Is the Refreshed XJ Ready for the Competition?
It appears in 60 seconds—press the Jaguar XJ’s pulsating start button, and if you’ve messed with the settings, a screensaver image shows up on the 8-inch touchscreen. One available photo displays the legendary Jaguar D-Type, a car that won the 24 Hours of LeMans three consecutive years, including in 1957 when the top four cars were Jaguars. Because heritage and brand perception is a big part of some full-size luxury sedan purchases, successful old race cars aren’t as irrelevant as you might think. Neither are Audi, Lexus, and BMW, all of which offer $75,000-$95,000 USD luxury sedans that compete with our 2016 Jaguar XJL 3.0 AWD tester. We drove and track-tested the newly refreshed XJ to discover what the Jaguar can offer in a surprisingly competitive field.
No, we didn’t forget to mention the S-Class, but Mercedes-Benz manages to lead the class without making a more affordable base model available. When you’re not interested in spending $96,575 USD for an S-Class—and that’s before any options—BMW offers the 740i, Audi the A8 3.0T, Lexus the LS 460, and Jaguar the XJ 3.0. All of those established entries carry base prices in the $70,000-$85,000 USD range, and all except for the Lexus are powered by turbocharged or supercharged six-cylinder engines. After subjective observations and objective track-testing of an all-wheel-drive 2016 XJ 3.0, we found that the Jaguar’s 340-hp, supercharged, 3.0-liter V-6 makes the also-available 470- and 550-hp, supercharged V-8s seem superfluous. Those engine options will push you back in your seat more than the base model’s six, but even the 3.0 is capable of irresponsible behavior around town.
Once you’re behind the wheel, the all-wheel-drive Jag feels plenty powerful and responsive, though the nose does lift a bit at wide-open throttle. The Jag completes the 0 to 60 sprint in 5.4 seconds, quicker than two 386-hp, eight-cylinder, rear-drive 2015 Lexus LS 460s we’ve tested. A 333-hp, supercharged 2013 Audi A8 L with standard all-wheel drive beat the XJL by one tenth of a second, and the new 2016 Cadillac CT6 3.0TT, powered by a twin-turbo V-6 and also sporting standard all-wheel drive, hit 60 in 5.0 seconds. Already set on the XJ? Know that the XJ 5.0 with 470 hp made it to 60 in a Motor Trend-tested 4.5 seconds, and two of the 550-hp variants reached that benchmark speed in 3.7-3.8 seconds.
Those models are great for folks who don’t need all-wheel drive, but the 340-hp six is the only option when that’s a priority. All-wheel drive is available with the standard or long-wheelbase 3.0 models, and engine stop-start is standard on all XJs. On our tester, the fuel-saving system could have been a little smoother with a tad less body motion at startup, and nitpickers will notice that the light of the analog clock at the top of the dash flickers when the engine restarts. Choosing all-wheel drive also means eschewing the available semi-autonomous systems for parallel and perpendicular parking and the new electric power-assisted steering on rear-drive XJs. The XJ 3.0 AWD’s steering doesn’t provide much road feel and isn’t particularly quick, but then again the only reason one drives a long-wheelbase luxury sedan on a winding road is to reach the majestic gates of an ocean-view home. Not convinced you need AWD? Because the steering systems are different, consider a short test drive in a RWD and AWD car over the same roads on the same day, and see if you notice any difference.
At a blistering average pace of 9 mph (13 km/h) in L.A. traffic, editor-in-chief Ed Loh appreciated his time in the XJ — for the most part.
“There are certainly much worse vehicles to be stuck in while inching along in the rain,” Loh said. “The XJL is a soothing vehicle to drive. The motor purrs along, and the sound isolation is excellent. The only interruptions are potholes or rough, irregular pavement; the stiff aluminum chassis transmits a surprising amount of shock into the cabin. In this regard, the big Jag doesn’t feel up to the same level as the S-Class or new 7 Series.”
The XJ’s interior features a number of rich details. The giant pieces of wood trim on the door panels wrap all the way up the dash to a Jaguar badge in the center. It looks great, and we hope a newer version with ambient lighting survives to the next-generation XJ. The action of the easy-to-use gear selector disc rising from the center console at startup is neat, and we’re fans of the way the top of the dash is sculpted around the stylish central air vents. And it’s a good thing those vents are so attractive because they force a lower placement of the 8-inch touchscreen that’s too small for a full-size luxury sedan. When using the navigation system, the fully digital instrument cluster in its full-screen map mode provides better visibility, though the car won’t accept voice commands to enter an address.
When you’re in a 2016 XJ, though, make sure your priorities are straightened out. Before setting any navigation destination, I’d sit in the new-for-2016 diamond-quilted seats and start the massaging feature, which is standard for driver and front passenger seats on long-wheelbase models. Those who plan to be driven instead of getting behind the wheel will find enough space in back, as the XJL’s wheelbase has been stretched by 4.9 inches.
As Jaguar works to change the perception that its cars are too expensive, every refreshed 2016 XJ comes standard with LED headlights; a panoramic moonroof; heated and cooled front and rear seats; a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster; a 20-speaker, 825-watt sound system; paddle shifters; a power trunklid; and an electric parking brake, though there’s no auto-brake hold. The base price is a competitive $75,395 USD including destination; add $3,500 USD for the supercharged six with AWD and $8,800 USD for the long-wheelbase model. Jaguar tells us about 80 percent of buyers go with the V-6 and around 60 percent for the long-wheelbase variant (with either engine).
If value is a consideration, don’t forget about Jaguar’s basic warranty, which is now five-years/60,000 miles (96,561 km) and transferrable to the second owner after, for example, a three-year lease ends. Complimentary scheduled maintenance is also thrown in for the same timeframe. It’s an impressive package, and if we owned our test car, we’d probably take it to a dealership to check out the mysterious rear-camera error we experienced one evening before it disappeared (“Camera system not available/Consult your dealer”).
Whether you go short- or long-wheelbase, six- or eight-cylinder, RWD or AWD, the Jaguar XJ remains as attractive as it was when this generation debuted for the 2011 model year. Those sleek headlights are a highlight, as is the seamless transition from the sloping roofline to the rear windshield and again to the trunklid that rises to meet it. Sure, rear visibility with a high trunklid isn’t very good, but that trunklid is part of a memorable exterior design.
The XJL 3.0 AWD is no race car, but think long enough about the prestige of the Jaguar nameplate and you might start to forgive some of the car’s shortcomings. The newly introduced midsize XF, for example, offers lane keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, and an advanced color head-up display that works with polarized sunglasses. If you’re looking for a full-size luxury sedan and an alluring design trumps a small center-stack screen and other shortcomings, consider the XJL.
|2016 Jaguar XJL Portfolio AWD|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$89,445|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||3.0L/340-hp/332-lb-ft supercharged DOHC 24-valve V-6|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||4,378 lb (52/48%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||206.9 x 74.8 x 57.5 in|
|0-60 MPH||5.4 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.0 sec @ 99.8 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||112 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.84 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||25.9 sec @ 0.71 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||17/25/20 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||198/135 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.98 lb/mile|