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2015 Jaguar XJ Expert Reviews

Expert Reviews

2015 Jaguar XJ

New Car Test Drive
© 2015 NewCarTestDrive.com

The Jaguar XJ balances spirited performance with smooth operation and poise. A full-size luxury sedan, the XJ is available in both regular and long-wheelbase variants. Rear-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is available.

Little has changed for the 2015 model year. The 2015 Jaguar XJ lineup has been streamlined, as the Supersport and Ultimate models have been discontinued and engine choices drop from five to three. All 2015 XJ engines are supercharged.

A supercharged V6 comes on Jaguar XJ and Portfolio models. Rated at 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, the V6 gets an EPA fuel economy rating of 18/27 mpg City/Highway with rear-wheel drive, 16/24 mpg with all-wheel drive.

A 5.0-liter supercharged V8 comes on Jaguar XJ Supercharged models that makes 470 horsepower and 424 pound-feet of torque, and launches from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.9 seconds. Fuel economy is EPA-estimated at 15/23 mpg City/Highway for standard and long-wheelbase lengths.

The Jaguar XJR, which joined the lineup for 2014, is powered by a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 rated at 550 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque. The XJR will rocket from 0-60 mph in just 4.4 seconds, according to Jaguar. XJR models are available in standard and long-wheelbase variants. Fuel economy for the 2015 XJR is rated by the EPA at 15/23 mpg City/Highway, the same rating as some of the XJ’s less powerful models.

An 8-speed automatic transmission comes on all 2015 Jaguar XJ models.

All XJ models boast an exquisite cabin, with rich leather upholstery and a variety of luxury trims.

Jaguar XJ competes with Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Jaguar XJR competes with Audi S8, less expensive and less powerful, and the BMW 760Li, which offers plenty of power with its twin-turbocharged V12 but is more expensive than the long-wheelbase XJR.

Model Lineup

Jaguar XJ ($74,200); XJ AWD ($77,700); XJL Portfolio ($81,200), XJL Portfolio AWD ($84,700); XJ Supercharged ($90,600), XJL Supercharged ($93,600); XJR ($116,000); XJR long-wheelbase ($119,000)

Walk Around

The Jaguar XJ is a beautiful car. Park it next to a BMW 7 Series, a Lexus LS or a Mercedes makes them look like blocks of cheese. Pull up to a fine hotel or restaurant 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.

The XJ is larger than it looks. With its nose-down, haunches-up lunging stance, it appears at a distance to be a smaller sport coupe. On closer examination, it’s a shock that this is a full-size 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. They look distinctly upscale.

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.

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.

Seating and visibility 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.

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

Rear-seat dwellers ride in the lap of luxury with 39 inches of rear legroom in the standard-wheelbase car, and a vast 44.1 inches in the XJL. Rear seats in the 2015 LWB sedan have individual airline-style seats, which recline and feature three massage programs. Cargo space measures 15.2 cubic feet, enough for plenty of luggage.

Driving Impressions

The Jaguar XJ is a grand touring sedan carefully tailored to make 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 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.

Each XJ is a harmonious balance of spirited performance, smooth operation, and an indefinable element of poise. XJ throttle response is linear and enthusiastic.

Steering effort and live feel are finely calibrated to deliver an excellent combination of road information and firm controllability. Chassis dynamics are similarly alive, whether driving on snow with all-wheel drive or pressing hard in high summer. 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.

Jaguar 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 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 a dramatic difference in performance. Winter Mode tailors power and traction, optimizing performance for snow and ice. 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 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. In keeping with Jaguar’s well-balanced philosophy, despite its mass, the car felt surprisingly athletic and controlled while doing so.

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 4.7 seconds.

The 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 filed this NewCarTestDrive.com report from Quebec, with Laura Burstein reporting from Los Angeles.

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