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2018 Jaguar XJ Review

2018 Jaguar XJ Review
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The 2018 Jaguar XJ swaddles its occupants in leather, delivers them in style, and offers sporty road manners for a large car due to its lightweight construction.

The 2018 Jaguar XJ is the British automaker's flagship luxury sedan, and the car that leads the way for the brand’s styling direction. It cuts a striking shape on the outside, and is luxurious though a bit blingy on the inside. It stands out among full-size luxury sedans for its sporty character, which is made possible by its body’s lightweight aluminum construction. Jaguar offers the XJ in short- and long-wheelbase body styles, with a model range that consists of the V-6-powered XJ R-Sport and XJL Portfolio, and the V-8-powered XJ Supercharged, XJL Supercharged, and the new high-output V-8 XJR575.


The XJ doesn’t offer as many performance choices as its rivals, and its back seat suffers due to its sloping roofline, but it comes in at a lower price and its British take on luxury earns it a very good 7.2 overall score on our scale.

That XJR575 is the big news for 2018. It replaces the XJR, and an engine calibration change increases output of the supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 from 550 to 575 horsepower. The 0-60 mph time falls to 4.2 seconds and the top speed is an impressive 186 mph. It also gets some aerodynamic tweaks on the outside and some styling cues on the inside.

Other changes for 2018 include a new 10-inch center touchscreen that replaces an 8.0-inch unit; in-car wi-fi enabled by a 4G connection; new safety technologies including forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warnings with active lane control, and a driver drowsiness monitor; and the addition of Jaguar’s All-Surface Progress Control system, which uses the traction control to help the car pull away on low-friction surfaces.

In addition to the 575-hp V-8, Jaguar offers a 470-hp version of the same engine in its XJ and XJL Supercharged models. These are good for a 0-60 mph time of less than five seconds, while the 340-hp supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 in the XJ R-Sport and XJL Portfolio can vault the car to 60 mph in just less than six seconds. The V-6 models are unique in offering all-wheel drive.

Fuel economy for the V-6 is decent at 18 mpg city, 27 highway, 21 combined. The V-8, however, does no better than 18 mpg combined.

Handling and ride quality vary by model. The XJ is generally quite composed and its aluminum body construction makes it lighter and sportier than most rivals. All models come with adjustable dampers and a rear air suspension that combine to smooth out most bumps, but the XJR575 is sport tuned and may be too firm for some tastes.

Inside, the XJ is well-equipped, swathed in leather and chrome, and quite roomy for front passengers. Much of the 5 extra inches of wheelbase in long-wheelbase models goes to rear leg room, making that measurement quite spacious, but the stylish, sloping roofline still steals some rear head room. Buyers can make up for that with the Premium Rear Seat package, which adds such amenities as twin 10.2-inch entertainment screens, massagers, seat heating and cooling, and rear tables.

Styling
The Jaguar XJ cuts a dashing shape, and its good looks flow down to the rest of the range. Unfortunately, its beautiful but somewhat blingy cabin doesn’t also influence other Jags.

The Jaguar XJ is a far cry from the staid but stylish sedans of yesteryear. It cuts a striking profile on the road, and its face is characterized by the signature Jaguar gaping maw grille, which is simple and commanding. Inside, the XJ doesn’t succumb to Jaguar’s new-found spartan touch, instead going with a richly appointed theme inspired by luxury yachts.

Last updated for the 2015 model year, the XJ features design cues that play well off of its aluminum body panels. Gloss black rear pillars help create the illusion that the cabin’s glass stretches from fender to fender, and they visually lighten the rear end on lighter colored cars. Those fenders swell in sync with the low roofline, recalling flowing classic French designs of old. Large, rhomboid headlights help frame the wire-mesh grille.

The interior looks like someone ran through their rich aunt’s jewelry box. It’s smothered in chrome and soft leather. Piano-black trim is used on the instrument panel. It’s a quality trim, but it can be found in Kias and Chevrolets and it isn’t as rich as the wood trim it accompanies.

A long, arcing dash visually ties it all together, though it sacrifices some space. The perimeter of the cabin is carried through from the base of the windshield to the door trim, and the whole look is inspired by luxury yachts.

The current XJ also uses some advanced interfaces, many of which are becoming more common among high-end cars. The gauges and secondary controls are shown on a 12.3-inch digital LCD screen that changes colors by driving mode. A new 10-inch LCD center touchscreen controls infotainment and climate functions, though there are some redundant hard buttons for the same functions.

Performance
Buyers can choose between smooth and refined or powerful and entertaining, and any Jaguar XJ offers a sportier feel than the norm for the class.

