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2006 Jaguar XJ-Series reviews

March 10, 2006 11:36 AM EST | Jaguar , Luxury Brands , Sedans | Email to Friend

View large imageAn all-aluminum body and high-tech air suspension combined with classic Jaguar styling give the XJ a fighting chance against its German rivals.

Pros
Supple ride quality, powerful V8 engines, roomy interior, above-average fuel economy, more athletic than you might think.

Cons
Fussy interior controls, clumsy transmission shifter, CD changer is still in the trunk.

What's New for 2006
The Jaguar XJ receives a few refinements for 2006. Both V8 engines see modest increases in output, and the braking system has been revised for a better feel. New features include chrome-mesh grille inserts, laminated side-window glass for reduced road noise, satellite radio, Bluetooth wireless connectivity and an upgraded tire-pressure monitoring system. For 2006, there's also the Super V8 Portfolio, a new top-of-the-line, limited-edition trim level.

Introduction:
Now into its seventh generation, Jaguar's flagship XJ sedan continues to provide the utmost in luxury and performance along with its unique British character. An all-aluminum body graces the XJ, and that body is hung on an advanced aluminum frame. Thanks in part to a low curb weight afforded by the extensive use of aluminum, the XJ is both quick on its feet and efficient in the process. Its standard V8 engine is slightly larger and more powerful than the previous generation, but with less weight to propel, it achieves better mileage figures than the old model. A six-speed automatic transmission is yet another factor in the XJ's solid performance and mileage figures, as it provides shorter gearing for quicker starts along with two overdrive gears for relaxed cruising. Inside the XJ, luxury abounds. The look and feel is distinctly British, but at the same time there's ample room throughout. Rear-seat passengers are sure to enjoy a comfortable ride, as the standard-wheelbase XJ boasts interior dimensions on par with its German competition, and a long-wheelbase version, with nearly five additional inches of rear legroom, is available as well. Despite the uncanny exterior resemblance to XJs of old, the current XJ is a huge leap forward in terms of quality, technology and performance. Jaguar has captured the spirit of the old XJs but with a distinctly modern flair.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
All Jaguar XJs are four-door sedans, but five distinct styles are available. The standard XJ8 model, offered in both short- and long-wheelbase (XJ8 L) derivatives, offers a long list of amenities that includes traction control, four-zone climate control, adjustable pedals, rear park assist, HID headlamps, a walnut-trimmed interior and an active self-leveling Computer Active Technology Suspension (CATS). The long-wheelbase Vanden Plas ups the plush factor with 16-way power seats, unique alloy wheels, an upgraded audio system, richer wood trim, lamb's wool floor mats, rear-seat picnic trays, leather dash trim and a navigation system. For driving enthusiasts, the Super V8 model offers all the luxury and room of the Vanden Plas, along with a supercharged V8 engine, more powerful brakes, a rear DVD entertainment system, front park assist, a power-adjustable rear seat, adaptive cruise control and unique 19-inch wheels. The new limited-edition Super V8 Portfolio features sculpted aluminum power side vents; polished 20-inch wheels; a soft-grain, ruched Conker leather interior; satin-finished black walnut wood trim; individual power rear seats with center console; and a 400-watt Alpine audio system with Dolby Pro Logic II.

Powertrains and Performance:
Both the XJ8 and Vanden Plas come with Jaguar's 4.2-liter V8 engine, good for 300 horsepower. The Super V8 models are supercharged and direct 400 hp to their rear wheels. Jaguar equips all XJs with a standard six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy ranges from a class-leading 18 city, 28 highway on XJ8 and Vanden Plas models to a respectable 17/24 on the Super V8s.

Safety:
All XJs come standard with four-wheel ventilated antilock brakes, BrakeAssist, front and rear seatbelt pre-tensioners, and side and head curtain airbags. Sensors monitor the front occupants' weight and position to the point that the airbags will deploy at a lesser rate or not at all if it is deemed unsafe for the occupant.

Interior Design and Special Features:
Although loaded up with modern technology, the XJ still offers a rich and warm interior befitting a proper British luxury sedan. The Limited Edition Super V8 Portfolio provides an impressively rich interior experience, especially for rear-seat passengers. An electronic parking brake that automatically sets and releases itself as the shift lever is moved into and out of park is standard in all XJs.

Driving Impressions:
The XJ's significant technological features are immediately noticeable when it comes to the vehicle's ride and handling. Wind noise is virtually nonexistent, and the XJ's interior is extremely quiet, especially at highway speeds. The combination of a powerful V8 and the weight savings from the XJ's aluminum construction yield a lively, fun-to-drive car, especially in Super V8 form. Thankfully, comfort is a top priority as well. All XJs offer a tight, smooth and refined driving experience thanks to their air suspension systems.

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