(First Posted October 6, 2013) As usual I was looking for cars again after selling the Audis…What would it be this time? I was commuting across the Bay Bridge, so it needed to be comfortable and nice to drive and I was ready for an automatic again. I recall testing an Acura 3.5RL, a BMW X5, and several other cars but then at the Acura dealer as we were pulling away I saw a nice looking silver car in the front row…
A 2002 Jaguar X-Type. Ooh, purdy! One owner, Platinum over Charcoal leather, just over 20k miles. I loved the styling, especially the way the headlights looked with the hood kind of draping over them. The snob in me also really liked the leaper on the hood. Still, a Jag? Can’t be reliable. But worth a test drive which turned out to be very pleasant. The car had decent grunt, the engine was smooth, the handling capable. Still, we walked away that day.
Over the next couple of days I read everything I could find about the car and at that time it was still fairly positive. Everyone seemed to be lauding Jaguar’s new little car, liking the AWD, and while explaining the roots as being from the Ford Mondeo, not seeing much issue with that. So we looked at it again and I ended up buying it for about $21,000.
Let me tell you, it is a great feeling driving something you don’t see every five minutes. The car felt very solid, smelled better than any other car I have had before or since, and seemed to be very refined. Over time these cars ended up getting decontented a bit, but 2002 was the first year and even our 2.5 “base” model had a bevy of niceties.
An excellent and extremely aromatic leather interior, a huge swath of gorgeous wood fronting the dash, power everything of course, and a 5-speed automatic transmission with the standard AWD as well as airbags everywhere including side curtains ones that were not nearly as ubiquitous then as they are today were all included, the only option in the list above being the automatic; yes, a 5-speed manual was available and was actually standard equipment on these cars.
Sitting in the driver’s seat facing the dash, the gauges were extremely nice to look at. Finished in dark green on early models with thin white lines and a nice simple type face, they were very easy to read and attractive. The door panels felt solid and the doors closed with a nice thunk.
Moving to the back seat was more of the same. The seats felt great, it was relatively roomy back there and the baby seat fit just fine. We drove the car all over the place, rain or shine (or snow in the mountains) and it was very pleasant.
Commuting was good as well, the engine purred nicely, pulled well (but I could see how one would be attracted to the larger, more powerful 3-liter version, especially at higher altitudes) and the full time AWD with a 60/40 rear/front torque split lent the car a secure feeling without losing the rear-wheel drive feel that many other AWD cars seem to experience.
Allison and I ended up sharing the car probably about 50/50; she started working as a Realtor (like many other Californians in the early 2000’s) and this was a good car to show people around in the nicer neighborhoods of the Bay Area.
Looking back on the car it is funny how much negative press the car gets nowadays. Many people seem to deride it as being based on a Mondeo, in actuality most parts are distinct, but I never felt that being based on a mass-market car was the badge of shame it is made out to be. Frankly many people who don’t like it seem to have never driven one or even been in one. Many others wax rhapsodic about any European offering which we never got, including the Mondeo (Yes I know about the Contour/Mystique, not exactly the same car/generation). Go figure. The grass is always greener etc., I guess.
Jaguar’s goal was obviously to make some inroads with the A4/3-series/C-class crowd. Going by the numbers they failed, the car never sold in the numbers envisioned. They probably tarnished the marque a bit as well by running several $299/month lease specials as well. A few years after the car was launched, they even made a wagon version, which I personally find to be extremely attractive, in fact it is one of my favorite car shapes of the last 20 years. The mother of one of my son’s classmates currently has one and I always admire it when I see it.
The engine in our car was a 2.5 liter V6, apparently unique to the X-Type but derived from the Ford Duratec family of engines. It featured variable valve timing, 4 valves per cylinder, and produced 192hp at 6800 rpm with 180 ft-lbs of torque at 3000 rpm. The transmission was made by JATCO in Japan.
All X-Types were built in Halewood, England, which was originally a Ford plant, but given over to Jaguar when the X-Type began production. In later years, the Land Rover Freelander was built there as well.
