In 2009 and again in 2010, we gave an All-Star award to the Jaguar XF. The XF was the first Jaguar sedan to shed the brand's stuck-in-the-1960s design language, but even though its styling was a clean break from the past, it was not completely successful. We were, however, completely enamored with the car's over-the-road dynamics, which masterfully reconcile comfort and athleticism. This year, Jaguar has built a car that expands on the excellence of the XF.
Like the XF, the new XJ has left the neoclassical look behind and embraced a sleek modernity-here with great success. (In fact, the new XJ is this magazine's 2011 Design of the Year.) The rethink extends to the cabin, where Jaguar has pulled out all the stops to create a unique and luxurious interior environment that doesn't draw on the past. The look is fresh, and the execution is rich. We only wish the navigation interface, which relies too heavily on the touch screen, were as innovative as the rest of the interior design.
Under the now-modern skin is Jaguar's advanced aluminum architecture, which makes the XJ uncommonly light and lithe. That makes easy work for the 5.0-liter V-8, which is smooth and potent no matter which of the three versions you choose. The XJ drives with the same astonishing poise and uncommon fluidity as its smaller sibling, high praise indeed for this big cat.
The luxury-sedan field is one in which everyone is competing on a very lofty plain-not too surprising given that the prices of these can easily reach six figures. (Although even here, a close look at the standard equipment list pegs this Jag as a relative bargain.) The toughest part about this class is that it's very hard for any one car to stand out in the crowd. And yet the XJ manages to do just that, in both its design and its dynamics. Both for the aesthete and the enthusiast, the Jaguar XJ is an All-Star.
- Joe Lorio, Senior Editor
BASE PRICE RANGE: $73,575-$114,075
ENGINES: 5.0L V-8, 385 hp, 380 lb-ft; 5.0L supercharged V-8, 470/510 hp, 424/461 lb-ft