By on November 5, 2012

Auto journalists have a habit of being cornered at parties by interested outsiders – usually, the boyfriend of the cute girl you were just flirting with – and pounced upon with the standard question. After “what’s your favorite car?” and “what’s the fastest you’ve ever gone”, you are likely to get some kind of consumer advice question. “I have $X to spend on a car. What would you recommend?”

When you’re on the free car gravy train, the concerns of the commoners, like reliability, practicality, fuel economy and running costs disappear. That’s why I’ve witnessed some members of my guild encourage people, with an unflinching earnestness, that the best car for someone looking for reliable family transportation, would be a used Saab 9-5 Aero. Or a brown Citroen SM. Or that legendary stalwart, the TDI Jetta Sportwagen.

I confess that my own choices will always lean towards the quirky, the thrilling or the intolerably obscure, but for us scribes, it’s easy. We always have reliable transportation in our driveways on a weekly basis, so when the work-in-progress Lamborghini Espada won’t fire up, you can take the 38 MPG 2013 Nissan Altima to the store for the milk run. If you’re a regular sap, that option doesn’t always exist, and reliability gains more importance. That’s why, despite it being my favorite car I’ve driven all year, I would never recommend a Jaguar XJ to anybody, even if it’s within the warranty period.

Before I skin the cat, sans anesthesia,  let me gush over this car in the metaphor-saturated hyperbolic tone that passes for great automotive writing these days. This car is all things to all people; comfortable enough to get driven in, but exciting enough that you’ll want to take the wheel. I think it looks stunning, though 75 percent of commenters will disagree with me. Even over local roads that looked like they’d be repaired by the Syrian Air Force, the XJ glided over the dips and bumps with a softness that toilet paper marketers yearn to verbalize. The 470-horsepower supercharge engine is near silent from inside, but delivers muscle-car like thrust. On the highway cycle, I got 22 mpg cruising at 80 mph with the A/C blowing cold.

The interior somehow managed to top the 2011 Jaguar XJL Supersport I drove last year; I thought the purple velvet-lined cigar box inside the rear armrest was as good as it got. The Portfolio package, with its rear-seat entertainment system, wireless headphones (so you can listen to your own music while front seat occupants play their own music) and the wireless controllers for all of that (which look like little Gameboys) take it to the next level. Also present are the mirrored tray tables (which I assume are for the consumption of liquid, rather than powdered intoxicants) and my favorite detail, that long, curved piece of wood that wraps from A-pillar to A-pillar. My mind contorts at the thought of how difficult and expensive that piece was to make.

Now that I’m done angling for a Pulitzer Prize, let me tell you why I’d never tell anyone to go out and buy this. The atrocious reliability. When you vouch for someone or something, you put your own credibility on the line, and for most people, a car is the second biggest purchase of their lives. The stakes aren’t quite as high for your typical XJ buyer as they would be for, say, a single mother that needs a good car to get to work and pick her kids up from school. Nevertheless, reliability data from Consumer Reports and True Delta confirms that Jaguar cars still struggle with reliability. Some local journalists even reported quality problems with the press fleet units, including infotainment systems that would randomly decide to stop working.

Until there is some kind of real evidence that Jaguar is making real strides in the quality of their cars, I’ll have to recommend something else to anyone looking for a $100,000 luxury sedan. Then again, if you’re the type that owns or admires the Citroen SM, this would make a great daily driver. Think of it as a much quicker, more opulent Citroen C6. With similar reliability.

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75 Comments on “Capsule Review: Jaguar XJL Portfolio...”


  • avatar

    Well, thus passeth away my dream of an XF Supercharged…

    • 0 avatar
      david42

      And there goes MY dream of a Citroen C6!

    • 0 avatar
      Leaper_NYC

      Hold on your dreams Sprocketboy – and better yet, act on them. I did, and 4 years later, the XF Super brings a smile to my lips every time I start up. It is the definitive sports sedan, and with over nearly 40k miles to date, has been roughly as reliable as any car I’ve ever owned (Acura, Mazda, Benz, Honda, Subaru, Audi, BMW)

  • avatar
    noxioux

    What a nice looking Accord.

