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2017 Jaguar XJ: New Car Review

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author photo by Autotrader February 2017

Like a good soldier, the 2017 Jaguar XJ flagship sedan performs its duties to the best of its considerable abilities, even as it nears the end of this generation. As gorgeous and sleek as this car looks, the relentless march of technology has left it lagging. The virtual gauges change color according to the drive mode, but the rev counter's needle can't keep up during rapid acceleration. And the XJ's touchscreen interface is showing its age; virtually every competitor has a newer, more capable infotainment system.

Even so, the XJ is wonderful 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 even though it's not super light, that weight is distributed well. For the luxury car buyer who enjoys being behind the wheel, the Jaguar XJ is still absolutely worth considering.

What's New for 2017?

Nothing much. A new 19-inch alloy wheel design and some more exterior paint choices. The XJ was refreshed for 2016.

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 that creates 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 in combined driving (with rear-wheel drive). All-wheel drive is available but drops those fuel figures to 17 mpg city/26 mpg hwy/20 mpg combined. Versions with all-wheel drive and the longer wheelbase are expected to achieve highway mileage of 25 mpg.

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/18 mpg combined. Rear-wheel drive is the only available configuration.

The XJR gets a boosted version of the same V8 for a tremendous 550 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque. The 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 2017 Jaguar 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 ($75,395), standard features include the supercharged V6, 19-in alloy wheels, LED lighting with an automatic high-beam function, an adaptive and self-leveling suspension, user-selectable driving modes, a panoramic sunroof, burled walnut veneers, power-closing doors and trunk, keyless entry/ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power tilt-telescopic steering wheel, heated/ventilated front and rear seats, leather upholstery, auto-dimming mirrors, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, rain-sensing wipers, Bluetooth, a navigation system with an 8-in touchscreen interface, and a 14-speaker/380-watt Meridian audio system with iPod/USB connectivity, plus HD Radio and satellite radio.

The long-wheelbase Portfolio ($84,195) sprouts 5.1 inches of extra rear legroom and adds 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), ebony veneer, quad-zone automatic climate control, rear LED reading lights and various fancy interior trim additions.

The XJ Supercharged ($92,995) means the supercharged 470-hp V8, an electronic rear differential, 20-in alloy wheels, a sportier suspension tune, 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 setup with sportier steering calibrations, an active exhaust system, sport front seats, a heated steering wheel, plus 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 this feature "uses microphones to channel passengers' voices through the audio system speakers, mixing music and speech volume accordingly, for more comfortable conversation."

The long-wheelbase version may also come with parking assistance for parallel and perpendicular spaces, along with a 360-degree camera system.

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


The XJ comes with 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (the V8 models get bigger discs), stability control and six airbags (front, front side and full-length side curtain). A blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert 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, many of the high-tech safety features available in rival models are missing here. There's 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 jet-like air vents and a 12.3-in thin film transistor (TFT) instrument panel, the low-set dashboard is a refreshing departure from those of 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, though the chairs don't have the same kind of 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 adequate 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 to drive. These cars are often piloted by chauffeurs, but the XJ is a natural choice for moguls who like motoring. However, the short wheelbase makes a perceptible difference from the driver's seat -- 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 gets 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 is astounding.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Audi A8 -- Excellent, but another car that's approaching retirement. Only available in long-wheelbase form while a new generation is anticipated for the 2018 model year.

2017 BMW 7 Series -- Remarkable for its tech content, luxury appointments and driving talents.

2017 Mercedes-Benz S-Class -- Traditionally the absolute ruler of this class. The attention to detail is incredible, the levels of engineering exemplary.

Used Bentley Flying Spur -- For something more luxurious than an XJ while still flying the Union Jack, the Flying Spur blends a twin-turbo 12-cylinder engine with a hand-crafted cabin.

Autotrader's Advice

It now looks like a new generation of XJ won't be here until the 2019 model year. In the meantime, Jaguar's V8s are exceptionally entertaining. The XJ Supercharged has more than enough power, so it may not be worth the higher price for the XJR's extra 80 hp. But that's the joy of having a choice.

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2017 Jaguar XJ: New Car Review - Autotrader