With aluminum body panels bonded and riveted to an aluminum space frame, the 2011 Jaguar XJ is substantially lighter than the competition—though with new features, the difference is diminished somewhat. The XJ weighs in at roughly 4300 pounds, which the company claims is 250 pounds less than its lightest competitor, the BMW 750Li--and hundreds less than the big Benz S-Class. There's about 12,000 aluminum cans' worth of recycled metal in the XJ's body structure, which sounds like a long weekend of tailgating NASCAR to us.
The XJ also has a little less room inside than you might expect, since its roofline and aluminum body dictate some leaner proportions than vertically inclined, steel-bodied cars like the Lexus LS. The interior has roughly the same cubic feet as before, but it's shallower than other luxury liners. Front-seat passengers will notice it less, but the XJ does get a bit tight at the knees. Leg room isn't the issue in front, nor in back--especially on long-wheelbase versions, which get 5 inches more rear legroom. It's in headroom where the packaging draws attention to itself; if you're tall of torso and short of leg, you might connect with the headliner in the rear seat at all times, like I did. The seats themselves are flatter and less cushy than in the past, too--though up front there are 20-way power adjustments, and front and back, Jaguar offers massaging and heating functions.
Jaguar says the 18.4-cubic-foot trunk is the biggest in its class, and has a power-closing decklid. Ford's newest Taurus has more interior room and shorter overall length, but its trunk is bigger. That skimpy Jag tail exacts a bit of a penalty.
You'd never mistake the XJ for the Taurus in any other way, particularly inside. Thicker glass and a stouter body damp out noise even more than before, with just the bare ripple of road and engine noise evident. They're practically smothered by all the leather, wood and chrome surfaces. We're not sure, again, that the black trim and glitzy chrome conveys as much evanescent "quality" feel as it should, but in our two test cars, the XJ seemed to have the fit and finish of an $80,000 sedan. If the stock finishes aren't enough, Jaguar will install a leather headliner and semi-aniline leather seats--among the nine wood and interior colors you can choose, along with aluminum or gloss trim.