2014 Jaguar XJ Expert Reviews

Expert Reviews

2014 Jaguar XJ

New Car Test Drive
© 2014 NewCarTestDrive.com

The Jaguar XJ is a full-size luxury sedan with a harmonious balance of spirited performance, smooth operation and poise. It's available in both regular and long-wheelbase variants, making it superb for whisking away passengers in style. As with most world-class luxury sedans, the XJ is rear-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is available.

For 2014, Jaguar XJ gets a number of upgrades. Long-wheelbase models get new reclining airline-style rear seats complete with a fold-down tray in back of the front seat, a new rear center armrest, and a massage feature for both front and rear seats. Jaguar XJL long-wheelbase models also ride on a revised rear suspension aimed at delivering a more comfortable ride.

2014 Jaguar XJ models are available with a new rear-seat entertainment package that uses two 10-inch high-resolution screens mounted on the back of the front seat headrests and comes with wireless headphones. An optional Meridian sound system is available for 2014, which features a conversation enhancing technology that picks up occupants' voices via microphones in the cabin and pipes the sound through the audio system's speakers. And an automatic stop/start feature comes on all 2014 XJ models.

A new, performance-oriented Jaguar XJR joins the lineup for 2014, after a five-year hiatus. Powered by a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 that cranks out 550 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque, the 2014 Jaguar XJR will rocket from 0-60 mph in just 4.4 seconds, according to Jaguar. The 2014 XJR models are available in standard and long-wheelbase variants. Fuel economy for the 2014 XJR is rated by the EPA at 15/23 mpg City/Highway, the same rating as some of the XJ's less powerful models.

A new 8-speed automatic transmission comes on all 2014 Jaguar XJ models.

The 2014 XJ lineup offers a choice of engines: a 340-hp 3.0-liter V6, a 385-hp 5.0-liter V8, a 470-hp supercharged 5.0-liter V8, a 510-hp supercharged V8, and the new 550-hp V8. All but the 550-hp engine carry over from last year.

The supercharged V6 comes standard with the Jaguar XJ and is used for the two all-wheel-drive models: XJ AWD and XJL Portfolio. Rated at 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, the V6 gets an EPA fuel economy rating of 18/27 mpg City/Highway in XJ, 16/24 mpg in the two all-wheel-drive models.

The XJL Portfolio is the only model that comes with a normally aspirated 5.0-liter V8. Smooth and powerful, it's a superb powerplant, rated at 385 horsepower and capable of thrusting the XJL to 60 mph in a very quick 5.4 seconds, according to Jaguar. It also delivers an EPA-rated 25 mpg Highway. It's the only engine that isn't supercharged.

XJ Supercharged models are fitted with a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 that makes 470 horsepower and 424 pound-feet of torque, and launch from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.9 seconds. Fuel economy is estimated at 15/23 mpg City/Highway for both wheelbase lengths.

XJ Supersport and XJL Ultimate variants use a 510-hp supercharged V8 with 461 lb.-ft. of torque, and can catapult to 60 mph in a scant 4.7 seconds. Like the more powerful XKR, these models achieve an EPA-estimated 15/23 mpg City/Highway.

All XJ models boast an exquisite cabin, with rich leather upholstery and a variety of luxury trims. In the past, Jaguar has fallen short of tech-savvy Audi and BMW when it comes to in-car connectivity. The good news is, Jaguar says 2014 XJ models will come with a new smartphone integration system, called InControl Apps, which promises seamless connectivity with iPhone and Android handsets.

Competitors of the XJ include Audi A8, the BMW 7 Series, and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the latter all-new for 2014. The XJR has fewer rivals, but goes up against the Audi S8, less expensive and less powerful, and the BMW 760Li, which offers plenty of power with its twin-turbocharged V12 but is $20,000 more than the XKR's long wheelbase model.

Model Lineup

Jaguar XJ ($73,200); XJ AWD ($76,700); XJL Portfolio ($81,200), XJL Portfolio AWD ($83,700); XJ Supercharged ($89,600), XJL Supercharged ($92,600); XJ Supersport ($112,600), XJL Supersport ($119,100), XJL Ultimate ($155,000); XJR ($116,000)

Walk Around

Jaguar sedans have always been irresistibly beautiful, and the 2014 XJ is no exception. The British are often thought of as stiff, but putting this car next to a BMW 7 Series, a dowdy Lexus LS or a big Mercedes makes them look like blocks of cheese. Pull up to a fine hotel or restaurant, or anywhere, really, in a Jaguar XJ and you are arriving in style.

Riding on two lengthy wheelbases of 119.4 inches for the XJ and 124.3 inches for the XJL, with overall lengths of 201.9 inches and 206.8 inches respectively, this large touring sedan out-spans its competitors, while out-styling them in the same swift gesture. It has a sleek shape, with muscular faux-coupe modeling that cunningly understates its size.

From its bold grille back to its steeply raked windshield, the XJ forms a long, graceful curve slicing irresistibly through the air. The roof tapers gently rearward to a long fastback, enclosing the greenhouse and large luggage compartment. Blacked-out B-, C-, and D-pillars give the entire greenhouse a low, compact look. Visually, these elements reduce the overall size of the car. Combined with the XJ's nose-down, haunches-up lunging stance, at a distance it appears to be a much smaller sport coupe. On closer examination, it's a shock that this is a fully found grand-touring vessel of style, power and great speed.

XJR models are set apart with a special front fascia with R-signature black-mesh grilles, wide chrome-edged air intakes, rocker-panel extensions, a rear lip spoiler, and 20-inch forged-aluminum wheels.

Interior

Jaguar XJ cabins are richly supplied with fragrant leather and handsome inlaid wood trim, and have a distinctly boardroom feel.