  • avatar
    tmkreutzer

    Too bad about the poor reliability, this is such a stunning car.

    I’ll hold out hope that in 10 years when these things are being sold for a song, that someone will have devised an LT1 engine swap.

    • 0 avatar
      Tinker

      It’s a shame that not only is it unreliable, but so unreliable, that the general public avoids it like a dose of the clap. So you won’t be able to find one 10 years down the road, at all. Someone has to buy it first/new, and if there is no pool of new cars out there to age, there won’t be any lightly used bodies to swap a 350/351 into.

    • 0 avatar
      kkt

      Let me know when it becomes possible to swap electrical systems.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    Where does the Jaguar XJ stand on reliablity these data? Facts and figures please…..

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/ford-plunges-seven-spots-in-consumer-reports-reliability-rankings-as-audi-gm-rise/ Ya need to start hanging with the cool kids P) Plus anecdotal evidence: Marry thrice divorced meth head before you buys a Jaguar.

  • avatar
    smokingclutch

    So, while criticizing “what passes for automotive journalism these days,” you subsequently spend over half of the “review” using the same hyperbole. You then tell us you wouldn’t recommend it because of reliability data obtained from other sources.

    In other words, you have provided literally zero new information about this car to your readers that they couldn’t get elsewhere. That, in a nutshell (or capsule?) sums up what’s wrong with TTAC these days. Stick to the political screeds, Derek, because you clearly mailed it in on this review. Did Jaguar provide the car and a tank of gas for this one? If so, they should ask to be reimbursed.

    Good automotive journalism needs to be either entertaining or informative. It is best to be both, but if you’re really good at one, that’s still pretty good.

    This is neither.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      I’m sorry but he nailed it:

      If paying $100k for a car is no problem, than yeah.

      If you’re taking a 30-year mortgage out on a paid off home to buy a $100k car, than not so much (I’m sure there are alot of escalades crusing via this method).

      Review complete.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s really not difficult. It’s a great car. I love it. I wouldn’t recommend it as a purchase, because I don’t want to vouch for something that, based on more accurate sources of reliability (not to mention other anecdotal sources), would give them undue headaches as part of the ownership experience.

      Based on your comment history, your contributions seem to be limited to attacking TTACs writers for imaginary sins, but hopefully this clears it up.

    • 0 avatar
      -Cole-

      Derek doesn’t write political screeds, and you dumb readers should stop complaining about that anyway.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    When the XF came out, many of the monthlies received them for long term testing. Most of the reviews ended up including anecdotes about the procedure involved in disassembling the center console in order to engage neutral so the car can be towed when the dial-shifter stops working because the car is dead.

    • 0 avatar
      salhany

      Edmunds currently has a Jag XF Supercharged in their long term testing fleet. So far, no problems, even after taking it on a road trip from LA to Alaska.

      • 0 avatar
        Leaper_NYC

        [calling BS] not aware of any published review involving center consoles as you describe – please provide link

        The reliability shtick on old Jags has gotten stale. It’s cute for the general public, but surely time for TTAC readers (and this reviewer) to move along.

        Aware of many gushing reviews of the current Jaguar XF and XJ – including several here on TTAC. Read and enjoy!

    • 0 avatar
      22_RE_Speedwagon

      http://jalopnik.com/how-to-tow-a-jaguar-with-an-electronic-shift-lever/

      • 0 avatar
        Leaper_NYC

        Thanks. To clarify, this was not a reliability issue. Battery was dead and needed a jump.

        Neat design feature – battery is located in trunk to (1) improve weight balance, (2) provide ease of access when parking head-in, and (3) facilitate access when battery is dead. Unlike testers, owners can appreciate nuanced design – and occasionally even read manuals :)

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I’m glad to see Jaguar is still building gorgeously opulent cars that in less than 10 years will have depreciated to a point where they will make terrific engine swap project cars.

    Seriously considering adding a ’97-’03 XK coupe to the project pipeline as an LS swap.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Show us the way, brother.

