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Jaguar XJL Review
by The Car Family

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When is a Jaguar not a Jaguar? Trick question and the Jaguar XJL Portfolio has the answer. Simply put, Jaguar has drastically change the traditional Jag’s appearance and running gear. No longer is there wood trim everywhere and the sometimes reluctant engine has been replaced by a let’s play, supercharged V6 engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission that is willing and able to straighten your spine whenever the need arises. This Jaguar rocks.

The refined six-cylinder powerplant is a model of nobility, with just a touch of aggression when you call on the big cat’s 340 horsepower. Driving in a civil manner the fuel economy has a 16/24 mpg city/highway rating. We averaged 22 mpg in mixed driving in very hot weather. However, it is very difficult not to fall in love with the acceleration of this big cat and so your mileage will probably vary based on your mood. This is an agile vehicle that claws the road as few other sedans can. The brakes are excellent and you get the feeling that there is really nothing this vehicle can’t handle. The price starts around $85,000 for the five inch longer XJL Portfolio edition we tested, but if you can live without the cool rear seat and extra leg room you can save several thousand. Options can drive the price over $100,000 but once inside you are going to know what you paid for. It is elegant and as close to Architecture Digest as a car can be.

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Mom’s view: In appearance, it is simple gorgeous. It makes one swoon and is definitely eye candy for the masses. Its price is competitive with any sophisticated luxury sedan and lease deals are attractive. The interior is sporty, clean, and a bit flashy. Some instrumentation is quite novel such as the round, chrome gear selector that pops out of the center console. Very novel and easy to master, but it can get very hot in the sun. Safety wise the Jaguar is loaded with intelligent airbags most everywhere, seats that have active whiplash protection, blind spot monitoring, electronic brake distribution, rear view camera, and more as befitting its price. Be warned that the large touch screen monitor runs the show so don’t leave the dealership without a run through. The trunk was large, but the opening was limited. The XJL has a panoramic, heat reflective glass roof that extends the length of the car. The night lighting was first rate with adaptive headlights that even illuminate corners. Bottom line for me was the workmanship, pride of ownership and, of course, the attention.

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Dad’s view: Slovenly, hardly. This is a tidy, dynamic sedan with a back seat fit for the Queen. Driving at all times is lively and secure. We tested the supercharged, six cylinder version, which is the only engine you can get with the optional all-wheel drive, and it was plenty powerful. A 510 horsepower V8 version is available for those wanting to toast the tires with five second 0 to 60 times. The performance goes with the XJL’s contemporary styling and make it very appealing to those who want to stand apart from the ubiquitous German competition. The XJL version offers a plethora of features that include front seats that are heated, cooled and massage you. The use of aluminum and aircraft style materials and bonding techniques are just part of what you are paying for, but don’t forget the many unseen features such Cornering Brake Control, which helps in taking sharp corners, the automatic leveling control, or the stop-start feature that saves gas. The brake pedal feel was a little soft and the option list a little dear. My advise is do your homework so you know what features you want before you go to the dealer. I highly recommend the illumination and the entertainment packages. The Jaguar is unique in that incorporates class and performance and certainly a wonderful reward for a job well done.

Young working woman’s view: Portfolio is an appropriate name for this luxury convenience as it may require a look at your investments before you buy. On the other hand, you truly get what you pay for and this Jaguar is both distinct and heavily laden with features that coddle you. For example, you can get an 825 watt audio system and those in the back seats can be entertained with eight inch monitors and wireless headphones. This Jaguar is worth it and there is always the inner glow you get from driving a Jag.
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Young son’s view: I’m still looking for work in the computer field, but still have time to assess a truly great technology systems, and this Jaguar has them. The GPS has traffic alerts and the optional Meridian is prime. There are also satellite radio, interactive voice control, Bluetooth, and a Media Hub with inputs for iPod and MP3 players. The sound quality is dynamic, thanks to 20 speakers, including two subwoofers. Some of the features require time to learn so don’t leave the showroom without a thorough tutorial. The XJL is class.

Family conference: In a world where luxury sedans are designed to show one’s appreciation for the better things in life as well as having the means to pay for it (most luxury cars are leased due to tax code attributes, the Jaguar stands alone as a bargain and a beauty.

