2009 Jaguar XJ Performance

$9,510 - $15,087

2009 Jaguar XJ Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 Jaguar XJ was new.


Performance: 9.0

All super-luxury cars are capable of quick acceleration, but Jaguar XJ models with normally-aspirated engines trail the class standard slightly.  Most buyers won't notice, as few are out to drag race their large, plush sedans.  If it does matter to you, then consider a supercharged version (the XJR and Super V8 trims qualify), which erase the deficit.  What all XJs can lay claim to is superior handling, attributable to the car's light weight when compared to a comparable Mercedes-Benz S-Class or BMW 7-Series.


  • "With the lowest weight in the [super-luxury car] pack, the Jag may have the best compromise here of ride comfort and handling agility." -- Car and Driver
  • "Any XJ has a fine balance of impact absorption and highway comfort, though they're not quite as settled as other European rivals over washboard surfaces. Some versions feel jittery at highway speeds." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Underway in town or on the highway, the XJ is smooth, quiet, stately and powerful, and it handles winding roads quite well for its size. It's easier to operate, certainly less complicated, than the BMW 7 Series, Audi A8, and Mercedes S-Class" -- New Car Test Drive
  • "On the road -- well, that's where the car shines." -- Orlando Sentinel

Acceleration and Power

Most editions of the Jaguar XJ carry a 4.2-liter V8, which produces 300 horsepower.  That provides more than enough power for most drivers, but not as much power as many competitors offer.  The XJR and Super V8 editions add a supercharger to the same engine, which adds 100 horsepower and makes the car as quick as most of its competition.

The XJ is available only in rear-wheel-drive, which is unusual at this price point.  Many buyers now expect all-wheel-drive in a car of this price and reputation.  It is available only with a six-speed automatic transmission, and while most reviewers have few complaints about the function of the transmission, some say the shift gate itself is awkward. 

  • "Off the line, non-supercharged models feel as quick as the Super V8. Super V8s are noticeably stronger over 40 mph, despite an occasional delay in throttle response. All are fast enough for most any need. An XJ8 did 6.5 seconds 0-60 mph in our test." -- Car and Driver
  • "The 300-hp V8 won't knock your socks off, but it still provides plenty of low-range and midrange power to forcefully push this rear-wheel-drive sedan off the line and make highway passing a breeze. With the supercharged engine, it's practically a hurricane as power surges forth effortlessly." -- Edmunds
  • "It also jumps quickly. It should: A 400-horsepower supercharged V-8 resides under the hood, and it hits peak torque (413 pound feet) at 3,500 revolutions per minute. So a quick stomp of the throttle launches the 4,000-pound car toward the speed limit with a forceful growl, and a six-speed ZF transmission clicks off gear changes efficiently, without any hunting or drama." -- Forbes
  • "The XJs are quick. Benefitting from its lightweight aluminum construction, the XJ8's 300-horsepower V8 boasts acceleration figures that are as good as or better than many: 0-60 mph in 6.3 seconds, according to Jaguar. Power delivery is smooth, there is plenty of acceleration-producing torque at all engine speeds." New Car Test Drive
  • "There's sense of solid stability at expressway speeds, with a quiet ride that is both firm and exceptionally comfortable, that makes you think that yes, maybe this car is worth the money"-- Orlando Sentinel

Handling and Braking

Few cars this large qualify as nimble, but the Jag's stiff chassis and light weight make it a surprisingly agile handler.  The key is its aluminum construction, which cuts weight considerably when compared to its steel rivals.  The electronically-controlled air suspension adapts to road conditions, providing a smooth ride over almost any surface.  Braking is secure -- we found no complaints.

  • "The steering effort is light but just communicative enough. The electrically controlled air suspension adapts to the road imperceptibly, so the ride quality is always smooth. Pick the ugliest road, rife with potholes, and the XJ will tame it." -- Forbes
  • "Tossing the big XJ into tight corners on narrow winding roads, we found it tenaciously grips the surface, with nary a complaint. The power steering is precise without being too heavy, and the XJ goes where it's aimed." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "Extended-length models add little weight and handle nearly the same as regular-length models. Braking is strong and sure." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Although the XJ will never be the best candidate for tackling a tight canyon road, its ability to handle around-town corners is a welcome surprise for a car that is mostly intended to ferry four passengers in opulent comfort at high speeds." -- Edmunds

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