      I just wonder if in those years they switched to a Ford transmission and mounting a LSx becomes very difficult. The Previous Jags (X305 and earlier) used a German ZF 4spd with the I6 and some kind of GM variant for the V12, IIRC.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Seems like a pretty good way to go, there is a perfect storm of project car goodness going on with those cars now:
        1. The 4.0L V8 has a tendency for timing chain guide failures which end up junking the motor.
        2. Even running decent mileage examples can be had for comparable Trans-Am money
        3. There are companies who now supply mount kits and even CAN converters so the GM J-bus signals can operate the Jag CAN based gauges correctly.

        Plus, I always liked the style of those years.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “There are companies who now supply mount kits and even CAN converters so the GM J-bus signals can operate the Jag CAN based gauges correctly.”

        Really now? This is great info, I still worry about the GM computer and the transmission through. Not an engine swap expert, but I was under the impression the newer automatics require sync with the computer on when to shift, or am I smoking crack?

        Btw the first two years of the new AJ-V8 were pretty much a complete disaster for the engines, I mean HT4100 levels of failure. I think it would be very possible to find examples in the 97-98 MY specifically with blown engines, esp those bought and ‘kept’ long after the Jaguar warranty expired as the engines are time bombs.

        “The AJ-V8 was designed to use Nikasil-coated cylinders rather than the more-common iron cylinder liners. However, like the BMW M60, high-sulphur fuel reacted with the Nikasil liners and caused engine failures. Jaguar replaced affected engines, and has used conventional cast-iron linings ever since.”

        “Pre-2000 engines suffered from the Nikasil coating. Not all engines where replaced under the recall. If you are looking to buy a pre-2000 AJ8 car look for a placard at the back of the engine”.

        More information on this is available here:
        http://www.go-lpg.co.uk/More_X308.html

        http://www.jaguarforums.com/forum/jaguar-engines-47/aj-v8-engine-32738/

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        “Not an engine swap expert, but I was under the impression the newer automatics require sync with the computer on when to shift, or am I smoking crack?”

        If I were to do an LSx swap in one of these, I would do it complete with the GM 4L60/65E or 4L80 with a manual valve body if I wanted to get all racecar with it.

        You could also avoid transmission programming by going with a T56, but then you’d be additing a 3rd pedal, hydraulics, and initial parts cost.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I am very intrigued! How much for a prototype?

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        A rough estimate on my part would suggest that if the XK was bought with a bad motor but otherwise in good shape, a complete LS swap could be done for around the same price as buying a nice decent mileage original XK (8-10K)

        Then you wouldn’t have the time bomb under the hood and are open to endless cheap performance upgrades.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I like it, right after I rob those families in the next thread I’ll be by with a check.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    God but I do want one of these; in my neighborhood, where I sit behind a line of S-Classes, 7-Series and Panameras on the highway on-ramp in the morning while the moms drive their kids to school in Range Rovers and Escalades (the “consoling proximity of millionaires”, as Fitzgerald put it), this is the car that stops me in my tracks. But I have to admit that, should I make partner and join their ranks, my money’s on an S8 until Jaguar can sort their sh!t out.

  • avatar
    JGlanton

    I briefly fell in love with an XF Portfolio edition and got an itchy trigger finger. The sale price was less than comparable V8 premium vehicles. Then while I was looking at all those cool gadgets like motorized vents and the pop-up knob, I thought about Jaguar’s reputation for reliabilty. I do not lease cars as a policy, but I said to myself “Self, the smart thing to do on an unreliable car is to lease it so I can give it back before it falls to pieces”. I asked the salesman for a lease deal, it seemed kinda high, so I slept on it. I visited a BMW dealer the next day and got a lease quote on a loaded 550i that cost $11K more than the Jaguar. The BMW lease was cheaper. What the heck? Aha, the Jaguar has a terrible residual value which I assume was because of it’s reliability record (or reputation). No deal.

