In the wonderful world of midsize luxury sedans, it's become a competitive battle to the death.

Hyperbole aside, it has become a space that's rife with options. From all-new sport-utility vehicles of the sporting persuasion to all-new four-door coupes, there's a lot of options for today's buyer.

For years, vehicles like the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class have commanded tremendous volume; however, as we've been forecasting this is all changing due to shifting consumer desires. That said, where does this place the annual also ran, the Jaguar XF?

[[Edit: Interior pictures were added, see below]]

All-new for the 2016 model year, the XF has been revised top to bottom. Much like the all-new Audi A4 and BMW 7-Series though, you can hardy tell. Keen observers will take note at it's modified, all-new sheetmetal. The changes are seemingly minor but, boy, do they make a difference, overall.

Rather than look like an option for someone who couldn't afford to step into the flagship XJ, the all-new XF looks like a proper Jaguar because it has fully embraced the XJ's design language. That means it features a prominent front grille that's flanked by squinty headlights. As I had the more sporting R variant, its more aggressive front valence with larger air intakes was pretty mean.

Jaguar XF

Along the vehicle's side profile there's an adjusted roofline. While it may not seem like anything our British friends have put out previously, you may note there is a similarity to former Subarus — check out the fixed rear window at the C-Pillar. Around the back the rear windscreen is elegantly incorporated into the short rear decklid. All in all, it's a very tidy design and an improvement over the rather paunchy last-gen XF.

Getting more comfortable behind the three-spoke steering wheel and in the leather seats, I would like to tell you that this is the Jaguar's strong suit. But, it isn't. Where the XJ feels very rich, albeit old man-ish, the XF's interior is a mix and match of excellent and sub-par materials. This seems to be an ongoing theme that's in line with the F-Type sports car and all-new F-Pace SUV.

Take, for example, the sueded headliner that's beautifully soft to the touch but meets with what I'd consider some of the worst plastic in a modern automobile I've come across at the B-Pillar. In addition, the door cards, trim pieces and lower dash are nothing to write home about. The trim, which is synthetic and looks like aluminum appears to be the same stuff found in the latest Hyundai Genesis. That either means the Hyundai has stepped up its game or Jaguar dropped itself a peg. While this may sound incredibly harsh, this was my personal opinion after spending an extended time in the XF's cabin: It doesn't feel like what I'd expect in a Jaguar — it seems on par with one of Ford's Platinum models. Note I did not even say Lincoln. For me, this is quite problematic for a vehicle that carries a base price of $60,650*.

*This base price does not include title, taxes or fees.

While the new infotainment system is at least a step in the right direction, it still falters. One example. Why is it that companies like BMW and Mercedes show me traffic on a local level and Jaguar's system only displays traffic when I am sitting in it at the Lincoln Tunnel? At least it is not laggy and its user experience is easier to navigate than the last-gen setup.

Though these missteps are of significance, there is some good news. That's because the XF does drive well.

Equipped with a supercharged six-cylinder engine, my tester XF produced a healthy 340 horsepower and 332 lb.-ft. of torque.. Mated to an eight-speed transmission, shifts are quite alright and the autobox does a fine job. It's very middle of the road, which is acceptable in a sedan of this type. I don't expect it to shift like a dual-clutch 'box. Most importantly it is smooth — it doesn't need to shift in a rapid way. Zero to 60 happens in 5.2 seconds.

What is easy to like about the XF is its steering rack. Compared to other sedans of this ilk it is more direct, which gives you the impression it is a nimble four door. Working my way through corners, I felt like I was in more of a sports car than a luxury sedan. But, don't get too hyped up. Its steering is not communicative — not many vehicles' steering setup is these days.

Jaguar XF

Where the Jaguar deserves extra credit is in the quality of its ride. If there's one element of the XF that stands out, it's how its suspension provides an excellent motoring experience. I found its suspension to absorb potholes and uneven pavement incredibly well and better than the likes of its competition. And, if you're feeling a bit naughty you can tighten it up in Sport mode without having to worry about throwing comfort out of the window. Rather than go to the far side of sporting or to the far side of comfort, the XF provides a lovely mix. The XF's tuning allows you to take corners at speed with some body roll present, but in check, or chauffeur guests to a dinner party in the big city. This is where the XF attempts to prove its value.

The problem I have with the XF is that it doesn't deliver it. After having my time with the car I didn't find it to evoke a special personality through its engine and note, or by being particularly thrilling. Thinking across this segment right now I have to say that it reminds me a lot of the Lexus GS. The XF is a nice product but does not speak to me or pull at my heart strings.

It's a nice vehicle that really only delivers on two main areas: It has a great exterior design that's snappy and its suspension is well above par. The rest? To be straight forward, I'll pass.

The Good:

- All-new design is, overall, a move in the right direction — much sharper looking product
- Excellent steering setup — though I wish it were more communicative, this is to be expected in modern cars with electric racks
- Class-leading ride quality, which is easily the XF's strongest suit

The Bad:

- For such an excellent motor, it seems like JLR didn't spend enough time making it sound spectacular
- The XF's interior is a mix and match of high-quality and low-quality materials — it is not well executed and reminds me of a Ford Platinum interior
- The infotainment system is a step in the right direction but still lacking in sophistication

The Lowdown:

Jaguar has, overall, taken the XF a step in the right direction; however, I do not feel that it stands a chance against the likes of the all-new Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Realistically, the XF will compete with the likes of the Cadillac CTS and Lexus GS. Although it has a sporting character and an excellent ride, the XF just doesn't bring enough of its "A" game for me to really consider it amongst the top dogs. Unfortunately, what may have been a chance for Jaguar to really break out has been missed, and to me, the XF remains an also ran in the segment.

Jaguar XF

**UPDATED** REVIEW: The All-New Jaguar XF — Does It FINALLY Break Out From The Pack? Results Inside...

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