2011 Jaguar XJL

Matt Tierney

Jaguar is the best example today of a mainstream car company catering to the needs and desires of enthusiasts. I suppose Lotus makes more enthusiast-focused cars, but none of them are really viable as daily drivers. What Jaguar does with its incredible V-8 engines and chassis and suspension tuning is exactly what enthusiasts dream of, so we are willing to tolerate the spotty reliability and so-so touchscreen navigation unit. Each time I drive a modern Jaguar I want to ignore the severe reliability problems our departed Four Seasons Jaguar XF had and keep the keys. But I couldn't put down my own money for a vehicle so similar to the one that lunched a steering rack and rear differential under normal use in less than a year. There were also a variety of smaller problems that would just be annoying to address under warranty service.

Perhaps Jaguar has raised its quality levels to match the competition since we experienced the XF a few years ago. I'd love to spend another year in a new Jaguar of any sort to see how well it holds up these days. I want to believe they have sorted out the manufacturing process, but I'm more than a little wary. Perhaps these short blasts with a Jag are best. Each night I drive a Jaguar and nothing breaks, I just think about how well the car drives and how much fun I have behind the wheel. Which is what I expect all of the time.

Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor

A lovely, lovely car, and one that seems like a relative bargain for its as-tested price of $84K. I know, I know, how can a car costing $84K be called a bargain? Because most of the time when I get inside a car this big and luxurious and well-appointed from one of the upmarket brands, I emerge shellshocked by a six-figure sticker price. Everything's relative, I guess.

I would venture that David Zenlea's analogy, wherein Jaguar is like the smart but slovenly and lazy college student who still aces the exam, is inaccurate, because it implies that Jaguar hasn't been working hard, which is of course not at all true. The designers and engineers and product planners at Jaguar have done a tremendous job of remaking this company, and the very splendid XJ is one of the results.

I do agree, though, with all of Zenlea's effusive praise for the Jaguar XJ, yet also with Phil Floraday's skepticism about its long-term reliability.

To their comments I would add the minor but important detail that the XJ has superb headlamps with an excellent automatic high/low beam function. If I seem to regular readers like a man obsessed with headlamp performance, it's because I live in the countryside and traverse very dark roads that are lined year-round with wandering deer, and I like headlamps that might pick them out in the surrounding cornfields and ditches before they leap out in front of the XJ's leaper hood ornament.

Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor

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