2016 Jaguar XJ Review

Consumer Reviews
0 Reviews
2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
June 28, 2016

The 2016 Jaguar XJ balances extravagant looks with dazzling big-car performance.

The Jaguar XJ is the British automaker's flagship sedan, and it represents a new direction from the nameplate's storied history. Despite being the luxury brand's largest offering, the use of aluminum in both the XJ's body and underlying structure keep it relatively lightweight and nimble. Powerful engine options and lighter weight mean a smaller, sportier feel.

For 2016, the XJ's exterior carries over from 2015 mostly unchanged. The bold grille is more upright and even larger than last year and gets a new wire mesh pattern. Full adaptive LED headlights are standard on all XJ models for 2016. The drop-dead gorgeous roofline, sail-away rear pillar, and runway-model sensibilities definitely remain. Inside, the InControl infotainment system governs all the secondary controls. Finally, electric power steering is new, on rear-drive XJs.

Styling changes are minimal, and probably are meant to prepare drivers for an all-new XJ in the works. The XJ's polarizing rear-end styling is improved a bit with restyled tail lamps. Depending on the beholder, the tucked-in look can still seem either understyled or delightfully different. XJL Portfolio and XJL Supercharged customers models get quilted leather interiors for 2016, but all models retain the bounteous interior brightwork we still wish could be toned down a bit.

Review continues below

Base level XJs get a 340-horsepower, supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 with 0-60 mph times of 5.7 seconds. That's within 0.8 second of the supercharged V-8, yet returns much better gas mileage (27 mpg on the highway). Both short- and long-wheelbase V-6-powered XJs can be outfitted with all-wheel drive, which should please buyers who routinely deal with inclement weather. But Jaguar is quick to point out the all-wheel-drive system is not a performance enhancer.

More power-hungry buyers can choose rear-drive versions with either of two strengths of supercharged 5.0-liter V-8—the 470-hp Supercharged models or the 550-hp XJRs. Again, these are both available with a short or an extended wheelbase. The quickest of the bunch, the XJR, hits 60 in a thrilling 4.7 seconds. The XJR also benefits from a stiffer suspension, a front aero splitter, a subtle rear spoiler, and various interior upgrades.

Throughout the model line, the engines are mated to 8-speed automatics, and shift quality is quick and smooth (save for too much downshift delay in Drive), with a more performance-oriented shift program in "S" mode as well as a Dynamic mode that provides sharper shifts and some rev-matching (along with other important changes to the adaptive damping system and stability control).

Behind the wheel, the XJ feels almost shockingly lean and light, which makes sense since compared to German luxury flagships it weighs several hundred pounds less. The all-aluminum structure builds in a deft handling edge, and with this generation, the almost mythical ride isolation of Jaguars is history, replaced by an athletic, taut feel. Factor in the adaptive damping system, however, and the electronics manage to filter out minor road imperfections without spoiling any of the fun. Huge ventilated disc brakes with brake drying and good pedal feel match the XJ's crispness, and Z-rated tires of up to 20 inches stick tenaciously.

The XJ's sporty feel is even more enhanced by its physically close interior. Firm, flat seats are multi-adjustable, ventilated and heated, but head and leg room are less than 2014 models. Back seat passengers make do with an even tighter situation. To the sides of the center console, knee room is cramped, but forward leg room is plentiful. The sloping back window encroaches on headroom enough that it could turn off some potential buyers.

All the standard safety equipment is in place including six airbags, anti-lock brakes, and traction and stability control. But 2016 XJs join other German flagships with a basketful of high-tech safety gadgets. Traffic sign recognition informs drivers of speed limit changes using a forward-looking camera and GPS. Adaptive cruise control helps drivers make it through heavy traffic with a modicum of sanity. Previously-available blind-spot monitoring is enhanced with a closing vehicle sensor that alerts drivers to cars approaching quickly from behind. Radar sensors in the XJ's rear bumper can detect hazards when reversing. Rear-wheel-drive models get available automatic park assist. But items like lane-keep systems, head-up displays, and night-vision systems—optional on the German flagship models—aren't anywhere to be seen on the Jaguar.

For 2016, the XJ gets Jaguar's new infotainment system called InControl Touch Pro featuring an 8.0-inch touchscreen with a customizable home screen which should make it easier to use than past systems. The system also features door-to-door navigation that pairs with a unique smartphone app for seamless routing.

The XJ lineup will also wow you in traditional ways, with unparalleled comfort, plush interior appointments, and stunning trims. The supple semi-aniline leather and genuine wood veneers go a long way. Heated front and rear seats, ventilated and massaging front seats, and ventilated rear seats are available on most XJ versions. And with Jaguar's service plan paying for everything but gas and tires for the first five years or 50,000 miles, erasing that worry is an added luxury.

The 2016 model starts at $75,395 and can range up to more than $120,000 for the top models with every option ticked, much like the competitor cars from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi.

The base XJ with the supercharged V-6 was pegged by the EPA at 18 mpg city, 27 highway, 21 combined for both standard- and long-wheelbase versions. Opt for the XJ Supercharged or its XJL counterpart, and the 470-horsepower V-8 returns mileage of 15/23/18 mpg, whether in short- or long-wheelbase form.

The EPA has rated all-wheel-drive versions (which are only available with the V-6 engine) for 2016 at 17/26/20 mpg for the short-wheelbase edition, while the long-wheelbase AWD edition is rated at 17/25/20 mpg.

9

2016 Jaguar XJ

Styling

A beautiful, uncluttered exterior somewhat diminished by a too-glitzy interior.

Since the 2015 redesign, the Jaguar XJ has dispensed with the classic Jaguar shape of round headlights and a wide oval grille. The 2016 XJ wears a much more modern look with forward-looking design cues that play well, mostly, on its aluminum body.

The 2016 XJ sports gloss-black panels covering the C-pillars giving the illusion that the back glass stretches from fender to fender. It's a classy effect, but we have to wonder how they would look in brushed aluminum. Rhomboid headlights frame the large, pronounced, wire-mesh grille. Fenders swell in sync with the low roofline, recalling older French design as much as anything.

Inside, in obvious contrast to the exterior's uncluttered design, the XJ is slathered in chrome for a glitzy, over-the-top feel. While welcome, the expansive glass sunroof showers the cabin in sunlight, accentuating even more the bright, bright, brightwork. Piano-black trim throughout the instrument panel seems at odds with the doors' wide bands of wood and opulent leather headliner. Though the black trimwork is high in quality, it's as common on Kias as it is on Jaguars.

The latest XJ takes a huge step toward more advanced interfaces, but provides what some might see as a little more visual dazzle than is necessary. The gauges and secondary controls all but abandon real dials for an 8.0-inch, high-definition LCD screen that displays all the usual functions while also changing colors subtly, indicating performance driving modes with a soft red glow. The LCD touchscreen also controls climate, audio, and navigation functions, with some redundancy from real buttons. We welcome the buttons, since the screen can take some time to react to selections.

Review continues below
9

2016 Jaguar XJ

Performance

A wide range of powertrain options should satisfy most luxury-sedan shoppers from eco-concious to power hungry.

Powertrain options for the 2016 Jaguar XJ are carried over from 2015, all of them capable, from fuel-conscious to powerful. And to appeal to buyers in harsher climes, Jag offers all-wheel-drive with the base engine.

The Jaguar XJ's engines and transmission are well-executed, but the car's lighter curb weight plays the biggest role in its road manners. It just feels lighter and more nimble than some of its titanic rivals. Using riveted-and-bonded aluminum body panels as well as an all-aluminum structure makes the XJ amazingly light for a car its size. Altogether, the XJ hits the scales at about 4,200 pounds in base form—several hundred pounds less than other brands' flagship sedans.

The base-level Jaguar XJ comes with a 340-horsepower supercharged 3.0-liter V-6. With 0-60 mph times of 5.7 seconds, it's nearly as fast as the much more expensive V-8 XJ—within a second in that benchmark acceleration run—while it returns up to 27 mpg on the EPA highway cycle. It can be trimmed out with all-wheel drive, and can be fitted to either the long- or the standard-wheelbase XJ body.

One step up, buyers have a choice between two supercharged, 5.0-liter V-8s. The Supercharged XJ has 470-hp on tap while XJRs get 550-hp. Both options are available with either the short or extended wheelbase. Choose the XJR and get 0-60 mph times of just 4.7 seconds, stiffer suspension, various exterior aero bits and an upgraded interior.