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2010 Jaguar XF R: Best Jaguar Sedan ever

by The Car Family

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Why anyone would spend over twice as much for a Bentley is beyond us. The Jaguar XFR is better in every dynamic way, expect top speed, and after 150 mph only your medical insurance carrier would care. The Jaguar XFR only falls short in two areas and that is its information center and lack of rear seat legroom. Someone at Jaguar needs to be punished for making the emergency brake control and the transmission selection knob of metal. Maybe it doesn’t get to be 100 degrees in England, but in the US you can burn yourself as we learned the hard way.

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This Jaguar is so fast that for its $80,000 list price you are actually stealing the car. The Audi RS6, BMW M5, and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG are in the same category, but none of them combine the interior arrangements and exterior elegance of the Jaguar not to mention that it is quite capable of getting over 20 mph on the highway. Of course, the traction control is a bit of a nag, but all in all this is a Jaguar that truly bounds down the road in style and in a hurry. As much as we like the Mercedes E63’s grunt and go, the Jaguar is just more handsome and sporty. Sadly, very few people even knew it was a Jaguar and fewer yet that it was the supercharged version. Apparently, Jaguar needs a more aggressive advertising campaign.

The heart of this sleek sedan is a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 creating a very useable 510 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. The six-speed automatic transmission can be controlled with steering wheel mounted shift paddles, but there is so much torque it is easier just to press the joy peddle and hang on. Getting to 60 mph takes under five seconds without trying, although there is hesitation from the transmission when you floor the accelerator. Jaguar also offers an electronically controlled limited-slip differential. To give you some idea of how fast this Jaguar is you can keep abreast of most Porsche, Corvette, or Ferrari variants even with the family on-board and groceries in the trunk. The highly regarded BMW M5 must be driven perfectly to match this easy to launch Jaguar and the BMW is a pain to drive in traffic. The Jaguar is breathtaking and worth every penny if you love to drive and can afford about 19 mpg in mixed driving. However, that number is almost impossible to achieve as you are simply not going to be able to resist the urge to unleash this cat at every opportunity. And why not with the quarter mile arriving in under 13 seconds at 112 mph, and you are driving a 4300 pound luxury car.

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The main competitor, in terms of performance, is the Cadillac CTS-V, but we doubt many people would cross shop these two despite the Cadillac’s price advantage. The Jaguar is much more the elegant of the two and has the looks that make it a classic. The Cadillac has crisper handling and a more sporty demur.

Mom’s view: What a sweetheart. In the right color, and blue is not its color, this sedan calls attention to itself in a way Amy Winehouse could only dream. It is subtle, yet striking in its proportions. The ride, thanks to the new Adaptive Dynamics suspension system, is sporty, but not abrupt. The extremely wide tires riding on 20 inch rims do create noise over roughened surfaces, but this is a car meant for those who like to drive and are willing to tolerate such intrusions for the extra grip.

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There are some subtle differences between the supercharged XFR and its more placid non-supercharged brother such as hood louvers, twin-dual tailpipes, a rear spoiler and heavy mesh chromed grille. Inside the XFR has seats that are comfortable, but not accommodating for those looking at fat loss programs. The dark oak interior trim was nice, but the aluminum bits got very hot in the sun. I found plenty of safety features with the radar-based Blind Spot Monitor being especially valuable due to the blind spots created by the large C pillars on the sedan. The back-up camera was easy to use thanks to the lines that showed where the car was heading in much the same manner as the best one that Nissan has been offering for several years. The interior is an interesting arrangement of leather, aluminum and plastic that are much more modern looking than previous Jaguar sedans. It is modern and yet classic with the shades of charcoal gray cloth and leather providing an inviting place to spend time. Only Audi offers anything close to this elegant.

Safety wise the XKR offers anti lock brakes, depowered airbags, head and side airbags, and traction and stability control. The car crash test ratings have not been posted yet, but most Ford designed vehicles do well and that company is responsible for the engineering of this Jaguar.

