The 2016 Jaguar XJ R-Sport is a warm-climate luxury sedan that will appeal to the country club set.
What is it?
Long, low and great-looking, the Jaguar XJ R-Sport is now Jaguar’s oldest design. Rather than be a negative, many Jaguar buyers may see that fact as a positive. This is the last of the Jaguars that didn’t look over its shoulder to see who might be catching up. Now almost a ten-year-old design, it is overdue for an update, but there is still much to like about this big sedan.
Pricing and trims
The XJ is available in two wheelbases, with rear or all-wheel drive, and there are two engine options. Our tester was the short wheelbase, RWD car with the base 3.0-liter, Supercharged V6 engine. The XJ line starts at $74,400. A fully-equipped Jaguar XJR with the option boxes blackened will run about $125K. Interestingly, this price range is almost exactly in line with the Tesla Model S, a comparison we drew when we tested a 2015 model year, AWD version of the XJ last year.
Our 2016 XJ R-Sport test car was very close to the base model XJ in price, with an MSRP $77,375.
The XJ R-Sport is so long and so big it imparts a feeling of security. However, it is untested by IIHS, so we can only assume it is as safe as it seems. With no forward collision prevention or automatic emergency braking, the XJ R-Sport has less standard active safety than the $17K Toyota iA on showroom floors. This is a glaring omission for such a pricey car and with no adaptive cruise control to go along with that technology, our XJ felt old-school on the highway.
However, the Jaguar XJ does have the best rear cross-traffic alert we have yet tested. And boy did it need it. The design of the low rear roof, high trunk, and third brake light assembly make the view out the back of this large sedan almost nil. The rear cross traffic alert not only detects approaching cars when you cannot see them due to other traffic or bushes along side you, it also shows you with a red arrow from which direction the approaching car is coming.
Having now driven this 3.0-liter supercharged engine in three Jaguars, we are still in love with it. Power is plentiful in every situation.
Given the car’s size and style, the optional V8 seems like a waste in the XJ series. This car is a luxury cruiser. Sure, it can be argued that it has “cat-like reflexes”, but if shopping for a fast Jaguar this is the last one of the four Jaguar cars this writer would choose. The engine can shoot you towards the next turn about as fast as you can react.
The eight-speed automatic transmission Jaguar uses is a perfect mate to the XJ R-Sport. There is a Dynamic (sport) and Winter Mode, and there are paddles on the steering wheel, but with so much torque and power they were never tempting during my time with the car. Just toe the accelerator and the car is instantly where you want to be.
Ride and handling
Unlike the 2015 XJ I tested, the XJ R-Sport was comfortable over broken pavement. In fact, it was well balanced. Steering is very direct, even in normal mode and the car is easy to drive quickly.
One of the three options our test car had was 18-way front seats with massage. They are very nice, and finding the perfect setting is easy. One minor quibble – the heat and ventilation controls for the seats are buried within the infotainment system menus. A simple thumb wheel on the console like Lexus and Infiniti use would work better.
This being the short wheelbase version of the XJ, our test car’s back seat was not huge. In fact, a midsize car like a Kia Optima has a much roomier rear seat. Jaguar’s attention to detail and feeling of quality does extend to the back. Those looking for more cabin practicality may find it in the new Jaguar F-Pace Crossover.
The trunk of the Jaguar XJ R-Sport is huge and unusually wide. We had to stand well back to get the width of it into the field of view to photograph it. The truck also opens fully when the keyfob is pressed. Best of all, there is a compact spare underneath the cargo floor. By all appearances this trunk can swallow as many golf bags as it has seats.
Infotainment and controls
The simple Jaguar infotainment system is a breath of fresh air. No hassles with a mouse to learn or goofy interface. The Jaguar system is a touch-screen, and it is easy to use. It may have been the easiest vehicle we ever tested in which to sync a phone. There is literally an easy to find option that says “Hey, do you want to sync your phone?” Although not as fast or as intuitive as Ford’s new Sync 3, this system reminded us of that excellent infotainment interface. Audio quality was excellent, and the subwoofer can be set to loosen your brain stem should you wish it.
The leather dashboard of the XJ R-Sport is one of the ways it is special.
This car and golf go together like Jenny and Forest. The outstanding workmanship inside needs to be high on your list of wants to make the car work. Though it has plenty of performance, a Tesla Model S makes this car seem a bit dated (and the Model S is no spring chicken). If you have always wanted a big Jag, get this one, but consider the long wheelbase option if you will be car-pooling to the club with your pals. If you live where it snows, get the AWD model.
The very last of the Jaguar line to be updated, the XJ R-Sport still represents an excellent balance of luxury and performance. For the right buyer, this car checks all the right boxes.
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2016 Jaguar XJ R-Sport
Base price: $74,400
Price as tested, $77,375 including $995 destination charge:
Comfort Package: $1,980
-18-Way Front Seats With Massage
-4 Zone Climate Control
– Electric Rear Sunblind
- Classic Good Looks
- Infotainment System Ease of Operation
- Compact Spare!
- Missing Active Safety and Adaptive Cruise Control
- Seat Temp Controls Hidden In Menus
Photo note: Image of Jaguar in Ride and Handling section courtesy of Jaguar.