Editor’s note: 2019 will be the last production year of the Jaguar XJ. As of October 2019, no replacement model has been announced.
The 2018 Jaguar XJ extends the life of this generation by another model year. It seems the car world has been waiting for an all-new XJ for a couple of spins around the sun, and apparently there was much discussion at Jaguar HQ over what form a flagship vehicle should take in a future where crossovers are expected to dominate. The decision eventually came out in favor of staying with a large luxury sedan, an all-new version of which is now anticipated for 2019.
In the meantime, the current model performs its duties to the best of its still-considerable abilities. For the luxury-car buyer who enjoys being behind the wheel, the Jaguar XJ is still absolutely worth considering. It’s wonderful to drive. A lot of aluminum is used in its construction, and even though the car is not super-light, its weight is distributed well.
What’s New for 2018?
The previous year’s XJR is superseded by the XJR575, taking the former’s 550 horsepower and boosting it to 575 (for a top speed of 186 mph). Forward-collision mitigation, lane-keeping assistance and driver-fatigue monitoring become standard. All-Surface Progress Control is like a low-speed cruise control for slippery surfaces. The infotainment screen increases in size from 8 to 10.2 inches. The entry-level model receives an audio upgrade to a 20-speaker/825-watt Meridian system, and 4G connectivity brings Wi-Fi into the cabin.
What We Like
Distinct styling; fabulous V8 engines; engaging handling; premium interiors
What We Don’t
Below-average V8 fuel economy
The base XJ R-Sport and the long-wheelbase XJL Portfolio feature a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that produces 340 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. Supercharging is a form of forced induction (similar to turbocharging) that creates more power than would be possible if the engine were 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 (rear-wheel drive). All-wheel drive is available, but drops those fuel figures to 17 mpg city/26 mpg hwy/20 mpg combined; the all-wheel-drive XJL Portfolio achieves 17 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/20 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/18 mpg combined, regardless of wheelbase.
The XJR575 deploys a more powerful version of that V8 for a tremendous 575 hp and 517 lb-ft of torque. It also manages 15 mpg city/23 mpg hwy/18 mpg combined.
Rear-wheel drive is the only available configuration with V8 engines. All models employ an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Standard Features & Options
The regular-wheelbase 2018 Jaguar XJ comes in R-Sport and Supercharged trim levels. The long-wheelbase XJL is available in Portfolio, Supercharged and XJR575 versions.
In the R-Sport ($76,395), standard features include the supercharged V6, 19-inch alloy wheels, LED lighting with an automatic high-beam function, an adaptive/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-adjustable tilt-telescopic steering wheel, heated/ventilated front seats with 8-way power adjustment, heated/ventilated rear seats, leather upholstery, self-dimming mirrors, a rearview camera, parking sensors front and rear, front-collision mitigation, lane-keeping assistance, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a driver-drowsiness monitor, rain-sensing wipers, Bluetooth, 4G Wi-Fi, a 10.2-in touchscreen and a 20-speaker/825-watt Meridian audio system with iPod/USB connectivity, HD Radio and satellite radio.
The long-wheelbase Portfolio ($85,495) sprouts 5.1 inches of extra rear legroom and includes massaging front seats with 14-way power adjustability, 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 interior trim additions.
The XJ Supercharged ($93,995) means the supercharged 470-hp V8, an electronic rear differential, 20-in alloy wheels, a sportier suspension tune, bigger brakes, oak trim, 14-way power adjustable front seats with a massage function, and navigation.
The XJL Supercharged ($97,295) adds the rear-seat luxuries found in the Portfolio.
The XJR575 ($123,395) runs with the 575-hp supercharged V8, exclusive 20-in wheels, performance-tuned stability control, a model-specific suspension setup with sportier steering calibrations, uprated brakes, an active exhaust system, sport seats front and rear and various sport-themed exterior and interior styling flourishes.
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 is a 26-speaker/1,300-watt Meridian audio system. The long-wheelbase version may also come with parking assistance for parallel and perpendicular spaces, along with a 360-degree camera system.
Cargo capacity of the XJ’s trunk is 15.2 cu ft., about average for the class.
The XJ comes with 4-wheel antilock 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.
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 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.
Comfort up front is fine, although the seats don’t have the same kind of adjustability and support BMW and Mercedes-Benz can offer. In the back, passengers will have to cope with a bottom cushion that’s 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. 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 better fuel economy (with rear-wheel drive), but those V8s are hard to resist. The forces and immediacy of acceleration in the XJ Supercharged and XJR575 are astounding.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Audi A8 — Excellent, but close to retirement. Only available in long-wheelbase form, while a new generation is scheduled for the 2019 model year.
2018 BMW 7 Series — Remarkable for its tech content, luxury appointments and driving talents.
2018 Lexus LS — An all-new generation debuts for this model year, packing much more technology than its predecessor.
2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class — Traditionally the absolute ruler of this class. The attention to detail is incredible, the levels of engineering exemplary. Refreshed for 2018.
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.