2008 Jaguar XJ Vanden Plas

November 5, 2008
0810 04 Z+2008 Jaguar XJ Vanden Plas+rear Three Quarter View
I've heard a lot of people talk about how well this Jaguar has aged over the years, so I asked Marc to book one before this generation of the car became history. The appeal is very easy to understand as soon as you slide into a soft leather seat and notice the tasteful expanses of wood and leather used in the interior. Everything feels very old school luxury.
Sadly, the old school feel is very much true of the radio/navigation unit. The controls are all easy to use, but the interface looks ancient and clumsy compared with the likes of a new S-class, Audi A8, or Lexus LS. I can see how that is a good thing to certain buyers, though. Not everyone wants or needs the latest technological wonders.
The aluminum construction of this car allows the 300 hp engine to feel adequate and the normal aspiration gives very linear power delivery. Again, this feels old school, but not in a bad way. The big Jag feels very steady on the highway and composed in turns. Not quite as sharp as an S-class, but more fun than a Lexus.
I hope the next XJ feels as refined and dignified inside, improves upon the radio/navigation unit, and has a distinctive exterior. The current shape turned old a while ago, but at least the car is distinctive going down the road. Everyone knows what you're driving, and it makes a statement.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor
0810 03 Z+2008 Jaguar XJ Vanden Plas+front Three Quarter View
My grandfather drove the last of the previous-generation XJs just before he died, and as such, I've always associated that car with cigar-smoking, slightly raunchy, charming old men. Every time I get into a current XJ, I'm reminded of how much I liked him, and of how much I like Jaguar's biggest - and brightest - sedan. Sure, it's getting old, and sure, it's a bit backward-looking in both its style and its equipment, but there's a lot here to love. The ride and handling balance still makes every other car on the road seem brutish and crude. The interior is classically upright and comfortable, no matter how large or small you are. And if you don't feel even a little bit special staring out over that long, flat hood, then you have no pulse.
Still, the XJ is getting old, and there's no arguing that it's hugely in need of an update. The latest visual refresh - complete with tacky nose job and BMW M3-like bumper scoop - has done nothing but clutter the car's dignified, sporting front end. It's a case of too much makeup and not enough actual thought. Much as I love the way the current XJ drives, the next one can't come soon enough.
Sam Smith, Associate Editor
0810 06 Z+2008 Jaguar XJ Vanden Plas+cockpit
The Jaguar S-type was a good chassis in search of a modern design. Jaguar built the contemporary XF off the S-type platform and created an impressive automobile. Then we have this aging XJ. Like the S-type, it has an accomplished chassis (although higher tech) in search of style. If you think about, that's better than having a great looking car that drives terribly. Phil and Sam noted that the new XJ can't come soon enough. I've seen pictures of the next large Jaguar and all I can say is that it is very aggressive and nothing like the present car. The marriage of forward-thinking design with a massaged version of the present XJ's aluminum chassis should result in an excellent luxury sedan from Jaguar. Let's just hope there's a strong market for expensive luxury cars when we see it at dealers in early to mid-2010.
Marc Noordeloos, Road Test Editor
0810 02 Z+2008 Jaguar XJ Vanden Plas+rear Three Quarter View
Every time I sign out an XJ, I'm compelled to dismiss it as an ancient throwback undeserving of new-car shopper' and Automobile Magazine's attention.
But then I drive it, and I'm constantly amazed at how solid and capable it is. It's like the car is hewn from the Queen's stately confidence. The engine is strong yet dignified. The interior is outdated yet luxuriously purposeful, the perfect mobile parlor.
A couple months ago, the owners of our downtown Ann Arbor parking garage installed horrifyingly huge speed bumps on all eight levels. The XJ traverses these obstacles better than anything else I've driven, even at more than 20 mph. Brilliant!
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
0810 01 Z+2008 Jaguar XJ Vanden Plas+profile View
2008 Jaguar XJ Vanden Plas
Base Price (with destination): $76,750
Price as tested: $76,750
Options: None
Fuel Economy: 16 city/25 highway (19 combined)
Engine:
Size: 4.2-liters
HP: 300 hp
Torque: 310 lb.-ft.
Transmission: 6-speed auto
Weight: 3770 lb
Wheel/Tire Info: 19 in./ 255/40HR19 all-season tires (size)

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