The mid-sized sedan is expected to compete with premium German models such as the BMW 3 series and 5 series, and the Mercedes-Benz E class and new-generation C class.
It would give Jaguar a volume product that would help Jaguar Land Rover achieve its long-term global sales targets of 750,000 units by the end of the decade and 1 million units eventually.
Jaguar hasn't confirmed plans for the crossover but the C-X17 concept unveiled ahead of the Frankfurt auto show is the strongest signal yet that the brand plans to enter the segment.
Land Rover markets the Evoque compact crossover but the lack of an all-wheel-drive crossover has slowed Jaguar Land Rover's growth and competitiveness in markets such as the United States.
Larger rivals BMW, Mercedes and Audi -- and even Porsche -- have been marketing crossovers for years, drawing new buyers and adding incremental sales volume.
"The C-X17 sports crossover represents an exciting new direction for Jaguar. Its purpose is to highlight our all-new aluminum architecture. With this technical foundation, we will dramatically expand Jaguar's product offering, market potential and customer appeal," said Adrian Hallmark, global brand director for Jaguar.
"This new philosophy will bring technology from our top-of-the-range products into new growing premium segments, and when combined with our new ultraefficient engines, we will set a global standard."
The crossover will be named the XQ or Q-Type while the sedan will be called the XS, according to media reports.
First aluminum unibody in segment
Jaguar claims the sedan will be the first aluminum unibody vehicle in the C and D segments.
The sedan and other variants off the platform will use a new-generation Jaguar Land Rover-developed four-cylinder engine. Jaguar plans gasoline and diesel versions of the high-output, fuel-efficient engines.
The small-displacement engines will be made in a new $776 million factory in Wolverhampton, England.
One of Jaguar's major stumbling blocks in the United States has been its lack of smaller, fuel-efficient powerplants. A Ford-based, 2.0-liter 240-hp, turbocharged four-cylinder engine was made available in the XF sedan only last fall.
The new modular and scalable architecture, Jaguar said, is made of high-strength, lightweight aluminum that is extremely stiff and will enable high-volume production.
It also will allow for "competitive interior packaging," a growing concern for luxury brands as they scale down vehicle size and weight to meet consumer preferences and fuel efficiency standards.
The awd crossover would use the new four-cylinder powerplant and the existing V-6 gasoline engine in the X-Type convertible.
The four-seat crossover would have carlike handling but still perform off road, the company said.