Full-size luxury sedans have long had a commanding presence on the road – often quite literally. The Audi A8, the BMW 7 Series, the Lexus LS, and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class all look resemble the blocks of metal they were hewn from. That is why we are thankful for the 2013 Jaguar XJ.
The design: a sweeping, elongated body (it was designed as in long-wheelbase form and then shortened) with an aggressive and distinctly Jaguar nose looks stunning from any angle. The way the LED taillights seem to drip from the rear of the fenders down to the bumper is alluring in a Salvador Dali-esque way; the sleek, wraparound headlights with J-shaped LEDs are sultry. Inside, the cabin is swathed in buttery leather and slabs of wood (or carbon fiber) trim, and bathed in modern and attractive blue light at night. Piano black center console trim, a knurled metal rotary shifter, and orb-like HVAC vents compel anyone who steps inside the XJ to touch everything and drink in its luxury. It's no wonder that we named the Jaguar XJ the 2011 Automobile Magazine Design of the Year.
Not only does the Jag stand out among its peers from a design standpoint, it is one of the best-driving cars in its class. Hit the pulsating start button, turn the transmission knob to either Drive or Sport, depress the accelerator pedal, and hold on. Jaguar offers four different powertrains in the XJ for 2013, all of them sensational. The base 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 pulls strongly and smoothly and emits a growling exhaust note under acceleration. Paired with an eight-speed automatic and either rear- or all-wheel drive, the V-6 XJ feels much quicker than its 340-hp and 332-lb-ft ratings would have you believe. Need more power and an even more addicting exhaust note? Look to one of the 5.0-liter V-8 options, which come in 384-hp naturally-aspirated, 470-hp supercharged, and 510-hp supercharged flavors.
Sadly, not many people are as thankful as we are for the Jaguar XJ – through the first 10 months of 2012, Jaguar moved just 4197 copies of the sultry sedan. However, with so few on the road, it makes us even more thankful to spot one when we do.