2011 Jaguar XJ L: Bring On The Fancy Feast

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The Jaguar is considered an endangered specie due to a small population and the continued poaching of them for their hide.  Another Jaguar that is equally rare is the Jaguar XJ L.  One look at the 2011 XJ L and you you’ll likely want to poach one of these from a Jaguar dealer and enjoy the aroma of the leather hides used in the seats, the sound of the V8 exhaust, and the exterior design that is fresh and doesn’t resemble anything of the past thirty years or something from Bavaria. 

In 2002 I had just graduated from college and I only had a small amount of clothes and a Kirby vacuum to my name – no car.  I had just started to work at Ford in Kentucky.  I had the choice of any Ford product under the extensive umbrella of brands they owned to choose from.  I had always been a fan of the Mondeo and I had a 1996 Contour that was a sad excuse for a Mondeo.  I also had the Mondeo-inspired Cougar and a 1999 SVT Contour at one point.  You get the point.  I liked the Mondeo!  With the ink still drying on my diploma I knew I wanted something with all-wheel drive and a manual transmission.  I still had my love of the Mondeo in mind and I headed down to the Jaguar dealer in Louisville, KY where I leased an X-Type 2.5L with a manual transmission, sport package and navigation.  It was a slick ride for any 22 year old.  It looked like a baby XJ and had everything I wanted in it.  Check out the pictures below.  I was now a fan of the leaper, err, glorified Mondeo.

Fast forward many years now.  When the XJ L arrived I knew this was the cat’s meow.  While many might reminisce and say that Jaguar was buried in the litter box after the X- and S-Type debuted, it’s clear that this XJ L is no rebadged Ford with kitten skin.  The XJ L has a presence on the road that is not equal to anything else.  Due to the fact that Jaguar isn’t as common as a BMW or an Audi, the XJ L got more looks and interest from people than other flagship sedan I’ve driven.  The rear end even has taillights that look like a cat’s claw at night.  Yes, this cat purrs.

The XJ is powered by a 5.0L V8 with a six-speed automatic.  Six-speeds?  Oy!  It may not win the numbers game while the competition is moving to seven or eight gears, but the XJ is still plenty fast and can get from zero to sixty lickity split.  Oh yes, it moves and the engine soundtrack is so sweet.  It isn’t muted like the 4.2L V8 in the A8 and there isn’t a turbo spooling up like the Active Hybrid 7.  It’s just pure, unadulterated, aural bliss that begs for you to hammer it on the freeway entrance ramp.

The all-aluminum XJ L is a fairly lightweight vehicle, like the A8 L.  It doesn’t quite get the fuel economy of the A8 L but this is a V8 Jaguar.  If you’re buying one of these you’re probably not too sensitive about the price of 91 octane.  Handling is confident, thanks in part to the lightweight aluminum frame.  The brakes are strong and the suspension is taut, if not a little too firm for Michigan’s moon crater roads.  An all-wheel drive option will be available soon and should increase the buyer consideration for those living in states where snow flies.

My only beef with the XJ is the infotainment system.  It’s the slowest thing since Windows 3.1.  Trying to navigate the iPod interface requires the patience of a saint as you have to wait in between commands for the screen to respond.  With smartphones today running at blazingly fast speeds there is no excuse for this system to respond so slowly.  Also, as LED daytime running lights become the standard fare on anything from Europe these days, the LED strip below the headlights should be used as DRLs.  Two minor concerns…not a deal breaker.

Once you get the music going you tend to forget the difficulty you had trying to navigate to a track.  The Bowers & Wilkins speakers are outstanding.  They sound their best with a DVD-A disc.  While it isn’t up to snuff with the system in the A8, it has a significantly more attractive price on the window sticker than the A8 and I felt like it was a better value.  The bass is clean and the tuning is phenomenal when listening to 5.1 audio.  While I’d be leery of buying an A8 with the B&O system due to the price, the B&W in the Jaguar is the only way to go.

The XJ L drew lustful stares due to the long wheelbase and picture perfect design.  Honestly, this car should come with a warning on the side “CAUTION: Visual Inspection of Exterior Has Same Effect as Viagra”.  Barring the sloth-like infotainment system, the XJ L is one fine feline worthy of the Jaguar flagship title.  With the addition of all-wheel drive, the XJ L will really be able to help Jaguar claw their way back and regain their sales momentum.

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