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2015 Jaguar XJL Portfolio AWD

Beautiful Jaguar XJL delivers power, luxury + AWD

Even in snow this Jag handles like a sports sedan.
Even in snow this Jag handles like a sports sedan.

Sometimes in life we are lucky, and I was all of that as I slipped behind the wheel of Jaguar’s gleaming limo of a sedan, the XJL.

This is a beautiful car aimed at the beautiful people that have the money to spend on luxury and looks.

It’s a long car, hence the L in its name. Yet the XJL looks lean and muscular, like an Olympic sprinter ready to pounce on the competition at the start of a race. This is a spirited road car riding on a 124.3-inch wheelbase. Such length puts it in the league of full-sized SUVs, inside and out. UW’s starting five basketball players could ride comfortably in the XJL. And this was my second ride in such a luxury liner in the past year. Lucky me!

Overall the car is 206.8 inches long. By comparison, the sizeable Lexus LS460 AWD I drove just a few weeks back is 6.8 inches shorter in length, and it was plenty big.

jag6Yet unlike the Lexus with its smooth gentle giant of a 5.0-liter V8, Jaguar tucks a 3.0-liter V6 under its long hood. Ah, but the secret is that Jaguar supercharges its V6 to create 340 horses, 20 shy of the Lexus. But here’s the deal. Jaguar always has an eye on performance and keeps the XJL trim at 4,153 lbs., or about 500 lbs. lighter than the Lexus. Continue reading 2015 Jaguar XJL Portfolio AWD

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2014 Range Rover Supercharged (LWB)

LR1Big Rover a tough powerful beast, and pricey too

Land Rover has pounded out rough-terrain handling trucks for years. Think of safaris and you think of Land Rovers, usually with a tire mounted on the hood and a rhino charging after it.

Today’s Land Rovers and Range Rovers are just as capable in the bush, but civilized enough to lug the queen around her estate, if need be. The tested Aintree (a town in England) Green Range Rover Supercharged LWB (long-wheelbase) is exceedingly long on the luxury, while still designed to dominate any terrain you throw at it, mud, slush, rocks and streams.

You might be surprised to find out that the tested Rover’s starting price is $105,300, plus an $895 delivery fee, which compared to the base price seems a bargain. Amazingly at six digits the Rover did not come with any running boards or power step-up and nary a third-row seat. Yet there were options that pushed this luxury land yacht to $122,900.

What’s an option once you hit $106 grand or so? Many apparently.

The lovely test ute added a vision assist pack that included a surround-view camera that allows you to view the truck’s perimeter. Cool! It also included automatic high-beam headlights and adaptive Xenon lights, plus a blind spot monitor with a closing vehicle sensing & reverse traffic detection system. That alerts you if you’re about to ram a stopped or suddenly slowed vehicle and also see out the back. Many luxury cars and trucks now have similar systems. The package also featured configurable mood lighting (Shagadelic baby!) and a leather steering wheel (again, something most $30 grand vehicles have, or offer). Price tag? A modest $1,760.

But there was so much more. Continue reading 2014 Range Rover Supercharged (LWB)

2014 Jaguar XJL AWD

Jaguar XJL extends the legend with AWDjag1

Jaguar’s image has been polished, tarnished and polished several times, but its history of racing success, generous power and spirited road manners, along with an expectation of gentlemanly comfort, endures.

The restyled XJL does nothing to dispel the legend, with its muscular but trim lines, big chrome grille and vertical tail lamps. But there are some surprises, too.

First, this is a large sedan with mammoth interior that will accommodate five adults with NBA length legs. The XJ’s long-wheelbase model features a limo-like 124.3-inch wheelbase, or somewhere between Chevrolet’s big Tahoe and Suburban SUVs for wheelbase, and they aren’t small. Overall length is sizeable too. In fact, a Tahoe is more than four inches shorter in lengthy. Trust me, this Jag is roomy.

Jaguar’s engine creates 340 horses, which may sound mild for a Jag, but since the car is light for its size, just 4,153 lbs., the car feels relatively nimble. The surprise to long-time Jag devotees may be that there’s no V8 in this model, but the 3.0-liter V6 is supercharged. That gives you quick power when you need it, but doesn’t tax your gas mileage too much in normal stop and go driving.

The XJL, and this one had all-wheel drive (another surprise), is rated at 16 mpg city and 24 highway. I ran it about 60% highway miles and got 20.1 mpg. That’s good for the size and power of the vehicle, plus it being all-wheel drive.

AWD allows the supercharged XJ to keep its composure, even in snow.
AWD allows the supercharged XJ to keep its composure, even in snow.

Acceleration is smooth and strong with the Jag’s 8-speed automatic transmission savageonwheels.com, car reviewsdelivering seamless shifts. My only concern with the drivetrain is the gas-saving “intelligent stop-start” feature. Like a hybrid, the Jaguar’s gas engine shuts off at stoplights or nearly anytime you’re stopped in traffic, or at a drive-up window, etc. When you take your foot off the brake, the engine automatically refires. Both on the shutdown and the startup there is a noticeable shudder that seemed less refined than I’ve felt in various hybrids. Several riders commented on it, saying they would be disappointed in that shake after paying roughly $85 grand for such a luxury yacht.
That’s right, the XJL starts at $83,700 and with only a delivery charge, no options, hit $84,595. This, apparently, is the price for merging luxury and notable styling.

But while there was that hiccup when the engine shuts off to save fuel, the powertrain and the interior are incredibly quiet. This may be the quietest car I’ve driven in several years. With the car stationary and running I got 64 decibels on an iPhone app that my friend loaned me. That jumped to only 67 when a friend’s daughter played her French horn just outside the car in a sound test we did for my You Tube video review. Outside, by the horn, the decibels hit a peak of 118.

Continue reading 2014 Jaguar XJL AWD

2014 Land Rover LR4 HSE

Land Rover’s LR4 designed to hit the trail … off trail

Off-roading is the LR4's forte.
Off-roading is the LR4’s forte.

Outside of the panache that driving a Land Rover delivers, due to their relative rarity among the sea of sport-utility trucks that cover our roads, the main reason to buy one is to go off-roading.

You say you don’t plan to go off-road with your $50+ grand truck? Well, you may want to reconsider if you like the looks and price of a Land Rover, formerly a British firm that now is owned, along with Jaguar, by Tata Motors of India.

The tested dark gray (Corliss grey, Rover calls it) LR4 is the mid-level Rover ute that starts at $49,995 in its base form. But this was the mid-level HSE model, so lists for $54,220 and comes loaded with goodies galore, plus its highly developed 4-wheel-drive system that lets you crawl over boulders if you care to dash about the outback.

Standard on all LR4s is a system that allows you to dial in four personalized 4-wheeling options, the standard one working best on pavement, naturally. You also can go for snow, sand, mud or rocks (and they mean serious ones, not gravel). This is easily accomplished by pressing one of the 30 buttons on the center stack and console. There also are five knobs there too for climate and radio controls, so a bit of overkill.

Continue reading 2014 Land Rover LR4 HSE