2012 Jaguar XJ Expert Review

Editor's Overview

Jaguar has moved the needle from traditional to technological with the latest generation of its flagship XJ Series sedan. A sportier, more contemporary exterior is complemented by a well-endowed interior with controls that can be too sophisticated for their own good.

You'll Like The 2012 Jaguar XJ If...

If you’re the type of person who dares to be different and enjoys turning some heads on the road, the Jaguar XJ’s unique combination of grace and pace will effectively divide you from the crowd.

You May Not Like The 2012 Jaguar XJ If...

Though quality has improved slightly in recent years, the Jaguar brand is still plagued by historically low resale values and questionable reliability, making the 2012 Jaguar XJ a precarious purchase for value-driven buyers.

What's New

For 2012, Supersport trims receive various content revisions, including a standard rear-seat DVD entertainment system in place of standard adaptive cruise control as well as a new reclining rear seat with a nifty massaging feature for the XJL Supersport.

Interior Features

Thanks to the minimal number of center stack controls, the Jaguar XJ’s cabin features a clean, elegant design that separates itself from the competition with superior materials and remarkable fit and finish. Soft leather trim covers not only the seating surfaces, but the upper dash, door panels and even the headliner on Supersport models. The XJ’s navigation system employs a touch-screen navigation system rather than the button and wheel-operated setups found on German-built luxury sedans. Although recent interface enhancements have certainly improved the level of user-friendliness, the touch-screen’s inherent functional requirements increase driver distraction.

Exterior Features

The Jaguar XJ’s distinctive design is set off by a sloping rear roofline that shrouds its substantial mass while creating a stylish 4-door coupe appearance. The 2012 XJ is available in standard and long-wheelbase versions, with the latter providing an additional five inches of rear legroom. Considering its size, trunk space is quite restricted, and the low roofline makes it difficult for taller drivers to enter the vehicle. Wheel choices surpass the double-digit mark and range from standard 19-inch to a variety of fender-filling 20-inch alloys.

Driving Impressions

Relaxed road manners and a quiet cabin make the 2012 Jaguar XJ an ideal carrier of dignitaries and captains of business, but they also make the XJ a pleasure to drive. The suspension’s active damping system adjusts to varying road conditions, providing a sense of dynamism when cornering – while never forgetting its primary job is to protect occupants from road imperfections. The enthusiasts in us yearn for more steering feel, but the XJ’s light steering efforts make this large sedan surprisingly easy to maneuver at lower speeds – however, parking can still be a challenge due to its sheer size. Our only major complaint is reserved for the brakes, which feature a light, overly-sensitive pedal that can make it difficult to stop smoothly. On the other hand, we have no complaints about acceleration. The base V8 engine offers plenty of power, but we would have a hard time not selecting one of the supercharged engine variants, which deliver an exhilarating growl and near-effortless acceleration when prodded.

Pricing Notes

Compared to some of its competitors, the 2012 Jaguar XJ starts at a relatively reasonable Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of around $74,500. An additional $7,000 will net a longer wheelbase and more rear legroom, plus a few other niceties. Winter 2012 marks the debut of the 2012 Jaguar XJL Ultimate, which will top the XJ range at a colossal $155,000, but that includes just about every feature under the sun. If you want to get the best deal, be sure to take a look at the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what buyers in your market area are currently paying for the Jaguar XJ. Both the 2012 Audi A8 and 2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class start with steeper sticker prices, but much of the Jaguar’s sticker-price advantage is offset by weaker projected resale values.

Notable Equipment

The 2012 Jaguar XJ features a full complement of the features we’d expect to find on a new flagship luxury sedan plus a few more, including a leather-wrapped dash, a digital LCD gauge cluster, active suspension dampening, blind-spot monitoring and a panoramic moonroof. The “base” audio system is a 14-speaker, 600-watt setup with hard-disk music storage. The standard safety setup reads like a bowl of alphabet soup – ABS, DSC, CBC, EBD, ETC – and includes a full complement of airbags.

Notable Options

In addition to two supercharged engines and a long-wheelbase version, the 2012 Jaguar XJ’s list of upgrades includes adaptive cruise control, heated windshield, retractable rear-window shades and several seating options that range from massaging front seats to heated and cooled rear seats. Supercharged models feature an active differential control to better put the increased power to the ground, while Supersport models include metallic foot pedals, semi-aniline leather and a standard rear-seat entertainment system.

Favorite Features

BOWERS AND WILKINS AUDIO SYSTEM

Many ultra-premium audio systems attempt to dazzle consumers with clever marketing descriptions and impressive speaker counts. Audiophiles understand that when it comes to choosing the finest sound system, the proof is in the performance. Regardless of its enticing features, the XJ’s available Bowers and Wilkins audio system delivers perhaps the purist sound quality in the business.


DIGITAL INSTRUMENT CLUSTER

To help bolster the XJ’s high-tech appeal, Jaguar engineers abandoned the conventional analog instrument cluster in favor of a high-resolution 12.3-inch LCD screen with a digital speedometer, tachometer and information window with configurable vehicle data.

Under the Hood

One engine, three flavors. The 2012 Jaguar XJ lineup features three versions of a 5.0-liter V8, two of them supercharged. Each is mated to an adaptive 6-speed automatic transmission that’s easily manipulated via steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The energy ultimately makes its way to the rear wheels and delivers 5.4-, 4.9- and 4.7-second sprints to 60 mph, depending on engine choice.


5.0-liter V8

385 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm

380 lb-ft of torque @ 3,500 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23 mpg (long wheelbase: 15/22 mpg)


5.0-liter supercharged V8

470 horsepower @ 6,000-6,500 rpm

424 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500-5,500 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 mpg


5.0-liter supercharged V8

510 horsepower @ 6,000-6,500 rpm

461 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500-5,500 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 mpg

Editors' Notes

For the better part of a century, Jaguar products were about as recognizable as the McDonald’s golden arches. Enter the 2012 Jaguar XJ, a wholly relevant full-size luxury sedan with modern amenities, impeccable craftsmanship and a sporty, contemporary design. No longer old-fashioned and eccentric, the 2012 XJ is now a viable alternative to popular luxury brand flagships such as the Mercedes-Benz S Class, BMW 7 Series, Audi A8 and the Lexus LS. With high technology and high expectations, the Jaguar XJ confidently leads the British automaker into the 21st century.

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