Jaguar is betting the brand on distinctive styling. The XJ's dramatic new roofline makes an elegant statement, but it clips rear-seat room in the process, and the XJ's reskinned interior suffers a bit from some shiny trim pieces.
Clamber into the XJ, and you'll find a little less room even in front than in the Lexus LS or Audi A8. It's roughly as large as the former, formally styled XJ, but the space is arranged differently, with more tapering at the ends that leaves valuable cubic feet under the windshield and rear glass. The front seats don't lose much space, except maybe at the knees, where the console's spread out some. Headroom is the clear loss-leader for the XJ's glam new styling: it's tight in all seating positions, but especially in back, where the roofline dips right at the scalps of taller passengers. Leg room is no problem, though, particularly on long-wheelbase models, which get 5 extra inches of rear seat space.
Also noticeable is how Jaguar's stiffened up its seats. The XJ's new buckets are less cozy, flatter and firmer. They do offer up 20-way power adjustments in front, though, and in both front and back, can be fitted with massage 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.
The XJ's interior is smothered in chrome, wood and leather, some of it achingly gorgeous, but in places the shinier trim goes over the top to cater to Hollywood tastes. We're not sure the piano-black trim and rings of metallic trim speak volumes to true high-end luxury shoppers, and some of those pieces give and flex to the touch, something that doesn't happen in a similarly priced S-Class or 7-Series.