The Jaguar brand has certainly had its ups and downs over the years, but with a big investment from the Tata group, and an exciting new F-Type roadster, things are without a doubt looking up. Cool roadsters are one thing, but Jaguar’s flagship sedan remains the XJ. And, although it was all new just two years ago, it receives significant upgrades for 2013. So let’s see if it’s money well spent.
Everyone knows that Jaguar is capable of building great cars. But, as a small brand, the real challenge ahead is keeping up with deep pocket rivals like Audi, BMW, and even Mercedes-Benz. So, updates to our test 2013 Jaguar XJL, long wheelbase, got more of our attention than the typical mid-cycle refresh. Fortunately, much of the newness rotates around the drivetrain.
Our car sported the new supercharged 3.0-liter V6, which is now the base engine. It cranks out 340-horsepower and 332 lb-ft. of torque. The 5.0-liter V8 is still offered both with and without supercharger boost, but we think the V6 is suitably sufficient.
It feels strong, yet incredibly smooth, and there’s hardly any supercharger whine. In fact it’s very quiet inside even under full throttle, whereas outside, those you pass will get to enjoy a very sporty exhaust note.
But, an all-wheel-drive option, integrated with Jaguar Drive Control, is the most important news for 2013. Affluent buyers, especially the North East, want their big sedans all-season capable, and up to now the XJ just didn’t cut it. While our dry weather didn’t allow us to check it out fully, we did appreciate the additional traction on gravel roads, plus the extra grip on our handling course.
With 17-feet of length, our XJL didn’t exactly zip through the cones effortlessly, but the revised suspension setup delivers a stable feel as it corners almost flat. Stops from 60 averaged a short 115 feet, exceptional for a luxury car that tips the scales at 4,153-pounds. But going is always more fun than stopping and the XJL leaps off the line to 60 in 5.3-seconds. That’s faster than the base V8 we tested in 2011.
The ¼-mile is dispatched in 13.8-seconds at 102 miles-per-hour with the help of the new 8-speed automatic transmission’s smooth but soft operation. Paddle shifters augment Jag’s hockey-puck control on the center console.
When it comes to any prestige sedan, the interior can easily make or break the deal. We found our Jag very luxurious with great materials and elegant use of wood and leather trim.
Yet, it is decidedly different from competitors. Instead of an open layout, there is more of a classic Jag cockpit spirit. Driver-focused round gauges are present, although now only video projections. And the dash is low, with nautical-style vents and a clock set above the Dual View touch screen display. Front seats are enormously comfortable and the optional massage feature is the best we’ve tried.
But, we did find room for improvement. The steering wheel stalks and some buttons feel cheap. And, some steering wheel controls are set too deep for easy use. Minor things, for sure, but important in this rarified class.
But, much is forgiven once you check out the backseat in our long-wheelbase Portfolio XJL. There’s not only plenty of room to stretch out, but there’s foot rests, business trays, and a touch-screen for the entertainment system. Now this is a luxury car.
On the move, there is good everyday steering feel and a very smooth chassis that makes for a relaxing drive, with just enough of an edge to keep it from being boring. While the contemporary exterior design maintains only a hint of Jags of old, from most angles it is swift and very appealing. The exception is the rear where it goes a little bland.
The XJL is 5-inches longer than the standard wheelbase XJ and really gives this car presence. Though like most stretches, the proportions are a little off. Still, this British cat will turn more heads at the country club than any Germanic four-door.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the base XJ are up nicely over last year, and even our V6 AWD feline with automatic stop start rates 16-City, 24-Highway, and 19-Combined. We averaged a decent 21.6 miles-per-gallon of Premium.
As to pricing, while lofty, the XJ is actually a bargain for its class, starting at $74,075. Adding AWD takes it to $77,575. Our long wheelbase Portfolio all-wheel-drive example starts at $84,575.
The addition of all-wheel-drive, and a more efficient base powertrain, is enough to maintain the 2013 Jaguar XJ’s luxury sedan status for now. But, if rumors are true, even bigger changes are afoot for the Leaper as this cat continues to roar back.
Engine: 3.0-liter V6
Torque: 332 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 5.3 seconds
1/4 mile: 13.8 seconds @ 102 mph
EPA: 16 mpg city/ 24 mpg highway