You know you're in an impressive vehicle when a foursome of men on a Vail, Colo., golf course stop and stare as you drive by, with one of them even stopping himself mid-swing to carry out his ogling.
Their swooning was undoubtedly for the 2012 Jaguar XJL Supercharged. I couldn't help but smirk as they gawked because while this is a car of great aesthetic appeal, the real pleasure is derived behind the wheel, and that pleasure was all mine.
The XJL Supercharged (the L is for long, and it is) offers acceleration that is wildly easy and smooth. Gear shifts are unnoticeable, and the supercharged V-8 engine maintains a sexy purr that suggests it's a car full of talent. The XJL can conquer mountain passes with grace and style — never needing to catch its breath — but leaving those in and around it breathless in wonder.
This isn't a sedan made with families in mind — trunk space is limited, interior storage is mediocre and the Latch anchors are tough to use. This is a car that's about luxury and performance, and it masters those areas.
However, it actually does manage to include a few family-friendly features: Gleaming fold-down trays on the front seats' backs are an ideal spot for children to have a fancy after-school snack and dual vanity mirrors that float down from the ceiling provide a venue for children to make silly faces at themselves for hours on end. This car has many selling points, if you can afford it. As my son so aptly put it, "Since we have a minivan that can haul all of us, why don't we just get one of these to have for fun?" Clearly, I am raising that kid right.
The 2012 XJL starts at $81,575, including an $875 destination charge. As-tested, the midlevel XJL Supercharged was $94,175, thanks to the addition of the Illumination Package that added a blue glow around the air vents and lit the door and trunk sills.
As if the swooning men weren't enough to confirm the XJL's exterior beauty, I also received several thumbs up and approving nods while stuck in horrific Labor Day traffic. While I know this attention had nothing to do with me personally, it still made me feel sexier than usual.
The XJL is long, streamlined and sleek. At just over 206 inches in total length, this cat stretches its lithe body beautifully. It's low enough to the ground so that children and women in skirts can gracefully slide in and out. The sizable Jaguar ornaments on the front grille and trunk are just big enough to let people know what you're driving, but nowhere near ostentatious. Much has been made of the black D-pillars (those that flank the rear windows), and at first, I wasn't sure about them. However, I quickly came to appreciate their overall effect in creating a soaring roof line.
The XJL Supercharged has a standard panoramic sunroof, and a standard power trunk ensures that you'll never break a well-manicured nail when opening it. Dual exhaust pipes in the rear give a small nod to what this car is capable of on the road.
Storage is one of the few areas in which I cannot rave about the XJL. The trunk is on the small side. For our Labor Day jaunt to the hills, we were unable to fit all that we needed in the car. Thankfully, we sucked it up because driving the car up the mountain roads provided more enjoyment than whatever it was we didn't bring. (A stroller? A bike? Who cares?).
The XJL Supercharged has a supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 engine that produces 470 horsepower. The engine is matched to a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, and fuel economy is EPA-estimated at 15/22 mpg city/highway. It uses premium gas.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Groove-On
If you haven't already stopped reading this review to go test-drive the XJL Supercharged, it's your loss. If you're still reading, then it will come as no surprise that the XJL comes with a luxurious, elegant interior. All the better to envelop you as you swiftly glide over the streets.
Piano-black surfaces, soft leather upholstery with cream-colored piping, front seats that heat, cool and massage and a crescent line of walnut wood atop the leather dash ease you into the cabin.
The circular gear selector rises from the center console area when the engine starts and retreats when the engine is turned off. An 8-inch screen sits prominently in the center stack and offers a wealth of technological features that are easy and intuitive to manage.
The cabin is particularly elegant in the evening with everything dimly lit. It's quiet, enticing and sexy. When in Drive, the speedometer illuminates only the two speeds which you're between, leaving the rest of the numbers darkened, and with the optional Illumination Package, the circular vents come rimmed in faint blue light. The cabin is also nice and quiet day or night — unless your kids are with you and then it's never that quiet.
Like the trunk, the center console is also on the small side. There are only four cupholders and the door pockets are kind of measly.
Since this is the XJL, there's an additional five inches of legroom in the rear. This means plenty of room for even the largest and longest of adults to doze off back there or for children to play a few rounds of duck-duck-goose. That's a slight exaggeration, but there is room to spread out.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
The 2012 XJL has two sets of lower Latch anchors. Using them wasn't as smooth as everything else about this car. They're buried in the most inflexible part of the leather seat cushions and require some profanity to employ. Three child-safety seats won't fit across the backseat, but rear-facing car seats fit easily in the XJL.
The XJL has standard rear-wheel drive, four-wheel-disc antilock brakes with brake assist, auto-leveling adaptive bi-xenon headlights, an electronic stability system with traction control, a blind spot warning system, active front head restraints, front and rear parking sensors, a backup camera and six airbags, including side curtains for both rows. Adaptive cruise control is optional.
A few other notable features that come with every XJL are an automatic speed limiter, keyless entry and a seat belt monitor that chimes and tells you which seating position isn't buckled up. Kids!
The 2012 XJL hasn't been crash-tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Get more safety information about the 2012 Jaguar XJL here.