Jaguar has been the alternative luxury car manufacturer since 1922. They’ve always taken a different approach to the luxury car formula, focusing a lot more on the driver, and providing a British take on luxury. Even though they have been, to some extent, in the shadows of the Germans for the longest time, Jaguar’s luxury cars are truly fantastic, and no other model in the brand’s portfolio represents the peak of their expertise quite like the XJ.
The XJ duo of letters has been a part of Jaguar’s portfolio for decades and decades, usually with some type of number coming right after it. For the longest time, the Jaguar XJ looked pretty much the same across every generation, and by the 2000s, it was starting to look a little outdated. However, in 2009 (2011 for North America), along came the completely revolutionary X351 Jaguar XJ.
- V6 and V8 power
- Available long wheelbase model
- RWD and AWD available
- Model: XJ
- Engine/Motor: 3.0-liter supercharged V6 / 5.0-liter V8 / 5.0-liter supercharged V8
- Horsepower: 340-542 hp
- Torque: 330-461 lb/ft
- Drivetrain: Longitudinal front-engine, RWD / AWD
- Transmission: 6-speed automatic / 8-speed automatic
- MSRP: $72,500 (base)
- Gorgeous, well-aged styling
- Fantastic powertrains
- Very luxurious
- Slightly outdated tech
- Jaguar reliability
- It will still depreciate years after you buy one
The Jaguar XJ (X351) Was A Complete Revolution In The Luxury Sedan Segment
The X351 XJ first made its debut at the Saatchi Gallery in London back in 2009. Nobody expected the XJ to be such a radical departure from the previous generation, or indeed, every other XJ before, but it definitely was. A few years prior, legendary automotive designer Ian Callum had taken over design direction at Jaguar, and he’s the man responsible for modernizing Jaguar’s entire portfolio and completely abandoning retro styling. Retro styling, as cars like the S-Type proved, didn’t do wonders for Jaguar.
The XJ was a very different story. It took on the form of a thoroughly modern full-size luxury sedan, with some unusual styling traits that set it apart from the competition. The front end takes a majority of its inspiration from the XF, which debuted a couple of years prior, with slightly different headlights and a different grille. The side profile is very long and slender, lending the XJ somewhat of a four-door coupe silhouette. The standout design trait is undoubtedly the rear end, with its cat claw taillights and the design of the rear window.
The X351 XJ uses its own unique platform, the D2a, which is entirely aluminum. This allowed the car to keep its weight figure relatively low, despite it being a full-size luxury sedan, and the fully aluminum body adds further to that. Most of the lineup, thanks to that aluminum construction, managed to achieve a sub-4,000 lb curb weight.
For comparison, an S-Class of the time weighed in at well over 4,400 lbs. The design of the XJ was way ahead of its time, as it hasn’t aged one bit. It still looks modern today. Like just about every other luxury limo at the time, and still today, the XJ was available in a variety of trim levels, as well as short wheelbase and long wheelbase versions. There were also three different powertrains available. The XJ aimed squarely at the leaders of the full-size luxury sedan segment, including the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the BMW 7 Series, also a victim of depreciation, the understated Audi A8, and the Lexus LS. It also came along at a similar time as some much more left-field luxury sedan choices, including the Hyundai Equus and Genesis.
V6 And V8 Were The Powertrain Options For The Jaguar X351 XJ
Throughout its life, the X351 XJ came with three different powertrains. There was no V12, unlike most of the competition. Jaguar’s track record with V12 engines isn’t the greatest, and they didn’t have one in production during this time, so it was only V6 and V8 power for the XJ. The base engine was a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 from the AJ family, developing 340 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque. Due to the XJ’s relative light weight, even this powertrain didn’t feel particularly slow. 0-60 mph took 5.9 seconds, and the top speed was 155 mph.
One step above the V6 was the 5.0-liter V8, also from the AJ family. A V8 engine suits the XJ quite well, and this was a pretty punchy unit. It puts down 380 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque, which shaves two tenths of a second off the 0-60 time from the V6, while the top speed stays at that infamous 155 mph. At the top of the regular XJ lineup, there was the supercharged V8. It, too, displaced 5.0 liters, and it put down a meaty 464 hp and 424 lb-ft of torque. 0-60 took 5.2 seconds, while the top speed stayed the same.
Later in the production run, the supercharged V8 jumped to 503 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque, which dropped the 0-60 time to an impressive 4.9 seconds. However, if you wanted the absolute peak of the XJ lineup, you had to step up to the XJR, which arrived in North America for the 2014 model year. The XJR used an upgraded version of the supercharged V8, which developed a colossal 542 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque. 0-60 took 4.6 seconds, and Jaguar also relaxed the top speed limiter, as that went up to 174 mph.
In a somewhat surprising move, Jaguar chose to have air suspension only on the rear of the car, while the front used conventional steel springs. It also featured standard variable damping with a few different selectable drive modes. Power goes either to the rear wheels, or all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission initially. Beginning in 2013, Jaguar replaced the six-speed auto with an eight-speed unit. Even though Jaguar doesn’t have the best record for reliability, the XJ is surprisingly solid. Maintenance is a little expensive, but you shouldn’t have much to worry about, especially if you go for the V8 (which you should).
The Jaguar XJ’s Interior Is A Lovely Place To Be
Just like the exterior, the interior of the XJ also played host to some major changes, and a thorough modernization compared to the previous generation. The previous car’s interior stayed basically identical for over 20 years, but the XJ brought along a fresh new design and modernized technology. As soon as you sit in the driver’s seat, you’ll notice the digital gauge cluster. The items inside resemble analog gauges, presumably to not alienate drivers, but this was one of the first normal cars to feature a digital gauge cluster, after the Lexus LFA and the Lamborghini Aventador pioneered it.
There was also a brand-new steering wheel design, and a distinctive dashboard design with a wrap-around accent starting in the driver’s door panel, then stretching the entire width of the dashboard and into the passenger’s door panel. There was also no longer a J-gate shifter, but rather a turn-dial gear selector that rose up from the center console when you started the car. Leather and metal covered just about every conceivable surface, and Jaguar offered a variety of upholstery and trim options, as befits a luxury car.
Equipment on the XJ was also excellent, as every car came as standard with things like lane departure warning and a dual panoramic sunroof. An optional 1,200W Bowers and Wilkins sound system was available in the earlier models, and later ones offered the option of two Meridian systems with varying power outputs.
The earliest cars had a dual-view infotainment screen, which allowed for two different items to display on the screen at the same time, depending on which side you were viewing them on. In other words, the driver could look at the media or the navigation display, while the passenger could simultaneously watch a movie without disrupting the driver. The facelift model upgraded to the more modern InControl Touch Pro infotainment system. There’s a lot of room in the rear seats, even in the SWB version. You could also opt for individual rear seats in the back in place of the bench, with a rear seat entertainment system to go along with them. The trunk offers a decent 16.9 cubic feet of space.
Bargain Prices For The Jaguar X351 XJ
Despite the X351 Jaguar XJ having a better record for reliability than not only other Jaguar models, but also some of the competitors, it has still fallen victim to catastrophic Jaguar depreciation. According to Classic.com, average XJ values are in the neighborhood of $29,500. You can find the earliest XJ models for as little as $25,000, with decent miles and a comprehensive service history. Later XJ models are still relative bargains, going for somewhere between $35,000-$40,000.
Between its gorgeous styling, amazing powertrains, and total luxury, the X351 Jaguar XJ is a fantastic used luxury sedan, and a refreshing alternative to the established Germans. It’s unfortunate that the XJ went out of production.