Dad’s view: This is not a graceful car. It reminds me of a bodybuilder in an expensive suit. Nevertheless, it is a grand ride and the engine is inspirational. I miss the supercharger whine, but this is a luxury car not a boy racer. The twin vortex supercharger sits astride the V8’s aluminum heads and block and pushes the pressure through the DOHC motivated four valves per cylinder that enable the rather small 305 cubic inch mill to produce 510 horsepower and 461 lb-ft. of torque. Two intercoolers densing the air and direct injection sweetening the deal. The engine’s redline is 6900 rpm, but what is stellar about this Jaguar is that the engine starts to produce thrust at only 2500 rpm.

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When you are driving this rig you barely need to touch the accelerator pedal to keep pace with traffic. The slightest pressure and the engine responds immediately with a not so gentle forward thrust that can have you at immodest speeds in seconds. Self-control is mandatory when piloting the XFR. The transmission can be controlled by shift paddles or by just letting the six-speed automatic do the thinking for you. I never really bothered with using the sport mode to quicken the shifts. The electronic differential does it best to keep the car straight and those large tires help as well. You can stiffen the spring rates if you like to run the canyons, but the forte of this Jaguar is the way it effortless bounds down the highway listening to the 20-inch wheels sing their song and enough buttons to keep you occupied for hours with decisions about traction control, suspension, and even the treat of playing with the Dynamic Mode that holds the Jag in gears longer. The new ZF Six-Speed transmission also has a Winter Mode that softens the initial acceleration for better traction. The Adaptive Dynamics suspension monitors each wheel independently 100 times a second and all you have to do is make the payments.

Overall, this is a nice touring car, but it isn’t a sports car. It can easily keep up with any other vehicle in its realm on the road, but it isn’t the best cornering machine. Gas mileage was very good for so much power and I was able to get 21 mpg on one highway trip. That may have been my greatest driving exploit in years, though. Too much temptation only a toe tip away.

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Young working woman’s view: Jaguar is now owned by Tata Motors of India and the first thing they have done is produced another version of the XF sedan called the Premium. This gives buyers three choices starting with the base, if you can call it that, model with a 4.2-liter V8 that produces 300 horsepower, the Premium with a larger 5.0-liter V8 with 385 horsepower, and our test vehicle, the XFR with 510 horsepower. I would estimate that you are going to get over 20 mpg with the base version and about 18 with the larger engined Jaguars. The night lighting the XFR was extraordinary. Only the big Infiniti comes anywhere near it. The interior lighting is too soft.

Getting into the sedan wearing a dress isn’t too much of a concern, but the bucket seats have fairly high bolsters, do getting out definitely requires an assist from the door arm rests. The monitor is small and it is best if you spend considerable time with this beast to learn its mannerism before partaking of its enthusiasm.

I would love to own the new Jaguar, but I would go with the non-supercharged version. The $20,000 or so additional cost of the technology showpiece isn’t really needed for around town travel and the speed camera adorned highways that mar the scenery. Very lovely, but I really don’t think having special rims that proclaim “supercharged” as well as an electronic assisted rear differential are necessary for my needs.

Young working male’s view: The speedometer font is way, way too small. And when you drive a vehicle with this much power you had better watch it as you are always challenging the posted limits. The sophisticated traction control makes wet weather traveling much easier considering the generous helping of torque the engine produces. The steering is quick and the huge vented disc brakes, nearly 15 inches in and 14.8 in back, are reassuring. The XFR never feels small or nimble, but it does feels boastful and understated at the same time. Oxymoronic perhaps, but with its sleek lines and brute force acceleration buyers might tend to overlook its areas of concern. First, the very wide, Dunlop SP Sport Maxx rubber, 255/35 in front and 285/30 in the rear are tiresome to hear groaning away on some grooved concrete roadways. Next, the rear seat does not have a lot of leg room if you are tall. Next, the

center touch display screen is just too irritating with all its menus and I just can’t comprehend why you need both a starting fob and a start button. The dial shifter takes a while to understand, but why not just a lever. The same goes for the rotating vents that move when the car is turned on and to what purpose. To me it is just something else that could go wrong. The info-entertainment system has a screen that is very small and you need to use it for such simply tasks as setting the radio stations all the way to the heat settings for the seats. The touch screen does have a useful back button, but it is still overly complicated. The Bowers and Wilkins audio system is above average with over 500 watts, but the radio reception is poor. It has a 17.7 cubic ft. of trunk space, but the opening is smallish and the lift over high.

