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Rear fender flares contribute to a sporty stance on the 2018 Jaguar E-Pace.
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The 2018 Jaguar E-Pace is a compact luxury SUV with plenty of panache.
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Diamond-stiched leather seats are a $1,530 upgrade on the 2018 Jaguar E-Pace.

Local Auto News

The Infiniti of Chattanooga dealership, at 7648 Lee Highway, is hosting a free car-seat and booster-seat checkpoint today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the dealership. Child safety seats are proven to reduce the risk of death to infants by 71 percent and for toddlers by 54 percent. Members of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department will be on hand to assist.

FAST FACTS

* Model: 2018 Jaguar E-Pace SE P250 AWD

* Exterior color: Caesium Blue

* Interior color: Light Oyster/Ebony

* Engine: 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged

* Horsepower: 246

* Transmission: 9-speed automatic

* Fuel economy: 28 mpg highway, 21 mpg city

* Local Dealer: Jaguar Chattanooga

* Price (as tested): @$54,000


View other Test Drive stories by Mark Kennedy



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Basic SUV architecture makes auto designers drop their pencils and bury their faces in their hands. The requisite road-clearance makes for an ostrich-like stance, while cargo-space expectations work like a shoe tree pushing against sloped roof-lines.

Well, give Jaguar credit. Designers of the automaker's new E-Pace compact SUV managed to borrow some design cues from the gorgeous F-Type coupe. The result is a profile that will have the dog walkers in your cul de sac pausing to admire your new ride.

There something about the roaring-cat emblem up front and the sexy flared wheel wells in back — not to mention the quilted Light Oyster leather seats — that make this compact SUV special. Whether "special" justifies its $54,000 sticker price (as tested) is in the eye of the beholder.

We'd guess the sweet spot for sales here is a affluent, 50-something empty-nester. In this demographic you multiply a person's age by $1,000 to come up with a price ceiling. In another, more sedan-centric, era these were BMW 5-series buyers.

Our tester, in gleaming Caesium Blue, got lots of thumbs-up around Chattanooga last week. The color itself is eye-candy and the black mesh front grille and sculpted hood are attractive facial features. At last check, Jaguar Chattanooga had six E-Pace SUVs on the ground, including one SE model with many of the same features as our tester.

WHAT IS IT? An all-wheel-drive, five-passenger luxury SUV with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. The engine makes 246 horsepower and vaults the two-ton-plus SUV from 0-60 mph in a smidgen over seven seconds. It is the smaller sibling of the Jaguar F-Pace, the auto-maker's first foray into the SUV world.

HOW MUCH? A base E-Pace can theoretically be had for $38,600, but don't expect to find many on the ground at that price point. Most real-life examples will fall into the $45,000-to-$55,000 price window. Our SE P250 AWD tester, provided by Jaguar, has an MSRP of about $54,000 with a bushel of options.

WHAT WE LIKED: The huge panoramic sunroof ($1,225), the 20-inch 10-spoke wheels ($1430), the quilted leather interior ($1,530), and the 360-degree park-assist feature.

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: Non-intuitive seat-heater controls that left us broiling (and boiling) for five minutes in the July heat until we figured out how to turn them off. We'd also didn't care for the "R-N-D" toggle shifter. Sorry Jaguar, but pushing the shifter forward to put the car in reverse is not the natural order of things.

ITS GOOD FOR CHATTANOOGA BECAUSE: Two words: bragging rights. There simply aren't many E-Pace SUVs on the road yet. So, at least for the time being, exclusivity around town is assured.

BOTTOM LINE: Jaguar is smart to have refocused on SUVs, which is clearly where the market is headed. The E-Pace takes its position in the emerging compact SUV segment as an attractive, entry-level luxury vehicle.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/mkennedycolumnist.

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