Mixing business and pleasure at a reasonable price

The sport sedan – talk about a hotly contested segment. Almost every major automaker out there has one, but as you might expect, not all are created equal. And that’s where we come in, armed with a boatload of facts and figures to help rank the various entries from best to worst. Of course, more attentive TopSpeed readers out there are sure to point out that this is a topic we’ve covered before, most recently in a comparison piece looking at the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Chrysler 300, Infiniti Q50, Jaguar XE, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. But unlike that last article, which focused on luxury cars with a sporty flavor, this piece will instead focus on cars that place a greater emphasis on performance, with luxury as a secondary priority. As such, we’re picking apart the Acura TLX, Alfa Romeo Giulia, Cadillac ATS, Subaru WRX STI, and Volvo S60. Sure, there’s overlap, but in this crowd, the effort is made more for grins behind the wheel than backside coddling.

That isn’t to say these cars aren’t comfortable – indeed, each offers a fair amount of upscale treatment, some more so than others. That said, we weighed performance much more heavily this time around, giving otherwise more spartan models a shot at the top of the list. So how do we place these five four-doors? Read on to find out.

Continue reading for the full comparison.

First PlaceAlfa Romeo Giulia

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia High Resolution Exterior
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Alfa revived the Giulia nameplate as recently as 2016, making the model the new kid on the block in this comparison. Despite its freshness, the Giulia is already a heavy-hitter in the performance sedan arena, wowing industry critics thanks to stunning exterior styling, a stylish cabin, and above all, endlessly entertaining driving dynamics. Alfa really hit a homerun with this one, giving buyers ample power from a turbocharged engine feeding the rear wheels as standard, although an AWD drivetrain is also on the table. The relatively lightweight chassis, superb independent suspension tuning, and meaty brakes round it out, creating one of the most competent driver’s cars on the market today. It’s also got a ton of cool little details (carbon fiber driveshaft? Neat!).

Of course, the Alfa is definitely not perfect – it isn’t the most comfortable entry in the segment, nor is it the most practical, the most technologically advanced, or the most efficient. We’re also waiting to see how it’ll do in reliability over the long haul, and given Alfa’s past, that might be an issue in the future. Then there’s the fact it’s only offered with an automatic transmission in the U.S., which shouldn’t matter to the majority of buyers out there, but is definitely a deal breaker for the more serious enthusiasts.

For now though, the Giulia takes top honors as the best upscale performance sedan under $50,000. As for the drawbacks, well… let’s just say they add character.

Read the full review here.