On the plus side of the ledger is the XFR’s passing ability. It may not be the fastest sedan to 60 mph, but when it comes to passing a vehicle going that speed it sails by with plenty in reserve. The Jag weighs 4300 pounds, but feels heavier and you are going to be looking for a premium fuel station after about 320 miles.

The point here is two-fold. First, would I buy this car and secondly, is it worth 80 grand. Well, it is really too much car for me. I don’t have many opportunities to play with so much power. And, I can’t afford the insurance let alone the payments. Suffice to say that this car is not meant for my demographic group, but it might be. It certainly gets more eyes than the BMW and Audi and Cadillac and that counts for something.

Family conference: The entire family loved the XFR and clearly the breed is in good hands under its new ownership. This Jaguar is a great balance of good looks and performance while not forgetting that you should be able to take it grocery shopping with ease. The trunk opens perfectly, getting in and out isn’t a trial, and the quality makes this the best Jaguar ever and one with claws, even without it trademark Jaguar hood ornament.  As for waiting until Porsche brings out its Panamera, you probably are wasting your time. It is going to be more expensive, no doubt, but we would put my money on the XFR for full frontal power. As a negative, the “Jaguar Sense” glove box sensor isn’t worth it.

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Best new cars: 2006-2007

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We have spent the last several months evaluating vehicles from the major manufacturers to identify those that we feel are the best in their fleets. Since Masarati, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Porsche, and Rolls Royce don’t allow us to test we can only imagine that they are selling to the already sold. We should remind you that Bentley does furnish us test vehicles because they want our readers to know the truth. And, truth be told, the Bentley is easily the best super vehicle you can buy based on performance, room, and resale. It would take a professional driver to pull away from a Bentley in any situation and those vehicles wouldn’t have room for five and their golf bags.

This review is about those companies who have improved the most and are providing the best values. We start with our most improved product line and that goes to Nissan and Saturn. The new Nissan Versa is a flat out bargain with plenty of room, performance and fuel mileage all for under $14,000. For a few thousand more the Sentra is ready to perform for you and it is a winner. Plenty of spunk and a superior sound system make this new offering light generations better than the previous Sentra. Congratulations to Nissan.

The Aura is proof that the Saturn line does not have to fall into extinction, as did the Oldsmobile. By the way, if you get your hands on a early 2000 Oldsmobile Aurora you are going to have a car that is quite excellent except for its battery location under the rear seat and some power winder motor concerns. Saturn’s Aura is better than the current Accord and Camry in every way. It makes the previous model sedans from Saturn look ancient. Added to that is the new Saturn roadster, the Sky. Fun and frugal, and a looker, this model is worth a test drive. Saturn is offerings its Vue with a modified hybrid system that they call the Green Line. It gets good fuel mileage, about 25 on the highway for an SUV, but the new SUV from Saturn looks clearly better. Saturn is the most improved domestic line and that is without even testing the Saturn Outlook. And don’t forget a much trendier little Saturn is coming later this year. All of these are tremendous improvements over past products.

Acura MDX is much better than the previous model and is the best of the new offerings from this upscale marque. It is larger, more capable, and has more room and a better demeanor. Unfortunately, the price is above $40,000 too. The smaller RDX model has a turbocharged engine, needs premium, and lacks interior room.

Bentley’s Continental GTC is a bargain even with a price tag out the door just shy of $200,000. It has all wheel drive, over 500 horsepower, and a quiet ride with room for four. It is the best luxury convertible by far. You are going to pay far more for far less.

The 3 Series BMW has been restyled and has a more potent engine selection. Always a great performer, this is the best of the BMW products although it is tight on space. Drive all the 3 Series models before you buy. They have very distinctive personalities.

Chevrolet’s new Silverado pick-up truck is quite good, but from a family standpoint the reliable Chevrolet Impala is the best in its line up. Well priced, no surprises when you drive it, and capable of getting the best insurance rates and above average fuel economy.

