2011 Jaguar XJ
Even before their divorce from Ford, Jaguar was transforming its cars from a classic grand touring image of the 20th century to a British showcase of sophisticated motoring for the 21st century. Now, the mid-size XF sedan set the stage, but everyone knew the make-or-break star would be the top-tier XJ saloon. Now, our first impressions were very positive. So let’s have a complete critique.
The all-new 2011 Jaguar XJ follows the XF into a bold new world of styling for this classic brand. Aside from grille texture and badging, Design Director Ian Callum has left nary a hint of the previous XJ, choosing to go back further for inspiration. Instead of the familiar four-orb headlights, two swept-back cats-eye lamps are set in low, sculpted fenders. But XJ heritage is still sensed in the rounded-off grille and long hood that date back to the original 1968 Series I.
With so much sloping glass, there is very little trunklid. Blacked-out C-pillars are definitely an eclectic touch. LED taillights pour down the XJ’s elegantly simple, tapered tail, adorned only with a chrome Leaper.
The mid-size XF’s potent trio of 5.0-liter direct-injected V8s provides plenty of go for the larger XJ as well. Base unit is naturally aspirated with 385 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. The Supercharged XJ’s belt-driven breathing is good for a stout 470 horses and 424 pound-feet.
The special-order Supersport adds the 510-horsepower eight from the XFR. The only transmission, a six-speed automatic, presses the hockey puck-JaguarDrive Selector into your palm at startup. There are also wheel-mounted paddle shifters, and driver selectable Dynamic mode that holds gears longer while also firming up the suspension and seat belts!
With a mean growl, our 385-horse XJ leaped from 0 to 60 in 5.8 seconds, and raced through the quarter mile in 14.3 seconds at 103 miles per hour. It does bog down momentarily at launch. Without that, times would be even faster. Still, results closely match the XF, thanks to the aluminum chassis that allows the XJ to enter the ring some 300 lbs lighter than its rivals.
That chassis is supported by standard air suspension with continuously variable damping. Driving aids include the expected stability and traction control, plus an active rear differential. The combo makes for a supple ride and sublime handling-once you get used to the quick but dead steering, that is. The lack of feedback reminded us of a video game. But, get the hang of it, and this big Jag easily mastered every corner we threw at it. Yes, it rolls a bit, but overall it is well balanced and unflappable.
But you always know what the brakes are doing. An initial soft pedal is followed by good bite. A 131 foot average coming down from 60 could be shorter, but stability is excellent and the experience is far smoother than most rivals.
And, no rival can match the way Jaguar dresses its interiors. Wood veneer rings a spacious, amazingly well equipped cabin, whose low-slung leather dash is shrink-wrapped around nautical-style vents.
Classic round gauges reside in a virtual world, as a driver-focused 12.3-inch display fades up at startup, highlights critical data, and tints red in ‘Dynamic’ mode.
A center eight-inch Dual View touch screen allows the driver and front passenger to view two different visuals at the same time. It fits right below a classic analog timepiece.
Very modern is the standard panoramic glass roof. There’s ample storage, including Jaguar’s one-touch opening glovebox, and very usable cupholders in the center console. In the rear, leather covers the seats, door panels, and even the headliner is suede cloth. While there is plenty of room, long wheelbase models expand it to limousine proportions. The Jaguar’s 18.4 cubic feet of trunk volume is decent, though less than Mercedes’ S-Class.
Government Fuel Economy for our XJ are 16 city/23 highway on premium fuel. We hit a respectable 20.0 miles per gallon in real world driving. The new XJ has a base price of $72,500, which makes Jag’s flagship a segment bargain. The supercharger adds $15,000 more, with the SuperSport in six figures. On all, the long wheelbase tacks on a few grand additional.
The 2011 Jaguar XJ bridges the gap between two eras beautifully. Never once do classic inspirations and eclectic touches mar the totally modern outcome in the slightest. With extroverted style and performance aplenty, Jaguar’s big cat roars into the 21st century with its claws out.
