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.

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.

We vowed we wouldn’t go home until we’d shot the Jaguar with the Statue of Liberty in the background, though. It took several circuits of the Financial District and a few trips down 12th Avenue before we found an unobstructed view of Lady Liberty near Battery Park. However, the only access was up over the sidewalk, past the Korean Monument and through an archway.

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

No problem. We’re practically native New Yorkers, now – and with the chutzpah born of desperation, quickly get our shots and peel out of there.

Despite the luxurious cocooning ride of the Jaguar, there was no fear of falling asleep at the wheel. Thanks to the numerous Starbucks stops to maintain our caffeine fixes, and the sugar-induced hyper-manic conversation, it was a memorable drive home.

The Jaguar XJ can certainly stand the test of tolerance. I’m not sure about me, however; my middle finger was just about worn out.

Related Articles:
Double Road Trip: 2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel, New York City & Victoria, BC
Road Trip: 2013 Volvo S60 T5 Premier Plus to NYC
Test Drive: 2013 Lexus LS 460 AWD
Test Drive: 2012 Mercedes-Benz S 350 Bluetec Diesel
Test Drive: 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Supercharged
Test Drive: 2012 Jaguar XJ
Test Drive: 2013 Jaguar XF 3.0 AWD

Manufacturer’s Website:
Jaguar Canada

Photo Gallery:
2013 Jaguar XJ AWD to New York City

Pricing: 2013 Jaguar XJ 3.0 AWD
Base Price:
$89,000
Options: Visibility Package ($850); Front Seat Comfort Package ($2,000); Wood and leather heated steering wheel ($500); 19″ Toba Alloy wheels ($525); Illumination package ($1700)
A/C Tax: $100|
Freight: $2,143
Price as tested: $96,293

Competitors:
Audi A8
BMW 7 Series
Land Rover Range Rover
Lexus LS 460
Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Porsche Panamera

Crash test results
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)




About LesleyWimbush

In 5th grade, Lesley traded drawings of muscles cars for chocolate bars and things really haven't changed much since then. When not cursing the gremlins behind the insidious check engine light on her 400 hp modified Dodge Dakota, Lesley can be found lapping her Mazda MX3 KLZE at Mosport.