Dodge’s Caliber is a true value leader. Great size and utility, a notable shape, room for five, and a combination of engines to suit every mood make this the best Dodge product. All of this for under $14,000. The new Avenger is new but lacks character outside of its appearance. Yes it is roomy and economical to operate, but the growl of its engine even at highway speeds gets annoying. We recommend the previously introduced Charger that isn’t that much more expensive and a better buy.

Ford’s Fusion and Edge are the best from this struggling manufacture. The Edge has a good look and is clearly more refined than previous similar models from Ford. The Fusion is exceptional. There is very little reason for someone looking for a sedan to look elsewhere. Sadly Ford needs a fresh subcompact vehicle and has none at this moment.

Honda’s Fit and CR-V are both worthwhile. We believe that the CR-V is a much better vehicle than the previous model, but still lacks enough power for our needs. However, the Honda Fit is a marvel. It is a combination fuel economy winner, sports car, and station wagon all priced under $14,000. It is small, but handy.

Hyundai’s Entourage, Santa Fe, and Veracruz are all very well priced and put together. However, the Entourage is clearly the best new product. This minivan is as good as the class leading Honda Odyssey and costs thousands less. The Kia products are so similar that it would difficult to separate outside of the nameplates. As such the Hyundai/Kia would be third on our list of most improved product lines after Nissan and Saturn. However, the Kia Rondo stands alone as the best of the Kia products. It is a smallish minivan with great interior space usage. Filling in the niche left by the forgettable Mazda MPV, the Kia is the queen of the Kia line.

Lexus has three new sedans that are notable in the LS, GS 450h, and the ES. Since Lexus products have been known to be price leaders in the past we couldn’t help notice that this was no longer the case. However, you get so much quality product and such high resale the line seems destined to become the “Cadillac” of the 2000s. As such the hybridish GS 450h is the best product. It offers scintillating performance while getting respectable fuel mileage. Even the non-hybrid version is excellent. The LS 460 is filled with electronic marvels, but it isn’t as vast as improvement over the previous models as the GS line.

Lincoln’s MXZ is a potent, luxurious sedan that harkens back to the old days when the nameplate spoke of quality and elegance. Although we like the Zephyr, the MXZ has more options and is a bargain starting under $30,000.

Mazda’s 3 is priced in the low $20,000 range and can be ordered for thrift or thrill. It is a new car so there is little to compare it to, but it figures to be a hit for those who want practice transportation with a hint of zoom. We have not tested the new line of Mazda SUVs at this time, but we did get a chance to play with the CX-7 and found it to be clearly a winner. For much less than a BMW or Acura you get a go-getter with cargo space and handling on a par with the best. Still, the Mazda 3 is the best value here.

Mercedes CLK is so refined and elegant in road manners and performance it is difficult to beat. Add the AMG package and you can take four people on a ride that borders on unbelievable. It would take a professional driver in a sports car to pull away from you. That aside, we do find the Mercedes E Class the most improved here. It is a return to quality and it so vastly improved over the previous model it is difficult to believe the same company built them. We also recommend you wait for the new C sedan which may make even larger quality strides over the previous model.

The Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder is bigger, badder, and better than the trouble prone previous model. It is fun to drive and has a serious side, too. We have not tested the Gallant, but it can’t help but be a better vehicle than the older model.

Pontiac’s G5 is new and priced under $15,000. However, we still have not been able to test it. We expect it to be of merit in price terms alone.

Suzuki’s XL-7 and SX4 are so much different than what Suzuki previously offered that it is difficult to believe they came from the same manufacture. The larger XL-7 has a nice ride, an abundance of room and seating for seven, and enough power to master most situations. However, what caught our attention was the cheerful SX4 with it French exterior design and utility and unheard of pricing starting at $15,000. Fun to drive, a little underpowered, the SX4 is certainly highly recommended by The Car Family. Suzuki would be fourth in our most improved manufacture competition.

Toyota’s Camry is the best new product from this all-winning company. However, the previous model was excellent too and so we found that outside of the exterior styling and some performance improvements Camry would simply be holding its own despite the hybrid option. We believe that Toyota is one of the most press friendly companies in the world and the results have paid off for it as they have rolled off winning product after winning product. The new Camry is no exception. The Yaris replaced the Echo and both suffer in terms of ride and performance. For the same money we much prefer the Scion line or recommend the terrific Corolla. Hard to lose with Toyota and our favorite is the RAV4. It a winner and clearly the best of the crossover SUVs at this point in time.