    I ended up buying a loaded CPO 650i Sport that had 20K miles on it for $50K cash. I get a nicer car than the Jaguar for less money and with a 100,000 mile warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      Stumpaster

      Sorry, 650i is not a nicer car than the XF, not by any stretch of imaginabanglenation. Unless you count as “nice” to have that extra $50K in your pocket.

      Former BMW fanboi, still an XJ6 fanboi.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Jaguars have a certain elegance about them, BMWs not so much. Jaguar may lose this moving forward and try a stab at ugly or poser as did Cadillac, but for the moment the Jag impresses me much more.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    It is good that people are conditioned to expect zero trouble from their cars today. It makes the depreciation hit so massive that even a prole like me can buy whatever the vocal 2% decide to deride after driving it for 50k miles and being flummoxed by a low tire light or some other remedial problem. But I’m the guy who has a toolbox with all additives and a set of booster cables in every trunk, so what do I know? I guess maybe my standards are too low?

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Even if you do all the work yourself, something like an S class is still expensive to own. Very complicated car with many critical things that can go wrong. You can ignore a TPM light, but you can’t ignore an Active Body Control failure. (Merc’s hydraulic suspension system) Also how are you going to fix it?

  • avatar
    el scotto

    http://www.jaguarforums.com/forum/tags/failure/ They have a reputation for breaking. Good luck, they are beautiful cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Leaper_NYC

      Followed your link and not a single article references an XF. They were launched 4 1/2 years ago. Or the current or prior XJ. Just sayin’

      They are indeed beautiful cars.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        @Leaper_NYC Anecdotal evidence: Friend of mine lives in Chicago and makes four trips a year (at least) to the family farm in downstate IL. His Jag blew a radiator hose once and stopped running once. The link from the forums was more of a you can’t just fix these with a crescent wrench and combo wrench comment. Jags are deservedly expensive, you won’t find a Jag dealer in every town that has a Whole Foods like many other luxury dealers. 12-14 non-stop running is a requirement for a vehicle heading to the cornfields. I think they’re gorgeous cars, I’m just skeptical of their reliability.

  • avatar
    redliner

    $100,000 cars don’t sell based on reliability or fuel economy so much as, looks, power, bleeding edge technology, and badge status. As a former XJ owner, I can tell you that the decision to buy a jaguar is made “because it’s a sexy car,” not “because Consumer Reports said it’s reliable”.

    • 0 avatar
      ott

      Amen, you nailed it.

    • 0 avatar
      Bryce

      Comparing the reliability to a Citroen is amusing My Citroen hasnt missed a beat since I bought it and Jaguar use PSA/Ford diesel engines

    • 0 avatar
      rogue_siren

      Sproketboy,

      I was captivated by the redesign of the jaguar but like many, I was reluctant to pull the trigger (due to previous Jaguar horror stories). However, after looking at the same old BMWs and Mercedes, I pulled the trigger on a new 2011 Jaguar luxury premium addition and have never looked back!! My car was customized and I received it in June of 2010 and over two years later, I have not had ANY problems! Frankly, I love the car and seriously considering buy a second one (2012 XJ), although the 2012 Porsche Panamera is nice, if you can swallow the price.

      Jaguar does stand behind their cars with the platinum maintenance free warranty (4 years/50K miles), which covers EVERYTHING but tires. I’ve taken my car to the dealership for two routine services and the staff were very cordial and accommodating.

      If I have any complaints, it would be the lag-time with the media center, the navigation and other AI components do drag a little but outside of that, I would be a repeat customer.

      From a woman’s perspective, I find this car to be sleek, and classy. I hope this doesn’t sound too snobby but the people who can afford to buy this car do so because its stylish and posh. Frankly, ALL European cars can be hit or miss with reliability, to include BMW, Mercedes, and Audi. I lived in Germany for four years and I can share horror stories for all of them. FYI, in Germany owning a BMW is like owning a Honda (everybody has one) and Mercedes are used for taxis, so I find them less impressive. Hope this helps!

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    Companies like Jaguar and Land Rover should just outsource the “hard” part of making a reliable car and focus on what they’re good at: beautiful sheetmetal and opulent interiors. That’s what 99% of buyers really care about, having something with character that’s unique.

