Redesigned for 2004, the seventh generation of Jaguar's rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan was longer, taller and wider and used a longer wheelbase than its predecessor. The new XJ delivered greater headroom, legroom and shoulder space.
New aluminum-intensive construction promised high strength, robustness and dynamic responses. Even though the new XJ was 60 percent stiffer than its predecessor, its bodyshell was about 40 percent lighter than an equivalent steel body. Its curb weight was about 440 pounds less than the prior XJ.
An extended-wheelbase XJ8 L is available for 2005. A new Super V8 flagship, which features the long wheelbase, posh Vanden Plas features and a 390-horsepower supercharged V-8, also joins the lineup. Extended sedans are 5 inches longer overall than regular models and have longer rear doors, but they weigh only 53 pounds more. Jaguar's five-model group also includes a regular XJ8, Vanden Plas and high-performance XJR.
Overall, the XJ sedan has a slightly more cab-forward profile than pre-2004 models, with wheels brought closer to the corners. The front overhang was shortened, and the windshield isn't as steep. The smaller hood retains its characteristic sculpted shape. Oval headlights flank a grille made up of intersecting bars.
A self-leveling air suspension and Jaguar's Computer Active Technology Suspension system are standard. Regular models are 200 inches long and have a 119.4-inch wheelbase, while extended-length sedans measure 205.3 inches long overall and have a 124.4-inch wheelbase.
Each XJ sedan seats up to five occupants. A higher roofline in this generation helps increase interior space, and all models have power front seats and leather upholstery.
Power-adjustable pedals complement an electronically adjustable steering column. An electronic parking brake is installed. The interiors are trimmed in traditional burl walnut veneer and Piano Black finish. Vanden Plas and Super V8 sedans contain fold-down worktables.
Under the Hood
In normally aspirated form, Jaguar's 4.2-liter V-8 produces 294 hp. Beneath the XJR and Super V8 hoods is a supercharged 390-hp version of the V-8. All models use a six-speed ZF automatic transmission.
In addition to an occupant-sensing system for the front passenger seat, the XJ has side-impact and side curtain-type airbags. Four-channel antilock brakes incorporate emergency brake assist. A Dynamic Stability Control electronic stability system intervenes as needed to enhance handling. Reverse parking assist is standard.
The elegant, effortless XJs are more enjoyable on the road than most large sedans. Driving pleasure is augmented by genteel comforts and a smooth, refined powertrain.
Passing and merging acceleration falls short of ferocious, but civilized responses make up for any lack of all-out performance. Downshifts on upgrades are easygoing but not instantaneous. Although the XJ is very quiet, its lush exhaust note approaches a snarl when pushed hard. These sedans corner well, but body lean is noticeable. The air suspension absorbs the vast majority of road imperfections. Front occupant space is abundant, but some controls aren't intuitive.
The XJR adds an extra helping of vigor but doesn't feel dramatically faster in ordinary driving. Supercharger whine is rather loud but satisfying. Added tautness in the XJR's suspension is evident, but it doesn't impair ride quality by much.