The Details

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia High Resolution Exterior
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I’ll just come right out and say it – I think the Alfa Romeo Giulia is one damn fine looking automobile. This thing is positively dripping with Italian style and flair, especially when you consider it was designed to recall the ever-popular Giulietta Sprint, one of Alfa’s most famous models. The car offers rather muscular proportions, with short overhangs, a long hood, and a stance that’s ready to pounce. At the same time, the lines are curvy and voluptuous, with rounded elegance that somehow doesn’t detract from the car’s sense of assertiveness. Up front is a shield grille design with Alfa’s signature Trilobo nose. The narrow, horizontal headlights get LED daytime running lights, while the wheel sizing ranges between 17 and 19 inches in diameter, with each roller bearing Alfa’s characteristic five-lug bolt pattern. Quad chromed exhaust tips set at 45-degree angles are in the rear, above which sit LED taillights, completing the two-piece rear fascia. Finally, buyers gets 11 different paint options to choose from, plus nine different wheel options.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia High Resolution Interior
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Take a seat inside the Giulia, and you’ll find an asymmetric layout for the instrument panel and dash. Clearly, this thing is meant for drivers, with a heavy focus on providing the individual behind the wheel with a suitably commanding position. That said, the Alfa still offers a good deal of premium touches. Leather and accent stitching are used for the upholstery, and the list of available materials for the rest of the cabin incudes aluminum, wood, and carbon fiber. Meanwhile, the design for the flat-bottom, three-spoke, multifunction steering wheel was inspired by Formula One, so count on it being grippy and easy to handle. A single touchscreen is mounted in the dash and angled towards the driver, with standard measurement coming in at 6.5-inches. An 8.8-inch infotainment touchscreen is also offered. The gauges are all digital, with a 7.0-inch color TFT screen mounted behind the steering wheel. A push button starter, keyless entry, and remote start are also included, with a rotary controller placed in the central tunnel for further user inputs. For music, there’s an optional Harman Kardon Audio system with 900 watts of power, a 12-channel amp, and 14 speakers. Alfa also offers a variety of safety systems for the Giulia, such as Forward Collision Warning, automatic braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Blind-spot monitor, and more.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia
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If you want the fastest Giulia out there, you’ll have to spring for the high-end Quadrifoglio model, which gets a twin-turbo 2.9-liter V-6 sourced from Ferrari. However, that beast is quite a bit above our price limit for this particular comparison, so instead, we’ll concentrate on the base model and Ti. Under the hood, these two Giulias come equipped with an all-aluminum 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with direct injection and 16 valves. Thanks to a turbo to force the issue, the 2.0-liter manages to produce as much as 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque at 2,000 rpm. When properly applied, it’s enough motivation to push the Giulia to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds, with top speed rated at 149 mph. Making the most of the power is an eight-speed automatic transmission from ZF, which can swap cogs in less than 100 milliseconds. RWD is equipped as standard, but buyers interested in a little extra grip can get the available Q4 AWD system with an active transfer case. Not only does the AWD cut the 0-to-60 mph time down to 5.1 seconds, but it also comes with a front axle disconnect system for improved fuel returns. Further standard features of note include a 2-in-1 turbocharger design, which collects exhaust gas energy from two firing pair cylinders at once, as well as water-cooled cylinder heads and a water-cooled charge air cooler, plus a slick carbon fiber driveshaft.

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia High Resolution Exterior
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So it’s quick, but that’s only half the battle when it comes to performance. To help it handle the other half, the Giulia gets something called the Giorgio architecture underneath. These bones focus on keeping the rear-end lively, whether it’s via the RWD or AWD drivetrain, while also offering high levels of torsional rigidity. Lightweight materials are used throughout, including lots of aluminum incorporated into suspension, frame, front shock towers, brakes, doors, and fenders. The rear cross member is made from aluminum and composites. Speaking of the suspension, the front of the Giulia is equipped with a double wishbone design, while the rear gets an “Alfa-link” design. Another neat trick is the semi-virtual steering axis, which helps keep a consistent caster trail while cornering. The Giulia also gets an almost perfect 50/50 weight distribution, with as much mass as possible placed between the axles for greater handling prowess. Alfa boasts the Giulia gets “the most direct steering ratio on the market,” with the ratio looking like 11.8:1. Refinement can be had with the Alfa DNA Drive Mode Selector, which includes selectable parameters like Dynamic, Natural, and Advanced Efficiency. There’s also Chassis Domain Control, which incorporates all the active onboard systems (stability control, torque vectoring, etc.) into a single hub. Finally, the integrated brake system uses electromechanical components for better braking response.

Second PlaceCadillac ATS

2015 Cadillac ATS Sedan
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Cadillac has made an impressive comeback over the past several product cycles, and the ATS is looking well rounded and mighty tempting because of it. First put into production in 2012, the ATS is essentially a smaller iteration of the CTS, Caddy’s answer to established German standards like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series. Those are some tough competitors to go up against, but the ATS is better for it, bringing all the same good stuff as the CTS, but in a smaller, more accessible package. The exterior boasts some unique styling and highly angular lines, while the cabin is equipped with high-end materials spread across a lovely layout. There’s also a superb selection of technology on tap, plus a few different options for the drivetrain and engine combo. It even gets the option for a manual gearbox.

