Long Term

2018 Jaguar F-Pace S is a fun but thirsty travel companion

Supercharged V6s have a taste for the finer things.

I love road trips. I've moved across the country twice, spending weeks living out of my car, eating granola bars and sucking down energy drinks like it was finals week all over again. I get a huge kick out of calculating fuel economy, stretching out tanks of gas or diesel until the low-fuel light begins to sear itself into my retinas. I try to take each and every one of our long-term vehicles on some such trip. Not long after our 2017 Jaguar F-Pace S arrives, my wife and I decided to see some family in Asheville, North Carolina, roughly 10 hours and 700 miles from our home in suburban Detroit.

Now, I knew from the outset this was going to be a far different experience than our previous long-termer, a 2017 Jaguar XE diesel. I managed to eek out nearly 700 miles per tank, averaging 42 mpg over 2,000 miles with that car. But the 380-horsepower supercharged V6 in the F-Pace is rated at 18 city/23 highway with a combined rating of just 20 mpg. Not good, and — unlike the XE — I didn't think I could do much better without greatly altering my admittedly aggressive driving habits. Still, I wanted to take our blue bomber to the Blue Ridge Parkway, so onward I went.

There were a few other things I was worried about over what was sure to be another 2,000-mile trip. The F-Pace's suspension was a bit stiff thanks to the sporty S trim. The 20-inch wheels don't help matters, though things could be worse (some people on staff wanted to get 22s). At least they look good. Still, the seats are comfortable and the radio is top-notch. LCD Soundsystem's latest album had just come out, so I put it on repeat and headed south.

The first part of the trip was going to be both the most boring and the most economical. The roads in Michigan and Ohio are flat and straight. It isn't until you hit Kentucky and head into the Appalachian Mountains that things get interesting. Just set the radar cruise control and barrel down Interstate 75 with as much urgency as you dare. I forgot my Valentine One at home.

The ride was firm but not as bad as I imagined it might be, at least once we got off of Michigan's pockmarked pavement. The F-Pace tracked straight and true, but I became acutely aware that the steering wheel itself was out of alignment, leaning just slightly to the left. Fuel economy was fine, but I was just meeting the EPA estimate, not beating it like I usually manage to do. Tanks were lasting just over 300 miles, meaning we were going to have to stop at least twice as often as we did with the XE.

Fuel economy dipped a bit once we got into the mountains, but not as much as I had expected. The F-Pace has so much power all over the rev range that it never had to work too hard to keep up once the elevation started changing. The trip average dropped to about 20 mpg, but I was more worried about the frequent fuel stops than the overall average.

The seats and sound system proved just as wonderful as I'd hoped they would (LCD's new record is phenomenal). My only complaint about the interior was the ambient lighting and bright glow from both the infotainment screen and digital instrument cluster. A quick search of the settings yielded a button that cut every interior light outside of the climate control temperature readings and the instrument cluster. It wasn't quite Saab's Night Panel, but it was pretty close. Most of the time you can't turn everything off. Color me impressed.

I wish there were some more pockets and cubbies, but the small shelf in front of the shifter proved to be a good home for my phone and a couple of Honey Stinger waffles. In addition to the two cupholders in the console, the door pockets have space for water bottles. I do admit I eat in the car, but that's why Autoblog owns a Dyson V6 Car+Boat and a full set of cleaning supplies.

The F-Pace may not be my first choice when it comes to vehicles in this class — it's hard for me to not go with the Porsche Macan — but it proved to be a surprisingly good highway cruiser. The fuel economy wasn't great, but it did meet the EPA numbers. Once we got to Asheville and the Blue Ridge Parkway, I was happy to have that fuel-sucking supercharged V6 under the hood. It's no sports car, but the firm suspension and responsive steering mean it's pretty damn good in a corner.

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