The Jaguar XJ is a big, expensive luxury performance sedan that may not have the precision of the Germans, but it’s definitely got more soul. What do you need to know before you buy a Jaguar XJ? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in the Ultimate Buyer’s Guide.

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If you’re considering buying the Jaguar XJ, a vehicle nestled in the “luxury performance sedan” segment, that means you’ll be comparing it to offerings from Germany that have long dominated this arena—Audi’s A8, Mercedes’ S-Class, or BMW’s 7-series. You shouldn’t, though, and here’s why.

If you look at Jaguar as a brand, it doesn’t exactly jive with its German competitors. If the Germans wore suits to work, the Jaguar would don a slick leather jacket — one with band patches sewed into the back of it. The Jag’s got a unique character the conservative Germans would rather not associate themselves with. The XJ’s the kind of car that turns the music up to 11 when we all know ten is plenty loud. It’s distinctly cool.

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Unlike the Germans, Jaguar places less emphasis on the quantitative and more on qualitative things like the way vehicles look, sound, and more importantly, how they make their drivers feel behind the wheel. All of that attracts a certain kind of buyer, one who probably doesn’t care that they’re missing 0.3 cubic inches of cargo room compared to an A8.

That’s the thing about Jaguar, and that’s the thing about the XJ. It carries with it an undeniable swagger.

What It’s Like To Drive

The XJ’s ride quality is far from S-class buttery, the interior isn’t nearly as well-furnished or appointed as an Audi, and the handling isn’t as sharp as a 7-series. The three-liter supercharged V6 in the base model gets feline up to speed in a smooth, controlled (read:slow) fashion, and while the six lacks the torque of the V8, the XJ’s eight-speed automatic shifts smoothly enough and quickly enough to almost help you forget about missing that “big motor” option box at the dealership.

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But as is often the case with any car, one aspect of the vehicles must suffer while others prosper. For the XJ, the long wheelbase certainly fulfills the “sedan” utility aspect, and you can get your kicks in the 550 horsepower XJR to satisfy the “performance” component, but we think the idea of “luxury” never quite stretches from the sensual exterior lines into the inside.

The wood grain on the interior isn’t up to the level of the competition, the navigation unit is bizarrely complicated, and you can’t control the rear heated seats from the back. That seems counterintuitive, but it’s great if you’re into playing pranks on your passengers.

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The ride quality was also rather harsh, even in the cushiest of suspension settings.

Still if you’re looking to buy a Jag, that exterior look and that engine’s growl can win you over despite the sedan’s shortcomings in the field of luxury.

What’s New About The 2016 Jaguar XJ

The X351 generation Jaguar XJ launched in the U.S. for the 2011 model year with a design very different from those of previous generation XJs. From when the first XJ appeared in 1968 until the X358 left in 2010, XJs have always had squared-off front ends and a dainty little grilles squeezed between quad headlights.

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But Ian Callum’s new design took the X351 XJ in a completely different direction. Jaguar raised the beltline, pushed down the roofline and swapped the quad lights with aggressive, squinty lamps. The grille now stands tall and proud, giving the XJ a tougher look — a far cry from the refined, Fit For The Queen look of previous XJs.

As we said when we first drove it, starting in 2011, the Jaguar XJ was no longer an old man’s car.

The then-new 2011 XJ showed the world an aluminum unibody that was stiffer and narrower than the previous model, but sported a wider track. It came with a naturally aspirated V8 and two different superchaged V8 options as well as two body styles: long wheelbase and standard wheelbase.

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In 2013, Jag added a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 and available all-wheel drive to the lineup as the base engine, and a ZF eight-speed transmission took over gear-rowing duties from the old six-speed. In 2014, the naturally aspirated V8 was phased out, and the 510 horsepower Supersport trim was replaced by a more powerful, more feature-rich XJR trim.

Finally, in 2016, the XJ got a refresh with new LED headlights, new exterior trim, an updated grille, a new instrument cluster, a revised infotainment system, quilted leather seats on Portfolio and Supercharged long wheelbase models and electric power steering on two-wheel drive models.

Powertrain Breakdown

The Jaguar XJ gets a pair of supercharged V-shaped engines. The cheaper engine is the 3.0-liter supercharged V6, which puts out 340 horsepower. That’ll get the rear-wheel drive XJ to 60 MPH in 5.7 seconds and the all-wheel drive model to 60 in 6.1. That’s quick for most cars, but for a 3,900 pound luxury car, that’s barely scraping by.

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It’s a good thing, then, that there’s a big five-liter V8 available. In the XJ Supercharged trim, that engine puts out 470 horsepower and launches the car to 60 MPH in 4.9 seconds.

But it’s the XJR that makes the most of that glorious V8. The XJR’s 5.0-liter makes 550 ponies — that’s enough to get the luxury sports sedan to 60 MPH in a properly quick 4.4 seconds.

2016 Jaguar XJ Engine Options

EngineMax Horsepower (hp)Max Torque
(lb-ft)
3.0L Supercharged V6340 @ 6500 rpm332 @ 3500 rpm
5.0L Supercharged V8470 @ 6000 rpm
550 @ 6000 rpm (XJR)
424 @ 2000 rpm
502 @ 3500 rpm

Fuel Economy Breakdown

The XJ’s fuel economy numbers are nothing to write home to the little chaps about. The 340 horsepower V6 rear-wheel drive models, the XJ R-Sport and XJL Portfolio, will get you only 21 MPG combined. In our 571.1 miles, we observed an average of 22.8mpg — a little higher than Jaguar’s claim.

