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Jaguar sends New England early gift of all-wheel-drive

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh  August 22, 2012 12:31 PM

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(Jaguar)

Tracy Morgan and Jane Krawkowski, of NBC's "30 Rock," and figure skater Johnny Weir at Jaguar's "Chill NY" event on Aug. 16.

I'm not one to rush the seasons and push Christmas when it's August, but for New Englanders, this is huge: We can finally buy a Jaguar with all-wheel-drive.

Jaguar, however, couldn't wait for December. Last week, the company placed a giant snow globe on Manhattan's High Line Park to demonstrate its new-found traction (and free ice skating for New Yorkers, all on top of an old elevated railway).

Clever marketing aside, this isn't the first time we've seen an all-wheel-drive Jag. From 2002 to 2008, the X-Type came with standard all-wheel-drive, although the compact sedan was quickly brushed off for its mediocre quality. However, these new all-wheel-drive Jags are undeniably two of the best luxury cars in the business, the midsize XF and full-size XJ.

Until this point, Jaguar's entire U.S. lineup had been rear-wheel-drive. Combine that drivetrain with big V8s and wide, aggressive "all-season" tires, and you got a recipe for constant winter failure. Three years ago, I couldn't get an XF up a driveway with two inches of snow. Then, last year, a steeper, freshly plowed driveway (with maybe a quarter-inch of packed snow) sent the XJ's rear wheels into a tizzy.

Jaguar's best solution for winter driving had been a button with a snowflake icon, which when pressed, did absolutely nothing. If these had been my own cars, I'd have immediately switched the tires to winter treads before the first real snowflake fell.

That might not be necessary on these 2013 XF and XJ models equipped with optional all-wheel-drive. For now, it's only available paired to the new 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine, another first for Jaguar in a long time. This supercharged six puts out 340 horsepower, 45 less than the big 5.0-liter V8, and returns better mileage (25 mpg on both the XF and XJ all-wheel-drive models). A new 8-speed automatic and an available automatic start/stop system also help fuel economy -- which, like winter, had never been a strong suit for Jaguar. Pricing hasn't been announced.

We're very excited to try Jag's new all-wheel-drive system -- and maybe, if driveways don't get the best of it -- a Jaguar will make NEMPA's annual list of top winter vehicles.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
In the garage: 2006 Subaru Baja
AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
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Craig Fitzgerald has been writing about cars, motorcycles, and the automotive industry since 1999. He is the former editor of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.
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Keith Griffin is president of the New England Motor Press Association and edits the used car section on About.com. He also writes for the Hartford Business Journal and various weekly newspapers in Connecticut.
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George Kennedy is a senior writer for WheelsTV in Acton, which produces video reviews for Yahoo, MSN, and other auto websites.
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