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TheCarConnection.com's editors drove the new Jaguar XJ in order to give you an expert opinion here in this Bottom Line. TheCarConnection.com also researched available road tests on the new Jaguar XJ to bring you the most useful highlights and to help you find the truth where other reviews might differ.
Looks are deceiving for the 2009 Jaguar XJ. It appears to be a very conservative, old-style luxury sedan, but major changes to its underbody have made the XJ a revelation for Jaguar. Though the shape remained largely the same as that of previous XJs, the new car's aluminum construction dropped its weight while strengthening its chassis—which helps it ride and handle better than most other big sedans and get slightly better fuel economy.
The 2009 XJ8 is propelled 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—good figures in this class. 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. Fuel economy on the supercharged cars dips to 15/22 mpg.
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; 19-inchers are also available. The XJ’s 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.
The 2009 Jaguar XJ has a rich interior, but its exterior design is a major letdown. The XJ looks dowdy from some angles, and the new nose introduced in 2008 doesn't help matters at all. The single detail that does improve the XJ's looks is the fender vent in metallic trim.
For 2009 Jaguar is bringing 140 examples of a Super V8 Portfolio model to the United States. The Super V8 Portfolio features 20-inch Selena-style alloy wheels, hand-milled solid aluminum power vents, and unique badging. 2009 Super V8 Portfolios painted in Celestial Black come with a Navy leather interior with contrasting Barley piping, while the interior of Astral Gold cars feature Ivory leather with Navy piping.
Nineteen-inch wheels are standard (and 20-inch wheels available optionally), as are 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. Upgrades to the 2009 XJ8 and XJ8 L models include the standardization of the DD-based navigation system, a 320-watt Alpine Premium Surround Sound system, and Front Park Control. The 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 folding rear picnic trays, lambswool rugs, a single in-dash CD player, and a six-disc trunk-mounted CD changer.
For safety, the 2009 Jaguar XJ sports front, side, and curtain airbags; stability and traction control; and anti-lock brakes. The cabin offers plenty of room, particularly in the long-wheelbase models. No federal crash testing has been done on the new XJ.