All XJs get 8-speed automatics, though specially tuned for each engine choice. The automatics shift quickly and smoothly and feature a performance-oriented "S" mode as well as "Dynamic" mode with sharper shifts and some rev-matching.

Jaguar's all-wheel-drive system has a rearward torque bias, although Jaguar makes clear it's intended for inclement weather, not performance. When the Winter driving mode is chosen, a minimum 30 percent of torque is sent to the front wheels, with up to 50 percent possible—while the traction control still can modulate power to the rear wheels as grip fades.

The XJ is an engaging performer with electronics that keep ride and handling more pure than some competitors' more adjustable systems. An independent suspension (coils up front, links in back), electronically adjustable air springs in back, and an electronically controlled rear differential on supercharged cars lets the XJ go about its work more directly. Owners can use "JaguarDrive Control" to adjust Normal, Dynamic, and Winter settings for the throttle, steering, transmission, and ride quality.

Despite the Jag's narrower range of performance modes than rivals, we think the car benefits. The XJ's reflexes are more pure and predictable with a more unified driving feel. With this generation, the XJ has set aside the long-storied ride isolation of Jaguars past. It's replaced that ride quality with an athletic, taut feel. The XJ has a deft handling edge over its rivals because of its weight; factor in the adaptive damping system, and the electronics manage to filter out minor road imperfections without spoiling any of the fun. Big ventilated disc brakes with brake drying and good pedal feel match the XJ's crisp feel, and Z-rated tires of up to 20 inches stick tenaciously.

There's one caveat: rear-drive XJ sedans now use electric power steering, which we haven't been able to sample yet. As soon as we do, we'll update this page.

Review continues below
8

2016 Jaguar XJ

Comfort & Quality

Sumptuous luxury cocoons passengers front and rear though head room in back is cramped.

For a car with such grand exterior styling as the 2016 XJ, it might come as a surprise that its opulently appointed interior isn't all that roomy.

Front-seat passengers won't suffer much (though that wide center console does infringe some on the knees), but that stylish roofline we love so much really intrudes on rear seat headroom. In fact, the back seat is probably the most snug-fitting of any premium luxury sedan. Long-wheelbase models improve leg room in back, but can't change the fact that there's a lot of interior space wasted beneath that expansive, tapering glass.

A new rear-seat entertainment system is available to long-wheelbase XJ buyers which might make up for the tight fit. It features dual hideaway 10.2-inch screens to which passengers can connect their own electronics via two USB 3.0 ports and even an HDMI connection. 

Front seat passengers enjoy the multi-adjustable seats and, optionally, massaging seats. All passengers—front and rear—get standard heated and ventilated seats for 2016.

Smothered in chrome, wood and leather, the interior feels both sumptuously beautiful and a little thrifty at the same time. The amount of shiny trim is just a bit overwhelming. But when outfitted with one of several striped-wood veneers, no competitor comes close to the XJ's luxury atmosphere.

Unlike some class-equals from Germany, the XJ's rear seat appointments feel as well-finished as the instrument panel, not stark and sanitized. 

A power trunklid opens to reveal a spacious 18.4 cubic feet of space, and a much appreciated flat floor.

Review continues below
8

2016 Jaguar XJ

Safety

High-tech construction methods and equally modern safety gadgets ensure a safe vehicle.

Likely due to the XJ's high cost and limited production, neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has crash-tested the newest model. With its aerospace-inspired construction using glue and rivets, we feel confident giving the 2016 XJ a slightly higher safety mark.

All 2016 Jaguar XJs have the mandatory number of airbags and stability control as well as a good many of the most modern in-car safety features. 

In addition, the XJ comes standard with a rearview camera to help overcome somewhat limited visibility out that short backlight. A blind-spot alert system warns drivers of approaching cars in lanes to either side. Though the XJ lacks night vision and lane-keeping tech (even as options), adaptive cruise control and adaptive headlights are optional, as are surround-view cameras and automatic parking assistance—the latter on vehicles equipped with electric power steering (rear-drive, six-cylinders only).

