The more things change, the more they stay the same.
2017 Jaguar XJ Jaguar XJ 2017 4.0 1.0 5.0
Eight inches of blue screen glowed from the 2016 Jaguar XJL Portfolio V-6 AWD’s center stack. Instead of showing us navigation, radio, climate, or phone information, Jaguar’s all-new touchscreen infotainment system, dubbed InControl Touch Pro, did its best impression of a 1960s British-car electrical component by simply not showing up for work. Or maybe it was running Windows 3.1. Cycling through the ignition to reboot the system proved fruitless; however, after a few hours’ rest, InControl Touch Pro mysteriously returned to its normal, user-friendly state.
This was disappointing because, among a handful of features added to the Jaguar XJ for 2016, the headline item is InControl Touch Pro. The system—conceived internally and built around a quad-core Intel processor, 60 gigabytes of solid-state storage, and an Ethernet network—is, for the time being, the future of Jaguar infotainment.
When working properly, InControl Touch Pro is leaps and bounds better than the XJ’s previous infotainment system. The touchscreen is usually quick to respond to user inputs (even when it lags, it’s better than its antecedent), and, for the most part, menus and controls are laid out logically. Plus, Jaguar includes a handful of hard buttons to help users quickly navigate to key menus.
Unfortunately, in our experience with the XJL Portfolio AWD, InControl Touch Pro’s reliability was shaky. Even before it “blue” itself, the system resisted our attempts to connect a phone via Bluetooth, refused to display certain pages on its screen, and, at one point, cut audio from the SiriusXM feed entirely.
What’s Old Is New Again
Despite being more than half a decade old, the current-generation XJ looks as good as the day it debuted in 2009. New LED headlights with attractive “Double J” daytime running lights replace last year’s HID units, while the front clip has been reworked to resemble those of the all-new XF mid-size sedan, the 2017 XE sports sedan, and the 2017 F-Pace crossover.
Along with InControl Touch Pro, the 2016 XJ’s interior employs an updated digital gauge cluster. Redesigned markings improve clarity, while full-screen navigation information can now be displayed within the 12.3-inch unit, much as in Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. There’s still untapped potential here—we’d like to see other infotainment options displayed in full-screen format—but the gauge pod provides enough function to make it more than a novelty.
Heated and cooled front and rear seats are now standard across the board for all XJs, while soft diamond-quilted stitched leather envelops the thrones of 2016 XJL Portfolios. Front seats with 14-way power adjustability and a built-in massage function are also standard, as is a panoramic sunroof and a 20-speaker, 825-watt Meridian audio system.
Starting at $87,695, our British Racing Green XJL Portfolio AWD packed as options a heated front windshield ($375), electric rear side-window blinds ($700), and a new Parking Assist package ($1050), which includes a surround-view camera system and parking sensors able to detect objects around the entire car, bringing the as-tested price to $89,820. While comparable to what we’ve seen for cars such as the Audi A8 (to compare all-wheel-drive apples), this price doesn’t represent Jaguar’s traditional value proposition against competitors.
With 43.7 inches of rear-seat legroom—4.8 inches more than in the standard-wheelbase car—the XJL Portfolio AWD bests both the Audi A8L’s and the Mercedes-Benz S-class ’s available rear legroom by 0.8 and 0.6 inch, respectively (although it does fall short of the BMW 7-series by 0.7 inch).
The best seat in this house remains the driver’s. While rear-wheel-drive 2016 XJs use electrically assisted power steering, all-wheel-drive XJs (all V-6–powered) still use a hydraulic unit, and they’re better for it. Well-weighted, with appreciable feedback and zero on-center slop, this large luxury sedan’s steering makes it feel as nimble as a compact sports sedan when hustled. The tenacious traction of the all-wheel-drive system and the car’s relatively firm suspension contribute to this sense of agility.
Don’t toss this Jag too hard, though, because the big cat’s claws don’t dig very deep. Around our skidpad, the XJL circled at 0.82 g, not a terribly impressive figure but in line with the competition when wearing all-season tires.
Quick on Its Feet
The XJ’s aluminum construction used to make it a featherweight among heavyweights. At 4397 pounds, though, our XJL weighed 26 pounds more than the all-wheel-drive 2016 Cadillac CT6 3.0T and 37 pounds more than the Audi A8L 3.0T Quattro. It also weighed 203 pounds more than the standard-wheelbase, rear-wheel-drive, V-6 XJ we tested most recently.
Nevertheless, the Jag’s 340-hp 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 didn’t seem to mind the mass. Our track driver found the best launch was to hold the brake with the digital tachometer fluttering at 2500 rpm, lift our foot off the car’s brake pedal, and let the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission do its thing while the rear-biased AWD system distributed torque between the two differentials. The zero-to-60-mph run took 5.1 seconds, and the car passed the quarter-mile marker after 13.7 seconds. These figures actually better the smaller, short-wheelbase rear-drive V-6 XJ by 0.1 second each.
This XJL Portfolio AWD was only 0.1 second behind the 404-hp, all-wheel-drive Cadillac CT6 Platinum up to 60 mph and 0.2 slower in the quarter-mile. Even more impressive is that the Jaguar’s 5.7-second “rolling start” sprint from 5 to 60 mph bested the Caddy by a full second. Those seeking a more powerful XJ have additional options, the 470-hp XJ Supercharged and the 550-hp XJR, both powered by versions of the company’s 5.0-liter supercharged V-8.
Despite good pedal feel and fade-free stops, this car’s braking performance wasn’t as stunning as its acceleration, again due to the fitment of all-season tires. While stopping from 70 mph in 166 feet is a strong performance and better than the Audi A8L 3.0T’s 172 feet, it doesn’t touch the summer-tire-wearing CT6’s 152-foot achievement.
Away from the test track, the Jag averaged 20 mpg under our care—better than what we saw in the Cadillac (17 mpg) and 1 mpg worse than what we coaxed from the Audi.
The Cat’s Meow
Although the 2016 XJ improves on a number of the model’s previous shortcomings, some flaws persist. The rear parcel shelf, steeply raked rear glass, and thick C-pillars continue to obstruct the view out back, the V-6’s stop/start system still sends shudders through the cabin with each and every re-ignition, and build quality remains a mixed bag. Material quality, however, is top-notch throughout the cabin.
While we’re happy to see Jaguar’s old infotainment system go to the big motherboard in the sky, we’re not yet sold on its more user-friendly replacement, InControl Touch Pro, given the teething problems we experienced. Electronic glitches notwithstanding, the updated Jaguar XJL AWD is as it always has been: a stylish, driver-satisfying alternative to luxury sedans from manufacturers such as Audi, Cadillac, and BMW, whether you’re riding in the back or perched behind the steering wheel.
Highs and Lows
NBA-scale rear legroom, fantastic steering, surprisingly quick, improved infotainment system.
Rough stop/start system, still can t see out the back window, questionable infotainment system reliability.
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, 4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
PRICE AS TESTED: $89,820 (base price: $87,695)
ENGINE TYPE: supercharged and intercooled DOHC V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
Wheelbase: 124.3 in
Length: 206.9 in
Width: 74.8 in Height: 57.5 in
Passenger volume: 108 cu ft
Cargo volume: 15 cu ft
Curb weight: 4397 lb
EPA city/highway driving: 17/25 mpg
C/D observed: 20 mpg