Our car was extremely reliable. It was covered under a bumper to bumper warranty up to 4 years / 50,000 miles which we never had occasion to use. The servicing of the car was covered by Jaguar for the same period and my wife still to this day has fond memories of how well she was treated every time she took the car in, in fact she has asked for another Jaguar several times just based on the service experience! I took it to British Motorcars (the SF dealer closest to my work at the time) a couple of times myself and had to concur, it really was a great experience, leagues above anything else I had experienced before.
I’m not one of those people who is always washing their car, in fact I would probably fit in very well in Eugene, OR in that regard, but this car was one of those rare cars where it was a delightful experience. It’s hard not to sound like some sort of freak, but the curves of a Jaguar, especially over the headlights on this one, are simply fun to wash. As a result this car stayed cleaner than most of our others. My current ride is the only car that I’ve enjoyed washing more, but that story will have to wait a while longer…
Not that it was all tales of fun and frolicking, there were bad times as well, however none were the car’s fault or mechanical in nature. Once Allison was pulling into a parking spot with a bit of gusto and somehow got too close to the rear step bumper of a large pickup truck, heavily denting the right rear door and fender. A few days after that the front left corner picked up a heavy scrape from our rock wall. Our insurance company picked up the rear damage and we paid the body shop a discounted rate to fix the front at the same time. It looked good as new when it came back, thank goodness.
Our daughter, who I have mentioned was prone to carsickness, did not find this car to be a cure for that. I specifically recall an incident of projectile vomiting on the way back from Lake Tahoe in the curvy section coming down the hill. Not a fun thing to try to clean at the roadside several hours from home but I suppose it is one of those “essential parenting experiences”. All hail cave-like solid black European interiors for ease of cleaning! (My apologies if you are reading this over Sunday breakfast, and yes, I felt similar at the time to how you do right now).
Another time, while we still lived in Oakland, some neighborhood kids thought it might be fun to see what happened if they threw a rock at the car. Well, the window shattered. Getting it replaced was not difficult bit picking the hundreds of little pieces of glass out of the interior sucked.
Although the car was great, I did start to get nervous about the time the warranty was getting close to running out. That is what constantly reading internet forums dedicated to your car will do for you. In the end Allison’s parents were looking for another car and ended up buying it from us. They put another 50,000 miles on it before replacing it, however they never had any issues either, just a mechanic that frankly was taking them to the cleaners every time it needed servicing. There is nothing special about the technology on this car that should make it more expensive to repair or maintain than the average car.
I recall one weekend about two years after they bought it we met them in Las Vegas, we had flown and they had driven the car. I ended up driving it that weekend looking at condos and the temperature was a record 125 degrees Fahrenheit. The car did not break a sweat, but we sure did!
A week after they had agreed to buy it but before they had picked it up, we took it to a local mechanic for something minor, I do not recall what it was exactly. However when it was ready they asked my wife to back it out of their shop (which is weird in and of itself), as she did, somehow one of the mechanics let the rollup door slam down on top of the car and then quickly lifted it back up. She got out and since she is short could not really see the top but was assured it was fine.
When I got home I immediately noticed the large dent with two square edges across the roof of the car. She explained what happened and I called the owner of the repair shop who denied everything. I kind of lost my temper and suggested that my wife show the car to her entire mom’s group and explain what happened and why they should not take their cars to that mechanic. He then agreed to look at the car again, and after looking at the roof, measuring the bottom of his door and speaking with his mechanic agreed to pay for a paintless dent repair place to remove the headliner and fix the damage. After a day’s work it was perfect again and it went down to Orange County to the in-laws who were none the wiser.
Maybe I’m the only one, but our Jaguar never left us stranded, the electrical system was flawless, the car was a pleasure to drive and own, and overall I would not refuse to own another. (But it would definitely be the wagon next time)!
Buddy of mine had one. I was skeptical of a Ford Jaguar, but it was a nice car, and his was reliable too. I thought it was a little (a little) cramped inside for its size outside, and I thought the bezel around the gauges on the dash was a little fat/crude-looking, but those were the only flaws I found.
I’ve never driven one of these, although there are plenty around. I must admit the shrunken-XJ styling on the X-Type has never worked for me though; some of the proportions seem a bit off. And no real Jag should have a transverse engine! But I have driven the Mondeo donor car, and they are a fine drive – great handling and a lovely plush ride – so I imagine the Jag would be a similarly comfy and fun place to be.
