It’s been said that road trips are often as much about the journey as the destination, the idea being that getting there can provide a unique and memorable experience in and of itself. It’s half (at least) of the fun.
Sure, you want to get where you’re going (eventually), but you might as well have a little fun along the way. What you drive can have a big impact on said fun factor.
This brings me to my ride of choice for a recent half-day trek I took from my home in Oshawa, up to Peterborough, back down to Port Hope and home again: the 2015 Jaguar XJL V6 AWD. The L refers to long wheelbase – more on that little detail shortly.
When I found out I would be driving a V6-equipped XJL for this trip, I must admit I was a bit disappointed. I’ve driven a couple of V8-powered models in the past few years and they are an absolute delight. The 500-plus horsepower, the twitchy throttle response, the loud, throaty growl of the exhaust – the auditory experience alone is sublime.
This time, however, I’d have to console myself with V6 power. As it would turn out, however, this model proved to be a great option.
The first thing you have to come to grips with when dealing with a car like this is its sheer size. It is a huge car, both inside and out. As someone who drives a compact two-door coupe on a daily basis, switching to an XJL is a bit jarring to say the least.
The 2015 Jaguar XJ come in two wheelbase options: standard and long. And the long is, well, really long. As in 5,232 millimetres long overall with a 3,157 millimetre wheelbase. That’s over 17 feet from bumper to bumper. You’ll want to take your time parking this thing – trust me.
In addition to being long, it’s also quite heavy, tipping the scales with a curb weight of 1,883 kilograms (4,154 pounds).
Good thing then that it comes with a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 to move all of that bulk around. With 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft. of torque, the XJL is faster than you might think. I certainly didn’t expect it to get up and go, but it has plenty of grunt to hustle this big cat along.
With peak torque coming in between 3,500 and 5,000 rpm, even with a long wheelbase, the XJL is deceptively quick. A 0-100 km/h time of 6.4 seconds isn’t Corvette Z06 or Dodge Viper-fast, but it’s pretty impressive for a car with this much bulk to lug around.
And on road trips, like my little jaunt?
Let me put it this way – this car is made for long drives.
At my editor’s suggestion, I elected to take to different routes coming and going, essentially turning my route into a bit of a triangle.
On the way up to Peterborough from Oshawa, I escaped the city on venerable Highway 2, a road that gets progressively emptier the further east you go. After following it to Bowmanville, I went north on Liberty Street, winding up through Tyrone until I hooked up with Durham Regional Road 20 and headed east.
My editor asked only two things of me regarding my trip: 1. Take lots of photos. 2. Find a fry truck, a fixture on the Canadian summer landscape.
I managed to do both, stopping at the first fry truck I could find, a dustbowl of a stop at Durham 20 and Highway 35 that’s parked next to a gas station. The black XJL stuck out like a sore thumb as dump trucks trundled along in all directions, mixing with normal vehicles.
After scarfing down a concoction (poutine), that I’d live to regret a bit later, I pointed the XJL north towards Peterborough along 35, using the car’s straightforward navigation system to keep me on track.
I’ve been to Peterborough countless times over the past 20-plus years, but have always relied Highway 115 to get there. This was the first time I didn’t use it and it was a bit tricky finding my way as a result.
Highway 35 eventually intersects with Highway 7A, which took me east through the tiny village of Bethany, followed by equally small Cavan.
Not wanting to get dumped on to the 115, I hung a left on County Road 10 in Cavan, heading north until I wound up in Mount Pleasant, another rural dot of a community. From there I followed Peterborough Country Road 9 east to Highway 7 and eventually Lansdowne Street into Peterborough.
All the while, the XJL breezed along the (mostly) two-lane blacktop without complaint, keeping me very comfortable in an interior that can only be described as sumptuous.
As one might expect in a car that retails north of $96,000, the XJL is loaded with creature comforts, from heated and cooled leather-wrapped seats, to satellite radio, to power-adjustable driving position (seat and steering column), a premium Meridian audio system, navigation, panoramic sunroof and power-operated sun shades. The front seats also have a massage function. Hey, on those long trips you don’t want to get fatigued, right?
I could go on, but you get the idea. The XJL is loaded, which seems only right considering its cost and the deep pool of competition it’s facing from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, among others.
After spending some time cruising around visiting some old haunts in Peterborough – which took a considerable amount of time – I decided to head south towards Port Hope.
Leaving Peterborough via Ashburnham Road and on to the 115, I kept my eyes peeled for the Highway 28 exit, which heads due south right into Port Hope. I was determined to keep my major highway driving to an absolute minimum so I was glad to see the 28 exit sign after only a few minutes.
Highway 28 is a good stretch of road to experience the XJL’s cruising abilities. Just a two-laner that’s relatively straight, 28 has lots of elevation changes and mostly smooth asphalt.
During my time travelling south on it, traffic was light, so I toggled the gear selector for the 8-speed automatic transmission to S (for sport) and pushed the chequered flag button on the console for dynamic mode. Dynamic mode, essentially sharpens the car’s reflexes: throttle response, shift patterns and exhaust to deliver a more exciting driving experience.
Now, because this is a V6-equipped XJL, even in Dynamic mode it’s not what one would call loud. The sound insulation in this car is top-notch, but if you put the windows down and turn the stereo down (as I did) you can hear a pleasing growl when you mash the accelerator.
When I stabbed the gas in this mode, the XJL responded approvingly, making passing manoeuvres a breeze as I headed south on 28. The suspension setup, while not really firm, wasn’t too soft either and was able to (in conjunction with AWD and sharp steering effort) keep this big car on track.
By the time I arrived in Port Hope, I had spent a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon in the XJL. While the gas consumption wasn’t spectacular, with a little over half a tank left by the time I arrived home after putting just over 200 kilometres on the odometer, it seemed like it had faired pretty well given its dimensions and the different types of driving I had done.
Incidentally, Port Hope is a gem of small town, with a beautifully kept small downtown that was alive with summer entertainment (live music and interesting restaurants, among others). Plus it’s right near the water, which provides a cool crispness to the air – which I found especially welcome after a long, hot day on the road. I heartily recommend it as a day trip destination for those in Southern Ontario, especially the Greater Toronto Area.
As I travelled along Highway 2 towards home, I kept thinking the XJL a perfect road trip car – powerful, comfortable, pretty good fuel economy, with lots of space for people and their stuff.
Great, all I have to do now is wait for that lottery win.
2015 Jaguar XJL V6 AWD
Engine: 3.0-litre supercharged V6
Power / Torque (hp / lb-ft): 340 / 332
Fuel Consumption (L/100 km, city / hwy / combined): 14.7 / 6.6 / 12.5
Recommended Fuel: Premium unleaded (91 octane)
Competition: Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS, Mercedes-Benz S Class
What’s Best: Smooth and powerful engine, surprisingly good handling, plush amenities
What’s Worst: Maneuverability can be tricky with the long wheelbase – parking especially
What’s Interesting: Round chrome air vents provide that aviation feel
Photos by Lee Bailie