The Jaguar XJ has presence and exudes pure luxury, often making a more elegant entrance than one of its German competitors presents. An elegant, comfortable cabin, strong performance, responsive handling and a luxurious ride add to the appeal of this luxury sedan.
Echoing the British tradition of carrying on without complaint, stiff upper lip and all that, Jaguar’s flagship sedan continues into the 2017 model year with little change apart from body color choices.
Exuding pure elegance inside as well as out, the full-size XJ is lavishly equipped even in base form. Few luxury sedans approach its comfort and posh amenities, though comparable German models offer broader customization possibilities.
Abundant use of aluminum construction translates to a more nimble driving experience. Jaguar offers the XJ in regular- and long-wheelbase configurations, with V6 or V8 power. Only V6 models can have all-wheel drive, as an alternative to the standard rear-drive.
Beneath the bonnet of XJ R-Sport models and the XJL Portfolio is a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 makes 340 horsepower, mating with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
XJ Supercharged models contain a 5.0-liter V8 that produces 470 horsepower, also driving an 8-speed automatic. Topping the performance spectrum, the XJR gets a 550-horsepower rendition of the 5.0-liter V8.
Acceleration to 60 mph takes 5.7 seconds with the V6 engine, 4.9 with the Supercharged V8, and a mere 4.4 seconds with the XJR’s V8. Impressive figures indeed, for a heavy full-size four-door.
JaguarDrive Control offers winter and dynamic modes. A 12.3-inch instrument cluster is standard, while the 8.0-inch infotainment display works with an 825-watt, 20-speaker Meridian audio system.
Jaguar’s touchscreen navigation system provides 60 GB of file storage, for swifter access to menus and maps. InControl Remote, a smartphone app, can preheat or cool the cabin, start the engine remotely, or alert the owner if something triggers the alarm.
Safety features include a rearview camera and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and closing vehicle sensing. Front and rear parking assistance is included. Adaptive cruise control is optional, and a surround-view camera is available.
The Jaguar XJ R-Sport ($74,400) comes with a V6, rear-wheel drive and the regular wheelbase, along with dual-zone climate control, 19-inch wheels, LED headlights, pushbutton start, Bluetooth, panoramic sunroof, leather heated and ventilated front and rear seats, and soft-closing doors. R-Sport AWD ($77,900) has all-wheel drive. (Prices do not include $995 destination charge.)
XJL Portfolio ($83,200) is the long-wheelbase equivalent of the R-Sport, adding such features as four-zone automatic climate control, 14-way power front seats with massaging, and an electric rear-window sunblind. XJL Portfolio AWD ($86,700) is all-wheel drive.
XJ Supercharged V8 ($92,000) has the 470-horsepower V8 and rear-wheel drive. Also standard are 20-inch wheels, softer leather, an active rear differential, and a rear-window sunblind. XJ LWB Supercharged V8 ($95,000) is the long-wheelbase version.
XJR Supercharged V8 ($118,000) upgrades to the 550-horsepower V8, plus a sport-tuned suspension, a more assertive hood, and a rear spoiler. XJR LWB ($121,000) rides the longer wheelbase.
Not many sedans come close to matching, much less exceeding, the stunningly shaped XJ body, highlighted by blacked-out pillars that magnify the sense of expansive glass. Still a visual sensation after eight seasons in its current form, the XJ earned a fresh front end for the 2015 model year. Few would deny that the modern-day XJ has aged mighty well.
Classy from stem to stern, the XJ has spurred design details of the company’s smaller, more recent models. Big headlights flank the bold wire-mesh grille. Fenders complement the low roofline, suggesting French designs of the past.
The lavishly appointed XJ is immersed in genuine wood veneers, supple, semi-aniline leather, and bountiful chrome.
Forming a wide arc, the dashboard expertly blends wooden panels and leather. Actual buttons supplement the video screen, which can sometimes be slow to react. In addition to controlling audio and climate, as well as navigation functions, the 8.0-inch LCD touchscreen can show performance driving modes. Naturally, fit and finish rank as superior.
For such a large car, the back seats are relatively snug, with a headroom shortage resulting from the XJ’s shapely roofline. Three passengers in the back won’t fit so easily, two is better. Rear-seat legroom is fine; and it’s significantly better in long-wheelbase versions, which add nearly 5 inches of space.
With a capacity of 18.4 cubic feet, the trunk can hold plenty of cargo.
The V6 engine in the XJ R-Sport and Portfolio is smoothly efficient, and performance is almost as brisk as that of the more costly 470-horsepower Supercharged V8. Generous sound insulation tones down any harsh vibrations emanating from the V6.
Higher-performance V8 models are more spirited, tautly athletic, but a moderate penalty is paid in ride quality. In V8 models, an active rear differential helps traction. XJR editions get a stiffer suspension, as well as some aerodynamic body elements.
Controlled by a rotary knob rather than a lever, Jaguar’s 8-speed automatic shifts promptly and smoothly. Dialing Sport mode permits the transmission to retain gears longer and keep engine speed higher. Dynamic mode controls suspension and throttle activity.
Overall, the XJ operates quite predictably and simply. Yielding a smooth ride most of the time, it exudes refinement. Yet, Jaguar’s big sedan can become more raucous when such behavior seems appropriate, especially the XJR. Lightweight construction helps the XJ edge ahead of rivals, in terms of masterful handling.
Adaptive damping helps the XJ ease through minor pavement trouble spots without impairing the pleasure of the ride. Ventilated disc brakes provide a good pedal feel, and include brake drying.
All-wheel drive helps V6 sedans maintain sure-footed traction on wet or icy pavement. Snow mode gives the system a bias toward front wheels, while starting off in second gear.
V6 models manage respectable fuel economy compared to full-size rivals, EPA-rated at 18/27 mpg City/Highway, or 21 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive lowers each figure by 1 mpg. An XJ with V8 power is EPA-rated at 15/23 mpg City/Highway, or 18 mpg Combined. Automatic start/stop operation is barely noticeable.
The Jaguar XJ delivers style, presence and heritage. Passengers are coddled in supreme luxury, in a cabin that’s almost as visually striking as the body. Add energetic performance and engaging handling, and despite its price, the long-lived XJ still proves difficult to resist.
Driving impressions by Aaron Cole, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.