2014 Jaguar XJ

The XJ is a full-size luxury sedan that represents a departure from Jaguar's formerly conservative design practices. For the latest model year, this athletic and coddling four-door gained a new supercharged V6 base engine in addition to an available all-wheel-drive system.

With headlights styled like narrowed eyes, a gracefully sloping roofline and unique black C-pillars, the XJ looks like nothing else in the segment.The tall front end, which no doubt was designed with European pedestrian safety standards in mind, is generally styled like the XF, although the grille juts out further from the fascia. From the side, the XJ takes a vastly different approach with the C-pillar, which does not sweep in the same vaguely Lexus style of the XF.

Out back, Lancia-esque tail lamps curve up the rear and the dramatically sloped rear window give the car a four door coupe-style profile.

The XJ's interior was also seriously re-worked for the latest generation. Taking little in the way of influence from the smaller XF, the XJ features a unique, wrap-around dash, complete with plenty of wood and leather accents. A large LCD screen is front and center while rounded air vents give the XJ's cabin an air of sportiness.

The XJ is also available as the long-wheelbase XJ L model, which features five extra inches of rear-seat space.

A push button ignition and JaguarDrive Selector gear switch -- the same found in the XF -- bring the big cat up to speed with 21st century luxury motoring. Optional features include a 1,200-watt Bowers & Wilkins sound system, hard drive-based audio and navigation systems and connectivity for external audio and video devices.

Technical features of the new XJ include an air suspension, Jaguar's continuously variable damping Adaptive Dynamics system and Active Differential Control.

Powertrain Lineup
The XJ is offered with no less than four engine choices.

The new entry-level engine is a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 that produces 340 horsepower. Next up in the powertrain hierarchy is a naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 with 385 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of twist.

The second most powerful XJ engine is a supercharged variant of the 5.0-liter V8 that makes 470 horsepower and 424 lb-ft of torque. The special order only Supersport model is powered by a 510 horsepower, 461 lb-ft of torque version of the supercharged V8. Both come with an active rear differential that detects slippage and apportions output to the rear wheel with the most traction.

All of the XJ's motors shift through an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive is available, but only with V6; otherwise, the XJ sends its power to the rear wheels only.

Fuel economy is rated at 18/27 city/highway mpg for the V6 model; adding all-wheel-drive reduces those figures to 16/24 mpg. The naturally-aspirated V8 returns 16/25 mpg, while both supercharged motors are good for 15/23 mpg.

No matter the trim level, the XJ promises to be one serious sports sedan. With a relatively low curb weight - courtesy of its aluminum-intensive construction - the sedan's prowess on curvy roads belies its jumbo-sized dimensions.

Coddling Luxury Features
Jaguar�s full-size sedan is available in seven different forms � XJ, XJ AWD, XJL Portfolio, XJL Portfolio AWD, XJ/XJL Supercharged, XJ/XJL Supersport and XJL Ultimate.

The XJ comes lavishly equipped with leather upholstery, heated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a touchscreen navigation system, a 14-speaker, 380-watt AM/FM/CD stereo system with 30GB of storage space, a panoramic glass roof, bluetooth connectivity, front and rear parking aids (including a rearview camera) and 19-inch wheels. The supercharged V6 is fitted as standard. As one would expect, the XJ AWD adds Jaguar�s Instinctive all-wheel-drive system to the mix.

The extended-wheelbase XJL Portfolio brings the naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 in addition to heated and cooled seats front and rear, contrast stitching, piping and embossed leaper on headrest, suedecloth premium healiner, four-zone automatic climate control and rear side sunshades. Again, the AWD version adds all-wheel-drive.

Available in normal and extended-wheelbase forms, the XJ Supercharged adds the 470-horsepower supercharged 5.0-liter V8 as well as a an 825-watt, 20-speaker Meridian sound system, adaptive front lights with intelligent high beam, a power rear-window sunblind, active differential control, rear seat business trays (extended-wheelbase model only) and 20-inch wheels.

The XJ Supersport offers the same wheelbase options as the XJ Supercharged while upping the performance ante with the 510-horsepower V8. Additional goodies include semi-analine leather seats with front-seat massage, a rear-seat entertainment system with dual eight-inch LCD screens and wireless headphones, a softgrain leather headliner, rear seats with recline, massage and adjustable lumbar, and winged headrests front and rear (long wheelbase model only) and illuminated air vents, door sills and trunk finisher.

Highlights from the options list include adaptive cruise control, a rear-seat entertainment package and the Speed and Sport Pack, which raises the speed limiter from 155 to 174 mph and adds functional aerodynamic enhancements, sports seats and unique exterior elements.

XJL Ultimate
New to the XJ lineup for the latest model year is the ultra-exclusive XJL Ultimate, which sits atop the model range with a number of exclusive extras. Only thirty examples will make it the United States.

Most of the XJ Ultimate's upgrades come inside, although it does feature unique 20-inch forged alloy wheels and a suspension optimized to provide more rear seat comfort, a move that highlights the big sedan's emphasis.

Rear seat passengers are coddled with a pair of individually-tailored rear seats trimmed in a soft semi-aniline leather. Featuring a range of power adjustment that includes both massaging and heating or cooling, the seats are separated by a full-length, leather-trimmed central console. Both passengers receive iPads with integrated keyboards, as well as a solid aluminum business table that is powered into position at the touch of a button.

Should the XJ Ultimate's passengers need to relax, a pair of champagne flutes are mounted in a dedicated storage area and a champagne chiller between the rear seats keeps bottles at ideal temperatures. Further, a 20-speaker Meridian audio system provides high-quality sound for all passengers, although wireless headphones are also included.

The 510-horsepower V8 is fitted as standard.

Occupant Safety
All XJ models come standard with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems, brake assist and a blind spot monitoring system.

Key Competitors
The XJ is the sports car of its competitive set, which includes the technology-filled Audi A8, the conservatively-styled BMW 7-Series and the pampering Mercedes-Benz S-Class. It's hard to go wrong with any of these options.