2013 Jaguar Roar Responsibly

Award-winning ad man-cum-auto journalist Don Klein knows a good (or bad) car commercial when he sees one; the Ad Section is his space to tell you what he thinks of the latest spots. The ad’s rating is depicted via the shift pattern at the bottom, but everyone has an opinion when it comes to advertising, so hit Backfires below and tell us what you think, too.

Pop quiz: Based on this commercial, how many miles per gallon can you get with the 2013 Jaguar XF and XJ?

Are you sure? Sometimes, commercials are a bit like magic tricks: You swear you saw something happen right before your eyes (“They sawed that lady in half!”), but you really didn’t. Ad creators, like magicians, know how they want to direct your attention, so sometimes they keep their hands and patter zipping right along, even though what they’re saying doesn’t necessarily match what they’re showing. It’s not easy to do, but good magicians (and good ad men) can pull it off.

When I look at this commercial, here’s what I see: First, there’s a red XF being driven through a city. It looks nice. The announcer comes on and tells us “It’s got performance with efficiency,” so, naturally, I’m thinking he’s talking about the XF, because that’s what’s on the screen. He continues to say “It’s got all you want, in a car as alive as you are,” but now we’re seeing a different model, a gold XJ, so the “it” must refer to the entire Jaguar sedan line. To keep me thinking that way, the XF reappears as if to emphasize what he just said about the XJ. So he means both statements apply to both sedans, right?

Then we see a montage of Jaguar-related images before cutting back and forth between the two cars as the announcer says, “Introducing the supercharged V-6 and turbocharged four-cylinder engine that gets 30 miles per gallon highway, from Jaguar. So now you can roar responsibly.” Which is the main message of the commercial.

Ah, so the reason they keep switching from car to car and intermingling their attributes is because you can get these new engines in both the XF and XJ, right? Wrong. The six is available in both cars, but only the XF offers the turbo four, and that’s the engine that returns an EPA-rated 30 mpg. And even though that’s the highway-only figure, when the announcer says “highway,” they show a city driving shot. To add to the confusion, the car depicted at that point is the XJ, not the XF. So while no one explicitly says that the XJ gives you 30 mpg, you’d be forgiven for thinking so, especially since they never tell you the XJ’s mileage.

For the record, the SWB rear-drive XJ 3.0 is rated for 27 mpg highway, while the rear-drive LWB and AWD 3.0 XJs get 24 highway. You’ll notice that none of those numbers equal 30. At 23 mpg, the turbo-four XF’s combined fuel-economy number—which the ad doesn’t tell you either—also is a far cry from three-oh, and it’s 3 mpg higher than to 20 mpg we achieved in our testing. (To be fair, we have heavy right feet and the car is rather slow for its segment.)

  • Instrumented Test: 2013 Jaguar XJ 3.0 V-6
  • Instrumented Test: 2013 Jaguar XF 2.0T
  • First Drive: 2013 Jaguar XF and XJ AWD

2nd GearOkay, so Jaguar isn’t the only car company that touts overly optimistic mpg in its advertising. Ford (along with Hyundai and Kia) recently got blasted for doing so, but at least Ford linked its numbers to a specific model in its commercials. To me, the Jag spot smacks of bait and switch, an impression anybody who walks into a dealership expecting to get 30 mpg from an XJ will quickly share. In my opinion, if you want an XJ that’s “alive” and “roars,” you’d go for the 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 Supersport (510 hp, 0 to 60 in 4.2 seconds). If you want “responsible,” get a Honda Fit EV.

By Don Klein