Seriously under rated cars and sadly sneered at by Jag snobs as a Mondeo in drag.A friend of my sisters has had an identical model to the car shown from new but blue,no problems or breakdowns apart from leaving the lights on overnight and running the battery down.I’d like a Jag but am still wary of buying one due to the old ones reputation as a money pit
I owned a 2000 Contour (and yes nearly identical to the European Mk1 Mondeo save for the rear) and it was a compent handler, solid feeling car. It was let down by a tremendous amount of road noise, and the Ford/Mazda CD4E transmission that was not a team player, it was also incredibly cramped for anyone over 5’10″… but I digress…
The respect I have for that platform has made me keep an eye on these X-types now, as the bones are solid being a heavily modified Mk2/3 Mondeo platform which is from what I gather a well respected car in Europe. These are nicely styled cars, and well appointed.
Well Jim, you’ve definitely swayed my opinion of this car in a more favorable direction, congrats on that!
I’ve never been a huge fan of these cars mainly because of their styling. I hated the larger S-Type, which reminded me of a ’98 Town Car, and while I liked the sharper styling of the X-Type, it always looked a little too busy and formal for such a small car. Oddly enough, I share your opinion about the wagon. When I first saw a new one at the Boston Auto Show about 10 years ago, I did kinda fall in love.
Before you mentioned about your wife becoming a realtor and using it to show houses, one of my first thoughts was “realtor’s car”. That does look like a very plush interior however. There is something aromatic about leather in English cars.
Probably the biggest issue I had with these cars after driving a friend’s mother’s for a couple of days was how cramped it was for me. I’m 6’2″, ~175lbs, and I just didn’t care for how everything was layed out either, especially compared to other Jaguars.
Interesting, I’m 6-1 and was about 200 at the time, and it fit me fine. I have relatively short legs though so maybe that;s it. It was roomier than the Volvo V40 we had at the same time.
Wonder how the reliability data between the X type and XJ between similar generations compares? I have heard some say of late that by the end of Ford’s stewardship Jag’s quality issues were finally sorted out.
CC effect strikes again,there’s a dark blue one outside the shops
I’ve always hated the styling on this generation of Jags. I realise it’s a subjective thing, but the faux-60s nonsense like this and the S-type that was going on during Ford’s time at the helm just looks cheap and phoney to my eyes.
A series I or II XJ is an undeniably beautiful thing, but something about the proportions on the X-type make it look like a bit like a Chinese knock-off of an early XJ.
I can’t describe how relieved I was Jaguar finally started designing their cars again with the modern XF (and everything that’s since followed) instead of endlessly recycling the same tired trope.
I remember a review of the X-Type comparing it to a child playing a lawyer in a school play, or something along those lines.
I think it looks like an ovoid Taurus…and that’s not good.
I always thought these were beautiful. I’ve tried to see the design issues people are reporting, but I honestly can’t. It’s a beautiful car.
I think this vehicle suffers from one issue – it’s related to another Ford vehicle and as a result it must be crap. I’m happy to see the author’s experience with the vehicle proves otherwise.
I’m honestly confused by all the criticism – it’s as if people prefer that Jaguars remain true to the tradition of problematic to be considered part of the elite crowd.
As for the wagon, it’s also beautiful!
Not a brand snob (not enough $), but these were DEFINITELY looked down upon by such people, just as a C-class or 3-series is. My older relatives (old $) had some choice words to say about each I just mentioned. Also, I’ve seen countless X-model repair bills exceeding the value of the vehicle. I’d consider yourself lucky!
Most people who rubbish these have never driven one or have been suckered by the BMW kool aide and have to make up for it somehow, underneath its just a Mondeo and thats not a bad thing.
Interesting car. If there was going to be a small Jag, I can’t imagine one looking better than this. I always thought they did a good job making the car look like a proper Jag.
As for the barfing kids, I threatened more than once to find a strippo van that was all metal, rubber and vinyl inside.
I like the styling but will concede that from certain angle (rear 3/4?) it looks a tad bulbous. The front is great though.
