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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For The XJ is every bit as graceful as you’d expect, and this version even has decent room in the back

Against Rivals from Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW beat it for quality and class

Verdict Buying nearly-new is unwise, but a three-year-old is a better prospect

Go for… 3.0 Executive

Avoid… 4.2 Super V8

Jaguar XJ Saloon
  • 1. Although aluminium-bodied cars can be expensive to repair, Jaguar's costs are sensible
  • 2. The wood and leather trim looks great, but the quality of some of the switches and minor trim isn’t quite what you’d want
  • 3. A few owners report recurrent problems with diesel engines that stall
  • 4. The boot is a fair size, but it’s awkwardly shaped
  • 5. The cabin is reasonably spacious, especially on the long-wheelbase models
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Jaguar XJ Saloon full review with expert trade views

Jaguar believes that its owners prefer engines to growl, so if you want a hushed ride, buy a Lexus. That said, what you do hear sounds cultured and muted unless you spend the whole time with the throttle buried in the carpet.

The XJ floats on air springs, giving you a choice of ‘comfort’ or ‘sport’ settings. Whichever you pick, the ride remains supple. As you’d expect, it’s a driver’s car, so there’s direct steering and plenty of power from even the smaller engines.

In contrast to earlier Jags, the cabin is reasonably spacious, and even more so if you buy the long-wheelbase models. Somehow it still feels snug, though. The wood and leather trim looks great, but the quality of some of the switches and minor trim isn’t quite what you’d want. And, despite its fair size, the boot is awkwardly shaped, which means that it's no match for a BMW 7 Series or an Audi A8.

Trade view

James Ruppert

More around now and 2.7 Diesel is the pick, but it will be pricey

James Ruppert
Used car guru

As with other luxury cars, the bigger engines aren't automatically better. The basic 3.0 V6 has plenty of power and, in most situations, it feels every inch as good to drive and to ride in as the top-end models. Plus, you get most of what's good about an XJ for the least cost. There’s also an excellent 2.7 diesel, but it's scarce second-hand, and so commands top prices.

Next up from the 3.0 petrol is the 3.5 V8, which is the pick of the engines if you can live with the extra buying and running costs. It’s so good, in fact, that it’s hard to argue a case for the 4.2 range-topper, although there is perhaps something to be said for the 400bhp version found in the XJR. However, that’s one for the money-no-object connoisseur.

Auto gearboxes are standard on every model, and they are very good indeed, while wood, leather and plenty of safety kit comes as standard on Executive models, so they're our favourites.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Poor reliability with big bills - watch for suspension and electrical problems

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

Although aluminium-bodied cars can be expensive to repair, Jaguar has found a way to keep costs sensible, as reflected by insurance groupings that start at 15, making them a fair bit cheaper than most rivals. Even the mighty XJR falls into a reasonable group 19.

XJ values plummets from new, so by their third birthday most models fetch below half what they cost when new. That means buying a three-month-old car is unwise, yet a three-year-old is temptingly cheap.

Servicing is expensive if you stick with a main dealer, but you’ll easily save a third if you seek out a reputable non-franchised specialist. Jaguar spares are no bargain, either, but it isn’t worth using cut-price items because they often wear faster or don’t work as well.

Fuel economy ranges from 27mpg for the 3.0 and 23mpg for the 4.2 up to a far more reasonable 35mpg overall for the diesel.

Trade view

James Ruppert

More around now and 2.7 Diesel is the pick, but it will be pricey

James Ruppert
Used car guru

According to the What Car? Reliability Index, Jaguars are reasonably dependable runners, and repairs on older XJs are not much more costly than average.

This model has needed a good number of safety recalls, though. The 2004 cars were called in to have modifications to their gearboxes to prevent the unit from slipping into reverse while the vehicle was moving forward. Some 2004 cars also had to be returned for work to prevent the airbags from puncturing as they deployed. Ask a main dealer to check whether your potential purchase has had the work done, or consult the vehicle's service history.

Otherwise, a few owners report recurrent problems with diesels that stall, and one or two have also made repeated trips back to their dealers to cure electrical faults. There’s little else to report for now, however.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Poor reliability with big bills - watch for suspension and electrical problems

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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