Consumer Reports Worst Entry-Level Luxury SUV Is Also the Most Expensive

Premium pricing doesn’t always mean superior quality. It should, and automakers selling luxury cars usually deliver on performance, styling, and comfort. However, sometimes, a luxury vehicle’s high price isn’t justified. Such is the case with the Jaguar E-Pace, which, as per Consumer Reports, is the worst and most expensive vehicle in its class.

The Buick Encore is the cheapest in its class

When looking at luxury SUVs, chances are you’ve got a bit of money to spend. You’re not likely looking for the cheapest model available. However, according to Consumer Reports, you’re better off buying the most affordable luxury SUV they’ve rated – the Buick Encore – rather than the most expensive. Why is that?

While the Buick Encore isn’t likely the first model that comes to mind when you think of luxury, GM doesn’t do a bad job with this SUV. Unexpectedly, for a Buick, the Encore provides disappointing performance with an underpowered powertrain. This subcompact SUV sports a 155-hp 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The Buick Encore is considerably underpowered and gets a middling fuel efficiency of just 23 mpg.

Where the Encore shines is with a decidedly upscale cabin. The styling is impressive, and amenities like an optional heated steering wheel and voice-controlled navigation are nice touches. CR’s reviewers were not especially impressed by the Encore as a luxury vehicle. So, overall, they found it a relatively better car than the Jaguar E-Pace, especially at a low starting price of $24,600.

Consumer Reports says the Jaguar E-Pace is the worst and most expensive entry-level luxury SUV

A red 2022 Jaguar E-Pace P300E PHEV luxury SUV model driving through the country under a cloudy sky
2022 Jaguar E-Pace P300E | Jaguar Land Rover

It’s not easy to successfully bring a new subcompact luxury SUV to market. It’s even harder to manufacture one that is both luxury and entry-level, considering the amount of competition from similar market segments. So, Jaguar had its work cut out with the Jaguar E-Pace. Unfortunately, according to Consumer Reports, it misses the mark in many ways.

The E-Pace has a respectable powertrain on paper, featuring a 246 hp-producing 2.0-liter turbo-four engine coupled with a nine-speed automatic transmission. However, CR reviewers noted that the E-Pace’s acceleration is uneven. Furthermore, the transmission is rough and unresponsive, and power is unevenly distributed, especially at city speeds. The stiff suspension makes for a tense ride, and the engine hum, while not overpowering, is constant.

The E-Pace’s interior isn’t much better, with welcome soft styling offset by hard plastic trim. It doesn’t feel that luxurious, and taller drivers may find the front seat a bit cramped. Standard technology features include an 11.4-inch touchscreen with built-in navigation. However, the navigation is not voice-controlled, and the touchscreen response can lag. Additionally, you’ll have to pay extra for advanced safety features like blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic warning. However, the base trim does come with automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, and lane-keeping assistance.  

The best entry-level luxury SUV on CR is the Mini Cooper Countryman

So, while there are some things to like about the Jaguar E-Pace, at a starting MSRP of $41,800, everything about a subcompact SUV should be on point. Fortunately, for cost-conscious buyers, the 2022 Mini Cooper CountrymanConsumer Reports’ highest-rated entry-level SUV – can provide a much better luxury experience for a starting price of only $29,100.

The Cooper Countryman comes with several powertrain options, though reviewers recommend the 189-hp generating 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with the Cooper S trim. Reviewers commended the Countryman for agile and responsive handling and acceleration, with a 0 to 60 mph speed of 8.3 seconds.

The interior styling, while not especially luxurious, is high-quality. Additionally, its tech features, including a standard 8.8-inch touchscreen, and advanced safety technology like automatic emergency braking, lane departure, and forward collision warning, are decent. However, you’re best served by a higher-level trim, like the Cooper S, which comes with a wireless charging pad, 5-inch instrument cluster display, navigation, and Apple CarPlay compatibility.

The Mini Cooper Countryman may not have the brand cachet of Jaguar. However, you can get a significantly better entry-level luxury SUV for considerably less money than Jaguar manufacturers. Additionally, if you’re considering the E-Pace, the Buick Encore is also worth a serious look.

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