I recently had the chance to drive a 470-horsepower luxury sedan with an enormous interior, and acres of leather upholstery, and massaging seats, and one of those power rear sunshades that automatically whirrrrrrs up to hide back-seat passengers from peasants. It’s worth as much as a nice version of the Honda CR-V.
Here’s how this experience came about. Last week, I went down to Atlanta, Georgia, to film videos with four automobiles: a Lamborghini Murcielago, a Lamborghini Huracan, a Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 and a Yugo. In each of these videos, which you will see soon, I open my eyes widely and scream "OH MY GOD!", but for different reasons.
Anyway: So while I was in Atlanta, I decided to rent a 2012 Jaguar XJ Supercharged from Turo. For those of you who don’t know what Turo is, it’s a service that allows random people on the Internet to rent their cars to other random people on the Internet, such as Doug. They’ve given me a budget to rent the occasional strange car, and I decided to kick things off by renting this Jaguar XJ Supercharged from a guy named Christopher.
So I landed in Atlanta on Wednesday night, and Christopher was there to give me the keys to his XJ Supercharged. Then my Jaguar experience began.
Now, I admit, I didn’t really look up the specs before I rented this thing, and I don’t generally spend a lot of time poring over the Jaguar car configurator, largely because I’m not of the age where I devote an hour during family gatherings to wax nostalgic about the Eisenhower administration. Also, it strikes me that Jaguar has a ton of trim levels for this car, and they’re all kind of confusing. There’s the XJ, and the XJR, and the XJ Supercharged, and the XJ Portfolio. There’s also a supercharged XJ that isn’t the XJ Supercharged. I didn’t really know which one I was getting. I picked it because it was pretty.
Here’s what I discovered right away: The Jaguar XJ Supercharged is wildly fast, unbelievably gorgeous and surprisingly athletic. Here’s what I discovered later that night, in my hotel room: You can pick one up for the same price as a new CR-V.
I will expand on both points, starting with the performance. When you get into a Jaguar, you kind of think you’re getting into this staid, stoic, dull, old-school luxury car covered in wood and fluffy floor mats. Well, not anymore. The XJ Supercharged has 470 hp, and it handles better than any luxury sedan I’ve ever driven. Now I haven’t yet driven the new 7 Series, but comparing this thing to an S-Class is like comparing a professional downhill Olympic skier to giant boulder you push off the top of a mountain.
It also sounds like it means business. And it looks like it means business. And so, therefore, I must assume that it means business.
But I think the primary reason I liked this thing so much is the value: Did I mention you can get one for the same price as a new CR-V?
Here’s what I discovered: Thanks to the miracle of Jaguar depreciation, the XJ — whose price started around $88,000 four years ago and probably edged closer to $100,000 with options — is now worth roughly $35,000, according to average asking prices on Autotrader. Thirty-five grand for a 470-hp Jaguar that will massage you as you drive down the road. Thirty-five grand for a supercharged V8 and a wonderful, throaty, muscle car-like growl as you mash the accelerator.
Now, as you read this, I know exactly what you’re thinking — and that is: What Honda CR-V costs $35,000?! Well, it turns out the highest-level CR-V, which is called the CR-V Touring, starts at $34,600 if you get all-wheel drive. I also know what you’re thinking now: You’re thinking that you’re not really that surprised this Jag costs $35,000, but you are surprised the CR-V does.
You’re especially not surprised that this Jag is so relatively cheap for one obvious reason that I haven’t yet mentioned: because this is a used Jaguar, and used Jaguars break. Right? You know it’s an amazing value, and it’s gorgeous, and it’s fast, and it’s all fine and well that you can buy this awesome luxury car for $35,000 — but when it comes right down to it, you don’t want to touch it. And I mean, literally, you don’t want to touch it, because you’re worried the door handle would break off in your hand, and then the alarm would start going off, and that would somehow activate the windshield wipers, and then they would spray washer fluid into your nose.
Well, here’s the best part: This car is still available with a pretty good warranty. Jaguar’s certified pre-owned program covers cars for six years or 100,000 miles from their original sale date, while CarMax offers five years of coverage from the day you buy the car. In other words: You can buy a 470-hp Jaguar for the price of a CR-V… and not really have to worry about it.
And when I got back home and climbed back into my old Range Rover, I couldn’t help but miss the Jaguar. I lost the sound, the handling, the performance, the luxury, the acceleration. And the only thing I kept was the questionable British car reliability. Find a 2012 Jaguar XJ for sale
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.