Jaguar XJ — Now with a V6

By Al Vinikour

(March 29, 2013) Almost every person has their own definition of a heresy. To some it might be putting ketchup on a prime filet mignon, to others it might be wearing a pair of Nike Air Jordan’s with an Armani tuxedo. I had my own definition, which was to equip a full-sized Jaguar with a V6 engine. In 2013 my “horror” came true and I couldn’t have been more impressed.

Jaguar’s full-size XJL luxury sedan, the lengthened version of the legendary car company’s XJ, has had a fourth engine added to its stable…and it’s a V6!

Not just any V6, however. This one is a 3.0-liter supercharged powerplant that develops a “modest” 340 horsepower and is the standard engine in the XJ. It’s mated to a new ZF eight-speed automatic transmission which allows manual shifting with steering wheel paddles. It replaces the previous six-speed and offers a broader spread of ratios for an optimally-balanced combination of performance and efficiency.  

The other three engine choices are all V8s and range in horsepower from 385 to 510. My test vehicle, however, was equipped with the V6 and will be the focus of this review.

“Efficiency” is not a word often associated with a Jaguar, even though the V6 has fuel economy of 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway/21 mpg combined (16/24/19 for AWD). But “performance” is. 0-60 time for the RWD V6 is 5.7 seconds and 6.1 seconds for AWD. By comparison, the RWD 0-60 time for the V6 is only one second slower than that for the 510 horsepower V8.

Speaking of AWD, even though winter is for all practical purposes done for the year there’s always a next one three seasons down the road and Jaguar has developed the first-ever AWD drive XJ model employing an active power transfer control technology that adds all-season traction while retaining the sporty agility and steering feel of the rear-wheel drive version.

The Jaguar Instinctive All-Wheel Drive system is exclusively paired with the new supercharged 3.0L V6. To fully describe this system would take a couple thousand words and a PhD in engineering but experiencing this technology under deplorable winter conditions is a sight to behold. You have to try really hard to lose traction when driving on dangerous roads and blizzard conditions and even then you probably wouldn’t succeed.

The AWD system, combined with all the other Jaguar safety features, is in place to help drivers complete a hazardous journey. Like the saying goes, “Don’t leave home without it.”

The 2013 XJ enters its third year since its sleek redesign in 2011. Jaguar has always had this exotic mystique and the styling of its premium luxury sedan enhances its reputation. Jaguar’s flagship sedan has innovative aluminum construction for agility, efficiency and refinement. It literally mimics its namesake by resembling a cat ready to pounce, except in this case it will be attacking a road instead of some poor gazelle.

It has a “face” defined by a bold mesh grille and slim standard Xenon headlights. The strong and muscular lower half of the car is contrasted with the slender quality of the roofline. A wrap-around rear window gives the impression of a floating roof and a panoramic glass roof, standard on all XJ models, enhances the sense of light and space inside. I’m not normally a fan of sunroofs but for this one I make an exception.

As exotic as the design is, it’s the interior that screams “luxury.” The XJ sports a leather-wrapped instrument panel. Architectural wood sweeps forward from the rear doors through the front doors, meeting at the upper dashboard center. Interior electronics begins with the illuminated stop/start button that pulsates until pressed when the JaguarDrive Selector rises from the center console. (When the engine is stopped the selector lowers automatically.)

A 12.3-inch high-definition screen displays virtual gauges to provide the functions of traditional instrument dials. An 8-inch touch-screen display in the center console provides easy access to many of the XJ’s functions including climate control, audio, communications and standard navigation. Jaguar Interactive Voice control system provides easy control of the standard Bluetooth, navigation or audio systems.

Speaking of audio the XJ has a new premium audio system by Meridian, the renowned British maker of high-end home audio components and speakers. It has 14 speakers including two subwoofers, separate digital amplifier and Audyssey MultEQ sound equalization. If you’re in to all this you’re going to be blown away; as for me, I’m just a simple man and listen to talk radio. Whatever is on the “radio,” the listener(s) will savor listening while sitting in some of the most luscious leather seating in the industry.

One of the greatest technologies ever developed for a vehicle is a navigation system. However, some of them have gotten so complex and require so many steps to peg in a destination that the user has a good chance of developing carpel tunnel syndrome. Jaguar’s system now requires fewer steps and a single/dual map view allows route comparisons and the map viewing mode has been extended by moving soft-touch buttons to the periphery of the screen.

If you think the icing on the cake is going to be an unbelievably affordable price then I suggest you go online and order the sheet music to “Dixie” and whistle it. If you can’t afford a vehicle in this price range you should not be considering it in the first place.

A base V6 XJ has an MSRP of $73,200 and the XJ AWD starts at $76,700. This price doesn’t include $875 destination and delivery. Price being no object would I buy one? In a heartbeat. This is one cat that nobody would be allergic to.