2014 Jaguar XJL Portfolio AWD
One of the sportiest boats in the sea.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: November 27th, 2013
Quick, think of the first long-wheelbase luxury sedan you can. What comes to mind, a BMW 750Li? Lexus LS600hL? Audi A8L? Was your first thought the Jaguar XJL? If not, it should move up to the front of the line, because it's just as capable as the competition, with a unique angle on sportiness that gives it a proper advantage over certain competitors.
While an automaker's engineers realize that the driver does deserve a fair amount of attention in a long-wheelbase car - a model that's more suitable for the driven than the drivers - Jaguar manages to take it to a different level. They seem to believe that the driver is also the owner of the vehicle, and so they've put an extra focus on driving dynamics in these models.
Even with the least-powerful motor - a three-liter supercharged V-6 - hooked up to the all-wheel-drive system, our XJL provided for a fun factor that the Lexus LS600hL could only dream about. A quick press of the checkered-flag button (a little cheesy, we'll admit) turns the gauge cluster red, as if to mimic a matador's cape, distinctly saying come and get it. The air suspension stiffens to the point of nearly-complete body roll elimination, and the throttle gains some sharpness that seems sadly missing from even the standard setting.
The wonderfully smooth eight-speed transmission also has a special "S" setting to match. It doesn't seem to speed up shifting so much as it leaves the motor in the powerband for longer, reducing the need for triple downshifts in order to jet around a grandpa in the left lane. The transmission is just fine doing all this itself, but if you really want to take the reins and don't mind a few herky-jerky shifts here and there, there exists a pair of flappy-paddles to engage your inner Andretti.
With everything put into its sportiest setting, the XJL seems to lose the additional wheelbase, performing more like a traditional sport sedan, possibly to the chagrin of those in the backseat. Thankfully, the interior is so comfortable, your passengers may just forget about that all-wheel drift you pulled around the last corner.
The XJL has one of the best interiors in its class. The split-level dashboard, topped with a continuous strip of veneer, is like no other, and every place in the car your hands can reach is covered in a soft material that would keep a raver happy for hours on end. Most of the controls are confined to the touchscreen in the center console, and its main menu provides a quick overlook of everything you'll need while driving. The heated and ventilated seats allow you to switch between heating zones, just in case you want a warm back and chilly thighs. The steering wheel is perfectly sized, covered in some very hand-friendly leather. It makes you want to hold it.
Two big gripes, though. The transmission knob takes a bit of getting used to, and most of the time you'll wonder if you're actually breaking it. Also, the entire gauge cluster is replaced with a single TFT screen, one that likes to pick up glare nearly as much as the center console's screen does. In the right light, you might be flying VFR for a while.
The Jaguar is the smoothest-looking LWB of the bunch (and will be until the new S-Class LWB comes out, because that car looks like somebody made egregious overuse of the "Smooth Corners" filter in Photoshop). The hood is the most creased part of the car, and gives the XJL the aesthetic bite inherent in Jaguar's current design language. It manages to be a very good-looking car without sacrificing subtlety. Would you expect anything less from a British luxury brand?
On the Road
With all the sporty buttons pushed, this car delivers great driving feel from every inch of the car - steering, shifting, and handling all feel like they're happening on a much smaller vehicle. Sadly, putting everything into its standard mode is exactly that - a little too standard. Other LWB cars have softer suspension and a more relaxed driving feel, but the Jaguar still retains a little sport that just seems out of place if you want full-on luxury. If you want to be coddled to the nth degree, then other cars will do a better job, but if you ever want to have fun, the Jaguar should be on your short list, very close to the top.
If you're a driver that doesn't ever like to separate sport and comfort, then the Jaguar XJL really hits its intended mark. It's that easy. Jaguar takes the level of driver involvement in a long-wheelbase vehicle and multiplies it by ten. If you happen to work as a driver, this car might irk the guy in the backseat, but up front, you'll be all smiles. It's a LWB that assumes it will be driven for the sake of enjoyment, and that's a quality we don't see as much in any of its competitors.
Specs & Price
Engine: 3.0-liter supercharged V-6
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Power Output: 340 hp / 332 lb-ft
Fuel Economy: 16 city / 24 highway
Base Price: $84,700
As Tested: $85,595 (incl. $895 destination)
Optional Features: Performance summer tires, Rear Seat Package (massaging individual rear seats, footrests), Front Seat Massage, Premium Rear Executive Package (Rear Seat Package plus memory functions, business trays, rear-seat entertainment system with dual 10.2-inch LCD screens and touch-screen remote), Visibility Package (adaptive front headlights, headlight washers, intelligent high beams), Illumination Package (illuminated front and rear air vents, illuminated tread plates, illuminated trunk finisher), adaptive cruise control, heated windshield with timer
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2014 Jaguar XJ, click here: 2014 Jaguar XJ.