2011 Jaguar XJL Supercharged
Jaguar has restyled its XJ sedans, and the “Vapour Gray” XJL is a beauty, inside and out.
Jaguar offers three versions of the XJ, starting with its “entry-level” XJ with a 5.0-liter 385-horsepower V8. There’s also the XJ Supercharged with the same V8 creating 470 horsepower or the XJ Supersport with an even racier 510-horsepower V8. All also come in the extended wheelbase models, like the test car, that add an “L” to the XJ moniker.
Standard XJs ride on a 119.4-inch wheelbase and are 201.7 inches long, while the XJL has a 124.3-inch wheelbase and is 206.6 inches long. While the cars are still made in Castle Bromwich, England, Jaguar is now owned by Tata Motors, based in India.While there are a fair amount of large luxury sedans to pick from, what has given Jaguar its cache is how the cars combine that luxury with a sense of power and superior handling performance. The XJL does not disappoint.
The powerful supercharged engine mates with a silky and beautifully calibrated 6-speed automatic transmission.
The power is smooth and can be augmented by using tiny paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. Unlike some, these are tucked in and hidden because you’ll rarely use them, but if you do you can shift more aggressively. All the while, the interior is library quiet.
Yet while the XJL is long and feels substantial it’s not a supertanker. The Jaguar weighs 4,323 lbs. That coupled with its giant wheelbase and electronic active damping suspension creates a soothingly comfortable ride. For a sportier feel press the checkered flag button on the console and the Dynamic Mode takes over, creating sportier shift points, better throttle response and firmer suspension.
There is good steering wheel feedback, although the wheel feels pretty heavy, and you can glide the car through challenging curves on the highways and back roads. There is no body lean and while you can’t call the steering crisp, it responds well. The standard 20-inch tires offer excellent grip and a dynamic stability control system is standard along with anti-lock 4-wheel disc brakes.
While the car’s looks garnered attention it was the Jag’s interior that was most impressive. The test car featured a dark chocolate brown over cream leather dash and doors with a dark oak veneer trim. There are chrome accents on all the gauges and buttons and a black lacquer trim around the center stack, navigation screen and console.
Seats had multiple power controls, three memory settings and three-speed heating and cooling. But the best conversation starters were the heated steering wheel and the rear seat’s fold down wooden tray tables, like in an airliner. The car also included a power rear window sunscreen, video screens in the backs of the front seat headrests (a $2,200 option) and the generous rear legroom. There’s also a large 18 cubic foot trunk in back, so this is a perfect family road trip machine.The test car started at $90,700, while the base XJ with the less powerful engine and shorter wheelbase begins at $72,700. Going up from there to the standard XJL moves the price to $79,700. The Supersport starts at $110,200 or $113,200 for the stretched version. With options the test car hit $94,150.
I got just 17.2 mpg while the trip computer was a more optimistic 19.2. My fill-up cost more than $70, since it requires premium. The EPA rates this at just 15 mpg city and 21 highway, which is good enough to avoid a gas guzzler tax.
There are other goodies to be enjoyed here to be sure. The car’s side mirrors fold flat against the doors when the car is turned off. There’s a power trunk lid that you can open with the monstrously heavy key fob. The Jag’s steering wheel is a power tilt/telescope model.
The Bowers & Wilkins stereo sounds fantastic, if you can figure out its workings via the touch screen that also serves as the navigation system. The touch screen was slow to respond, so when I’d touch it, often nothing happened and as I was reaching to touch it a second time, the function – radio, navigation, or climate control – would finally engage.Neither I, nor my various volunteer test riders, liked the projected main dash gauges. They looked fake, which they really are since they are just projections. If you’ve seen fake cardboard radio or microwave faces in stores you know what this dash’s gauges resemble.
Finally, there’s a massive amounts of chrome on the console between the front seats that becomes annoyingly reflective on sunny days. This can distract a driver or force him to put something over the console to block the reflections.
Those complaints may sound like I didn’t care for the Jag, but it was an absolute delight to drive.