If we gave an award to an automotive company for the best comeback, Jaguar would be the undisputed winner. We?re talking about a company steeped in heritage with a long history of amazing cars that dipped badly in later part of the 20th century. The company struggled through multiple ownerships ending up as a part of Ford?s ill-fated Premier Auto Group in 1999 before ending up, along with Land Rover, as part of India?s Tata Motors in 2008 and the start of the comeback.
Along the way, both Ford and Tata funded Jaguar and seemed to stay out of the way and let Jaguar do its own thing while helping the company to grow and more importantly to create new and beautiful cars ? good cars.
In the process Jaguar was able to push aside a reputation for poor quality, and today the company builds some of our favorite luxury performance and sports cars.
As the largest of the Jaguar sedan?s the XJ comes in two lengths. The models with the XJL designation have a five-inch longer wheelbase and are five inches longer than the XJ models ? which are about the same length as a Chevrolet Tahoe. All the extra space goes into the rear seat, which happens to be a great place to spend time if you have a driver. However our preference is being the driver and front passenger.
We think the extra five-inches in the rear seat are overkill, but for someone who wants to be driven, it?s great, especially when it?s equipped with the optional ($4,000) rear seat package. This adds individual rear seats that adjust and massage. There are also front and rear winged headrests, electric rear side sun blinds and a button to move the front passenger seat up. Or for $7,750 the Premium Rear Executive package gets all rear seat package features plus memory system, business trays, rear seat entertainment (two 10.2-inch screens), rear media interface, touch remote control and wireless headphones.
Some of the other standard features include panoramic sunroof, smart key, heated and cooled front and rear seats, blind spot monitor and soft door close.
It seems unusual for a top level luxury sedan to be powered by a V-6 engine, but this one works great. The AWD version accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds and the rear-drive takes only (5.7 seconds. It also has excellent passing power, and decent fuel economy. The EPA says it should get 16 mpg city, 24 mpg highway and 19 mpg in combined driving. We actually averaged 23.2 mpg during a week of normal driving.
The extensive use of aluminum body and suspension parts along with some magnesium and composite structures keep the weight close to 4,000 pounds making it a lightweight in the category and that translates to better agility and a lighter feel than big name German luxury vehicles.
The 2015 Jaguar XJ pricing ranges from $75,125, including the destination charge, for the V-6-powered XJ and range as high as $119,925 for the XJR Long Wheelbase. With all the option boxes checked that price can go as high as $135,000.
We think the XJ often gets overlooked by shoppers looking for a full-size luxury sedan, but we rate it as a ?must drive? ? it?s really like drivable artwork.