All-wheel-drive availability helps keep drivers safe in bad weather with a normal front to rear torque bias of 10/90. Switching to winter mode changes that to 30/70. If needed the system can even automatically switch as much as 50 percent of the torque to the front. Jaguar is very careful to point out its all-wheel drive is not meant as additional high-performance in normal conditions. 

Review continues below
9

2016 Jaguar XJ

Features

Upgraded electronics bring the 2016 Jaguar XJ close to competitors' offerings, but still has room to improve on safety tech options.

For 2016, even Jaguar's base XJ R-Sport gets a fair amount of standard equipment, including dual-zone climate control; heated and ventilated front and rear seats; push-button start; voice-controlled navigation; Bluetooth; and a panoramic sunroof. USB ports allow personal electronics to charge and connect to the new InControl Touch entertainment system, which can also turn the car into a rolling wi-fi hotspot.

Opt for the long-wheelbase XJL Portfolio for upgraded, quilted leather seats more electronic goodies, but the same engine and optional all-wheel drive. Supercharged and XJR models are both available in long-wheelbase form.

In 2015, Jaguar replaced a Bowers & Wilkins audio system with a superior unit from Meridian. For 2016, the low-end 380-watt system is replaced with a standard 825-watt setup with 17 speakers. Optional is the 26-speaker, 1,300-watt Meridian Reference sound system.

Well-heeled XJ buyers will want to take advantage of several luxury packs that include massaging rear seats, distinctive leather trim, and upgraded rear-seat entertainment systems. 

Updated technology for 2016 includes a new touchscreen navigation system that features 60 GB of storage for quicker access to maps and menus. A new "Commute Mode" learns a driver's daily route to work and back and can suggest alternative routes around traffic and construction. 

Additionally, Jaguar's smartphone app, InControl Remote, allows owners to remotely start their car's engine and pre-heat or cool the interior to a preferred temperature. The app also shows fuel level, can remotely lock or unlock doors and alerts owners when the car's alarm is triggered.

That said, the XJ lineup will wow you in traditional ways, with unparalleled comfort, plush interior appointments, and stunning trims. The supple semi-aniline leather and real wood veneers go a long way; meanwhile heated front and rear seats, ventilated and massaging front seats, and ventilated rear seats are available on most versions. And with Jaguar's service plan paying for everything except gas and tires for the first five years or 50,000 miles, erasing that worry is an added luxury.

Review continues below
6

2016 Jaguar XJ

Fuel Economy

A supercharged V-6 and an 8-speed automatic have improved the Jaguar XJ's gas mileage ratings, but they're still low.

For 2016, the base XJ with the supercharged V-6 was pegged by the EPA at 18 mpg city, 27 highway, 21 combined for both standard- and long-wheelbase versions.

Stepping up to all-wheel drive or the bigger V-8 reduces mileage accordingly. The EPA has rated all-wheel-drive versions (which are only available with the V-6 engine) for 2016 at 17/26/20 mpg for the short-wheelbase edition, while the long-wheelbase AWD edition is rated at 17/25/20 mpg.

Opt for the XJ Supercharged or its XJL counterpart, and the 470-horsepower V-8 returns mileage of 15/23/18 mpg, whether in short- or long-wheelbase form.

Fuel economy ratings for the top-performance XJR come in at the same place the 470-hp XJ Supercharged versions do.

All XJs are equipped with 8-speed automatic transmissions and automatic engine start-stop to help lower fuel consumption, and the lightweight aluminum body also plays a role in providing reasonably good fuel economy for such a large sedan.

The XJ's start-stop system one of the happier takes on this technology in the automotive universe, cycling on and off with a barely perceptible quiver—although you'll definitely notice the sudden absence of the baritone exhaust note in V-8 versions. 

Review continues below
Continue Reading

The Car Connection Consumer Review

Rate and Review your car for The Car Connection! Tell us your own ratings for a vehicle you own. Rate your car on Performance, Safety, Features and more.
Write a Review
USED PRICE RANGE
$36,999 - $73,988
Browse Used Listings
in your area
8.6
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 9
Performance 9
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 8
Features 9
Fuel Economy 6
Compare the 2016 Jaguar XJ against the competition
Compare All Cars
Looking for a different year of the Jaguar XJ?
Read reviews & get prices
Related Used Listings
Browse used listings in your area
See More Used