highway, 21 combined

Hits: Impressive performance, good cargo space, great looks.

Misses: Low roof, wildly expensive, dimly lit cabin.

The bottom line: Low, long, and also luxurious, the 2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake is a cure for the common crossover. 

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2018 Ford EcoSport crossover SUV scores concerning three-star government rollover rating

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A version of the pint-size 2018 Ford EcoSport crossover SUV earned four stars overall in the federal government’s barrage of crash tests, including an unusual three-star rating for its resistance to rollover.

The NHTSA said Thursday that the front-wheel-drive 2018 EcoSport scored three out of five stars in the rollover category, while the slightly heavier all-wheel-drive version earned a more commendable four stars.

MORE: Read our 2018 Ford EcoSport review

Both versions of the EcoSport scored four stars overall, including a four-star frontal crash-test rating and a five-star side-impact rating. The EcoSport may be a new nameplate for the U.S., but a version of it has been sold in numerous emerging markets since 2013.

The NHTSA doesn’t dole out many three-star ratings for the rollover test, which it simulates via calculations that take into account the vehicle’s center of gravity rather than an actual instrumented test. A four-star rollover score is typical for crossover SUVs, although some larger, truck-based models earn three stars. The EcoSport is the only subcompact crossover SUV to earn just three stars in the government’s calculations.

The EcoSport’s scores are lower than its chief competitors. The 2018 Chevrolet Trax, 2018 Mazda CX-3, 2018 Toyota C-HR, and 2018 Honda HR-V all scored five stars overall and four stars in the rollover test.

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Car2Go becomes Chicago’s first park anywhere car-share

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Car2Go said Friday that it’s coming to Chicago, meaning that one of America’s densest cities will finally have a car-share that lets members stash vehicles on city streets.

While Zipcar, Getaround, and GM’s Maven all operate in Chicago, those services require members to park cars in designated parking spots. The Chicago City Council voted in March to allow what’s known as “free-flow” car-sharing to operate in certain parts of the city’s North and Near South sides.

MORE: Car2Go car-share planning for a self-driving future

Car2Go is the first car-share to be granted a permit to operate “free-flow” services in Chicago, although its trial permit is only good through the end of 2018.

Austin, Texas-based Car2Go, which is owned by Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler, will launch in Chicago on July 25 with 400 cars. Its pay-by-the-minute service uses a cellphone app to let subscribers reserve, access, and rent vehicles for 29 to 39 cents per minute. Unlike in some of the cities where Car2Go operates, Chicago users won’t be able to leave the service’s vehicles at parking meters after they’re done with their rental.

In Chicago, Car2Go’s fleet will include the Smart Fortwo city car, the Mercedes-Benz GLA250 subcompact crossover SUV, and the Mercedes-Benz CLA250 sedan.

Chicago will become Car2Go’s seventh city in the U.S. and 24th globally when services start in late July.

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