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2013 Jaguar XJ: Plush, sexy, upscale option

The 2013 Jaguar XJ is a strong alternative to more popular upscale sedans.

Want something different? Check out the 2013 Jaguar XJ sedan. It’s often overlooked by buyers who automatically go after, say, a large BMW, Mercedes or Audi.

The Jaguar XJ sedan long has been among Jaguar’s most venerable and popular models. It has never caught up with such heady rivals as BMW or Mercedes, but is a good alternative to sporty, elegant upscale sedans—foreign or domestic.

I drove a 2013 XJ sedan in December, 2013.  The 2014 model year officially began in October, 2013, but never mind because the 2014 XJ is virtually identical to the 2013 model. You thus might be able to get a pretty good deal on a 2013 XJ.

The 2013 Jaguar XJ is a strong alternative to more popular upscale sedans.
The 2013 Jaguar XJ is a strong alternative to more popular upscale sedans.

The 2013 XJ got an available all-wheel drive (AWD) system for the first time, which is offered if you order its new supercharged 3-liter 340-horsepower V-6, which has a neck-snapping 332 pound-feet of torque.

For my money the strong, smooth V-6 in the XJ is virtually as good as the costlier 5-liter 385-horsepower V-8. And the V-6 gets better fuel economy. The 0-60 mph time with the V-6 and rear drive are conservatively estimated by Jaguar at 5.7 seconds and at 6.1 seconds with AWD.

The sophisticated V-6 has lots of punch in the city and on highways because its equipment includes direct fuel injection and twin vortex superchargers with dual intercoolers.

Whatever the engine, power is transmitted though a thoroughly modern eight-speed automatic transmission with a decent manual-shift feature.

The XJ V-6’s estimated economy figures are a decent 18 miles per gallon in the city and 27 on highways with the standard rear-drive XJ V-6, despite the fact that all XJs top 4,000 pounds. The figures are 16 and 24 with AWD.

Prices for the XJ V-6 range from $73,200 to $83,700. With a V-8, XJs go from $81,200 to $119,100. Jaguar supplied no price/option sticker with my test car, but I found that I drove the $83,700 XJL upscale “Portfolio” all-wheel-drive version with the V-6.

Plush interior, 2013 Jaguar XJ.
Plush interior, 2013 Jaguar XJ.

The “L” in my test car’s designation stands for long wheelbase, which translates to almost limo-style rear-seat room. The regular XJ V-6’s wheelbase and overall length are, respectively, 119.4 inch and 201.9 inches. The long-wheelbase version has a 124.3-inch wheelbase and is 206.8 inches long. The long-wheelbase version adds $3,500 to the price of the $73,200 regular-wheelbase V-6 model.

That’s quite a difference, although you really can’t tell the “L” version is longer by just casually glancing at it. Both XJs have the same sleek, sexy styling. Such styling helped sell lots of Jaguars—even in the automaker’s dark old days when they weren’t the most reliable things around.

Jaguar gave the XJ wide front and rear door openings for easy entry and exit. The comfortable front seats provide good lateral support in curves and during sharp turns. And the large rear seats are nicely shaped for long-distance comfort, although the stiff center area is best left for the fold-down armrest, which contains dual cupholders.

The ultramodern backlit gauges can be quickly read, and the small console rotary shifter is easy to use. But the complex dashboard touch screen leaves something to be desired for quick selection of the climate, audio and navigation systems. At least there’s a conventional on-off knob for the audio system.

Maintaining Jaguar’s XJ tradition, the whisper-quiet interior is plush, with genuine wood trim, lots of leather and many chrome details. Cabin storage areas include pockets in all doors and a covered front console bin. Small, but nifty, touches include a cover for each of the two front console cupholders.

The XJ acts much like a big sports car. Its steering is quick and nicely weighted, the handling is admirable (the V-6 offers better handling than the heavier V-8) and the ride is smooth. The brake pedal has a nice progressive action, and the car stops surely and quickly.

The lid for the deep-but-shallow luggage compartment is opened with twin enclosed manual hinges, not the hydraulic struts I expected.

However, the hood opens via twin struts, revealing a very crowded engine compartment. A large plastic cover conceals the V-6, which is set back for better handling.

Jaguars still are built in England despite foreign ownership, and the automaker has been adding alluring new models. Jaguar has loads of exciting history behind it, and the XJ, as always, is more exciting than most competitors.

You’ll always feel wealthy driving an XJ.

Pros: Virtually unchanged for 2014. Sleek. New super-charged V-6. New all-wheel drive. Sharp handling. Smooth ride. Roomy longer version.

Cons: Shallow trunk. Premium fuel required. Complex touch screen.

Bottom Line: A sexy alternative to higher volume upscale sedans.

Dan Jedlicka has been an automotive journalist for more than 40 years. To read more of his new and vintage car reviews, visit: www.danjedlicka.com.

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