You’ve finally got that big time job and you want something that isn’t too cheap, but you don’t want to spend $80,000 quite yet. There is much to choose from in the middle luxury segment and each car has it’s own unique characteristics that make it better, or worse than the competition.
Just like the entry-level luxury segment, the Germans have always had the middle levels to themselves. The Japanese and the American automakers have never been able to catch up. Yet, 2010 is a new year and things might be changing in the automotive marketplace.
Let’s take a look back at our previous winners before we begin with this list. We rated the Mini Cooper as the best small car and the Hyundai Sonata as the best midsize sedan. Finally, we rated the Audi A4 as the best entry-level luxury car on the market.
Hit the jump to see who we chose as the top mid-level luxury car.
10) Cadillac DTS
There isn’t much to like about the DTS. If you’re older and your back is weak than the big Cadillac’s soft suspension might make this a smart buy, but it might also make your stomach sick as it rocks about like a boat whenever you run over a leaf. The interior was made for the American market, as it’s roomy like a house. The trunk is so huge you could easily fit 15-years worth of groceries in it. If you like this sort of thing, then here is your car, but we don’t. The steering is loose and numb, the ride is soft, the materials are poor, and the engine is thirsty. Prices for this cruise ship start at $46,280 and that is just a bit too much for a car like this.
9) Lincoln MKS
The distance between tenth and ninth is massive. The DTS is horrid, while the MKS is simply average. It does everything as it should, but in a dull way. The motor is decent, but doesn’t wow you like some of the others do. The handling is soggy and the ride is too firm. Most of the time when the ride is firm the steering is responsive, but not here. The materials are disappointing and you really don’t get what you would expect from $42,000. Not to mention the exterior design is repulsive.
8) Volvo S80
Who knew Volvo made a car that was in this segment? That’s just the problem with the S80, nobody knows about it because nobody cares enough to find out. The S80 lacks inspiration inside and out, but on the plus side, the car is very safe and very reliable. The seats and the ride are great and the interior is very stylish. Sadly, that style hampers use, as the navigation system is tricky to operate. The price for the S80 is $38,200 for the base, but the V8, which is the one you want, is $50,950.
7) Acura RL
We have had trouble accepting Acura’s new styling direction and the RL is no different. We just don’t like that weird lip in the front grille. On the plus side, the interior build quality is fantastic and the all-weather handling is brilliant. We love the stereo but it does take a while to figure out how to use it, as does the navigation system. The biggest problem with the RL is the TL. There really isn’t a reason to buy the RL when you get just as much with the TL for less money. On top of that, for this sort of money, we would have liked a V8 or a turbocharged V6 option. For $46,830, the RL is just not good enough.
6) Infiniti M45
As much as we love Nissan’s high end brand, the M45 is a bit of a let down. The ride is way too hard for a high end car and the road noise is a bit to pronounced. We love firm riding cars, but there is a point where it just becomes too much. We also don’t like the out-dated center stack. It’s very hard to use and it doesn’t look all that good. The engine is one of the positives as it’s pretty fast and the way this thing takes corners is pretty impressive. For a price of $52,150, this isn’t a cheap way to get around.
5) Lexus GS
So far, we have been a bit disappointed with Lexus. The IS range is confused about what it should be, but the GS model is actually decent. The ride is smooth, maybe a bit too soft, and the cabin is quiet and refined. On the downside, we don’t like the way this car looks. It’s a bit too conservative and when you’re paying big money for a car, we would like it to look good and stand out a bit. The brakes are very touchy and the headroom isn’t as good as we would have liked. This is a smart choice for the conservative shopper.
4) Audi A6
The A6 has been with us for some time and it has never been able to compete with the E-Class and 5-Series. We love the Audi’s styling, but it can be a bit forgettable. The engine is strong, the handling is good, and all-wheel drive is available across the board. This is a great car, no doubt, but it does lack something and it’s hard to say what. It’s a shame to because we really do like this car, but we just don’t love it. Prices start at $45,200.
3) Jaguar XF
If all we looked for was styling and personality, the XF would take the cake. Sadly though, we don’t and the XF has to settle for third. The interior is amazing to look at, but it can be a bit tricky to figure out. We also need to wait and see how the reliability is on the big Jag. The ride is refined, the engine is good, and the XFR is bloody fantastic. The base model starts at $51,150, which is a lot, but we would get the $79,150 XFR, which is a lot more, but well worth it.
2) BMW 5-Series
The 2011 5-Series hasn’t been out long, but sadly, even with the updates it still doesn’t take the top spot. That being said, the 5-Series is a really good car and the motors that power it are brilliant. The handling is good and the interior is clean and refined. There are many different options to choose from and BMW will charge you tons for each one. On the downside, the trunk is small and it feels like a big car. Prices start at $44,550 for the new 2011 5-Series.
1) Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Some like the styling, some don’t, but we do, very much so. The styling is a bold leap over the retirement home looks of the old model. The interior is gorgeous, the ride is brilliant, and the motors are strong. The COMAND system can be tough to use every now and again, but give it some time and it will be like riding a bike. The interior is spacious and the materials are great. Prices start at $48,050 for the new E-Class. This is the way a Mercedes should be.
There we are, the ten best middle-level luxury sedans. Logic would tell us to buy the E-Class, but it would be hard to turn away from the XF. It might not be the best, but it’s what we would buy. We just wouldn’t recommend one for fear it would break. It just has so much more character and style than the other top two. Either way, make up your own mind by driving these machines and let us know what you think.
Up next, high-level luxury sedans.