Drawbacks? There are a few – the ATS isn’t the most practical option, with a somewhat downsized rear seat and trunk space. The infotainment system is also rather lackluster in terms of user friendliness. However, all told, the ATS combines performance and luxury without really skimping on either, and with a variety of specs and packages available to fine-tune yours to your preferences, the ATS is one of the best choices in the segment.

Read the full review here.

The Details

2015 Cadillac ATS Sedan High Resolution Exterior
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Like many of its competitors, the Cadillac ATS is also highly angular in its design, but in a different, uniquely American sort of way, combining a horizontal approach for the intakes with a vertical approach for the headlights and taillights, creating a sense of tension that lends it an aggressive, sporty flair. The CTS also gets short overhangs and a long roofline with a cab-back greenhouse, another feature similar to its competitors. The headlights are equipped with HIDs, plus there are LED daytime running lights. Adaptive lighting elements with steering directed beams and automatic high beams are offered, and there’s illumination under the door handles when the doors are unlocked. Wheel sizing is set at 17-inches as standard, and come with an alloy construction and painted finish, while 18- and 19-inch wheels are also available. In back is a standard dual exhaust, plus LEDs for the taillights and rear-center stop lamp. Exterior paint colors include 8 different shades to choose from. Finally, it should be noted the CTS gets the same 109.3-inch wheelbase as the ATS Coupe, but with unique styling differences, including for the front fascia, front fenders, roof, doors, and rear fenders.

2015 Cadillac ATS Sedan
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Although it doesn’t have an asymmetric layout like the Alfa Romeo Giulia, the Cadillac ATS does get a rather driver-centric cabin space, replete with lots of high-end technology and premium material touches. The upholstery gets a cut and sewn treatment, while the trim consists of Ash Wood, brushed metal, and carbon fiber. The paddle shifters are made from magnesium, and the sport pedals are made from aluminum alloy. The CUE infotainment platform comes as standard with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as does a 4G LTE Wi-Fi internet connection, wireless device charging, Bluetooth support, a text-to-voice feature, several USB ports, HD Radio, a Teen Driver feature, and the Cadillac Collection app support. Active noise cancellation assists in hearing the tunes when you want them. A sunroof is also standard higher in the range, as is a digital heads-up display. Available options include a 5.7-inch three-window instrument cluster, power assist steering wheel with tilt and telescope, and a full-color heads-up display. The onboard safety tech employs radar, visual cameras and ultrasonic sensors for features such as Safety Alert Seat, Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Side Blind Zone Alert, and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert.

2015 Cadillac ATS Sedan Drivetrain
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As for power, the ATS gets a few different drivetrain and engine options. Kicking things off is the ATS Turbo model, which Cadillac claims comes equipped with the most powerful turbo four-cylinder in the compact luxury segment. Output from the four is rated at 272 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, with noteworthy standard features including Start/Stop technology, direct fuel injection, dual overhead cams, and continuously variable valve timing. Buyers can get it with either RWD or AWD, with fuel returns ranging between 31 mpg on the highway with RWD, or 29 mpg on the highway with AWD. Gearbox options include the choice between either a six-speed manual transmission, or an eight-speed automatic. If you need more power than what’s provided by the four, you can instead opt for the upgraded 3.6-liter V-6, which produces 335 horsepower and 285 pound-feet of torque. This lump also uses Active Fuel Management (as in cylinder deactivation technology), plus it gets automatic start/stop. Performance models are offered exclusively with RWD, with extra grip made by the rear-equipped limited-slip rear differential.

2015 Cadillac ATS Sedan High Resolution Exterior
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Suspension for the ATS includes a multi-link MacPherson strut set-up with double-pivot design in front, plus a stabilizer bar, while the rear uses the very first five-link independent suspension Cadillac has ever incorporated on a production machine. There’s also four handling links with upper and lower control arms per side. Standard spec includes Brembo brakes, plus steering components from ZF. Performance models come equipped with Magnetic Ride Control adaptive dampers, a specialty found elsewhere in GM’s catalog. These units are capable of adapting to the road surface ahead by immediately responding to road aberrations and driving demands. The performance models also get larger aluminum wheels and summer-only performance tires. A little extra tunability is offered via multiple driving modes, with the central computer brain linking up with various onboard components (suspension, automatic transmission, etc.) in order to tackle whatever conditions you might throw at it. These modes include Sport, Touring, and Snow/Ice.

