We are going to say something that could be taken as disrespectful in these economic times. We drove the Jaguar XJL recently and considered it something of a bargain . . . in a luxury sedan. (Context is important.) With its long wheel base, features and performance, it wouldn't have surprised us to see a sticker price in the six figures.
Appearance: It's long — the XJL is the extended-wheelbase model — sleek and definitely eye-catching. So much so that a lot of people asked us what it was, and many were surprised when we told them it was a Jaguar. (That tells us how Jag has really broken away from its staid British image.) The XJL has a long, creased hood that ends in a front that is all Jaguar: a pronounced chrome-mesh grille highlighted by the Jag badge. The car's elegant lines flow to the rear, where the roof ends in a soft slope. The taillights sit slightly toward the center, so the car looks even wider from the rear.
Performance: We drove the base XJL, which is the non-supercharged model. But we were more than impressed with the pull of the 385-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8, which pulls the 4,131-pounder with ease and sends it from 0 to 60 in 5.4 seconds. In highway driving, 90 mph comes before you even realize it. The six-speed transmission shifts smoothly, and there is a manual mode with paddles. The ride is smooth and incredibly comfortable.
Interior: The cabin is quiet and luxurious, with lots of leather, wood veneer and chrome trim pieces on the dash and doors. The most striking feature of the plush-leather-wrapped dash is the arched, twin air vents, which bracket an analog clock. The vents help give the cockpit a sports-car look, and a panoramic glass roof with power shades gives it all a modern feel. At night, the interior and gauges are illuminated by Phosphor blue mood lighting. Peter appreciated the technology behind the virtual gauges on the instrument panel, but found them kind of jarring set in such an elegant interior. The amenities up front include massaging and heated/cooled seats. (The driver's seat has an incredible range of adjustability.) In the rear, there are seatback tray tables and vanity mirrors for the passengers, who also get an extra 5 inches of legroom in the longer-wheelbase XJL. A few nits: The chrome trim on the steering wheel made it too hot to touch at times. Elsewhere, the chrome interior trim means lots of finger smudges to wipe down. The electronic goodies include the excellent Bowers & Wilkins sound system, blind-spot warning system and 8-inch touchscreen for audio and the GPS navigation system.
Our 3 favorites
Business trays: The other car I've seen these in? A Rolls-Royce.
Sun blinds: A welcome respite in the Florida sunshine.
Massaging seats: My back appreciated the extra attention.
Sound of silence: Road noise? What's that?
Comfort: Plush seats with high-grade leather.
Gauges: The virtual gauges displayed on an LCD screen are crisp and easy on the eyes.
The bottom line: Jaguar's stylish redesign of its flagship sedan, coupled with its base price and features, sends a strong message to its German and Japanese competition in the luxury-car market.