    I would think Jaguar could just farm out the chassis, electronics and drivetrain, and create a beautiful car inside and out, and everyone would be a lot happier. Cars are simply too complex with all the regulations and consumer appetite for features, smaller builders are almost destined to make disposable luxury cars. I can’t even imagine what you do with a car like this in 10 years.

    It is beautiful, and if I had money to burn and didn’t care how much I lost when I got rid of it before the warranty expires, I’d maybe buy one. But even “free” trips to the dealer can be a nightmare if it’s a way of life. If a purchase like this is mainly emotional, you can really start hating a car in a hurry if it makes life difficult.

    I’d love to see a study of how many Jaguar owners buy a Lexus as their next luxury car purchase.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “Companies like Jaguar and Land Rover should just outsource the “hard” part of making a reliable car and focus on what they’re good at: beautiful sheetmetal and opulent interiors.”

      Agreed, then we’d all be better off.

    • 0 avatar
      Nostrathomas

      I’m waiting for a car company that outsources their exterior design to the Italians, their interiors to the British (with consultation from the Swedes), their engines to the Americans, the handling to the Germans, and their electronics and overall build to the Japanese.

      • 0 avatar
        Bryce

        American engines my god thats a huge leap backwards for any car company stone age technology and krauts know zip about cornering ability and comfort

      • 0 avatar
        btp

        If so, sir, I must say I fear a car company that outsources their exterior design to the Japanese (with Swedish consultation), interiors and handling to the Americans, engines and electronics to the English, and overall build to the Italians.

    • 0 avatar
      Leaper_NYC

      Interesting comment. You left out “heritage” and “panache”, additional attributes of the perfect car. Account for those and you’ve described Tata’s expansion strategy, which so far has proved stunningly effective for all parties.

      I do know former Lexus owners who migrated to XF and XJ. And as a Jag owner, I’d sooner add a Lexus (plain but cushy and well built) than a german (cold, uninspired yet hyped up).

  • avatar
    mjal

    I must be part of the 75% because the style of this car, when compared to the timeless Series III design of the early to mid ’80s, is an absolute joke. This car will not age well in the looks department.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    If you are spending $150,000 on a car, yet that is a large enough part of your wealth that you are terribly concerned with the reliability, you should not be spending $150,000 on a car.

    None of the sedans in this price range are reliable.

  • avatar
    Pan

    Would somebody please explain to me WHY any car today would be “unreliable” as the Jag purportedly is. The old cliches of “lazy workers” in a socialist State can’t apply, as excellent Japanese cars are make in England. And, certainly, nobody at Jag says, “Yes, lets make our new cars unreliable; we really don’t want them to sell.”
    There MUST be a logical reason. And, I am certain that British engineers are as knowledgable as Japanese and German ( although, German cars have been known to be very “needy”.)
    What is the definitive problem whose solution is so elusive?

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Complexity is the enemy of quality. That is pretty hard to escape.

      I doubt this car is materially more or less reliable than any other top-tier luxury sedan, definitely any European one.

      This is not unreliable in an old Jaguar way, but in a don’t expect Honda Fit cost of ownership way.

      This is much cooler than a Mercedes S or BMW 7 – probably on par with an A/S8, on the other end of the design spectrum from the Audi’s Bauhaus.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “Complexity is the enemy of quality.”

        I’m going to start quoting you around work Racer-esq… we built an overly complex software framework and its riddled with bugs and ‘gotcha’ scenarios… as in when A and B are true and C is not… gotcha.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        28 Cars, it’s funny that you mention software complexity, because something like an S-Class is so software based that it leads to very strange scenarios, such as windows not working because of a software failure.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        “we built an overly complex software framework and its riddled with bugs and ‘gotcha’ scenarios”

        Let me guess, a Bill Lumbergh-ish guy kept suggesting that it would be great if just one more feature could be added.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        @MBella

        Gotta love when you need software to control something which only goes up and down. I had a teacher in college who one day about a month after 9.11, revealed he had defense department clearance and how his day job was partially funded by DARPA. He had a theory we would be so entrenched in technology one day it would just all fail simultaneously and we’d fall flat on our face… something to do with chaos theory or something to this effect. When you can’t change your car’s battery without permission from the car, or work its windows without a software update, we inch closer to such an eventually.