Third PlaceSubaru WRX STI

2018 Subaru WRX STI High Resolution Exterior
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Subaru WRX STI- $36,095

If you’re the kind of person who thinks the Alfa shouldn’t get the top spot in this comparison because there’s no option for a manual transmission, then the STI is probably the sedan for you. It’s as simple as this – the Suby is the one to get if all-out performance is your number one priority, no doubt about it. It’s got the goods in terms of acceleration, clocking in with the quickest 0-to-60 mph spring of the bunch, and its AWD system and Driver Controlled Center Differential gets a slew of features to make sure the driver has the ultimate tool set for going quick, whether it’s on dry tarmac, a rain-slicked autocross course, or even a gravel-strewn rally stage.

Of course, the wing-heavy, over-the-top exterior isn’t for everyone, while the harsh ride, bargain bin interior materials, and dearth of tech features ding the STI’s ranking when it comes time to cruise. Still, if you absolutely must have the fastest ride in the parking lot, you could do a lot worse than the STI.

Read the full review here.

The Details

2018 Subaru WRX STI High Resolution Exterior
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Out of all the entries on this list, the STI is probably the most aggressive looking, bearing hugely flared fenders, an enormous hood scoop, and that requisite boy racer wing on the trunk. Subaru just updated the STI for the 2018 model year, adding a few styling tidbits here and there to keep it feeling fresh. The front fascia underlines the all-important sporty attitude via an enlarged lower intake grille, while bisecting the upper grille is a blue six-star badge. The headlights are narrow, horizontal units that give the sedan a pointed nose, with certain trim levels coming equipped with LED Steering Responsive units that help illuminate the road around corners at night. All models also get new roof rack mounting brackets, which makes sense given the stereotypical Subaru owner’s penchant for outdoor activities. For the first time ever, the STI also gets 19-inch wheels as standard, with multi-spoke rollers filling the wheel wells with obvious intentions. Rounding it off are the usual pink STI badges and “look at me” paint options.

2018 Subaru WRX STI High Resolution Interior
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Inside the Subaru, the cabin space is far more concerned with providing performance thrills than it is backside coddling. For seating, the STI gets units from Recaro, which provide a ton of lateral grip when cornering hard. These are an available option on the base trim STI, but come as standard on the Limited trim level. The steering wheel is a three-spoke job with large hand bolsters, while rubber-studded aluminum pedals populate the foot well. Upgraded materials are applied to the steering wheel, shift knob and hand brake. Of course, it isn’t all “performance or die” in the STI’s cabin, especially with the latest 2018 model year update, which brings reduced NVH (noise/vibration/harshness) via quieter operation for the interior blower, power windows, power seat adjusters, and various other components. Interior noise was also reduced thanks to thicker door glass and new door sealers, plus a foam-filled windshield header beam. Improvements to the interior materials is also listed on the upgrades for the 2018 model year, which extend to the cup holders in the rear seat armrest. The interior door grips were also redesigned. In the central dash you’ll find the primary infotainment screen, which was just upsized to 5.9 inches over the old 4.3-inch unit. Safety was enhanced with frontal collision protection, while displayed alerts are now projected onto the windshield. A remote trunk opener helps with convenience.

