In the full-size luxury sedan segment there’s a small but great selection to choose from. If you’re looking for all the luxury and legroom you could ever need, without buying a mega-dollar Bentley or Rolls-Royce, then something like the 2012 Jaguar XJ will be ideal.
It competes with the flagship sedan models from Audi, BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz, but the Jaguar stands out from the crowd, not from old-world styling like that which plagued its predecessor, but from its avant-garde lines and British charm.
Yes, you’ll feel like James Bond rolling around in the XJ, or at least his chauffeur. Up front there’s a powerful grille that’s flanked by two cat-like eyes that taper back into a gorgeous body. The only odd feature is the blacked-out C-pillar found on some models, which ruins what is otherwise a perfect roofline.
Looks aside, the XJ also offers some very exciting engines. There are three flavors to choose from, all of them V-8. The base XJ gets a naturally-aspirated 5.0-liter V-8, which is tuned to deliver 385 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque.
Next in line is the mid-level XJ Supercharged, which gets--as you may have guessed--a supercharged version of this engine complete with 470 horsepower and 424 pound-feet of torque.
Topping out the range is the XJ Supersport, which features the same supercharged powerplant found in the XJ Supercharged but with output turned to 510 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque.
All are matched to a six-speed automatic transmission, which is a brilliant unit though short a couple of gears on some of its rivals. Also note that the XJ, while offering both standard and long-wheelbase models, is only available with rear-wheel drive. Buyers in the Northern states may prefer something with all-wheel drive for those risky winter drives.
In addition to its good looks, another standout feature of the 2012 Jaguar XJ is its all-aluminum construction. This makes the XJ much lighter than its rivals, which translates to excellent acceleration and handling--even the base car can accelerate from 0-60 mph in less than 6.0-seconds--plus decent fuel economy for a sedan of this size. The EPA rates the base model at 16/23 mpg city/highway.
One last thing worth a mention is Jaguar's standard service plan, which pretty much pays for everything except gas and tires for the first five years or 50,000 miles of use.
For all the details on the XJ, including a close look at its interior and features, head over to our sister site The Car Connection for the full review.