As the luxury auto market becomes increasingly competitive, it has been getting more and more difficult to discern which cars are better overall. Cars have come such a long way that, with a few exceptions, there are arguably few bad picks; different cars will have their own drawbacks, but ultimately, each car excels at one thing or another in ways where its rivals might fall short.
Added to this are buyer opinions and allegiances; some cars which have been nothing but headaches for someone may have been the best cars that others have driven. The following is a smattering of luxury sedans that fall into the midsize class, with each offering certain strengths that make that car all the more desirable for the buyers looking for a particular kind of thing. This list is by no means comprehensive, and the following vehicles are not ranked by any particular metric.
Best bet for interior comforts: Mercedes-Benz E-Class
With Mercedes-Benz, regardless of which of the many trims levels you choose, one thing is guaranteed: it’ll more than likely have a damned nice interior. “The cabin of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class is meant to evoke classic themes from past models, combining angular architecture, first-rate materials and a decidedly austere look, especially when adorned in monotone color schemes and dark wood trim,” Edmunds observes.
“The seats are firm, but offer impressive comfort and support for the long haul,” it continues, adding that “the two-door and AMG models feature snug sport seats that keep you in place through quick, sharp turns. The sedan’s backseat is quite spacious, matching the BMW 5 Series as the most welcoming rear quarters in the midsize luxury class.”
Best bet for luxury on a budget: Hyundai Genesis
Seeing the Hyundai name among other big luxury players is certainly going to take some getting used to, but in light of the Genesis sedan and the higher end Equus, it seems that the Korean company — which built its name on economy cars — is serious about its leather-clad gig. The Genesis offers a well-appointed interior, a potent 3.8 liter V6 at base, and a lengthy list of standard options such as iPod integration and Bluetooth, all for a hair over $34,000.
Best bet for hidden horsepower: Jaguar XF
Jaguar has seen a huge transformation under its adopted parent Tata Motors (NYSE:TTM), and the Indian company has made sure that the Jaguar brand isn’t all frills and no thrills. While the base V6 engine is better for fuel economy, buyers have the option of a supercharged 5.0 liter V8, which will put 470 horsepower to the rear wheels. However, short of the sport-oriented XFR package, the XF offers little exterior indication that the monster that lurks under the hood, making it quite the sleeper.
Best Bet for gas mileage: Lexus GS 450h
The new Lexus (NYSE:TM) design language offers the same clean and simple exterior aesthetic, but sheds the sleepy image that Lexus suffered from. The GS Hybrid couples all the comforts and design quality that the Lexus is known for with a more efficient powertrain, which in turn yields 34 miles per gallon on the highway and 29 in the city. Edmunds points out that not only is that terrific mileage for a V6, that’s comparable to a Mini Cooper, a car roughly half the Lexus’s size.
Best bet for an all-around performer: Audi A6 TDI
When it comes to having a smattering of just about everything, few cars do it as well as the Audi A6 TDI. Its diesel nature gives the car commendable fuel economy for any car its size, luxury or not, with 24 miles per gallon in the city and 38 on the highway. This doesn’t come to the detriment of power, which is rated at a reasonable 240 horsepower but a thoroughly impressive 428 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels, too, making the A6 a fair performer in all sorts of weather conditions; this is all in addition to a comfortable, well-equipped, and luxurious interior.
Best bet for tech junkies with range anxiety: Cadillac XTS
General Motors (NYSE:GM) has giving its Cadillac line the TLC that it’s needed for several years, and the XTS is among the best examples of GM’s reinvention of the brand. Inside, the Cadillac sports CUE (or Cadillac User Experience), which is a sort of all-in-one system that integrates audio, phone, optional navigation, and OnStar functionality into an 8-inch touchscreen interface. “Those familiar with smartphone and tablet interfaces will feel at home with CUE’s touchscreen, as it uses similar touch, swipe and pinch commands,” Edmunds notes. As far as tech-laden toys with a gas tank go, the Cadillac is an example of one of the smoother integrations in the industry.
Best bet for the environmentally conscious: Tesla Model S
While the Cadillac has an impressive tech setup, it’s the Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Model S that has redefined the technology benchmark in the auto sector (and many other benchmarks, too). Its key defining feature is that it runs sans gasoline, but the Tesla has proven itself to be a leading performer in virtually every other regard, from versatility to safety, and then some. Perhaps the Tesla Model S’s biggest drawback is the time it takes to recharge and its limited range, though that is partially an infrastructure issue than a fault of the car itself.
Best bet for safety: Volvo S80
While the Model S has been lauded as one of the safest cars on the road today, Volvo has been using safety as its core selling concept for decades. “There are a host of other safety-related features available [in addition to anti-lock breaks, front-seat side airbags (featuring separate chambers for chest and hip protection), side curtain airbags and active front head restraints] including a blind-spot monitor and lane-departure warning,” Edmunds notes. “More novel safety technology here includes a collision and pedestrian warning system with automatic braking, and a driver-fatigue monitor that tracks a variety of factors including the driver’s face to determine whether he or she is dozing off behind the wheel.”