1996 Jaguar Vanden Plas

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1996 Jaguar Vanden Plas

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1 trim

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1996 Jaguar Vanden Plas review: Our expert's take


The big cat from Great Britain’s Jaguar Cars Ltd., has grown up a little for 1996.

The new models, the Vanden Plas and the XJ12, are the longest Jaguars ever manufactured, possessing size and wheelbase dimensions carried by full-size American luxury automobiles.

“We’ve had a great deal of interest in the Vanden Plas because of its increased size,” said Scott Fischer of Tom Wood Jaguar. “Our customers have been tremendously impressed by the increased room and luxury.”

Whether Jaguar’s being owned by the Ford Motor Co. had anything to do with it is a matter of conjecture, but the Vanden Plas’s and XJ12’s 117.9-inch wheelbase is comparable to the Lincoln Town Car at 117.4 inches. And at 202.8 inches of overall length, the Jag is in the ballpark of the Lincoln Continental’s 206.3 inches.

In the realm of British automobiles, these are big motor cars. They also are high-dollar ones, with the V-12 cylinder-powered XJ12 priced at $79,370. The Vanden Plas starts at $64,420, the third-most expensive model of a lineup that also includes the XJ6 ($56,320), the XJR ($66,279), and the XJS convertible ($61,570).

The Vanden Plas and XJ12 obviously are not designed to appeal to the economy car buyer, but rather to those who need more back seat room for friends, family, or corporate associates.

Blame it on the ’93

The concept sprung from the 1993 Jaguar Majestic sedan, a model not offered on the American market. This was a limited production, semi-custom car, with much of its body work done by an outside supplier.

The acceptance of the Majestic prompted the decision to build the longer-wheelbase Vanden Plas and XK12, the only way these models are offered.

Once the project was given the green light, it took just 15 months to bring the cars to market.

Jaguar also took the opportunity to do some upgrading. The rear sound deadening was improved by filling voids with foam. Other improvements included thicker door glass and longer rear springs to enhance the ride.

The entire job added only 50 more pounds of weight, and Jaguar states that the longer cars are just as rigid as the shorter 113-inch wheelbase XJ6.

The body and wheelbase lengthening job creates a quantum leap forward in rear-seat leg room, providing an additional 4.5 inches. Modifying the roof has provided an extra half-inch of headroom front and back. If an owner is of Indiana Pacer player dimensions, the sunroof can be deleted, adding yet another inch of headroom.

There are some other touches connected to the new construction, such as longer rear doors, which provide significantly improved access to the back seat. Then, there is an item that all luxury car makers would do well to examine.

An electric switch allows rear passengers to adjust the position of the front passenger seat. (Assuming, of course, that the front-seat occupant doesn’t object.) The control switches are located on the inboard side of the front passenger seat back.

It almost goes without saying that the tradit ional Jaguar amenities are included in the long-wheelbase sedans. Natural grain, premium Autolux leather is included, as are matched wood inlays and matching wooden shift knobs. Both cars have a full line of power accessories and comfort and convenience accessories.

What the cars do not share is the same engine.

The Vanden Plas is powered by Jaguar’s double overhead cam, 24-valve in-line 6, while the XJ12 is named after its single overhead cam (per head) V-12 engine. The XJ12 is one of but a handful of cars made today offering a 12-cylinder engine.

“The 12 is a very specialized type of car,” Fischer said. “It mainly interests someone who wants that particular type of engine.”

At 366 cubic inches (6.0 liters), it has power to spare at 313 horsepower and 353 foot-pounds of torque. By comparison, the in- line six is rated at 245 horsepower and 289 foot-pounds of torque.

The V-12, however, is incredibly smooth and performs yeoman duties as the epitome of a continental to uring en gine.

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.7
  • Interior design 5.0
  • Performance 5.0
  • Value for the money 5.0
  • Exterior styling 4.8
  • Reliability 5.0

Most recent consumer reviews


Great if you can find a good one

My father bought the car new and now I drive it. It has never had a single mechanical issue and has been all over the east coast. He didn't even maintain it very well and he drives it very hard, so I would say it's the most reliable and durable car I've ever seen. If you can find a good one they're great cars.


Best year for Jags

Great looks - great engine and trans - still one of most beautiful Jags on the road - better built and easier to maintain then most other foreign cars. Fun to drive and has great "curb appeal".


Elegance, Style, Workhorse

I have owned this vehicle for 20 years and it is just as reliable and sturdy as the day I got it. Never once have I had a mechanical problem, or even a concern with it. It has the most incredibly comfortable ride w/ more leg room than a 7ft person would need. It's responsive, aggressive, classy and prominent. I would recommend this car for any usage situation. Easiest car in the world to drive. Probably the safest too. It (as well as all Jag xj's) uses Premium Unleaded gas and would benefit from an added octane booster supplement, but isn't required one.

See all 4 consumer reviews