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Just in: 2011 Jaguar XJL - Frustrations already

Consumer Reports News: September 30, 2010 10:20 AM

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Few cars are more elegant than a dark green Jaguar XJ sedan. And when you put its sleek silhouette in front of a New England autumn background, you've got an advertiser's dream.

You'd think a car that looks this good would function flawlessly, especially if you've just dropped $80,000 on it. Think again.

When I took delivery of Consumer Reports' test car, the salesman mentioned that I should be sure to take the key with me after parking the car. The standard keyless entry, it seems, keeps the car in "standby" mode even with the engine shut off. To kill the standby mode and its drain on the battery, you need to lock the car after leaving it. Alas, when I parked the car in my driveway the other night I forgot to lock it. But I did remember to take the keys with me into the house. When I got in the car this morning, a warning light popped on with the message "Battery Low. Start Engine Now."

It started up OK, but seeing that message reminded me of the salesman's casually conveyed instruction.

Finicky quirks are hardly foreign to foreign cars, and luxury cars sometimes make way more demands on a driver's learning curve than regular cars do. But once we learn the drill, we expect everything to work right. I was less than thrilled, then, when I found some of the toys broken straight out of the box. On my drive to work this morning, I noticed that the audio system's left channel was dead. While fiddling with that I found I couldn't switch from satellite radio to AM or FM. Also, the navigation system wouldn't initialize.

Glad to see that some English car traditions remain strong.

Once at work I called the dealer's service department. On the battery issue, the service manager explained that not only do you have to lock the doors every time you leave the car, but the keys also have to be a minimum of 30 feet away to stop the drain on the battery. I could not find any confirmation of this in the XJ's owner's manual.

As for the other problems I encountered this morning, he wearily responded, "Yup. Sounds familiar." Then he dispatched one of his staff to come get our car.

I can't think of another car with keyless start that requires taking such meticulous steps after parking, but there may be some. If the ensuing electronic gremlins were a result of failing to follow the must-lock mandate or the 30-foot rule, then I'm even more unimpressed.

All-in-all, though, requiring such a ridiculous song and dance to shut off the car is idiotic.

Watch the blog for more updates on this beautiful but perplexing cat.

Mike Quincy

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