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2016 Jaguar XJ: New Car Review

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Certified 2016 Jaguar XJ Series L Portfolio AWD
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author photo by Autotrader February 2016

Despite approaching the end of its current generation, the 2016 Jaguar XJ is still fighting the good fight. This is the full-size luxury sedan used to transport British royalty and prime ministers. Listen carefully, and you can almost hear the exhaust system playing "God Save the Queen."

This XJ debuted at a time when Great Britain was experiencing a cultural and economic high point, but everything changes, and as gorgeous and sleek as the car looks, the restless march of technology has put it out of step. The virtual gauges change color depending on the drive mode, but the rev counter's needle can't keep up during rapid acceleration. The XJ's touchscreen interface is showing its age, and virtually every competitor has a newer, more capable infotainment system.

Even so, the XJ is awesome to drive, particularly the V8-powered models and most definitely the breathtakingly fast 550-horsepower XJR super sedan. The car uses a lot of aluminum in its construction, so it's comparatively light and nimble. For the luxury-car buyer who enjoys being behind the wheel, the 2016 Jaguar XJ is worth considering.

What's New for 2016?

New headlights and taillights set in new front and rear fascias join a redesigned grille as part of a mild facelift. Entry-level versions now come with the R-Sport exterior trim treatment. A blind spot monitoring system is now standard, along with heated and cooled seats and Jaguar's InControl app suite. Quilted seat trim is now offered in XJL (long-wheelbase) Supercharged and Portfolio models. Rear-drive versions move over to electric power steering (enabling the option of a self-parking system), but all-wheel-drive versions retain the old-school hydraulic steering assistance.

What We Like

Individual styling; fabulous V8 engines; engaging handling; premium interiors

What We Don't

Shortfalls in technology; below-average V8 fuel economy

How Much?


Fuel Economy

The base XJ and the XJL Portfolio feature a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that produces 340 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. Like turbocharging, supercharging is a form of forced induction to create more power than would be possible if the engine was left to breathe naturally. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates this engine at 18 miles per gallon in the city, 27 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg combined (with rear-wheel drive). All-wheel drive is available but drops those fuel figures to 17 mpg city/26 mpg hwy and 21 mpg combined.

The XJ Supercharged enjoys a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 that generates 470 hp and 424 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is 15 mpg city/23 mpg hwy and 18 mpg combined. Rear-wheel drive is the only available configuration.

The XJR has a boosted version of the same V8 for a tremendous 550 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque. EPA has not rated the XJR's fuel economy separately. Again, rear-wheel drive is the sole setup.

All models employ an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Standard Features & Options

The XJ comes in R-Sport, Supercharged and XJR trim levels. The long-wheelbase XJL is available in Portfolio, Supercharged and XJR versions.

In the R-Sport XJ ($75,395), standard features include the supercharged V6, 19-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights with LED accents, an adaptive and self-leveling suspension, a panoramic sunroof, burled-walnut veneers, power-closing doors and a trunk, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power tilt-telescopic steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, leather upholstery, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a navigation system with an 8-in touchscreen interface and a 14-speaker/380-watt Meridian audio system with iPod/USB connectivity, plus satellite and HD Radio.

The long-wheelbase Portfolio ($84,195) sprouts 5.1 inches of extra rear legroom, heated/cooled/massaging front seats with 14-way power adjustability, heated and cooled rear seats, softer leather upholstery, a suede headliner, manual rear sunshades (power sunshades are optional), an ebony veneer, 4-zone automatic climate control, rear LED reading lights and various interior trim additions.

The XJ Supercharged ($92,995) has the supercharged 470-hp V8, adaptive xenon headlights, an electronic rear differential, a sportier suspension tune, 20-in alloy wheels, bigger brakes, oak trim and a 20-speaker/825-watt Meridian audio system. The XJL Supercharged ($95,995) adds the rear-seat luxuries found in the Portfolio.

The XJR ($118,995) runs with the 550-hp supercharged V8, exclusive 20-in wheels, performance-tuned stability control, a model-specific suspension tune, an active exhaust system, sportier steering calibrations, sport front seats, a heated steering wheel and various sport-themed exterior and interior styling flourishes. The XJR-L ($121,995) adds the long-wheelbase upgrades.

Depending on trim and configuration, options include semi-aniline leather trim, rear-seat entertainment with dual 10.2-in screens and individual reclining rear seats with massage/lumbar functions and memory settings.

Offered exclusively in long-wheelbase models (other than the XJR-L) is a 26-speaker/1,300-watt Meridian audio system with a feature called Conversation Assist. Jaguar says it "uses microphones to channel passengers' voices through the audio-system speakers, mixing music and speech volume accordingly for more comfortable conversation."

Cargo capacity of the XJ's trunk is 15.2 cu ft., about average for the class.


The XJ comes with 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (the V8 models receive bigger discs), stability control and six airbags (front, front-side and full-length side-curtain). A blind spot monitoring system is also standard, plus front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. Opting for adaptive cruise control also brings a forward-collision warning and preparation system.

However, the XJ lacks many of the high-tech safety features available on rival models, such as no automatic braking if a forward collision is imminent, no provision for lane-keeping assistance and no option for a head-up display.

The XJ has not been crash-tested in the United States.

Behind the Wheel

Interior design is a strong suit for all XJ models. Housing jetlike air vents and a 12.3-in thin-film-transistor (TFT) instrument panel, the low-set dashboard is a refreshing departure from those in other luxury sedans. Jaguar's distinctive rotary gearshift knob looks slick as it rises out of the center console when the driver fires up the ignition.

Seat comfort up front is fine, although the chairs don't have the same adjustability and support that BMW and Mercedes-Benz can offer. In the back, passengers will have to cope with a bottom cushion that is unusually low by class standards, but legroom is more than appropriate in the short-wheelbase version, extending to more generous dimensions in the XJL.

In the full-size luxury-sedan world, the XJ is one of the most engaging. These cars are often driven by chauffeurs, but the XJ is a natural choice for those who like motoring. However, the short wheelbase makes a perceptible difference from the driver's seat, and the long-wheelbase XJL is less agile.

Under normal commuting conditions, the XJ has a tauter ride than some in this class, but it does a satisfactory job of filtering out harsh impacts. Similarly, while road and wind noise at speed aren't whisper-quiet, few will object, especially considering the sweet sounds from either of the V8 engines. The supercharged V6 is nice enough and receives much better fuel economy (with rear-wheel drive), but those V8s are hard to resist. The sheer force and immediacy of acceleration in the XJ Supercharged and XJR are astounding.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Audi A8 -- The A8 is another excellent car that's approaching retirement. It's only available in long-wheelbase form this year, with a new generation coming for 2017.

2016 BMW 7 Series -- All new for this model year, the 7 Series is remarkable for its tech content, luxury appointments and driving talents.

2016 Mercedes-Benz S-Class -- Traditionally, the S-Class is the absolute ruler of this class. The attention to detail is incredible, and the levels of engineering are exemplary.

Used Bentley Flying Spur -- A choice that's more luxurious than an XJ but still flies the Union Jack, the Bentley Flying Spur blends a twin-turbo 12-cylinder engine with a handcrafted cabin.

Autotrader's Advice

Jaguar's V8s are exceptionally entertaining. The XJ Supercharged has more than enough power, so it probably isn't worth the $26,000 premium for the XJR's extra 80 hp. A new generation is anticipated for 2017, which should bring more tech with it.

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Certified 2016 Jaguar XJ Series L Portfolio AWD
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2016 Jaguar XJ: New Car Review - Autotrader