The styling of the 2011 Jaguar XJ doesn't excite me, but I also don't find it offensive. Get behind the wheel, though, and the XJ elicits strong emotions. The 470-hp supercharged V-8 is so smooth and so authoritative. As usual, though, Jaguar's expertise in chassis tuning is what really shines. Steering and handling are confident while the ride is comfortable. Surrounded by a band of lovely dark wood, the cabin combines old-school luxury with modern style. Even with the dark cloud of Jaguar reliability hanging around, it's easy to understand why someone would own this dynamic hero.
The digital instrument cluster is beautiful in the XJ. The Jag's tasteful stylization is a significant improvement compared with the dead simple, Windows 3.1 look of the Land Rover digital gauges. Activate dynamic mode and the hue fades from blue to red, a neat trick. While the navigation interface is nicely updated, it still responds slowly to inputs. Fortunately, the touch-sensitive glovebox release now appears to work consistently, unlike in the Jaguar XF. The massaging front seats are wonderful, with far more presence than those used by the BMW 7-series and the Mercedes-Benz S-class. Legroom in the rear seat feels more confined than in cars like the BMW and the Benz, but Jaguar does offer a long-wheelbase model if you're buying an XJ for its back seats.
- Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor