Premium midsize car; Built in England
  • 4-door sedan
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $5,200 – $24,000*

2003 Jaguar S-Type

2004 Jaguar S-Type

2005 Jaguar S-Type

Jaguar S-Type interior

  • Acceleration (V8s)
  • Handling/roadholding
  • Quietness
  • Ride (base models)
  • Control layout (navigation system)
  • Fuel economy (R model)

All of these Jaguars are a pleasure to drive, with appointments and features that are worthy of the class. Prices were steep when new, but relatively low resale values compared to BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz make them wiser choices secondhand. Best value might be the base-suspension 4.2 sedan.


Jaguar’s midsize rear-wheel-drive luxury sedans earned a number of updates for 2003, along with a new high-performance version. Dimensions did not change, but all S-Types featured revised grilles, new wheels, and a freshened interior with curtain side airbags.

The base V6 3.0 model returned with a manual transmission newly available. Replacing the 4.0-liter V8 version was a new S-Type 4.2 with a 294-horsepower, 4.2-liter V8. Topping the line, a new S-Type R sedan held a 400-horsepower, supercharged 4.2-liter. All V8s came with a new six-speed automatic transmission that was optional on the 3.0 model.

All S-Types got a retuned suspension and added an antiskid system to the standard traction control, as well as four-wheel disc brakes. Available as a package on 3.0 and 4.2 models were a body-colored grille and an automatically-adjusting sport suspension. A similar suspension was standard on the R sedan, which featured a mesh grille, exclusive seats and interior trim, and the xenon headlamps that were optional on other S-Types. The R sedan rode on 18-inch wheels, versus 17s for 4.2 models and 16s for the 3.0.

Curtain side airbags joined standard front side airbags and a newly standard power tilt/telescopic steering column. Power-adjustable foot pedals were a new option for the 3.0 and standard on V8 models. The optional navigation system had a new touch-screen display. Voice activation for some audio, phone, and climate functions was again available.

Built in Britain, the S-Type shared its basic underskin design with the Lincoln LS from Jaguar’s parent company, Ford. It was the less expensive of Jaguar’s two luxury sedans. Rivals included the Acura RL, BMW 5-Series, Lexus GS 300/430, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

Yearly Updates

2004 S-Type
Except for slight changes in engine output ratings, little was new for 2004. The base 3.0 model held a 235-horsepower V6, while the 4.2 sedan used a 294-horsepower, 4.2-liter V8 and the R sedan’s supercharged V8 produced 390 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission remained standard on all. The 3.0 could be equipped with a five-speed manual as a no-charge option.
The R sedan had an automatically-adjusting sport suspension, which was included in a Sport Package option for 3.0 and 4.2 models. Optional Adaptive Cruise Control was designed to maintain a set following distance from traffic ahead.
2005 S-Type
A new luxury VDP edition joined the 2005 lineup as an option group for the 4.2 sedan, including upgrades to the standard leather/wood interior decor. Jaguar also noted revisions to S-Type styling led by a freshened front end, modified primary instrumentation, and altered cabin trim. The 3.0 V6 model no longer came with a manual transmission. That model exchanged its 16-inch wheels for the 17s used by the 4.2 sedan.
Both models were available with a tauter-suspension Sport Package. For 2005, that option replaced its 17-inch wheels with 18s, which were also a standalone choice. Newly available with the Sport Package, and on the R sedan, was aluminum interior trim instead of the usual wood.
2006 S-Type
No changes for the S-Type in 2006.
2007 S-Type
Several popular options became standard for 2007 on the S-Type. Previously optional features now standard included heated front seats for the 3.0 and a navigation system and front-obstacle detection for the 4.0. All models also got driver-seat memory and power pedals for ’07. Aluminum interior trim was no longer offered.
2008 S-Type
The 2008 Jaguar S-Type got a minor exterior facelift as it entered its final model year. This premium midsize sedan will be replaced by the 2009 Jaguar XF.


longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

In standard form, the S-Type may have either a 3.0-liter V6 engine, or a 4.2-liter V8 that generates 294 horsepower. Under S-Type R hoods sit a supercharged V8 that churns out 390 horsepower. Only the V6 version came with a standard five-speed manual transmission. Other models have a six-speed automatic, which has been optional for the V6 sedan.

dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/181
Engine HP 235
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 216
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
6-speed automatic

dohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.2/256
Engine HP 294
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 303
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic



Supercharged dohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.2/256
Engine HP 390
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 399
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic


Road Test

With V8 power, S-Types are impressively fast. A test 4.2 did 0-60 mph in 6.9 seconds. An R sedan accelerated to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds. Expect an 8.5-second 0-60 time for the 3.0 sedan, which is strong from a standstill with ample passing power. The smooth-shifting, fairly responsive six-speed automatic transmission always seems to be in the correct gear. Jaguar’s manual transmission also shifts smoothly.