I used to be a barfy kid myself, not much you can do there. It just happens. I’d even barf while asleep in the car…
My little sister was the family expert in blowing chunks on car journeys,I’m sure she did it to get a window seat
I always liked the look of these, but I looked inside one once. Loved the leather,but was shocked to see old style window winders. Not a true luxury car then. The volume seller in Europe would be the 2 litre diesel, which used the straight Mondeo engine and transmission and dual mass flywheel. That would explain the reliability issues. The latest Mondeos are no worse than a VW for reliability, but this was ten years ago.
Over here it was all power windows. Even the MB W126’s had manual winders in the rear at the beginning in Europe…
We never had the diesel either, just the 2.5 ad 3.0 V6’s.
I’m with you on this – an underrated car which was judged downward for not being an BMW/Audi/Merc and for the initially dull mini XJ styling. But, the estate was a cracker, and the Mondeo arguably a better car than the Passat, which the Audi A6 was based on. Europe got a V6 2.5 litre Mondeo as well, but no AWD.
And you’re right – there are details in the styling that you might miss – for example the headlights mimic the engine intake of the de Havilland Comet jetliner
Ah, the lights always reminded me of something, but I could never place it.Thanks!
A little late here, but I rather think they mimic the 1961 Mk X, which in turn was a natural evolution of all Jaguar headlights going all the way back to at least the XK 120.
I’ve seen those in the street here. My footpath observations say they have a beautiful interiors, specially in light brown. Big wheels really enhance their look. I wouldn’t mind driving one, and honestly can’t be bothered if it’s underpinned by a Mondeo.
Those footpath observations have also taught me that what I read for years on the interwebZ/MSM was full of male bovine excrement.
Recently I also saw a S-type one (and some brand new Rangies). The poms know a thing about building an inviting and nice interior.
I’m a huge fan of these cars, would love to find one with a manual transmission like the first one I ever drove.
This car was a prime example of just how bigoted the auto blogs could get – one a car has been panned, never mind realty, just keep panning it louder and louder. And keep repeating the accusations (“It’s nothing but a tarted up Mondeo.”) no matter how untrue they are. And if you repeat them often enough and loudly enough, they become internet “truth”.
With you 100% on the mindless-repetition factor, especially when it involves Jeremy Clarkson saying something.
I’m on the bad-idea side on the styling though, it was crying out for a re-interpretation of Jag themes instead of being a mini-XJ. And I like the X350 XJ styling too, it is really elegantly executed. I also don’t mind the S Type either as it is its own thing and has links to the original S Type, but the X Type shouldn’t have been so derivative.
The other ‘funny’ thing with the X Type was when they brought out a cheaper version it was a 2.1 V6 – not a 4-cyl, not a 2 litre… It slipped in fwd where all the original awd models were carefully not image-reducing fwd.
Man, did the wagon X-type make me swoon. Such a beautiful shape. I shopped for one for several years, hoping to find one off lease or at least lightly used. For some reason, every one I looked at was seriously sub par, either in options or condition. After I moved overseas, I encountered a co-worker with a beautiful maroon one that he had babied since new. Made me want one all over again.
You are correct, the wagon is gorgeous. Bet you can find a mint-condition low mileage one amongst the doyens in south Florida….
Always thought these were appealing cars, and frankly the Ford Mondeo parts were a plus, considering Jaguars of the past! As for the car snobs, these probably shared less with Ford than Audi with VW…and they tend not to turn up their noses at those.
Neighbor owns a Jag shop, and loves these. His son has a 3.0 5-speed, and it hauls. Great traction, decent room front and rear, and IMHO, a good looking car.
Now, if he found a 3.0 manual wagon (did they make one?)….
I actually expected these to have the Mazda KL V6 when you said 2.5, not the Duratec. But I always think of the Mondeos having the KL as that’s what they ran in the BTCC.
These were pretty nice, but I always thought the sedans looked a bit bulbous in the rear quarter/C-pillar area.
But as for the wagon, those were beautiful! There are a handful of them around here, as until very recently we had a Jaguar dealer in Davenport.
Price-wise, these were way out of my league at the time; I don’ t mind knowing that mechanicals are reliable and not-so-exclusive (= a Very Fancy Ford, perhaps). Were I temped today, this one on cars.com seems well looked after:
This car is a study in conflicting emotions for me.
I liked them both in concept and execution when they came out.
Love the front/hood/lights/grille styling.