A 12.3-inch high-definition screen in front of the driver projects a virtual analog speedometer, tachometer and related data in three dial faces. When fuel is low or the car needs to communicate other important information, a bulletin is communicated in the space occupied by the temporarily dimmed tachometer. The font for these central dials, while small, is businesslike and properly legible.

Traditional Jaguar aero-like blower ducts above the center stack flank a handsome analog clock. Beneath these, an 8-inch touchscreen display provides access to navigation, climate control and audio features. There are two USB ports, as well as an auxiliary audio jack, for phones and music players.

In the past, Jaguar was resistant to loading its models with the latest in-car technology. For 2014, that will change. Jaguar says all of its models will soon come with a smartphone integration system, dubbed InControl Apps, which promises seamless connectivity with iPhone and Android handsets. But as of now, Jaguar has yet to release further details, nor have we seen an example of InControl apps in any of its cars.

The standard audio system on lower trim models is a 380-watt Meridian setup; an upgraded 825-watt system includes a feature called Conversation Assist. It uses microphones in the headliner to pick up occupants' voices and pipes them through the speakers, making it easier for people to hear one another in the cabin.

As has long been the case with Jaguar sedans, the seating and visibility of the XJ are excellent. The front seats have vast adjustability, and their firmness and side-bolster fit are a model of one-size-fits-nearly-all common sense. Though the beltline of the XJ is relatively high around its occupants, thanks, in part, to generously sized side-view mirrors, outward visibility from the driving position never feels restricted. Long drives in an XJ are an experience to be anticipated with pleasure.

XKR models have sport-style seats which hug even better around corners.

Rear-seat dwellers ride in the lap of luxury with 38.9 inches of rear legroom in the standard-wheelbase car, and a vast 44.1 inches in the XJL. Rear seats of the 2014 LWB have new individual airline-style seats, which recline and feature three massage programs.

Cargo space measures 18.4 cubic feet, enough for plenty of luggage.

Driving Impressions

Arriving in style is the XJ's greatest strength, but the big Jaguar is nowhere more in its element than on the highway at speed. This is a grand touring sedan carefully tailored to make no-nonsense rapid travel effortless, comfortable and pleasing to both driver and passengers. While many large cars make long drives dull, drowsy, and fatiguing, an XJ's alert and alive character keeps the driver fully engaged in the joy of driving.

The supercharged V6 is a thoroughly qualified full-time, all-season engine that delivers splendid performance. We found throttle response linear and enthusiastic.

All-wheel drive makes the 2014 Jaguar XJ AWD a compelling choice for winter driving in the Snow Belt. Our test drives in both dry conditions and Canadian ice and snow found Jaguar's all-wheel-drive arrangement fully a match for its German competitors. (All-wheel drive is only available with the V6.)

Steering effort and live feel is finely calibrated to deliver an excellent combination of road information and firm controllability. The car's chassis dynamics are similarly alive, whether driving on snow with all-wheel drive or pressing hard in high summer. And despite considerable weight, the XJ's brakes are forceful, easily modulated for good control, and even under very hard use show no hint of brake fade.

The XJs are big cars, and you can't fool Mother Nature; big cars feel big when you corner fast or brake hard. And when you pounce on the throttle, even with the quick supercharged 340-hp 3.0-liter V6 in our XJL Portfolio AWD, you feel the commotion as the car is pushed from zero to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds.

The XJ is a harmonious balance of spirited performance, smooth operation, and an indefinable element of poise. XJ throttle response is linear and enthusiastic. The car's chassis dynamics are similarly alive, whether driving on snow with all-wheel drive or pressing hard in high summer. And despite considerable weight, the XJ's brakes are forceful, easily modulated for good control, and even under very hard use show no hint of brake fade.

The XJ uses Jaguar Drive Control, a silver dial that pops up on the center console and serves as the gear shifter. You can set it in Drive and forget it, or you may choose to manually control the superb 8-speed ZF transmission with the paddle shifters. You may also select specialized driving modes that make dramatic difference in performance. Winter Mode, tailors power and traction, optimizing performance for snow and ice. And it's also good for cruising in dry weather to save on fuel.

Dynamic Mode is the other end of the spectrum, raising the threshold for the electronic steering control and allowing more wheel slip for high-performance driving. Jaguar permits switching off stability control altogether, but be careful when doing so. We only switch these systems off on racing circuits when they start slowing the car down.

The powerful and smooth normally aspirated 5.0-liter V8, found only in the XJL Portfolio, continues to be a superb powerplant, thrusting the XJL to 60 mph in a very quick 5.4 seconds. We prefer it to the V6.

The XJL Supercharged features a supercharged 5.0-liter engine that produces 470 horsepower. When we opened the throttle, it was like feeling a great ocean liner suddenly rise up on plane. And in keeping with Jaguar's well-balanced philosophy, despite its mass, the car felt surprisingly athletic and controlled while doing so.

The Supersport's 510 horsepower express these models from 0 to 60 in a scant 4.7 seconds, while still delivering an impressive EPA-estimated 23 mpg Highway.

In addition to a blazingly fast 550-hp supercharged V8, XJR models are fitted with performance-tuned springs and variable dampers for better body control, as well as big ventilated disc brakes. Jaguar claims the XJR will leap from 0-60 mph in just 4.4 seconds, making it a true leaper, indeed.

The 2014 Jaguar XJ is an elegant full-size luxury car. A wide selection of engines is available along with a choice of rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Each model delivers plenty of gusto and is luxurious and spacious enough to carry even the most demanding of passengers.

Ted West reported from Quebec, with NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Laura Burstein reporting from Los Angeles.

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