Price: $84,700 (Portfolio version)
No matter what the model, Jaguars always have had a special allure.
The late Sir William Lyons, who headed Jaguar for decades, was a genius at providing some of the fastest, sexiest cars around at reasonably affordable prices. However, until Ford bought the Jaguar operation in 1990 and poured lots of money into it, Jags had a spotty reliability reputation--now long gone.
Economic circumstances led Ford to sell Jaguar to India's Tata Motors in 2008, although Jaguars always have been made in England. To its credit, Tata has left Jaguar pretty much alone to develop cars the way it wants them done..
I visited the Jaguar factory in England in the late 1980s and saw women sewing Jaguar upholstery with old-fashioned sewing machines. Ford tore the place down and gave Jaguar modern facilities.
The 2015 long-wheelbase Jaguar XJL Portfolio (more equipment) supercharged AWD sedan I tested will be little changed for 2016. It had racy styling, a quiet, lush-life interior and was beautifully built.
There are 2015 Jaguar XJ sedan models in various trim levels. There's a fairly broad range of prices, starting at $74,200 and topping out at $119,000.
The list price of my test Jaguar XJL ("L" for "long wheelbase") was $84,700, but it had some costly options. They included a $7,750 package that featured two individual rear seats with dual 10.2-inch entertainment screens.
However, my test car had plenty of standard equipment. It included a panoramic roof with an opening panel, keyless entry and "virtual" instruments that were easy to read in bright sunlight. Controls were generally easy to work, but the bible-thick owner's manual occasionally was needed to figure a few things out.
There also were heated/cooled front and rear seats, blind spot monitor, rear view camera, navigation, bluetooth, Ipod connectivity and an 8-inch touch screen.
My test car had Jaguar's relatively new supercharged 3-liter V-6, which replaced a non-supercharged 5-liter V-8. It produces 340 horsepower and provides fast, smooth acceleration. The 0-60 mph. time is 6.1 seconds.
You also can get 470- or 550-horsepower supercharged V-8 XJ models, both with rear-wheel drive. With 550 horses you can hit 60 in 4.4 seconds, although all XJs have a somewhat stately character that discourages drag racing. Maybe it's the sumptuous wood-and-leather interiors and "soft-close" doors. Still, the car can safely be driven hard.
Like the V-8s, the V-6 works with a responsive eight-speed automatic transmission, which has paddle shifters that allow manual shifting.
Fuel economy of my test car was decent. It gets an estimated 16 miles per gallon in the city and 24 on highways, although I'll bet the highway figure can be beaten by at least a few miles per gallon. For one thing, the V-6 just loafs at 70 m.p.h. with the eight-speed automatic.
One nifty fuel-saving feature for in-town driving was an automated engine shut-off. It uses a twin solenoid starter to turn off the engine while the car is waiting at, for instance, a long stoplight. It instantly starts the engine when a driver's foot is removed from the brake pedal.
The V-6 comes with a sophisticated all-wheel drive (AWD) system that works with a supple suspension that shrugs off bad pavement.
The somewhat firm steering is nicely geared, and handling with dynamic stability control and such makes the XJL feel like a smaller car, although it has a 124.3-inch wheelbase, compared to the standard short-wheelbase (SWB) XJ's 119.4-inch wheelbase.
The sleek XJL's overall length is 206.8 inches, compared with 201.9 for the SWB version. It's hard at first glance to tell if the XJ has a long or short wheelbase unless both versions are put alongside each other.
The XJL's longer wheelbase allows it to provide more than five extra inches of rear-seat leg room. A tall person can stretch out back there.
However, the large trunk sill is rather high for fast loading of bulky cargo.
The fact that my test supercharged Jaguar XJL Portfolio AWD felt significantly different from American, German and Asian luxury sedans shows that Jaguar, after all these years, hasn't lost its touch.