Hate the 3/4 rear/trunk/tail lights styling.
If I never see another silver over black car in my life, it’ll be too soon.
Since I drive on snow approximately once every five years, AWD is a major minus for me. Added weight, added complexity, added service costs. No upside.
I have a similar V6 in my Mystique. Love the power, even at just 2.5L. Smooth enough that I often find myself running around a gear lower than necessary, just because the motor isn’t nudging me to upshift.
I have a similar V6 in my Mystique. Nightmare to get to anything under the hood deeper than the top of the manifold. I’ve pretty much sworn off V6 motors in any sort of compact, unless I get rich enough to just pay someone else to change spark plugs.
Fabulous leather interiors.
I vastly prefer cloth interiors, and consider leather a downgrade in most instances.
It’s a Jaguar. Sweet!
It’s a Jaguar. Uh oh…
Funny, folks thought it was awful that Jaguar should use Ford parts or a Ford platform but gave no thoughts to Audi using VW engines and platforms.
I always admired the looks of those cars, and Jaguar’s always done a beautiful interior. The only thing that would keep me away from it is the name Jaguar. Same as Land Rover (or Audi, BMW, or Cadillac for that matter). Wife wouldn’t drive one, simple as that. Reliability is her biggest single hot button n any car she drives.
The interior on these cars was really beautiful – and spoke Jaguar from every angle. It is a shame that the current XE’s interior is so austere by comparison as overall it’s not a bad looking car.
I wish the XE drove more like a jaguar. I’ve driven a few, and they didn’t impress me. The XF, on the other hand, is everything the XE is trying to be.
I like the wagons a lot – I tend to poke around on the List of Craig from time to time, and see these in wagon form once in a great while.
I got a ride in one of these once. I remember getting in, and the poor beleaguered owner had to tell me to not touch this, and that and something else (as I recall, my window, one of the rear doors and some other item) because they weren’t working, or attempting to use them would me a a bad situation worse.
(OK, maybe my perception was colored by the fact the owner was the worst drivers I’ve ever ridden with. 45 mph on the Kennedy Expressway through Chicago. In the left lane.)
Whatever the test pilots may say, everyone I’ve known who’s had an X-type loved it. The styling is ageing gracefully too and the Ford bits seem to make it reliable. Handily sized as well. I seem to be talking myself into getting one…
One of my coworkers has one and he loves it. I have sat in it and it’s a beautiful car. It rides really really nice.
So in short… stuff what the press said about this car.
My wife had a 3.0ltr 5spd manual Estate (wagon) many moons ago. I think the long roof suits the design even better, more stylish and practical to boot …….
It was everything you expect of a Jag, nice handling, good performance and that lovely interior that they do (or did) so well.
It was also everything you DON’T expect of a Jag, totally reliable and dependable, and cost relative peanuts in service and maintenance. A real winner.
The only adequate replacements have been a whole slew of Audi S/RS Avants, both A4 and A6, seemingly the only quick estates available with a manual gearbox, as she refuses to drive an auto. (I’ll forget the BMW disastrous 530i interlude).
That’s the mark of how good these Jag’s were.
Most put these cars down because of they consider them fords. yet jaguar has a notorious reputation for being unreliable and not particularly easy to own. so you get a jag that has ford reliability jag styling well appointed interiors. sharp looks but people dont want them because they are not genuine jags. so people prefer the unreliability and electical issue and possibly being stranded to a car that gives you jag looks and for reliability…………..go figure!!!
I liked the looks of the X-type much more than the awkward and somewhat blobby “retro” S-type. The X wagon is particularly nice-looking.
If these Jags are so bad then why do I still see so many on the road all year round?
I like the style and size of these sedans and REALLY like the wagon. Taking my wife to work one morning we came upon an X-Type wagon and even she liked its styling. I’m familiar with the 2.5 litre V6 as this engine was in my 98 Contour Sport linked to a 5-speed manual transmission. What a nice car that was both around town and for highway cruising.
I know an older gentleman where I live who has an X-Type that he drives year round and is very happy with it. If he has to sell this pristine beauty one day, I’d seriously consider buying it.
Chris Fix did a great series on his channel about buying and fixing up one of these Jags for his Dad using a parts car. Here’s a sample: