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2011 Jaguar XJ Review

By KBB.com Editors on December 16, 2010 12:28 PM
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The Jaguar XJ features one of the most iconic and enduring designs in the history of the automobile or anything else. Not unlike the poster child for evolutionary design change, the Porsche 911, the modern-day Jaguar XJ is instantly recognizable as a successor to the original. Until now. The sportier, more contemporary design direction that revealed itself in the latest Jaguar XK Coupe and Convertible, then the XF Sedan, has now been applied to Jaguar's flagship sedan. No longer old-fashioned and quirky, the Jaguar XJ is now a wholly relevant and viable option to any of today's modern flagships. There's a new cat on the block, and he moved into the house previously occupied by that eccentric, flamboyant old guy. We think he died.

>The 2011 Jaguar XJ was a 2011 Best Redesigned Vehicle finalist

How New?
The 2011 Jaguar XJ is so thoroughly new that it's unrecognizable as a descendant of the previous generation - inside, outside and underneath.

Maybe your Favorite Car in the Category if...
The 2011 Jaguar XJ has the stature, sheetmetal and driving dynamics to run with big dogs like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7 Series and Audi A8, but separates itself from the crowd with a uniquely gorgeous interior.

Maybe not your Favorite Car in the Category if...
Jaguar is still nagged by historically sub-par resale values and spotty reliability records, so the 2011 Jaguar XJ isn't among the category's smartest buys.

Design Leap
The 2011 Jaguar XJ is available in standard and long-wheelbase versions, with XJL models offering an additional five inches of legroom (but less parking-lot maneuverability). In between the strongly styled front end and more stately rear, XJ design highlights include a long, coupe-like roofline, front-fender adornments and a black-out treatment on the rear roof pillar that Jaguar says gives the impression of an exotic "floating" roof. We're not yet sure exactly what impression it gives us.

Elegant Appointments
As elegant as it is outside, the 2011 Jaguar XJ is really defined by its distinctively styled, uniquely luxurious passenger cabin. It's a wholly contemporary luxury execution, but with a perfect dose of sport and heritage befitting the Jaguar name. Highlights include a prominent trim element that wraps from below the windshield to the rear doors, leather-wrapped upper dash, prominent center air vents, a full LCD "virtual" gauge cluster, panoramic moonroof and the now-familiar transmission selector knob that automatically rises from the center console when the engine is started.

Standard Equipment Highlights
The 2011 Jaguar XJ features a full complement of the features we'd expect to find on a new flagship luxury sedan plus a few more, including a leather-wrapped dash, LCD gauge cluster, active suspension, blind-spot monitoring and a panoramic moonroof. The "base" audio system is a 14-speaker, 600-watt setup with hard-disk music storage, and the XJ offers full Bluetooth and iPod connectivity. The standard safety setup reads like a bowl of alphabet soup -- ABS, DSC, CBC, EBD, ETC -- and includes front, front side and two-row side-curtain airbags.

Optional Equipment Highlights
In addition to two supercharged engines and a long-wheelbase version, the 2011 Jaguar XJ list of upgrades includes adaptive cruise control, heated windshield, retractable rear window shades and several seating options that range from massaging front seats to heated and cooled rear seats. Supercharged models feature an active differential control to better put the increased power to the ground, while Supersport models include metallic foot pedals, semi-aniline leather and a leather headliner.

KBB Value Analysis
Compared to some of its competitors, the 2011 Jaguar XJ starts at a relatively reasonable Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) around $74,000. Another $7,000 will net a longer wheelbase and more rear legroom, plus a few other niceties. At the other end of the price range, the 2011 Jaguar XJL Supersport is priced at about $114,000, but that includes just about everything. The 2011 Audi A8, 2011 BMW 7 Series and 2011 Mercedes-Benz S-Class all start - and end - with steeper sticker prices, but much of the Jaguar's sticker-price advantage is offset by weaker projected resale values.

Driving Impressions
Relaxed road manners and a quiet cabin make the 2011 Jaguar XJ an ideal carrier of dignitaries and businesspeople, but they also make the XJ a pleasure to drive. The suspension's active damping system adjusts to varying road conditions, providing a sense of dynamism when cornering -- while never forgetting its primary job is to protect occupants from road imperfections. The enthusiasts in us yearn for more steering feel, but the XJ's light steering efforts make this large sedan surprisingly easy to maneuver at lower speeds; however parking can still be a challenge due to sheer size. Our only major complaint is reserved for the brakes, which feature a light, overly-sensitive pedal that makes it difficult to stop smoothly. On the other hand, we have no complaints about acceleration. The base V8 engine offers plenty of power, but we would have a hard time not selecting one of the supercharged engine variants, which deliver an exhilarating growl and effortless acceleration when prodded.

Favorite Features
Bowers & Wilkins Sound System
We love a good sound system, and the 2011 Jaguar XJ offers something special in the audio department: a 1,200-watt Bowers & Wilkins system with 7.1 surround sound and 20 speakers. Sometimes luxury is loud.

LCD Gauge Cluster
In place of mono-tasking mechanical gauges, the 2011 Jaguar XJ features a 12.3-inch high-definition screen that displays a virtual speedometer, tachometer and information window with fuel and temperature gauges. The system will display messages and menus over the tachometer, and selecting the XJ's Dynamic drive mode gives the instruments a sporty red glow.

Under the Hood
One engine, three flavors. The 2011 Jaguar XJ lineup features three versions of a 5.0-liter V8, two of them supercharged. Each is mated to an adaptive six-speed automatic transmission that's easily manipulated via steering wheel-mounted paddles shifters. The energy ultimately makes its way to the rear wheels and delivers 5.4-, 4.9- and 4.7-second sprints to 60 mph.

5.0-liter V8
385 horsepower @ 6500 rpm
380 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23 mpg (long wheelbase: 15/22 mpg)

Supercharged 5.0-liter V8
470 horsepower @ 6000-6500 rpm
424 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2500-5500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 mpg

Supercharged 5.0-liter V8
510 horsepower @ 6000-6500 rpm
461 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2500-5500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 mpg

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