The 2017 Jaguar F-Pace Is Driving Excellence Mixed With Infotainment Frustration

Awesome drive, great design, plenty of comfort. But the InControl Touch Pro system remains painful.

Eric Goeres/The Drive

2017 JAGUAR F-PACE 35t R-SPORT

WHAT THE HELL IS IT? Jaguar's first-ever utility vehicle—ostensibly, the spirit of the spectacular F-Type sports car scaled up to a luxury compact SUV that's good-looking, well sorted, and great to drive.

WHO IS IT FOR? The Jaguar F-Pace in this trim level costs $62,000, so it’s for someone with some cash. But the F-Pace also summons an owner with a sense of style and appreciation for the unique. Also, I feel like it’s aimed at men, as it’s a sporty and masculine-feeling car, and my girlfriend loved being a passenger in it. 

Eric Goeres/The Drive

WHERE DID WE TEST IT? In New York City, plus a weekend in the country. We asked Mother Nature to provide some inclement weather, and she obliged. We took it through heavy rain, heavy fog, and eight inches of snow on back roads and interstate.

THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE IS: Jaguar’s F-Pace isn’t very distinctive. You stop and look, and it’s gorgeous, but a lot of cars are gorgeous these days, and this Jaguar just doesn’t stand out much. I think it would bum me out somewhat to have purchased something as cool and unique as a Jaguar, only to have nobody notice. But that’s just me; you might appreciate flying under the radar a bit.

Eric Goeres/The Drive

THING THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO NOTICE, BUT YOU DO ANYWAY: Jaguar still hasn’t figured out the infotainment/trip computer/touch screen situation. The InControl Touch Pro center screen, large at over 10 inches, is still a clunky mess of stock photography laid into square buttons. Worse, it’s slow. Slow to boot up, slow to control things, slow to provide information. Jaguar has been trying to get this right for a long time, and they still haven’t. If a F-Pace could be bought without the center touch screen, this car would be timeless—wonderful to own for a decade or more. As it is, at the end of a two-year lease, you’d be happy to get rid of it (although, I’d bet you’d upgrade to a newer F-Pace with updated tech).

CAR IS GOOD AT: The 2017 Jaguar F-Pace is a great, great driving car. God, it’s comfy. And spacious. And it sounds great. And it’s got lots of cabin storage, with nooks and crannies everywhere. Lots of room in the trunk. That sunroof! It seems to go from the rearview mirror to the back license plate. Great sounding Meridian sound system. Superior forward and side visibility (minus a few points for the rear window, which is small).

Eric Goeres/The Drive

CAR IS BAD AT: Only one thing stands out as a critical fail, and it’s that pesky, clunky InControl Touch Pro infotainment system.

RATE 1 (VERY POOR) TO 5 (EXCELLENT)

• PERFORMANCE: 4

• COMFORT: 4.5

• LUXURY: 4

• HAULING PEOPLE: 4

• HAULING STUFF: 3

• CURB APPEAL: 4

• “WOW” FACTOR: 3.5

• OVERALL: 4

WOULD YOU BUY IT? I would lease it. Two years. The infotainment system is a problem, but the car is great.

Eric Goeres/The Drive

DEEP THOUGHTS: It’s a shame to me that we’re still talking about touch screens, in this case Jaguar’s fail at making graphic user interfaces. It is so easy to get knobs, buttons, levers and gauges right, and so easy to mess up menus and touch screens. Why not just go electro-analog?

Still, the Jaguar F-Pace is a tremendous achievement. You take the sporty dynamics of the excellent Jaguar F-Type and scale it up to a compact SUV. That’s a piece of work that almost certainly cannot be done without grave mistakes. And yet, Jaguar does it. The Jaguar F-Pace has an all wheel drive system that favors the back wheels, only using the front when the need arises, and it has a 50-50 weight distribution which greatly adds to the sporting feel of the drive. Crisp steering helps, and the power from the 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 gives you everything you need.

Eric Goeres/The Drive

We had it in snow/rain mode for many of the miles we put on it, and it behaved cautiously and gingerly; when we put it in sport mode for slicing and dicing the Taconic State Parkway, it became a spirited athletic jaunt.

I’ll close on a quick note about fog lights. One of the days we had it out, it snowed eight inches. The next day, the temperature rose to 50 degrees and it was raining, all that snow melting in 99 percent humidity. Those conditions made a tremendous amount of thick fog. Visibility was a mess, naturally. All cars have capable headlights that help with seeing oncoming traffic, but few have taillights that really cut the fog. The F-Pace did. It has fog lights on the front which were unremarkable. In the back, it had rear fog lights which took the form of bright red taillights hung on the lowest part of the body, just north of the tail pipes. Very clever to put lights way down low, where the fog is thin. A cool thing, and helpful, too.

SPECS:

• PRICE (AS TESTED): $55,300 ($61,995)

• POWERTRAIN: 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6

• FUEL ECONOMY: 18 city, 23 highway. We saw 18 consistently.

• HORSEPOWER: 340 or 380, your choice.