1:38 PM EDT, June 18, 2013
Jaguar has expanded the range and appeal of its flagship XJ sedans by adding two new features for 2013: a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine and optional all-wheel drive.
Jaguar XJs were previously available only with a V-8 engine and rear-wheel drive. The two new additions make the XJ much more competitive in the premium luxury field, which has been long dominated by Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus.
The entry level XJ sedan features the new supercharged V-6 engine, which is rated at 340 horsepower. This is 45 horsepower shy of the base 5.0-liter V-8, which is offered in the first trim upgrade, called Portfolio. From there, Jaguar offers supercharged versions of the V-8 engine in a model appropriately called Supercharged, as well as in its Supersport, Ultimate and XJR trims levels.
Two body lengths are also available: A standard wheelbase version and an extended wheelbase body, which offers a meaningful improvement in rear seat leg room. These extended wheelbase models are designated by the suffix “L” following the XJ label.
Adult passengers who ended up in the rear seat of the XJL 3.0 AWD Portfolio model that Jaguar loaned my wife Paula and me praised their accommodations. Our review car was graced with two options that are sure to be a hit with passengers: a rear seat comfort package for $5,000 that features power recliners, four-way lumbar support with massage, rear seat business trays and foot rests, and the $2,200 backseat DVD entertainment system. Rear-seat comfort doesn’t get much better than this in any vehicle.
Performance from the 3.0-liter V-6 is excellent. The supercharger delivers instant throttle response and goes about its work without adding any unsettling supercharger whine to the rich sonic fabric surrounding full-throttle acceleration. We posted a zero-to-60 time of 6.2 seconds with this engine.
The ride was steady and comfortable; though I thought it wasn’t quite as settled as in the Supersport I previously reviewed. Still, if I had just paid the $99,300 sticker price (with options) that adorned our XJL Portfolio model, I would not feel cheated in any way.
That’s also true of the driving experience, silence and front-seat comfort this car delivers. This Jaguar, as with Jaguars in the past, managed to put a smile on my face within the first mile of every trip. It made traffic snarls bearable and is one of those cars that encourages the driver to seek the long way home. While the back seat of the XJL might encourage the use of a chauffeur, the driving pleasure this car affords suggests that owners will choose to sit behind the wheel. There is no higher compliment to be paid.
This 2013 Jaguar XJL Portfolio 3.0 AWD spoiled me in a matter of minutes. While it’s entirely out of my budget, I could get used to car like this.
Who can object to the level of comfort, silence and stability this car provides? The fact that it’s responsive and eager makes driving fun, while features such as the standard blind spot monitoring system and rear backup camera add a level of safety.
Our car had the stop-start system. This shuts the engine off when you are stopped and restarts it when you release the brake. It’s all done to save fuel, and I suppose that it works; we averaged 20.2 miles per gallon on the premium fuel Jaguar recommends. However, the restart sends a mild shudder through the car. This feature can be turned off, but we used it throughout the review period.
The automatic transmission control is also unique. I still remember the “J” gate console shift levers that Jaguar once used. Those are gone, replaced by a small chrome disc about the size of a hockey puck. Start the car with a push of a button – no key-in-the-hand is required, just have the key fob inside the car -- and this transmission control rises from the console. It is turned clockwise to select “Drive,” “Reverse” or activate a sport shifting mode. You get used to it surprisingly quickly. I give it far better grades than some of the counterintuitive and fussy electronic shift levers we’ve seen in competing luxury cars.
The instrument panel gauges are not real. They are virtual gauges, created by the car’s electronics and shown on a video screen. Jaguar highlights the numbers immediately around the speed you are traveling and the engine’s operating speed on the tachometer, making them easier to read.
Will I ever hold the title to a Jaguar like this one? No. It’s still too expensive for me. Still, there is nothing wrong with dreaming, is there?
Jim MacPherson is the host of "The Car Doctor" show airing Sundays at noon on WTIC-AM. Paula MacPherson is his wife and new-car review partner. Send comments, questions, suggestions in care of Special Publications, Hartford Courant, 285 Broad St., Hartford, CT 06115, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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