Road Trip: 2013 Jaguar XJ AWD to New York City travel car test drives luxury cars jaguar
Road Trip: NYC in a 2013 Jaguar XJ 3.0 AWD. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Lesley Wimbush

There’s nothing like a road trip.  Especially when you’ve got the key to a brand new Jaguar XJ 3.0 AWD clutched in your palm.

And when your destination is the vibrant cultural mecca of Manhattan, you’ve got the main ingredients for a memorable adventure.

When asked by a colleague with whom I was covering the New York Auto Show if I’d like to share driving expenses – I didn’t hesitate.

Given the choice of yet another dreary flight, crammed with miserable under-caffeinated commuters all inhaling the same stale air and bodily emissions, or the glorious freedom of traveling in a powerful luxury car – I did what anyone with an ounce of petrol in their veins would do – I chose the highway.

There are a few crucial factors that go into an epic road trip. First and foremost is the car. There’s no point in tackling the Tail of the Dragon armed with a Camry, and if you’re lucky enough to cruise California’s Pacific Coast Highway, for the sake of all that’s holy, at least take a sports car – if not a convertible.

Luckily I had that requirement well covered.

Adding the word “Jaguar” into the equation elevates our road trip into an occasion. We’re no longer traveling merely by car, but being transported by something that, through some sort of wonderful vehicular alchemy, transcends its humble origins of aluminum, glass and steel to become almost a living, breathing aristocrat.

There are cars that are more luxurious and certainly there are many that are more athletic.

Road Trip: 2013 Jaguar XJ AWD to New York City travel car test drives luxury cars jaguar Road Trip: 2013 Jaguar XJ AWD to New York City travel car test drives luxury cars jaguar
Road Trip: NYC in a 2013 Jaguar XJ 3.0 AWD. Click image to enlarge

But the Jaguar nameplate is legendary, evoking decades of British privilege, of monarchy and motorsport, of gentlemen racers who compete on Sunday and celebrate the victor with a salute of the flask.

No road trip is complete without assorted munchies. A visit to the bulk store covered all the junk food bases: sour gummy worms, wine gums, mixed nuts and the piece de resistance: chocolate covered peanut brittle. Of course, we’d also have plenty of opportunity to stop for serious sustenance and java top-ups along the way.

After the vehicle, co-drivers or passengers are the most important make-or-break components of your road trip. The right companion(s) can mean the difference between a journey of hilarious camaraderie… or an endurance test of the worst kind. Having driven with former Wheels editor Mark Richardson several times, I knew that boredom, at least, wouldn’t be an issue.

Road Trip: 2013 Jaguar XJ AWD to New York City travel car test drives luxury cars jaguar
Road Trip: NYC in a 2013 Jaguar XJ 3.0 AWD. Click image to enlarge

The Jaguar was roomy enough for a couple more passengers, but surprisingly, there were no takers. Senior Editor Jonathan Yarkony had a Cayenne Diesel and was travelling with his wife. Funny, but a few who were initially enthusiastic eventually remembered previous engagements, or forgotten plane reservations – and one replied “You’re driving with who? Oh #@$% no, I’ll fly!”

Anyone who’s ever spent time with a hyperactive adolescent with a penchant for potty humour would feel right at home with Mark, an Englishman who can (and often does) recite entire Monty Python skits complete with sound effects. I’d once had to edit all video footage to remove the dirty background singing after a week-long trek across Alaska. And then there was the time he almost killed us on the autobahn…

After several false starts (to retrieve Mark’s forgotten camera… then passport… then keys) we were on our way.

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