2014 Jaguar XJL a luxury inside and out

The last time I had an enormous extravagant Jaguar for test car o’ the week, I drove it to an appointment in Seattle – in the Fremont neighborhood, no less – where I felt self-conscious and out of place, and wished for a bumper sticker saying “Please don’t hate me, this isn’t my car.” There’s no shortage of affluence in Seattle, but automotive ostentation is not a preferred method for demonstrating the depths of one’s pockets.

A car-writer colleague of mine in well-heeled but less environmentally conscious Scottsdale, Ariz., faces a similar situation but for opposite reasons. He said he wants a this-isn’t-my-car bumper sticker when his test car is something small and affordable.

This week’s object of review, the dazzling 2014 Jaguar XJL Portfolio, looked hysterically out of place in my rustic driveway near the Cascade Mountains, but at least there the car was protected from public view, and I was free to gaze upon it with guiltless admiration.

The L in the car’s title indicates a long wheelbase version of the XJ sedan. An overall length of 206.8 inches puts it in executive limo territory, a characteristic reinforced by the tester’s Premium Rear Seat Package – a $7,750 option that shapeshifts the three-passenger rear seat into two individual buckets and adds a rear seat entertainment system with dual 10.2-inch screens mounted on the front seatbacks. Beneath each screen is a drop-down business tray. To ensure the comfort of tortured souls being transported in that harsh environment, the seats include back movement and upper articulation, and add massage to the heating and cooling that is standard equipment for front and rear seats. Power sunshades for the side windows are also part of the package. A rear window power shade is standard.

The XJL is powered by a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 generating 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. Its helpmate is a swift and sure eight-speed automatic transmission. Don’t think a V6 in this mammoth sedan weighing 4,141 pounds means it’s underpowered. The driving experience proves otherwise.

Quickness is no surprise in a Jaguar, but the XJL’s handling is remarkable because it behaves like a much smaller sedan, even on twisty roads.

All-wheel drive is the third feature in the XJL’s performance trifecta. It’s a desirable addition that considerably improves snow-worthiness over the XJ’s usual rear drive. AWD is also a boon when roads are wet with rain.

Fuel economy ratings are 16 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. Premium fuel is recommended.

The XJL’s lavish interior is sublimely peaceful and quiet, a perfect venue for the tester’s optional ($4,180) Meridian 1300W Reference Audio sound system. A galaxy of beautifully designed controls operate the many information, entertainment, engineering, navigation and connectivity features. The best part of all is something that isn’t included: complexity. Nothing spoils a luxury car faster than non-intuitive, overly complicated versions of these systems. Manufacturers who don’t take heed get complaints from their customers.

My tester had the all-black Jet interior, which went well with the Lunar Grey exterior, but I think the two-toned color schemes look more handsome.

2014 JAGUAR XJL PORTFOLIO AWD

Base price, including destination charge: $85,595

Price as driven: $103,045

Mary Lowry is a freelance writer who has been reviewing cars for more than 20 years. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild and a board member of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.

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