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2011 Jaguar XJL: How Much Would You Pay for Luxury?

2011 Jaguar XJL

Super luxury cars aren’t necessarily associated with value, but during my week with the 2011 Jaguar XJL, I thought that Jaguar offers a lot of car for the money. The test car stickered at $83,800. Expensive, but the XJL’s wealth of comfort and convenience features makes it a bargain among pricey rivals like the BMW 7-Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Porsche Panamera.

Standard features on the test car included a panoramic moonroof, heated and ventilated front and rear seats, front seat massage, front and rear parking sensors with backup camera, Bluetooth and iPod connections, navigation and a 14-speaker stereo that passed my standard car stereo test: Van Halen sounded excellent.

A long list of standard interior features is included in the XJL's $79,700 base price.

Thanks to its extended wheelbase, the back seats of the XJL also felt like a truly special place. Four-zone climate control ensures that passengers at all four corners are comfortable, while separate controls for the panoramic moonroof and folding seatback trays added to the first-class atmosphere.

So why am I calling a car that costs almost $84,000 a bargain? Because, compared with its competitors, the Jaguar XJL is significantly less expensive. The Mercedes-Benz S550 for example, starts at $93,000. That’s $9,000 north of the XJL we tested before you start adding options.

With a 124.3-inch wheelbase, the XJL is 4.9 inches longer than the base Jaguar XJ.

Want the XJL’s massaging front seats, parking sensors, backup camera and push-button start on your S-Class? That will be $3,630. Blind spot monitoring? Another $2,950. Four-zone climate control with heated and ventilated rear seats will cost you another $3,040, and these are just the big-ticket items. By the time you option an S550 to match the XJL’s features the sticker price comes to $105,075, which is $21,275 more than the XJL.

However, “bargain” often implies a tradeoff, and the XJL takes more stylistic risks, inside and out. When I test drove the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Hybrid, I wasn’t as wowed by the number of features, but I liked its clean exterior design and classic, functional interior. The Jaguar XJL takes things in a different direction, surrounding the driver in a shiny, glamorous cockpit. It’s more Studio 54 than Waldorf-Astoria.

The XJL's gear selector rises from the center console at startup.

And just like Southwest Airlines, the XJL also discriminates based on size. At 6’1”, I fit inside the Jaguar, but if you’re taller than that you may want more headroom. Additionally, the XJL’s aggressive seat bolsters kept me from ever becoming truly comfortable. If you’re broad across the shoulders you might have the same problem, but if you fit, the decision to buy the XJL or a competing car may ultimately come down to price.

If you were in the market for a Mercedes S-Class, would you be willing to fork out an additional $21,000 to match the XJL’s features?

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