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2004 Jaguar XJ, Vanden Plas and XJR Full-Size Sedans

New Car Review of the 2004 Jaguar XJ Full-Size Sedan.

Description: Full-Size Sedan
Base MSRP Range: $59,330 - $74,330
Invoice Price Range: $53,991 - $67,641

Jaguar's flagship series of full-size sedans appears in new designs of lightweight aluminum. Enormous presses at Jaguar's Castle Bromwich body assembly plant in Birmingham, England, stamp out one-piece aluminum bodyside panels stretching from tip to tail, as well as other components including frame and cross brace supports, roof, hood and decklid. All come together to forge a rigid and lightweight structure. The package size grows considerably in all dimensions. It's longer and wider and taller than the predecessor with more cabin and trunk space.

Anyone familiar with the shape of the previous XJ8 will recognize the curvy new version as a bold-faced Jaguar with the signature prow cut by pairs of oval articulated headlamps flanking a twin-port grille, smooth lines sweeping rearward across a long hood and low roof, and a rounded boat-tail back. Yet the rump varies from tradition by nixing a sagging tail in favor of a trunk with less slope to the deck.

Jaguar delivers three XJ variations to North America. XJ8 is the primary model but a dressy version restores the marque of Vanden Plas to the line and a performance edition with supercharged boost wears the badge of XJR.

Powertrains come from Jaguar's dual-cam 4.2-liter V8 engine with all torque translated through a ZF six-speed electronic automatic transmission. The transmission shift lever, set with Jaguar's venerable J-pattern gate for automatic and manual shifts, isolates various gear positions so you may shift it yourself without clutching, if desired. XJ8 and Vanden Plas stock the naturally aspirated V8, which delivers as much as 294 hp. XJR the performance model adds an Eaton Roots blower to the V8 as well as dual air-to-water inter-coolers. As a result, it gushes to 390 hp.

Variable-assist power rack and pinion steering and four-wheel disc brakes with computerized anti-lock controls (ABS) and electronic brake distribution (EBD) improve motion maneuvers for all models. A dynamic stability controller (DSC) is also in place, along with an air suspension and Jaguar's computer active technology suspension (CATS). XJR goes further by adding Brembo disc brakes and 19-inch alloy wheels crowned with Pirelli P-Zero Rosso tires, plus xenon high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps.

Standard cabin appointments for all include leather upholstery and walnut wood trim, adjustable pedals with memory settings also governing driver's seat, steering wheel and mirrors, a rear park distance control monitor, power moonroof and a new electronic parking brake in place of the traditional handbrake lever. Vanden Plas gets even more, like soft-grain leather, heated seats, a power sunblind, 16-way power for front seats and an Alpine audio system with six-disc CD deck. An optional LCD screen in the dash has a touch screen for controlling climate, audio and optional navigation system or cellular telephone. Further, a DVD-based entertainment system for rear riders uses dual video screens mounted in headrests over the front seats.