The 2018 Jaguar XJ’s engines span the spectrum from silky smooth to blistering performance, the transmission is responsive, and all-wheel drive is offered for the base V-6. With its aluminum body, the XJ is sportier than most of its competitors and the ride is generally smooth, but it begins to suffer on the high-performance models. With these qualities, we rate the XJ a 7 out of 10 for performance.

In base setup, the supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 makes 340 horsepower and is mated to an 8-speed automatic. It's good power for the lightweight chassis, and the 0-60 mph sprint takes less than six seconds. It’s not as fast as the V-8, but it performs well and it is the only engine that can be teamed with all-wheel drive, so we suggest taking a hard look at it.

Two supercharged 5.0-liter V-8s are the next choices. The XJ Supercharged features a 470-hp version that can post a 0-60-mph time of less than five seconds. New for 2018 is the XJR575, which replaces the XJR. Through a change in engine calibration, it makes 575 hp, up from 550. The 0-60 mph time drops by 0.2 second to 4.2 seconds and the top speed is 186 mph. The XJR575 also gets a stiffer suspension, exterior aero upgrades, and some sporty interior enhancements. It is only offered in the long-wheelbase body style.

All engines are paired with an 8-speed automatic that shifts smoothly and quickly. It has an S mode that holds gears longer. Jaguar also has a Dynamic mode that adjusts the suspension and throttle tuning, creating a firmer ride and a more responsive throttle pedal.

That said, the XJ’s performance isn't as customizable as what you’ll find with BMW or Mercedes-Benz. That’s not a bad thing because good base tuning is the key here. Still, the "JaguarDrive Control" has Normal, Dynamic, and Winter settings for the throttle, steering, transmission, and ride quality.

The XJ is outfitted with a fully independent suspension with electronically adjustable air springs in back. V-8 models get an electronically controlled rear differential that lets the car go about its work more directly.

Jaguar's all-wheel-drive system is tuned for more rearward torque bias. On dry pavement, it sends 90 percent of the power to the rear, but it can shift power 50/50 if needed. In slippery conditions, the system can be set for a 30/70 bias, and the car will start off slower in low-traction takeoffs. New for 2018 is Jaguar’s All-Surface Progress Control, which is activated by a button on the center console. It uses the traction control system and works like a low-speed cruise control to help the XJ start off on low-friction surfaces.

The XJ's reflexes are pure and predictable. In fact, they are sportier than the norm for the class, with a more unified driving feel. The reduced weight due to the aluminum body is a factor here, as are the adaptive dampers. The tires come with up to a Z rating and they provide excellent grip on the XJR575. Jaguar also offers big ventilated disc brakes that provide good pedal feel.

Comfort & Quality
The 2018 Jaguar XJ is beautifully appointed with good space up front, but the sloping roofline robs rear headroom.

The 2018 Jaguar XJ’s interior gives up some functionality so its exterior can have a very pretty form. The front seat has plenty of room, but the rear seat passengers lose out on living space to make room for the rear glass in that long, sleek roofline. The long-wheelbase helps, and the car has excellent fit and finish as well as good trunk space, but total interior space falls short of the class. For these reasons we give the XJ an 8 for comfort and quality, which is certainly good, but not as high as its rivals. 

The XJ will wow you in traditional ways, with top-notch comfort, plush interior appointments, and stunning trims. Comfort is further enhanced by heated front and rear seats, ventilated and massaging front seats, and ventilated rear seats for most models.

The supple semi-aniline leather, chrome, and real wood veneers impart top-notch quality, though the shiny trim is just a bit overwhelming. To Jaguar’s credit, the rear seat appointments feel as well-finished as the instrument panel, not stark and sanitized.
While the front seat has great space, the rear seat passengers will have to deal with a low roofline. The long-wheelbase models add nearly five inches to the wheelbase, the majority of which increases rear leg room, but the roofline is still an issue for headroom.

The Premium Rear Seat package is the best way to combat the low roof. It has two seats instead of three, heating, cooling, massagers, dual 10.2-inch screens that fold into the front seatbacks, and USB and HDMI inputs. It's hard to imagine a better way of suffering through traffic.

One benefit of that long roof it is a big trunk. It has a spacious 18.4 cubic feet of space, a flat floor, and a power trunklid.

Safety
Though it hasn’t been crash-tested, the 2018 Jaguar XJ has plenty of active safety features that should help prevent or mitigate the severity of crashes.

