An odd thing happened as Americans’ taste for luxury vehicles grew in recent years: Jaguar, the venerable British marquee, struggled to gain traction.
In fact, U.S. sales of Jaguar’s flagship sedan, the XJ, are on pace for their slowest year since 2010.
Although this may be worrying to the carmaker and Jaguar dealers, owners of the 2015 XJ and its long-wheelbase version, the XJL, won’t have to worry about seeing many other new XJs in their country club parking lots. And they’ll still have a stylish, large sedan that almost looks like a coupe from the side because of the slope of its rear roofline.
In this Monday, Jan. 12, 2015, file photo, Nike Chairman Phil Knight walks near the field before the NCAA college football playoff championship game between Ohio State and Oregon in Arlington, Texas. Knight plans to step down and says he wants Nike President and CEO Mark Parker to succeed him.
Three supercharged V-6 and V-8 engines are available — none of them particularly fuel efficient.
Interior accoutrements can mix old-world, pull-down Jaguar “business trays” and vanity mirrors for back-seat passengers with navigation system and adaptive cruise control technology for the driver.
But Jaguar doesn’t have all the latest technology. For example, the 2015 XJ doesn’t offer a surround-view camera, rear cross-traffic alert and lane departure warning. And the XJ’s centralized interface for most audio and navigation controls is still a touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard.
In contrast, BMW and Audi use singular control dials and Lexus has a movable cursor, both of which can be faster to operate than Jaguar’s touchscreen.
Starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price, including destination charge, for a rear-wheel drive, 2015 XJ with 340-horsepower V-6 mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission is about on par for the large, luxury sedan segment — $75,195.
The lowest retail price of a 2015 XJ with all-wheel drive is $78,695, and this model comes with the base, supercharged V-6.
Rear-wheel drive long-wheelbase XJLs, which add 4 inches of legroom for the back seats, carry a starting retail price of $82,195 with the same base supercharged V-6.
Jaguar XJ pricing can reach more than $119,000 for the top-of-the-line long wheelbase 2015 XJR with a 550-horsepower supercharged V-8.
By comparison, the starting retail price for a 2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 with a 449-horsepower bi-turbo V-8 is $95,325, while a 2015 Lexus LS 460 with a 386-horsepower V-8 starts at $73,485.
The test-driven 2015 XJL looked pretty on the outside, with the optional-for-$1,500 British racing green paint.
The sporty front end with large grille and curtly clipped rear gave the car a less formal appearance than might have been expected.
Trunk space is limited, at 15.2 cubic feet, and much of this is under the rear window. Both the Mercedes S550 and LS 460 have larger trunks.
The XJ no longer has the “leaper” — a shiny, pouncing jaguar figure — affixed to the hood. The iconic cat has been replaced by the face of the “growler” cat on the grille.
But the plentiful power, speed and grace of the animal remains part of the XJ’s DNA.
Depending on the engine, a rear-wheel drive, 2015 XJ can zoom from zero to 60 mph in anywhere from 4.7 to 5.7 seconds.