2018 Subaru WRX STI High Resolution Drivetrain AutoShow
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The standard WRX comes equipped with a 268-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo flat-four boxer engine, which is punchy little lump with gobs of torque and a lot of tuning potential. But since we’re dealing with a much higher price range in this comparison, it’s only fair to outline the STI model, which upgrades the 2.0-liter to 2.5 liters. Thanks to the sizable turbo, power jumps to 305 horses, while torque is increased to 290 pound-feet. All that grunt hits the pavement by way of Subaru’s famous standard symmetrical AWD system, giving it a 0-to-60 mph sprint time of 4.7 seconds. Top speed is rated at 159 mph, while fuel returns come out to 17 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. Noteworthy features for the high-performance AWD system include a Multi-Mode Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD) and Vehicle Dynamics Control, plus Active Torque Vectoring. New for 2018, the STI’s DCCD AWD system was updated, with the previous DCCD using both mechanical and electronic control for the center limited slip differential. Now, its all-electric, which Subaru claims makes it both faster and smoother than before.

2018 Subaru WRX STI High Resolution Exterior
- image 700155

As far as suspension is concerned, the STI is known for having less-than-compliant ride quality, but that harshness is evened out thanks to astronomical levels of grip. Subaru just revamped the tuning for the 2018 model year, and like the base model WRX, it now offers improvements to the steering and comfort, all while not diminishing from its overall handling prowess. The STI also gets upgraded brakes, now sporting yellow-painted brake calipers alongside the standard Brembo Performance Brake System. Six-piston calipers can be found in front, while two-piston calipers take up a position in the rear. New brake pad material with a greater surface area for enhanced bite was also added. Finally, in the corners you’ll find the new 19-inch wheels come wrapped in high-performance tires sized at 245/35R19.

Fourth PlaceAcura TLX

2018 Acura TLX Exterior High Resolution
- image 717278

Acura has been making the TLX since 2014, recently updating the nameplate for the 2018 model year. And while it may occupy the next-to-last slot in this list, the TLX is still a very smart buy. Customers get a nice amalgamation of onboard technology, both standard and optional, plus a comfortable cabin, lots of practicality thanks to an expanded cargo space, and a fair amount of efficiency under the hood. Standout technology includes four-wheel steering on models equipped with FWD, as well as advanced torque vectoring on AWD models. There’s also an available nine-speed automatic transmission, and lots of autonomous safety features as well. Throw in updated styling, with less of the nose heaviness as before, and the TLX makes for a solid proposition.

Where the TLX falls short the most is in the performance category, with less-than-inspiring power output and acceleration numbers, even with the available six-cylinder engine. That said, the TLX isn’t a complete snooze fest, especially when opting into the available A-Spec performance package. Furthermore, Acura seems intent on upping the model’s performance chops, supporting competition-spec iterations in various GT race series, and even making a bid at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

Read the full review here.

The Details

2018 Acura TLX Exterior High Resolution
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The Acura TLX draws its styling inspiration from the Acura Precision concept that dropped last year, with similar cues also applied to the MDX SUV. That means a lot of angles, cuts, and geometric patterns throughout. Up front, there’s a pointed grille acting as the central intake, with a diamond-pattern insert framed by polished metal for the surround. Below the grille are two additional intakes with fog lights set at the edges, while Jewel Eye headlights in a slim design cut horizontally across the fenders. The headlights are equipped with LEDs for the primary lighting element, turn signals, and daytime running lights, while the fenders are filled with standard 17-inch wheels on lower trim levels. Step up to the higher trims, and you get plus-sized 18-inch and 19-inch wheels. In back, you’ll find rectangular exhaust tips.

2018 Acura TLX Interior High Resolution
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Inside the TLX, you’ll find a swath of premium touches and upscale materials, which include satin chrome trim, high-gloss wood treatments, and plenty of soft touch surfaces. Buyers can option in leather upholstery if desired, while those interested in performance can get the available sports seats with extra large side bolsters plus a sporty steering wheel. Standard spec throws in a 10-way power driver’s seat and a push-button engine start. On the infotainment front, Acura uses a two-tiered approach, with one screen high on the dash and another below it in the central console. The lower screen is measured at 7.0 inches in diameter and offers capacitive touch commands. The upper screen is used for relaying information, such as current navigation and directions. SiriusXM radio is included, while smartphone support via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integrate your mobile device. The AcuraWatch safety technology suite is also standard across the range, and includes radar and camera systems that give it features like a Collision Mitigation Braking System, automatic emergency braking, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, and Road Departure Mitigation.