Fuel economy is acceptable, except for the performance-oriented R edition. A 4.2 sedan averaged 19.6 mpg, versus 17.7 mpg for a manual-shift R sedan. An extended-use 3.0 sedan averaged a more appealing 19.4 mpg. An R sedan managed only 14.5 mpg, including gas-eating performance tests. All S-Types require premium fuel.

Jaguar’s base suspension allows mild float over large humps and dips, but the ride is low-impact comfortable. The firmer Sport Package suspension is actually a model of composure and absorbency. Even the R model is surprisingly civilized, though it has a tauter-still suspension and the stiff 18-inch performance tires do thump over bumps.

Through turns, the base suspension furnishes good grip and modest lean. Sport Package and R versions yield quicker responses, with less body lean and greater road grip. Some testers have found the R’s steering too heavy at low speeds. Its computer-controlled suspension has minimal effect on ride or handling. Braking has been short and stable in simulated panic stops, but pedal action feels overboosted and touchy in routine driving.

Expect a muted, classy engine growl at full throttle. The R’s supercharger adds a slight whine. Wind rush is modest. Road noise is well-suppressed, even with 17-inch tires, though 18s rumble on some surfaces.

Gauges are clear and classy, but the button-filled dashboard can be daunting at first. Richly padded surfaces befit a Jag, as does the wood or aluminum cabin trim. Jaguar’s navigation system is not intuitive, and transforms some radio and climate controls into multistage touch-screen operations. Turning the key in the driver’s door opens/closes windows and the sunroof.

Roomy enough up front, the S-Type has a cozy feel, due partly to a high dashboard and small footwells. The driver gets plenty of adjustments, including handy power tilt/telescopic steering and, if installed, power-adjustable pedals. The firmer Sport Package seats have more prominent side bolsters, and are slightly more confining than base seats. Some testers have declared the R’s seats uncompromisingly hard.

Although the backseat offers enough head room for six-footers, leg space is barely adequate if front seats are pushed more than halfway back. Toe space is tight, too, and three adults would be crowded. The sloped roofline means taller folks must guard their heads when exiting.

The trunk is not expansive, but usefully shaped and easy to load. Available split-folding rear seatbacks add versatility, but small-items interior storage space is meager.


Model Tested: 2004 S-Type 4.2

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 7
Fuel Economy - 5
Ride Quality - 8
Steering/Handling - 6
Quietness - 7


Controls/Materials - 7
Room/Comfort Front - 6
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
Cargo Room - 3


Value - 5

Total: 58


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
114.5 192.0 71.6 56.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
14.1 18.4 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.5 36.9 43.1 37.0
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2004 S-Type 4.2 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Front Passenger Injury - N/A

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Rear Passenger Injury - 5


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: A clunking or knocking noise may be heard from the transmission when downshifting and is fixed by putting thread locking compound on the transmission output spines. (2003-05)
Description: Parking brake will not release if battery voltage drops below 8 volts. (2006-07)
Keyless entry
Description: The remote keyless entry may not unlock the doors after the vehicle sits overnight for which there is an improved door module that must be installed in the driver’s door. (2003)
Rear axle noise
Description: Whining noise from the rear at 60 mph due to problem with differential. (2003-07)
Steering noise
Description: Noise from the power steering requires flushing and refilling after replacing the O-rings in the rack-and-pinion unit’s fittings. (2003-05)
Description: Sunroof air deflector comes loose unless new clips are installed. (2005-07)
Transmission leak
Description: Fluid leaks from the automatic transmission due to faulty output shaft seal. (2005-07)
Electrical problem
Description: The outside (ambient) temperature display reads high because the sensor is located too close to the oil cooler and must be moved. (2003)
Electrical problem
Description: The center high-mounted stop light (CHMSL) comes loose and must be reattached with better tape. (2000-05)
Transmission problems
Description: Downshifts from 3-2 and 2-1 or upshifts from 1-2 may become harsh as the adaptive strategy drifts over time requiring reprogramming the engine control module and transmission control module. (2003-04)
Accessory belt
Description: Accessory drive belt may squeal during cold startup and an improved belt tensioner is available. (2006-07)
Fuel door
Description: The gas cap seal eventually fails which triggers the check engine light due to vapor emissions leak. (2005)

Recall History

Description: Electronic parking brake module may unintentionally apply the parking brake, with no indication or warning to the driver; could cause rear-wheel lockup at any road speed.
Description: Brake fluid warning statement embossed on top of reservoir body may not be visible by direct view.
Description: Some vehicles may have fuel tanks with faulty seals, resulting in illumination of the malfunction indicator lamp, a fuel odor, and/or a fuel leak. Dealers will replace the fuel tanks free of charge.
2006 S-Type
Description: Incorrect automatic transmission parking pawl guide plate, causing the car to not always be in “park,” even though the lever may be engaged. Dealer will inspect and replace the pawl guide plate.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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