Full 2014 Jaguar XJ Review
What's New for 2014
For 2014, the new Jaguar XJR replaces the Supersport trim level, while a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 engine replaces the previous V8 in the XJL Portfolio model. More subtle refinements include soft-door close on all models, additional soft-touch dash and door surfaces, enhanced seat massage and an optional premium audio system. The high-luxury Ultimate trim level is discontinued, as are, sadly, wood tray tables for rear seat passengers.
Germany is bound to be well represented in your search for an elite full-size luxury sedan. Each of its entries offers the utmost in craftsmanship, technology and cutting-edge engineering, which is exactly what you'd expect from the nation that pioneered the 21st-century luxury automobile. However, these Teutonic luxury sedans are so often missing something: character. For that, you must make your way across the North Sea to England and the 2014 Jaguar XJ.
The XJ offers uniquely eye-catching style, a high-fashion interior and a driving experience that's more sport sedan than limousine. It's as alive and dynamic as its competitors are cold and calculating. A lightweight aluminum body helps sets the XJ apart from its heaviest competitors (which sometimes outweigh it by 400-600 pounds) and gives it handling prowess that befits its namesake. The upshot is that you'll feel more like a driver and less like a chauffeur when you're behind the wheel of this Jaguar. The fact that the XJ typically doesn't sell in the same numbers as its rivals also gives it an air of exclusivity.
For 2014, Jaguar has upped the XJ's performance potential with the XJR model. With a 550-horsepower supercharged V8, unique suspension tuning and sport seating, the XJR is the obvious choice for the insatiable performance enthusiast. Of course, the supercharged V6 that debuted last year will suit most buyers just fine given its respectable fuel economy and available all-wheel drive for cold weather areas.
So what are the downsides to owning a 2014 Jaguar XJ? Although the XJ's cabin is a feast for the eyes and fingertips, the quality of construction isn't quite as bulletproof as its primary, German-brand competitors: the 2014 Audi A8, 2014 BMW 7 Series and 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Technology is another area where the XJ brings up the rear. Its touchscreen interface is less advanced and, ultimately, less functional than rival infotainment systems, and there are several high-tech features (especially in the active safety realm) that are not offered at all. However, for those of you who let your emotions rule your car buying decisions, the stylishly refined and, at times, quite exhilarating Jaguar XJ is bound to have lasting appeal.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Jaguar XJ is a five-passenger full-size luxury sedan available in regular (XJ) and long-wheelbase (XJL) variants. The XJ comes in base, Supercharged and XJR trim levels, while the XJL has the Portfolio, Supercharged and XJR trim levels.
The base XJ comes standard with 19-inch wheels, an adaptive and self-leveling suspension, driver-adjustable steering and throttle settings, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, automatic wipers, automatic bi-xenon headlights, auto-dimming mirrors, a power trunk lid, a panoramic sunroof and keyless ignition/entry.
Standard convenience equipment includes soft-close doors, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated eight-way power front seats (with four-way power lumbar), driver seat memory settings, a power tilt-and-telescoping heated steering wheel and heated rear seats.
An 8-inch touchscreen system anchors the multimedia features, augmented with a navigation system, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice controls and a 14-speaker Meridian audio system with a CD player, satellite radio, HD radio, digital music storage and a USB connection.
The optional Portfolio package adds heated and ventilated 16-way power front seats with massage function, passenger seat memory settings, dual-zone automatic climate control for the rear seats, and heated and ventilated rear seats. Choosing the Portfolio also opens more color choices for interior trim, a simulated suede headliner and additional leather surfacing.
Most Portfolio package features come standard on the XJL Portfolio, although massaging seats remain an option. In addition to the extra rear seat space, the long-wheelbase model has rear vanity mirrors and manual rear sunshades. An optional package brings front seat massage (also available as a stand-alone item) and additional leather-covered surfaces, including the headliner. Adaptive headlights, automatic high-beam control and a 20-speaker Meridian surround-sound audio system are also available.
Moving to the XJ Supercharged brings the supercharged V8, along with tauter suspension tuning, 20-inch wheels with performance tires, plus the adaptive headlights, automatic high-beams and 20-speaker Meridian audio system. A long-wheelbase model is also available. A Sport and Speed Package adds a higher top-speed limiter, exclusive exterior and interior trim details and 14-way sport seats.