        @Racer

        I think Lumbergh left before I got there, but the people running “R&D” have that mentality. Forget the fact I entered nine new bugs last week I couldn’t fix and three more I did, I just think stuff should work before we go tearing it up with new features.

        My fav office space scene:
        http://www DOT youtube DOT com/watch?v=5QQdNbvSGok

    • 0 avatar
      jacob_coulter

      I think it’s a matter of priorities, a car company can’t be good at everything so they focus on what they can do well and hope they can find a niche that sells enough cars keeps the place going.

      Also, they simply don’t have the deep pockets necessary in this day in age to make such a complex car relatively problem free on a radical redesign. They just have to address the problems as they come.

      But I’m sure manufacturing in the UK is not exactly the cheapest place to build a car, that has to pull significant resources that could be spent on better quality control in order to keep a competitive price.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Cheaply-made, fragile parts in systems that aren’t designed to avert failure.

  • avatar

    I LOVE MINE, but there are problems:
    youtube.com/watch?v=LbPWHgerabY

    #1 too much road noise in the rear of the car.
    #2 steering wheel doesn’t rise high enough.
    #3 computer system is slow.

    Otherwise, it’s an awesome car. I just wish I coulda waited till the TESLA MODEL S was ready for shipment cause I’d have gotten that instead.

  • avatar

    I waited on line from 4:30am to 2:30pm Sunday morning to fill up on Super Premium unleaded (the cops only make the situation here in NYC worse)…

    I really need an Electric car that has either a gasoline or Diesel backup generator (like the Karma), but has the interior space of the Tesla Model S, S550 or Jaguar XJ-L. Who can make that first?

    I’m starting to think Diesel makes more sense in a crisis situation since you only have to battle buses and trucks for it. There aren’t as many people trying to get Diesel to run their generators because those people live in Long Island and don’t bother coming into the city.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “I’m starting to think Diesel makes more sense in a crisis situation since you only have to battle buses and trucks for it.”

      I like it, trouble is so few automobiles and trucks are offered with it, and the emissions for it are getting out of hand, for owning one in your life prior to crisis. There is some kind of diesel exhaust fluid now in the 2010s and up.

      “The Environmental Protection Agency’s latest emissions rules for diesel vehicles of all sizes are some of the most stringent emission standards in the world. The majority of light and heavy-duty diesel vehicle manufacturers came to the conclusion that the only way to meet these rules without compromising engine performance and fuel efficiency is SCR.”

      http://www.discoverdef.com/def-overview/faq/

  • avatar
    KrisT

    Having read this I can’t help feeling a certain nostalgia for when Jaguars response to a customers complaints over reliability was “we didn’t sell you a car, just an engine and something to take it away in”

    Customer whingeing about reliability?, Pah! To hell with them.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    For a couple of yrs, I struggled to keep the Kitty going. A series 3 XJ6. A beautiful looking car with a magnificent engine. The rest, not so much. Up until recently, Jaguar has made some pretty nice looking cars. That picture made me squint to see the badge. Not exactly to my tastes, however.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    I think Jaguar makes some of the most beautiful cars out there. I just wish they would get their act together about reliability. These cars are just terrific eye candy compared to the copy this shape of the competition.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    hey miata boy do not be making fun of my TDI jetta sports wagon , one year 45 k no problems, oh and I owned a Saab also but a 9-3 not 9-5, keep on mocking me and I will put you back in that Volvo you had a few months ago ( oh crap I own a 00 Xc wagon myself) Love Jags but deep down could not buy one bc I could not afford to keep a Jag oh well real life sucks that way

  • avatar
    smokingclutch

    Well I see my reply to Derek got eaten by the site. I’m not going to type it out again.


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