- Nimble feel
- Highway fuel economy
- Ample leg room in L versions
- Restrained styling from the side
- Ungainly new nose
The 2008 Jaguar XJ has a rich interior, good fuel economy, and a light touch, but its dowdy exterior is a major letdown.
The 2008 Jaguar XJ returns for its fourth year on the market, with an aluminum chassis, V-8 engines, and a broad range of models priced from about $63,000 to nearly $94,000.
The standard XJ8 comes powered by a 300-horsepower, 4.2-liter V-8 engine working through a smooth-shifting ZF six-speed automatic. Performance for this version is just quick enough for a luxury car, but with fuel economy of 16/25 mpg, a good figure in this class. A long-wheelbase L edition gets more legroom for the backseat without a big penalty in weight and none in fuel economy. The Vanden Plas takes the long-wheelbase edition and adds as standard front park control, folding rear picnic trays, lambswool rugs, and a 320-watt Alpine premium sound system with AM/FM radio, single in-dash CD player, and six-disc trunk-mounted CD changer, as well as DVD-based navigation.
Two supercharged cars, with more breathtaking performance, are offered. The XKR's 4.2-liter V-8 makes 400 horsepower, and like the standard car, it's coupled to a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic. Nineteen-inch wheels are standard (with 20-inch wheels available optionally) as well as Adaptive Cruise Control and R-specific interior and exterior trim. Atop the range is the Super V8, which marries the Vanden Plas trim with the supercharged V-8. It adds a standard rear DVD entertainment system for a price of about $94,000. Fuel economy on the supercharged cars dips to 15/22 mpg.
Since its launch in the current body style, the Jaguar XJ has done the unthinkable: It's made the technology under the Jaguar skin more important than the skin itself. The XJ looks dowdy from some angles, and the new nose on the front of 2008 models doesn't improve matters at all. The single detail that improves the XJ's looks is the fender vent in metallic trim.
It's the major changes to its underbody that made the XJ a revelation for Jaguar. While the shape remained largely the same as previous XJs, the new car's aluminum construction dropped its weight while strengthening its chassis, which in turn firmed up its handling. The Jaguar XJ is still among the softer luxury sedans, but it doesn't wallow or roll very much--and its steering is wonderfully light compared to the hefty feel of the big BMWs. A self-leveling suspension is standard on the XJ, as are 18-inch wheels, while 19-inchers are available.
Inside there's plenty of room, particularly on the long-wheelbase models. The cockpit is comfortably lined with wood, leather, and metallic trim. And unlike in past Jaguars, the features are state of the art; there's a great sound system, a navigation system, and Bluetooth connectivity. For safety, the 2008 Jaguar XJ sports front, side, and curtain airbags; stability and traction control; and anti-lock brakes.
Jaguar's quality ratings are among the highest in the auto industry. No federal crash testing has been done on the new XJ.