2018 Acura TLX Drivetrain High Resolution
- image 717397

Mounted under the hood, you’ll find a standard aluminum 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with direct fuel injection, dual overhead cams, and 16 valves with i-VTEC technology. Output is routed exclusively to the front axle, and is rated at 206 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 182 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm. An eight-speed automatic Dual Clutch transmission with paddle shifters is included. Alternatively, buyers can replace the four-banger with an available 3.5-liter V-6. Also incorporating all-aluminum construction and direct injection, the six-cylinder gets a single overhead cam, Variable Cylinder Management, and 24 valves with i-VTEC. Output is rated at 290 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 267 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm, all of which is routed through an upgraded nine-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. More grip can be had with Acura’s Super Handling AWD (SH-AWD) system, which was just made more widely available across the range. Go for the four-cylinder, and you’ll hit 60 mph from a standstill in 6.8 seconds, with fuel returns looking like 24 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. The six-cylinder drops that 0-to-60 mph time down to 5.8 seconds, while returns are dinged to 21 mpg city and 34 mpg highway.

2018 Acura TLX Exterior High Resolution
- image 717296

Providing the handling chops is a MacPherson strut set-up for the front suspension, plus a multi-link suspension in the rear. Acura’s Amplitude Reactive Dampers add some tech flavoring, while the available AWD with torque vectoring helps to reduce understeer in the dry and improve traction in the wet. Acura’s Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS) system is standard on FWD models for nippier turn-in. Steering is an electric power set-up with variable, speed-dependent levels of response. Electronic driver aides include the Agile Handling Assist technology and Vehicle Stability Assist, plus there are four selectable drive modes (Econ, Normal, Sport, and Sport+) that help modify various systems for whatever the situation might be. The tires are high-performance all-season rubber from Bridgestone. Finally, if you want extra go, Acura offers the upgraded TLX A-Spec, which throws in performance-oriented gear like low-profile 19-inch wheels and wider tires, a sportier suspension tune with revised dampers, and a tweaked electric power steering system. The springs and rear stabilizer bar were also retuned on AWD models, while FWD models get a revamped Precision All-Wheel Steer system.

Fifth PlaceVolvo S60

2014 Volvo S60 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 497649

So the Volvo is last, but that doesn’t make it totally worthless in this segment. First put into production in 2000, the S60 has two generations to its name so far, and the next-gen vehicle is expected to make an appearance in the next few years. Until then buyers get some very nice features, including an available twin-charged (that is, turbocharged and supercharged) four-cylinder engine, and a vast lineup of autonomous and semi-autonomous safety features. The cabin is a nice place to sit, with a handsome layout, inviting seats up front, and a ton of infotainment tech, plus the options for a full rear-seat screen system.

Unfortunately, the S60 just can’t hang in the performance department, especially when equipped with FWD (AWD is available). You could fix this by opting into the hot-to-trot performance-oriented Polestar iteration, but at $60,000, that sedan would exceed the price cap for this particular comparison.

Read the full review here.

The Details

2014 Volvo S60 Exterior AutoShow
- image 497640

Volvo ditched the frumpy, overly boxy styling cues a while back, and now the brand definitely has the aesthetic chops to hang with even the most refined options on this list. The look mixes elegance and nice curves with solid proportions, and the result works wonders across the Volvo line. Standard spec on the S60 includes 17-inch wheels with a Pellene design for the T5 Drive-E AWD model, plus 18-inch Skadia and 18-inch Portia diamond-cut alloys with the optional Sport Package. Go for the higher trims, and you’ll get 18-inch wheels with a diamond cut, alloy construction, and Titania design. What’s more, if you go for the upscale Inscription model, Volvo will add three extra inches to the wheelbase, thus enhancing interior comfort substantially. Either way, the S60 gets the Ironmark insignia in front, a wide grille, large intakes, and horizontal LED daytime running lights. LED elements are used on the taillights, while the bumper gets integrated exhaust pipes. Finally, the latest exterior color additions include Magic Blue, Osmium Grey, and Onyx Black.