While it comes with a healthy set of active safety features, the 2018 Jaguar XJ has not been crash-tested and therefore we can’t give it a safety score. Low-volume, high-priced cars simply aren’t crash-tested, so we don’t expect ratings to come.

All 2018 Jaguar XJs come standard with six airbags (which is light these days), plus a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, and blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts. For 2018, the XJ adds forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warnings with active lane control, and a driver drowsiness monitor.

Oddly, adaptive cruise control is optional, as is a surround-view camera system.

V-6 models are available with all-wheel drive, which should provide better traction in inclement weather. Jaguar’s All-Surface Progress Control also acts like a low-speed cruise control to get the XJ underway on low-grip surfaces.

Features
The 2018 Jaguar XJ features opulent furnishings that make it a value for its class.

The 2018 Jaguar XJ starts out well-equipped like other full-size luxury sedans. The XJ doesn’t offer as many extravagant features as the competition and top-end pricing doesn’t reach as high. Its large touchscreen grows from 8.0 to 10 inches this year, and the Jaguar XJ also stands out for its exceptional warranty. It earns a 8 out of 10 on our features scale.

The XJ is offered in short- or long-wheelbase body styles. Short-wheelbase models consist of the V-6-powered XJ R-Sport and the V-8-powered XJ Supercharged. Long-wheelbase models include the V-6-powered XJL Portfolio, the V-8-powered XJL Supercharged, and the new higher-output V-8 XJR575, which replaces the XJR. All-wheel drive is offered for the V-6 models.

Standard equipment consists of leather-clad heated and cooled front and rear seats, eight-way power adjustable front seats, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, a power tilt/telescoping steering column, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless ignition, a rearview camera, a panoramic sunroof, LED headlights with automatic high beams, adaptive dampers, rear air suspension, and 19-inch alloy wheels. On the infotainment front, it gets a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a new 10-inch infotainment display, in-car wi-fi enabled by a 4G data connection, a Meridian 825-watt 20-speaker Meridian stereo, satellite radio, HD radio, a USB port, and Bluetooth. Safety features consist of forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts, front and rear park assist, lane-departure warnings with active lane control, and a driver drowsiness monitor.

Opting for the V-8-powered XJ Supercharged adds 14-way power and massaging front seats, navigation with 60 GB of storage for quick access to maps and menus, adaptive headlights, softer hides, four-zone climate control, an active rear differential, and 20-inch wheels.

The top-of-the-line XJR575 adds red brake calipers; a sport-tuned suspension; performance tires; metal pedals; a suede headliner; and unique exterior features including gloss black trim, a more aggressive hood, a three-piece front splitter, quad tailpipes, and a rear spoiler.

Options include adaptive cruise control, a surround-view camera system, an automatic parking function, a 26-speaker 1,300-watt Meridian Reference sound system, and upgraded interior lights.

Long-wheelbase versions offer a Premium Rear Seat package with two individual seats, memory, massage, a folding center armrest rear tables, and a rear-seat entertainment system with two 10.2-inch screens.

Jaguar's InControl Remote smartphone app allows owners to check their fuel levels, unlock the doors, monitor when the alarm has been triggered, start their cars, and preheat or cool the interior—all remotely.

Jaguar also provides a service plan that pays for everything except gas and tires for the first five years or 50,000 miles. Erasing that worry is quite a bonus.

Fuel Economy
Jaguar offers no hybrid or diesel for the XJ, but its V-6 engine is fairly efficient for the class, even though the V-8 is the most popular pick.

The 2018 Jaguar XJ doesn’t offer hybrid powertrains like its BMW and Mercedes-Benz rivals, and it doesn’t have a diesel option like many of its siblings. Despite those shortcomings, the XJ it gets decent fuel-economy ratings for such a big car.

The XJ’s supercharged V-8 is the volume engine. It is rated at 15 mpg city, 23 highway, 18 combined. That goes for the short- or long-wheelbase version. Those numbers qualify the XJ for a 5 out of 10 on our fuel economy scale.

There is a more efficient alternative. In its base form, with the supercharged V-6, the XJ is EPA rated at 18/27/21 mpg with either the short or long wheelbase.

Adding all-wheel-drive to the V-6 drops the fuel economy to 17/26/20 mpg for the short wheelbase model and 17/25/20 for the long wheelbase version.

Jaguar has no fuel economy ratings for the new XJ575, but with the added power, it may be slightly thirstier than the other V-8 models.

All XJs have a few things working in their favor in terms of efficiency. They all have 8-speed automatic transmissions, automatic stop-start technology, and lightweight aluminum bodies.

The XJ's stop-start system works quite well, shutting off and restarting with barely a quiver.

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