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2013 Jaguar XJ Preview

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Some luxury shoppers haven’t yet taken note of how radically the Jaguar XJ changed for the 2011 model year, when Jaguar seemingly awoke from a design slumber, peeling away from its stodgy, baroque past. But Jaguar isn’t waiting for them to catch up. For 2013, it’s keeping the XJ’s unmistakable style fully intact but hopefully making it a more appealing car, with a new, more fuel-efficient supercharged V-6, available all-wheel drive, new eight-speed automatic transmissions, and fuel-saving technologies.

That’s not all; 2013 also marks the introduction of a new flagship XJL Ultimate, a Speed Pack for XJ Supersport and XJ Supercharged models, and upgraded audio and infotainment throughout the lineup.

Just as in previous model years, the 2013 XJ is offered in standard-length XJ and long-wheelbase XJL versions, with the key difference being that the ‘L’ add 5.2 inches of rear legroom—and about that much extra length—over the other.

The base engine for the 2013 XJ lineup is a 340-horsepower, 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 that’s a completely new design, although based on Jag’s well-regarded V-8. Available with the V-6 is a new, so-called Intuitive All-Wheel Drive system that’s performance-oriented and rear-biased under most driving, but it can send more power to the fronts to preemptively maintain traction. The system also includes a winter mode.

In addition to the new supercharged V-6, the XJ continues to offer V-8 engines through the rest of the lineup. XJ and XJL Supercharged models include a 470-horsepower, supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 engine, while Supersport and Ultimate models step up to a 510-hp version. One model, the XJL Portfolio, offers the 385-hp, 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V-8 that was standard through 2012.

All four of the XJ’s engines get a new eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, which includes steering-wheel paddle shifters and has a broader spread of ratios compared to the six-speed it replaces—for both better performance and fuel economy. The XJ 3.0-liter returns EPA ratings of up to 18 mpg city, 28 highway.

Each of the engines also includes Auto Stop/Start, which shuts the engine off and smartly restarts it to avoid prolonged idling at stoplights or in gridlock.

And at the opposite end, for the performance-minded, Sport and Speed Pack options add enhanced aerodynamics, other improvements, and a higher 174-mph top speed.

New at the top of the XJ lineup this year is a new XJL Ultimate model, which gets a 510-horsepower supercharged V-8, special exclusive finishes, and an interior that Jaguar describes as “private-jet-like.” Feature details include a beverage chiller, power-operated rear table, solid aluminum flute holders, and a couple of iPads in custom leather-trimmed docks, with a wireless keyboard. Only 30 will be imported to the U.S. this model year.

A new premium audio system from Meridian, a British company that’s known for home audio components, will be included in all XJ models. Navigation systems are getting improved functionality with new Dynamic Zoon and Visual Lane Guidance functions, while a My POI feature lets you more easily program destinations.

Features included in base XJ 3.0 models include dual-zone automatic climate control (other XJs get a four-zone system), heated front and rear seats, keyless entry and start, rain-sensing wipers, approach illumination, a power-adjustable steering column, and a power trunk lid. Several features, including heated-and-cooled active-ventilation front and rear seats, and; a leather and wood heated steering wheel, are standard on some other XJ models but optional on the base 3.0. A radar-based blind-spot monitoring system is included in all XJ models, as is a backup camera.

Altogether, the new Jaguar XJ starts at $74,075 with the V-6 and rear-wheel drive, or $77,575 with all-wheel drive. Prices for most of the other models have risen slightly.

Otherwise, the XJ carries through from this past year in many respects. See our full review of the 2012 Jaguar XJ for more details and insights, and expect a full review of the 2013 XJ soon.

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