One look at the new Jaguar XJ for 2011 and you’ll be staring at it for weeks on end. At least, that’s what we did because this vehicle is simply stunning in every way possible. It’s not bland, boring, or unrecognizable in any way. It’s unique and possibly, one of the most beautiful things ever to come out of the Jaguar factory.
There has been a trend in the luxury car segment recently and it hasn’t been for the better. Where as automakers once attempted to create unique products that would separate them from the herd, today’s luxury sedans seem to blend together in the automotive parking lot. Sure, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the BMW 7-Series look good in their own way, but ask a normal person which one was which and they might not even know.
This is part of the reason why we love the XJ and why it won our luxury car top ten comparison.
Hit the jump to continue reading.
The previous generation XJ was a great looking machine, but it had an old world look about it. The new flagship Jaguar has received a dramatic overhaul, including new quad headlights, a squared XF-like front grille, and a gorgeously sculpted tail. There is no mistaking the XJ for anything else.
This model of course, is special. While the XJ is a truly special machine, we managed to get our hands on the new XJL. Basically, this is a longer version of the normal XJ, similar to the Lexus LS460L. A neat fact for you to throw around the office is that the XJL was designed first. Jaguar took five-inches off of that design in order to get the standard XJ.
The long-legged version features a sensational roofline that arches from front to back in a way that can only be described as wonderful. Using all these descriptive words might seem like overkill, but after standing around the car for a hour or so, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by its sheer beauty.
Up front, the XJL uses the same front grille as the standard version and there’s nothing at all wrong with that. The Jaguar features sculpted headlights, dominated by LED daytime running lights. There is a small touch of XF in the front of the XJL, with just a few minor and more aggressive changes to help it stand out.
The blacked-out C-pillars might not make everybody happy, but the color our XJL came in made them hardly noticeable. That is, if you even notice them, as those taillights and that perfectly sculpted rear-end will dominate your vision. This could be the best backend of any luxury car on the market.
One short and sweet sentence can describe the interior of the XJL. English, yet modern. What do we mean by that? Well, it features wonderfully stitched leather that is so supple it’s hard not to want to sit down. The front seats are firm, with supportive bolsters that keep you from sliding around on the slick surfaces. The dash of the Jaguar is a pleasure to gaze upon. It uses double-stitched leather with two large air vents. Those vents use chrome accents that can used to shut off the flow of air.
In the rear of the car, you won’t find the sort of space that you would in an elongated Lexus, but the Japanese sedan could never look this good. That being said, the front seats aren’t a bad place to spend a few hours, as they are heated, cooled, and offer up brilliant massages. Still, while there’s enough space in the rear for most people, those seeking a private jet sort of ride will need to look elsewhere.
Sadly, it’s not all-good news inside the XJL. In the luxury car market, every vehicle needs to equip itself with the latest and greatest technology. The Jaguar has failed to accomplish this goal, as the touch screen system is just awful. The system is dreadfully slow, similar to a home computer in the late 1990s. Trying to work the radio, navigation, and the climate control are frustrating tasks to say the least. Those who are complaining about iDrive need to sample this old world tech.
Luckily, if you focus on the task of driving, all those technical frustrations vanish. Our test XJL was fitted with a 5.0-liter V8 with 385 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. That motor is connected to a six-speed automatic transmission, which might seem a bit old school compared to the eight-speed in the Lexus, but it works and that’s what matters. When you mash the pedal of the big kitty you’ll hit 60 miles per hour in just 5.4 seconds.
You might be asking yourself how in the heck could a car the size of the Titanic hit 60 mph in that short of time. Well, despite its 206.6-inch length, the XJL is light on its feet. Tipping the scales at only 4,131 pounds, the big Jaguar weighs just about 300 pounds more than the Chrysler 300C.
As you would expect, the reason for this low weight is down to the materials used during construction. The XJL was built with as many aluminum or magnesium alloy components as possible. In fact, according to Jaguar, only the door hinges, trunk hinges, and side impact beams are steel.
The suspension of the XJL gets the same sort of lightweight touches as well, including aluminum wishbones up front. The brake calipers are made of the same material. The result of all this weight reduction is a vehicle that looks big, but drives small.
In the United States, luxury means a completely different thing than it does in the rest of the world. We like soft suspension, a massive body, and big comfy seats. While the XJL might be huge and carry wonderfully sculpted seats, it drives like a European sports sedan. Around the bends, the XJL turns in with the crispness that one would expect from a smaller BMW. At the edge, there are touches of understeer, but that’s expected in a vehicle this long and wide.
Driving hard into the corners is a pleasure, thanks to the car’s low weight and sensational brakes. Considering the size of this gorgeous monster, one would expect the stopping distance to be quite long, but in fact, the brakes can bring the XJL to a stop in, what seems like, the same distance as a smaller sedan.
The XJL does have some toys for drivers to play with, including Dynamic Mode, which sharpens up the throttle response and a holds the transmission to a gear longer than usual. While the system works well and is fun to play around with, it seems out of place on this version of the XJL. On the much more powerful Supercharged XJL, Dynamic Mode would be brilliant, but on this base version, we kept it off most of the time.
The price of this gorgeous monster is around $78,650. Our test version came with a few goodies, such as the ear pleasing Bowers-Wilkins sound system and a few other gizmos. At that price, the XJL seems like one of the best bargains on the market. Sure, we could get ourselves a BMW or a Mercedes, but the big Jaguar overshadows both.
In the world of luxury sedans and rich business folk, the XJL is something different and something sensational. It drives like a sports sedan and offers up the old-world style of Jaguar with a few modern touches. The wonderful 5.0-liter V8 is plenty powerful enough for the car’s lightweight and the interior is a place where we could spend hours on end just looking around. It might not offer up any new technological innovations, but in terms of style, there is nothing better.
Why we like it: Nothing comes close to looking this good inside and out, not to mention the way it drives.
Why we don’t like it: It might not have as much room as the other long wheelbase sedans and Jaguar reliability has been an issue in past years.
Overall rank and verdict: The 2011 Jaguar XJL might not be the best luxury sedan on the market at the moment. It might not be as reliable as the Lexus LS and it might not offer up the same gizmos as the Mercedes-Benz, but then again, nothing up offers the same combination of style, driving dynamics, and overall beauty like the XJ.