2011 Jaguar XJ — Review
This 2011 review is representative of model years 2011 to 2013.
By Kirk Bell of MSN Autos
The XJ sedan has been the stately staple of the Jaguar brand since 1968. Though redesigned several times since it was introduced (the last redesign was for the 2004 model year), the styling of this proper British saloon has always been an evolution of the original, so it has had similar looks for decades.
As a result, the car has appeared old to some consumers and has struggled to shed the quality issues Jaguar had before Ford Motor Co. took ownership in 1989. Now owned by the Indian company Tata Motors, Jaguar has given the XJ an all-new look for the 2011 model year. But will it be enough for the XJ to take some sales away from better-selling German competitors?
The Supercharged trim gets 20-inch wheels, Active Differential Control, 1,200-watt Bowers & Wilkins audio system, adaptive intelligent headlights that point into turns and turn off the high beams when oncoming traffic is detected, 20-way power adjustable front seats, 4-zone automatic climate control, heated and cooled rear seats, Alcantara headliner and a power rear sunshade. The top-line Supersport gets radar cruise control with Forward Alert and Advanced Emergency Brake Assist, a rear DVD entertainment system, a leather headliner and semi-aniline leather seats.
Standard safety features consist of dual front airbags, front side airbags, side-curtain airbags, active front head restraints, a tire-pressure monitor, anti-lock brakes, brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution, cornering brake control, traction control and electronic stability control. A blind-spot monitor, rearview camera, and front and rear park assist are also standard.
Under the Hood
EPA fuel economy ratings are 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway for the XJ, 15/22 for the XJL and 15/21 for the Supercharged and Supersport iterations.
As part of the contemporary approach, Jaguar replaces traditional gauges with a 12.3-inch high-definition screen that projects computer-generated gauges. It features a speedometer flanked by a tachometer on the right and fuel and temperature gauges on the left. Depending on the need, the two outer gauges can change their information or be replaced by warning messages, gear selections and trip or vehicle information menus. The system works well but lacks the watchlike beauty of other high-end gauges, and the screen can wash out in direct sunlight.
Room inside the cabin is not an issue. The front seat's generous headroom and legroom combine with 16 standard seat adjustments and a standard power tilt/telescoping steering wheel to tailor a comfortable seating position for most anyone. The rear seat in the short-wheelbase version is plenty comfortable, but legroom may get a bit tight for a tall passenger sitting behind another tall person. Legroom in the long-wheelbase cars is a limolike 44.1 inches. That's enough for your average NBA power forward.
In the name of structural stiffness, the XJ does not have a fold-down rear seat, nor does it have a ski pass-through. That's a shame, because a car this big should be able to be used for a trip to the slopes or a big-box store. The trunk, however, is a cavernous 18.4 cubic feet, which Jaguar says is enough for two full-size suitcases.
On the Road
Several factors contributed to the sporty handling, not the least of which is the light and direct steering. Quicker and more responsive than you'd expect in a large luxury car, the XJ's steering helps it attack corners with the verve of a smaller sport sedan, and the car's relatively light weight lets it track through those turns without wanting to slide straight ahead. The news isn't all good, though. Some might detect a slightly uneasy feeling, like the car sits about an inch too high, making it feel somewhat uncertain on its feet. The result is a bit too much head toss for passengers, not in turns but during those minor steering adjustments at highway speeds. It's not annoying, but the XJ doesn't feel quite as planted as the BMW 7-Series. It also is difficult to detect much difference in the suspension when driving with the Active Differential Control in Dynamic mode.
Aside from the minor lack of stability, the suspension strikes a nice balance between handling and ride comfort. The ride is firm but forgiving. Minor bumps are barely noticeable and sharp ruts don't jolt passengers. That's probably because Jaguar has made sure to select tires without too low of a profile, allowing the sidewalls to absorb some road impacts.
The XJ's new engines are a revelation. Most customers will be more than happy with the strong base engine. It has plenty of low-end torque to get the car up to speed quickly, and Jaguar's quoted zero-to-60-mph time of 5.4 seconds seems easily achievable. Passing is a breeze at any speed. The two supercharged engines are basically overkill but, to the gearhead, more is always better. Jaguar made only the Supersport's 510-horsepower version available for testing. It offers the same low-end torque as the base engine, but adds gobs of extra midrange power as well. Jaguar says the Supersport can reach 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds, which is actually faster than the smaller Jaguar XF with the same engine. Needless to say, that's impressive.
Right for You?
Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience toMSN, andcurrently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.