Jaguar’s XJL: Athletic and Accommodating

By The Car Family

When is a Jaguar not a Jaguar? Trick question, and the Jaguar XJL Portfolio has the answer. Simply put, Jaguar has drastically change the traditional Jag’s appearance and running gear. No longer is there wood trim everywhere and the sometimes reluctant engine has been replaced by a let’s play, supercharged V-6 engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission that is willing and able to straighten your spine whenever the need arises. This Jaguar rocks.

The refined six-cylinder power-plant is a model of nobility, with just a touch of aggression when you call on the big cat’s 340 horsepower. Driving in a civil manner the fuel economy has a 16/24 mpg city/highway rating. We averaged 22 mpg in mixed driving in very hot weather. However, it is very difficult not to fall in love with the acceleration of this big cat, and so your mileage will probably vary based on your mood. This is an agile vehicle that claws the road as few other sedans can. The brakes are excellent, and you get the feeling that there is really nothing this vehicle can’t handle. The price starts around $85,000 for the five inch longer XJL Portfolio edition we tested, but if you can live without the cool rear seat and extra leg room, you can save several thousand. Options can drive the price over $100,000 but once inside you are going to know what you paid for. It is elegant and as close to Architecture Digest as a car can be.

Mom’s view: In appearance, it is simple gorgeous. It makes one swoon and is definitely eye candy for the masses. Its price is at the edge of those in the 909 area’s income, but lease deals are attractive and competitive with any sophisticated luxury sedan. The interior is sporty, clean and a bit flashy. Some instrumentation is quite novel such as the round, chrome gear selector that pops out of the center console. Very novel and easy to master, but it can get very hot in the sun. Safety wise the Jaguar is loaded with intelligent airbags most everywhere, seats that have active whiplash protection, blind spot monitoring, electronic brake distribution, rear view camera and more as befitting its price. Be warned that the large touch screen monitor runs the show, so don’t leave the dealership without a run-through. The trunk is large, but the opening is limited. The XJL has a panoramic, heat-reflective glass roof that extends the length of the car. The night lighting is first rate with adaptive headlights that even illuminate corners. Bottom line for me is the workmanship, pride of ownership and, of course, the attention.

Dad’s view: Slovenly, hardly. This is a tidy, dynamic sedan with a back seat fit for the queen. Driving at all times is lively and secure. We tested the supercharged, six-cylinder version, which is the only engine you can get with the optional all-wheel drive, and it was plenty powerful. A 510 horsepower V-8 version is available for those wanting to toast the tires with five-second 0 to 60 times. The performance goes with the XJL’s contemporary styling and make it very appealing to those who want to stand apart from the ubiquitous German competition. The XJL version offers a plethora of features that include front seats that are heated, cooled and massage you. The use of aluminum and aircraft style materials and bonding techniques are just part of what you are paying for, but don’t forget the many unseen features such Cornering Brake Control, which helps in taking sharp corners, the automatic leveling control or the stop-start feature that saves gas. The brake-pedal feel was a little soft and the option list a little dear. My advice is do your homework so you know what features you want before you go to the dealer. I highly recommend the illumination and the entertainment packages. The Jaguar is unique in that it incorporates class and performance and is certainly a wonderful reward for a job well done.

Young working woman’s view: Portfolio is an appropriate name for this luxury convenience because it may require a look at your investments before you buy. On the other hand, you truly get what you pay for, and this Jaguar is both distinct and heavily laden with features that coddle you. For example, you can get an 825-watt audio system, and those in the back seats can be entertained with eight-inch monitors and wireless headphones. This Jaguar is worth it, and there is always the inner glow you get from driving a Jag.

Young son’s view: I’m still looking for work in the computer field but still have time to assess truly great technology systems, and this Jaguar has them. The GPS has traffic alerts and the optional Meridian is prime. There are also satellite radio, interactive voice control, Bluetooth, and a Media Hub with inputs for iPod and MP3 players. The sound quality is dynamic, thanks to 20 speakers, including two subwoofers. Some of the features require time to learn so don’t leave the showroom without a thorough tutorial. The XJL is class.

Family conference: In a world where luxury sedans are designed to show one’s appreciation for the better things in life as well as having the means to pay for them (most luxury cars are leased due to tax code attributes) the Jaguar stands alone as a bargain and a beauty.

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