The Jaguar XJ AWD is the rich man’s saloon – a curvaceous four-door sedan with sumptuous interior appointments and an increased agility thanks to its new all-wheel-drive system. Under that long, cultured snout lies a 340-hp supercharged V6 mated to a new eight-speed transmission. This powertrain, capable of propelling the huge cat from 0–100 km/h in only 6.4 seconds, is smooth and powerful enough to make you forget the previous V8-equipped model.

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

Comfort definitely wasn’t an issue. The XJ’s richly appointed cabin is opulent enough for royalty – our only beef is that the swooping centre console that neatly divides the cockpit had no suitable cubby or repository for all of our junk food. I was grateful for its width and height however, as my co-driver was a “Punch-buggy-no-punch-backs” fan, who, fiddling incessantly with all the car’s knobs and gadgets, managed to turn the gear selection knob to “Neutral” while we were on the highway. I loved the tiny, jewel-like time piece embedded in the centre console, and the burled wood trim looked like something from Sotheby’s auction house.

The cushy leather seats are almost infinitely adjustable. Not only are they heated and cooled, but they’d also massage your tired buns if you so desire. Unfortunately, I happened to mention how much this feature creeped me out – so naturally Mark took every opportunity to switch it on whenever I least expected it.

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: 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 XJ’s all-wheel-drive system uses similar technology to the BMW 7 Series in that it’s a rear-wheel-drive biased setup using a multi-plate clutch to divide the torque between front and rear. Unlike other systems, however, the Jaguar can send up to 100 percent of the power to the front if necessary. A compelling feature for snow-belt buyers, and it gives the XJ the edge it needs to compete with Audi’s Quattro, Mercedes-Benz’s 4Matic or BMW’s xDrive.

Fortunately, we had clear weather with only a spattering of rain for the duration of our trip.

I’d had quite enough of Mark’s dirty-English-schoolboy songs and thankfully, the Jaguar’s Meridian sound system is not only first-rate – it’s extremely loud.

The crystalline high-notes and deeply resonating subwoofer produced an intoxicating concert-hall sound, and I can only imagine the reaction of other drivers to the two middle-aged lunatics head-banging to British punk rock in the $100,000 Jaguar…

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

There are some lovely roads between Kingston and Syracuse, and switching the dynamic drive mode to “Sport” – I laughed as the gauges glowed an angry red and the respectable saloon developed a guttural bark. Like the big cat that it’s named for, the Jaguar yawns, stretches and unsheathes its claws, the steering firms up and the transmission shifts become sharply abrupt.

As we got closer to Manhattan, I suggested we take the Lincoln Tunnel, as I knew from previous years that it wasn’t far from my hotel. “But Lesley,” said Mark, who was by now at the wheel, “the Navigation suggests that we take this way.” I peered at the screen, which resembled a plate of spaghetti with gold arrows shaken over it. “Ummm… okay, if you think you know where you’re going.”

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

If you have ever read Tom Wolfe’s “Bonfire of the Vanities” – featuring two Park Avenue socialites who take a wrong turn one night and end up in Harlem… you’ll be able to relate to the rest of our journey. The proliferation of graffiti and barred windows gave way to the sinking realization that we weren’t where we should be. Feeling like fresh bait in the shark tank, we performed a quick U-turn and headed back up onto the turnpike.

Eventually we reached New York City alive and in one piece. We managed to snarl up traffic (and learn some new words!) by stopping in Times Square to photograph the Jaguar.

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