Sometimes in a relationship, you can get off on the wrong foot. Such was the case with our 2011 Jaguar XJ, a gorgeous car that broke out in a rash of electronic blemishes as soon as we took delivery, necessitating a rapid round trip to the dealer and back. Since then, Jaguar's flagship luxury cruiser has covered over 3,000 trouble-free miles.
Equipped with the Driver Assistance Package (which includes, among other things, front active seat belts; adaptive front lighting; LED cornering lamps; and automatic high beams) and the standard 385-hp, 5.0-liter V8, our XJL set us back $80,575, a sobering sum, but in the ballpark with such key competitors as the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. All those premium sedans cosset occupants with rich leather, quiet interiors, and spacious back seats.
Does the leaping cat have the goods to run with the big dogs? Take a peek at the logbook for clues:
"When you drive 100 cars per year, few stand out. This one does. Fantastic, awesome luxury sports sedan."
"This XJ is for the former 7 Series buyer who wonders what the hell happened to BMW."
"Smooth, effortless power with a muted V8 bark is very satisfying."
"Feels very responsive and light on its feet."
"Steering is a bit light but does give feedback. Car has tons of grip."
"Ride is supple and very well controlled but not as cushy as XJs from the '90s."
"Touchy brake pedal."
"Absolutely stunning interior materials and finish, but low-rent stalks are a let down."
"Surprised how Jag can make such a long car so small inside."
"The seats are not as soft as I expected. I sit 'on them' not 'in them.'"
"Memory seats seem to have a mind of their own, resetting mirrors and seat position differently each time I exit or enter the car."
"LATCH bottom attachments were the most difficult I have ever encountered, but this car isn't for carrying laddies."
"Controls are better than the ones in our 7 Series...somewhat logical but touch screen is cluttered." [Some other testers called the controls "infuriating," "ridiculous," and "confusing."]
"Why do I have to go through the touch screen for heated seats?"
"Bluetooth quality is not good and pairing the phone is horrible."
"Ignition key weighs a ton in your pocket."
"Car's looks make it stand out in the crowd."
As is the case with many cars, the XJ has its share partisans and pointed critics. One particular comment seems to embody what many of feel about this fine feline: "Very comfy and feels special." We've purchased a BMW 7 Series and have ordered an A8, which will round out a very nice test group that will put into perspective just how special the Jag really is (or isn't). Stay tuned for more.