2020 Jaguar XE: The XE gets an upscale overhaul [First Look]

2020 Jaguar XE int 11.JPG
2020 Jaguar XE (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

One of the most common complaints with the Jaguar XE has always been the plastic interior. It never quite fit with the lux-level picture Jaguar was trying to paint.

However, the 2020 XE gets a mid-cycle refresh, and I’d wager that the single biggest change is to the interior design and materials.

The most visually noticeable changes include available high-tech features such as the Duo Touch Pro infotainment system, interactive Digital Display and head-up display. These alone add a much needed up-scale feel.

But that’s just the beginning of the interior upgrade.

Interestingly, the team who designed the refreshed XE interior isn’t all from the world of car designers. As Adam Hatton, creative director of Jaguar exterior design, pointed out, some of the team members come from the worlds of luxury watches and luxury hotel interior design.

“So we’re going for more different walks of life -- product design, architecture. Not just car-design-trained people,” Hatton said. “And we really believe customers resonate with that.”

Judging by the new interior of the XE, we’d say Hatton and his team were spot on.

In addition to the new technology, there are soft-touch surfaces throughout, and the materials on the seats, doors, dash and center stack are seriously upgraded.

And the little touches – like the reverse stitching and the new recurring Jaguar “monogram” pattern – work in concert to create an overall product with luxurious fit and finish.

Plus, the seats are just darn comfortable.

The exterior gets a similar but smaller design overhaul, with specific attention being paid to the front and rear of the vehicle. You’ll notice slimmer lines, a wider stance and more Jaguar specific design cues in the headlights and taillights.

I also really like the available technology on the new XE.

The Duo Touch Pro itself is a huge add. It’s integrated a little bit differently than we’ve seen on previous Jaguar or Land Rover vehicles, as it has a more upright stance. But it loses none of its functionality, and it’s still one of the best implementations I’ve seen of a two-screen center stack structure.

Other tech features on the XE include standard Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and available wireless charging, rear camera mirror, 4G LTE hotspot, head-up display and smart settings that will learn how you drive – and who you might call at a certain time – to make your whole driving experience more intuitive.

Another change to the XE for 2020 is the powertrain lineup. There are just two engine options for 2020 – both of which are turbocharged 2.0-liter, 4-cylinders.

This means both the diesel and V-6 engines are gone from the U.S. market for the 2020 model year.

The P250 models will be equipped with an engine that delivers 247 horsepower and 269 horsepower. The P300 models will be equipped with an engine that delivers 296 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.

We had the opportunity to test both models, and they were both very responsive. The P300 model managed to be a bit quicker off the start, and the engine certainly had a throatier roar. But in more basic driving, the vehicles were remarkably the same.

Overall, the steering is incredibly precise. We drove on a fair bit of twisty-turny roads, and the XE handled every curve that we threw its direction. It also did very well in passing maneuvers on highways.

The result is sporty, and when you set the engine to dynamic mode, it’s downright fun – on both the P250 and the P300.

Another interesting change for the 2020 model year is the simplification of the trim structure.

Previously, the XE had 8 trims. Post refresh, you’ll have just three, and they’re all of the “S” variety. The plain S models will all be P250s, and the lone R-Dynamic will be a P300. Pricing is as follows:

  • S RWD: $40,895
  • S AWD: $42,895
  • R-Dynamic S AWD: $47,290

It’s worth noting the base S has more standard features than the previous model, including 18-inch wheels, electric-powered leather seats, premium LED headlights and taillights, front and rear parking aid, a rear backup camera and lane keep assist

The R-Dynamic, in addition to getting the more powerful engine has some design differences, including the “aircraft winglet,” inspired sculpted surfaces on the front bumper, dark mesh detailing on the rear valance and alternative wheel styling.

Plus, as you may have noticed, the R-Dynamic is only available as an AWD model.

The refreshed XE is set to hit dealers sometime this summer.

The Bottom Line:

The 2020 XE has finally become the vehicle it should have been all along. It now has nice interior appointments, excellent engine power and fun driving dynamics – in addition to an over-simplified trim structure.

Plus, I’ll be honest, I didn’t notice a significant difference in power between the two engines. So, unless you need the guttural engine sounds, I’d likely opt for one of the P250 models over the added expense of the P300.

Both are fine vehicles. One will just cost your about $7K less.

Editor’s Note: Driving impressions in this “First Look” review are from an invitation-only automaker launch event that allowed special access to the vehicle and executives. Jaguar covered our accommodations, meals and transportation costs.