- Engine: 5.0-Liter Direct-injected V8
- Horsepower: 385
- Torque: 380 Lb Feet
- 0-60 MPH: 5.8 Seconds
- 1/4 Mile: 14.3 Seconds @ 103 MPH
- 60-0 MPH: 131 Feet
- EPA: 16 MPG City/ 23 MPG Highway
- Mixed Loop: 20.0 MPG
2023 GMC Canyon
Canyon Goes Bigger
Most people know the GMC Canyon as the Chevrolet Colorado’s professional grade cousin. And while that sounds like just marketing speak, with an all-new design of GM’s midsize truck platform comes more genuine brand separation. So, let’s see what the third-gen GMC Canyon delivers in real time!
Small trucks are once again a big deal, and part of the reason is that they are no longer small. There’s not much about this 2023 GMC Canyon that resembles the ¼-ton Sonomas, S-10s, Rangers, and Datsun trucks that were wildly popular in the 1980s.
Of course, then, people were willing to sacrifice certain “big-truck” things for an easier to use and more economical pickup experience. Well, we don’t seem to be big on compromise for much of anything these days, and the current midsize crop of trucks deliver more than ever. So fittingly, the 2023 Canyon will be available as a Crew Cab only with a 5-foot bed. No more extended cab or long bed options. Wheelbase is about 3-inches longer than before, with the front wheels pushed more towards the front. It definitely looks tougher, and they’ve even eliminated the much-hated front air dam that protruded well below the front bumper.
The Canyon also comes exclusively with the high-output version of GM’s 2.7-liter turbocharged I-4, with a stout 310-horsepower and 430 lb-ft. of torque. At times it feels even more powerful than those numbers would indicate, with its diesel-like torque delivery enabling a best-in-class max tow rating of 7,700-lbs. No choice of transmission either, strictly 8-speed automatic, but you can still decide whether you want rear or 4-wheel-drive.
At minimum, ground clearance is 9.6-inches, which is more than an inch taller than last year, and almost 2-inches over Chevy’s base Colorado. And since it’s all about the off-road packages these days, our AT4 tester comes with 4-wheel drive, off-road suspension, locking rear diff, 2-speed transfer case, hill descent control, and 18-inch wheels with all-terrain tires.
And that’s just where things get started, as at the top of the heap, there’s a new AT4X with 10.7-inches of ground clearance, enhanced front and rear e-locking differentials, 33-inch mud terrain tires, Multimatic dampers, and an additional Baja Drive Mode. We’ll have more on the AT4X real soon.
But for all Canyons, including this AT4, GMC went tech-heavy, as all get 11-inch infotainment screens and a fully digital driver display in either 8 or 11-inches. Plus, an available head up display comes with most trims, and there are even optional underbody cameras.
Unique AT4 features include a Jet Black and Timber interior motif with stitched logos on the leather front seats. Those seats are definitely comfortable, and it feels maybe a tad roomier than before, but still well shy of the sprawling space in a full-size truck. It’s even more noticeable in the rear, though there are more practical storage options back here.
The AT4 gets a sliding rear window, along with a tailgate storage system to complement the integrated ruler, and bed side-mounted 120-volt power outlet. The Canyon already delivered one of the best rides in the midsize class, and the taller suspension seems to only improve on that; it’s not quite crossover plush, but certainly great for a body on frame truck.
Though the higher ground clearance and off-road emphasis kept it from being a track star. Indeed, healthy amounts of understeer and body roll greeted us in our handling course. It was a little hesitant off the line in speed runs, but once rolling, power poured on steadily. 0-60 in only 7.5-seconds, and through the ¼-mile in 15.6-seconds at 91 miles-per-hour.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the AT4 are 17-City, 21-Highway, and 19-Combined; we averaged an acceptable 18.2 miles-per-gallon of Regular. Pricing starts with a 2-wheel-drive Elevation at $38,395. That puts it at midlevel Chevrolet Colorado, with is consistent with the mission of the new Canyon. All other trims come with 4-wheel drive, this AT4 starting at $45,395, and the AT4X now eclipsing Denali as the highest offering at $56,995.
So, as small trucks have grown, so has the price of entry. But if that doesn’t scare you off, there is no denying the 2023 GMC Canyon is yes bigger, but also bolder and badder than before. Does that necessarily make it better? We say positively yes!
- Engine: 2.7L Turbo-4
- Horsepower: 310
- 0-60 mph: 7.5 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 121 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 18.2 mpg (Regular)
- Transmission: 8-speed auto
- Torque: 430 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 15.6-seconds at 91 mph
- EPA: 17 City / 21 Highway / 19 Combined