The new XJR, also available in regular and long-wheelbase versions, comes with the most potent V8 engine of all, exclusive 20-inch wheels, XJR-specific suspension tuning, quad-tip exhaust and the contents of the Sport and Speed package.
Any 2014 Jaguar XJ can be optioned with adaptive cruise control (which includes a forward collision alert and brake assist) and a heated windshield. An even more powerful 26-speaker Meridian sound system is available for the Portfolio and Supercharged trims.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2014 Jaguar XJ base and XJL Portfolio models feature a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine generating 340 hp and 332 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive are standard; all-wheel drive is optional. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 21 mpg combined (18 mpg city/27 mpg highway) for the rear-drive model. The AWD model is rated at 19 mpg combined (16 city/24 highway).
Upgrading to the XJ Supercharged model gets you a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 with 470 hp and 424 lb-ft of torque, while the new XJR extracts 550 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque from a higher-performance version of this engine. Both models return an EPA-estimated 15/23/18 mpg.
In Edmunds testing, a Jaguar XJR accelerated from zero to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds. An XJL Portfolio AWD was noticeably slower at 6.1 seconds.
Every 2014 Jaguar XJ comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, active head restraints and a blind-spot warning system. A forward collision alert system and advanced brake assist (it primes the brakes if an accident is imminent) are included with the optional adaptive cruise control. Conspicuous in their absence are lane-keeping assist, automated parking, rear cross-traffic alert, head-up display and night-vision capabilities that are available on other flagship sedans.
In Edmunds brake testing, an XJL Portfolio with the standard 19-inch wheels and all-season tires stopped from 60 mph in 124 feet, a bit longer than average for this class of car. An XJL Supercharged with summer tires, however, stopped from 60 mph in 106 feet. The similarly equipped XJR did it in 105 feet.
Interior Design and Special Features
Settling into the Jaguar XJ makes you realize just how austere and clinical other luxury sedans have become. The XJ features magnificent natural surfaces, exquisite ambient lighting and some of the best man-made materials found in any vehicle at any price.
Old World luxury meets contemporary aesthetics with a digital instrument panel replicating mechanical dial indicators in a variety of user-configurable layouts and bathed in soothing ice-blue lighting. The XJ's touchscreen interface commands most of the sound, navigation and phone controls. While its speed and operation has improved over the years, competitors' systems (which are typically manipulated via one large control dial and adjacent menu buttons) are easier and quicker to use and give the driver control over a wider array of vehicle functions.
Although its vast exterior profile suggests otherwise, the XJ's sloping roof line sacrifices both front- and rear-seat headroom for style. In the base models, there's also not as much legroom back there as you'd expect. If you need a roomy backseat, consider the long-wheelbase L models, but bear in mind that no XJ will feel as limo-like as its competitors do. Similarly, the XJ's 15.2-cubic-foot trunk is average in size for the segment, but has a few awkward protrusions that limit your loading options, as well as a shallow profile.
The Jaguar image is one of effortless pace, and the 2014 XJ's gracious road manners don't disappoint. Jaguar retuned the suspension last year to improve ride quality, and indeed, the big sedan rides better, even with larger wheels and tires, but it still has trouble isolating harsh impacts. Aluminum construction makes the XJ lighter than it looks, and the Jag has an agility that most rivals can't match. Driver-selectable settings for the engine, transmission and suspension enable a wide range of dynamic choices.
The supercharged V6 offers fuel economy on par with the class (nearly identical to the Audi A8, for example), pulls more effortlessly than the base model V8 it replaced and will hit the sweet spot for most buyers. It sounds great, too.
But if it's outright power you crave, either of the beefy supercharged V8 engines will deliver. The new Jaguar XJR tops the lineup with the most power and a stiffer suspension. While not punishing by any definition, the XJR is best suited for the driver who appreciates, and intends to exploit, its performance potential. You probably wouldn't take the XKR to a track day event, but if you did, it wouldn't disappoint. Meanwhile, this highest-performance model in the 2014 Jaguar XJ lineup is hugely satisfying when you crack the whip on the open road.