By Keith Buglewicz
The 2016 Jaguar XJ is a distinctively British alternative to full-size luxury sedans like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7 Series, Audi A8 or Lexus LS. This year it gets a new nose that makes it look more like the new XF and XE sedans, plus an upgraded infotainment system known as InControl Touch Pro. The rest of the interior style equals its German and Japanese rivals in comfort, features and convenience, but avoids copying any of them. Reliability used to be a sticking point with Jaguar, but it has narrowed the gap between itself and its rivals in recent years, although it hasn't closed it completely. There's an engine, wheelbase and performance combination for just about any luxury-sedan buyer.
The leather-swaddled interior, choice of powerful engines, long-wheelbase model with executive rear seating, and available all-wheel drive are all requirements of the luxury-sedan game. But with the Jaguar XJ wrapped in sensuous sheet metal that looks like nothing else on the road, it's a unique alternative.
Quality issues aren't as big a problem as they once were, but Jaguar still has a ways to go to meet its rivals, and it drags on the XJ's resale value. Additionally, some of its features have a last-generation feel, and Jaguar's small dealer network makes finding one a hassle.
The 2016 Jaguar XJ gets a new base model called XJ R-Sport, and a new nose that includes LED headlights resembling those from the new XF and XE sedans. The interior also gets a revision with the addition of the new InControl infotainment system.
Although the 2016 XJ gets new sheet metal, the rest of the car is essentially the same, and that's fine with us. Of course, you can opt for a country-club-soft...
... experience, but if you want a little more brutishness with your Britishness, the 550-horsepower XJR will do nicely. From the standard supercharged V6 to the XJR, you'll get an 8-speed automatic transmission with manual-shifting control, and even the V6 gets better than acceptable acceleration with the combination. V8-powered models are, of course, quicker, and the 550-horsepower XJR is particularly intoxicating. However, even in the XJR, Jaguar's well-earned reputation for a comfortable ride is well deserved; it's firmer in the XJR, but always comfortable thanks to the standard active damping suspension. About the only dynamic drawback is steering that's on the light side, which is fine when parking, but we wish for more feedback on a twisting road.
MERIDIAN AUDIO SYSTEMS
We always hear about "concert-hall experiences" with audio systems, but the Meridian system in the Jaguar XJ delivers. The 825-watt standard system is nice, but the 26-speaker monster in the long-wheelbase model practically offers a separate speaker for each instrument in the orchestra.
DIGITAL INSTRUMENT CLUSTER
A fully digital dash isn't the novelty it was when the XJ first came out, but we still like the way the Jaguar does it. The high-resolution 12.3-inch LCD screen displays the tachometer, speedometer and a configurable information data screen in front of the driver.
The InControl infotainment system is a welcome upgrade from last year's dated touch screen, and it includes all the latest features like a solid-state drive and gesture control. Its dual-view technology allows the driver and passenger to view different things on the 8-inch center display, and the navigation maps can be shown in place of the gauges on the TFT screen in front of the driver. Beyond that, the interior is resplendent in soft leathers, real wood trim, and leather on the dash, door panels and headliner on some models. The longer XJL models offer reclining seats and fold-out tray tables.
The Jaguar XJ ushered in a new age of modern styling for Jaguar, and a sloping rear roofline and 4-door coupe appearance set the standard for the brand. The new nose includes a more upright grille and thinner LED headlights for a modern look that's more in line with the rest of the Jaguar lineup. Amazingly, the long-wheelbase models manage to add five inches to the overall length without marring the profile. Downsides include a trunk that's on the small size, and the low roofline means tall passenger have to watch their heads getting in.
Standard on the 2016 Jaguar XJ are flagship-level amenities such as the InControl infotainment system that includes navigation, a leather-wrapped dash, digital LCD gauge cluster, dynamic suspension damping, blind-spot monitoring, and an extra-long panoramic moonroof. The so-called "base" audio system is a great-sounding 825-watt Meridian setup with hard-disk music storage. The standard safety setup reads like a bowl of alphabet soup -- ABS, DSC, CBC, EBD, ETC. -- and includes a full complement of airbags.
Engine choices, all-wheel drive and long-wheelbase bodies top the list of choices confronting 2016 XJ buyers, but there's more beyond that. Adaptive cruise control, a heated windshield, retractable rear-window shades and several seating options that range from massaging front seats to heated and cooled rear seats are available. If you choose a Jaguar XJ with a supercharged V8 engine, you also get an active differential control that puts the power to the ground better. High-performance XJR models get upgraded sport seats in a variety of color choices and lightweight 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.
Whether you choose a long- or short-wheelbase Jaguar XJ, three engine choices confront you. Lower-end models get a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 engine that delivers a stout 340 horsepower and admirable low-end torque; it's also the only XJ available with all-wheel drive (AWD). Mid-level XJ models get a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 putting out 470 horsepower, and if you upgrade to the fire-breathing XJR, you get an appropriately hotter version that puts out 550 horsepower. All 2016 XJ models deliver power through an 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters on the steering wheel offering manual control when you want it. Fuel economy, especially with the V6 engine, is pretty good, even if it's not class-leading.
3.0-liter supercharged V6 (XJ R-Sport, XJ R-Sport AWD, XJL Portfolio, XJL Portfolio AWD)
340 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
332 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/27 mpg (standard-wheelbase models), 17/27 mpg (long-wheelbase models), 16/24 mpg (AWD)
5.0-liter supercharged V8 (XJ Supercharged)
470 horsepower @ 6,000-6,500 rpm
424 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500-5,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/23 mpg
5.0-liter supercharged V8 (XJR)
550 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
502 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500-5,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/23 mpg
The flagship 2016 Jaguar XJ lineup comes with flagship pricing. The base-level XJ R-Sport has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $75,400 including the $995 destination charge, while the lowest-price XJL Portfolio long-wheelbase model starts at about $84,200. Keep climbing that ladder, and you can find yourself paying nearly $122,000 for the XJR long-wheelbase, and that's before options that can push the price beyond $130,000. While the V6 is fine, we think the V8 engine is worth the step up in pricing that puts it in the mid-$90,000 range for either the short- or long-wheelbase models. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what buyers are paying in your area. While the 2016 Jaguar XJ meets or beats its German or Japanese rivals on price, those cars generally offer better resale value.