Volkswagen’s Rabbit is essentially the same as the previous model in many ways, but is a more refined vehicle. Despite this the Rabbit is expensive for what it offers and lacks both power and fuel mileage that the competition offers.

We have not tested any new Volvos and are waiting for the convertible at this moment. It has to be better than the older model.

Family conference: Although we need to test a few more models it is clear that Nissan and Saturn have produced some significant new models that should help them rebound in terms of sales. Other manufactures that have brought new vehicles to market that are much better than the previous ones are Kia/Hyundai and Suzuki. Regardless of which type of family oriented vehicle you are interested in, these represent the best we could find. With that in mind we highly recommend the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, Saturn Aura, Suzuki SX4, Dodge Caliber, Hyundai Entourage, and the most notable.

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Jaguar XJ8L

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When does $63,000 seem like an automotive bargain? When it is the MSRP for the fuel frugal, lightweight, Jaguar XJ8L (Long Wheelbase) that is significantly less money than its luxury sedan competition and still treats you to an exceptional ride and an interior with few equals.

The Long Wheelbase X costs $3000 extra and for that you get five inches more space inside and a raised roof for more comfort for back seat inhabitants. Jaguar’s reliance on a tradition of charm and luxury has not left it out of the electronic era. Burr walnut trays fold down from the front seat backs to hold a laptop computer. According to Jaguar there is also the ability to stuff 6.5-inch display screens in the front head restraints, with rear-seat multi-media options including iPod, MP3 player and DVD connectivity. Communication possibilities include a telephone conference call facility for front and rear passengers, while rear-seat passengers can specify voice-activation for the four-zone climate-control system, with individual seat-to-seat settings.

Jaguar‘s Adaptive Restraint Technology System combines dual-stage driver and passenger airbags with seat-occupation sensing, side-impact chest airbags in the front seat bolsters, front and rear side air curtains, anti-whiplash seat design and rear child seat attachments. Adding to that array of modern safety features are four-channel anti-lock brakes with Emergency Brake Assist, traction control and Dynamic Stability Control as well as having a transponder-operated remote double deadlocking and automatic drive-away locking.

Mom’s view: There is something about asking your lady friends if they would like to take a ride in your Jaguar that speaks of good taste and a nice wine cellar. It has elegancy both inside and out. What is even better is that we got over 23 mpg from the V8 engine in this Anglo-liner even though I frequently had my derriere pushed tight against the double stitched leather covered seats when I whipped all 294 horsepower into action. Could this be love?

Dad’s view:  The suspension makes this XJ8 fairly capable of carving corners or making avoidance maneuvers with a degree of dignity. However, mainly it provides a quiet, well-controlled ride and does it with aplomb. Inside there are plenty of toys with available adaptive cruise control, four-zone automatic climate control, heated front and rear seats, and a navigation system with a seven-inch touch screen.

I liked driving the Jaguar and found it a devoted servant for the most part and a nice combination of old world allure and cowboy hustle with 0 to 60 times in less than seven seconds and a top speed that is limited to 155 mph apparently to prevent you from reaching take-off speed.

Working woman’s view: Gripping the walnut and leather steering wheel, looking over the softly contoured hood, and feeling the energy of the V8 can take your objective reasoning away when considering a car of this status.  The seats are low so getting inside requires some dignity problems. I found the gauges a little too small to read readily, but were nicely understated and not impacted by bright sun glare. Once underway the Jaguar shrinks in size and blends into traffic with ease. I cannot imagine any working woman not being impressed by the looks and demur of this Jaguar.

Young working male’s view: You gotta love Jaguar. What I really admire is the five-inch longer wheelbase that enables you to stretch out back there and enjoy the optional DVD player with displays in the headrests. Cool. Tasteful and understated are two traits this Jaguar enthuses. Make my black, and no lemon, please.

 

Family conference: Only a transmission that seemed to become confused at times marred our stay at the Hotel Jaguar. And you have the fun of telling your insurance agent you bought an aluminum Jaguar. For a list of all vehicle websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com and click on business.