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All-wheel drops you one MPG combined. Not great numbers, but not far off from competitors like the Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series.

The V8-equipped XJs, the Supercharged and XJR models, manage 23 MPG highway, which isn’t terrible considering the horsepower figures, but at that point we’re more concerned about how far we can lay rubber on the tarmac than how far we can drive on a gallon of gas.

2016 Jaguar XJ Fuel Economy Ratings (City/Highway/Combined)

_3.0L Supercharged V65.0L Supercharged V8
8-Speed Auto18/27/21
17/26/20 (awd)
17/25/20 (awd long wheelbase)

15/23/18 (all variants)

Trim Level Breakdown

The Jaguar comes in both standard and long wheelbase form. The standard body style is offered in XJ R-Sport, XJ Supercharged or XJR trims, while the long wheelbase (XJL) model adds five inches of second row legroom and is offered in Portfolio, Supercharged and XJR trims. All-wheel drive is only offered on the base trims for each body style.

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Steering assist for all two-wheel drive XJs is electric (the all-wheel drive model gets standard hydraulic steering), and suspension is a double wishbone all the way around.

  • R-Sport: Starts at $74,400. Notable standard features: 3.0-liter supercharged V6, eight-speed automatic transmission, 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlamps with auto high beam, leather heated and cooled seats, power front seats, driver seat memory, steering and mirror memory setting, rear air suspension, electric park brake, panoramic moonroof with power blinds, InControl Touch Pro infotainment system with Navigation and eight-inch touchscreen, 12.3-inch instrument cluster display, 20-speaker 825W surround-sound system, blind spot monitor with Closing Vehicle Sensing and Reverse Traffic Detection, dual-zone climate control, Traffic Sign Recognition, soft door close. Notable options: all-wheel drive ($3,500); Parking Assist Pack: 360 degree Park Distance Control, Surround Camera, Park Assist with Parallel, Perpendicular and Park Exit Assist ($1,700); Comfort Pack: heated and cooled 14-way adjustable front seats with lumbar adjustment and massage, front passenger seat memory, four-zone air conditioning, electric rear sunshade ($1,980); heated front windshield with timer ($375); Adaptive cruise control ($1,595); 1300W audio system ($4,180);
  • XJL Portfolio: Starts at $83,200. Notable standard features over standard wheelbase R-Sport: Comfort Pack, Suedecloth headliner, manual side window sunblinds. Notable options: Premium Rear Seat Package: two individual rear seats with three massage functions, memory settings, center armrest, rear seat switch panels, rear business tables, rear seat entertainment system with 10.2-inch LCD, touch-screen remote control, wireless headphones ($8,500); electric rear side sunblinds ($700); all-wheel drive ($3,500).
  • Supercharged: Starts at $92,000. Notable standard features over R-Sport: 470 horsepower 5.0-liter V8, Active Differential Control torque vectoring, Comfort Pack, 20-inch alloy wheels. Notable options: Parking Assist Pack ($1,700); heated front windshield with timer ($375); Adaptive Cruise Control ($1,595); 1300W Meridian sound system ($4,180);
  • XJL Supercharged: Starts at $95,000. Notable standard features over standard wheelbase: unique 20-inch wheels, manual side window sunblinds. Notable options similar to standard wheelbase Supercharged plus: electric rear side sunblinds ($700); Premium Rear Seat Package ($8,500).
  • XJR: Starts at $118,000. Notable standard features over Supercharged: unique interior trim, unique exterior trim and grille, high performance brakes, hood louvers, rear spoiler, Active Sport Exhaust System with quad tailpipes, R tuned suspension, metallic foot pedals, 20-inch alloy wheels. Notable options: Parking Assist Pack ($1,700); heated front windshield with timer ($375); Adaptive Cruise Control ($1,595); 1300W Meridian sound system ($4,180); Carbon Fiber Engine Cover ($2,000).
  • XJR LWB: Starts at $121,000. Similar standard features and options as shorter-wheelbase XJR.

Which One We’d Buy

If we had to buy an XJ, we’d go ham and opt for the XJR. After all, if you’re in this luxury performance car segment, you’re in it to win it.

And you know one surefire way to “win it?” Get a sexy Jag with 550 horsepower, big brakes and a sport-tuned suspension.

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While a standard body style XJ isn’t quite as big as competition from Germany, even if we chose the more expensive XJR long wheelbase model, the Jag undercuts similarly-powered S-Classes, A8s, Quattroportes and 6 Series by tens of thousands of dollars.

So if you want a high horsepower luxury sedan with tons of rear legroom and even more character, the $121,000 XJR LWB is hard to beat.

[Build your Own Jaguar XJ]

Important Facts At A Glance:

MSRP: $74,400-$121,000

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Top Speed: 121-174 MPH [R Sport-XJR]

Acceleration: 4.4s-6.1s to 60 [XJR-AWD R Sport]

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MPG: 15-18 city / 23-27 hwy / 18-21 combined [XJR-R Sport]

Engines: 3.0L Supercharged V6, 5.0L Supercharged V8

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Horsepower: 340-550 hp [R-Sport-XJR]

Torque: 332-502 lb-ft [R Sport-XJR]

Curb Weight: 3,891- 4,156 [R Sport-XJR LWB]

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IIHS Safety Rating: Not Tested

Transmissions: 8-Speed Automatic

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Drivetrain Layout: Front Engine, RWD/AWD

Photo credit: Mike Roselli