2014 Volvo S60 Interior
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Inside, the Volvo gets a nice spread of upscale materials, including wood trim and leather upholstery. Standard spec on the T6 model includes sport seats, which is also an available option on the T5. Go for the Inscription model, and the cabin gets standard Contour seats. Further standard features on the Premier and Platinum models includes a rear park assist camera, Linear Walnut Wood inlays, premium accent lighting, an Interior Air Quality System, power rear window sunshade, rear side window sunshades, a chrome frame surround for the display and vents, and a silk metal coat hanger. Go for the long wheelbase Inscription model, and rear-seated passengers will enjoy 36.5 inches of legroom. And because it’s a Volvo, the S60 also gets lots of onboard safety tech, such as Park Assist Pilot, a Blind Spot Information Package (comes with front and rear sensors and works at speeds up to 18 mph), and lane-keep assist. Behind the steering wheel, the instrument cluster uses an analog layout, while an adaptive digital display comes as standard on the T5 Premier and T6. This upgraded units uses a TFT design with three different themes, listed as Elegance, Eco, and Performance. For the music, the S60 is optionally available with a Harmon Kardon sound system rocking 12 speakers and 650 watts of power. The Bose system is offered as standard on the Platinum trim level.

2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E - Driven Drivetrain
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Providing the motivation for the S60 is a diverse lineup of engines. Mounted under the hood of the S60 T5 Drive-E Inscription models is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder Drive-E powerplant, which is turbocharged to 240 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, and comes paired with an eight-speed “Geartronic” automatic transmission. Fuel returns looks like 25 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. There’s also the S60 T5 AWD Inscription model, which gets a 2.5-liter five-cylinder turbo gas powerplant making 250 horses and 266 pound-feet of torque, and comes mated to a six-speed “Geartronic” automatic transmission with AWD and Volvo’s Instant Traction technology (note, the five-cylinder discontinued for 2017). Next is the S60 T6 Drive-E, which is a twin-charged powertrain (that is, both turbocharged and supercharged) with 2 liters of displacement and four cylinders. Put your foot down, and it’ll make 302 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, all while returning 24 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. Keeping it efficient is a standard start/stop feature, plus Eco+ fuel-saving tech that will optimize the transmission shift points, engine control, and throttle response. The Eco-coast feature will also disengage the engine, while the Eco-climate feature will modify the climate control. Finally, Volvo’s AWD system (plus the Instant traction tech) is offered across the range, with FWD used as standard.

2014 Volvo S60 High Resolution Exterior
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Keeping the rubber side down is a MacPherson strut suspension set-up with coil springs, hydraulic shocks, and a stabilizer bar in front, while in the rear is an independent set-up, also with coil springs, hydraulic shocks, and a stabilizer bar. Helping it turn is a an electric power steering set-up, with personalized settings for FWD models and speed-sensitive steering on AWD models. In the corners, the S60 mounts aluminum wheels wrapped with performance tires. Meanwhile, the brakes use discs that range in size between 300 mm (11.8 inches) and 371 mm (14.6 inches) in front. The rear brakes incorporate discs that are 302 mm (11.8 inches). Put it on its nose, and Volvo claims the S60 can go from 100 km/h to a standstill in about 121 feet. The S60 also weighs in at 3,812 pounds.


2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia High Resolution Exterior
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We’re excited Alfa is offering such lust-worthy models as the Giulia sedan to stateside buyers, and we think it’ll go a long way towards motivating other entries to step up their game in the styling and driving fun categories. The ATS is another interesting proposition, and it’s great to see a domestic make bringing the heat in a segment so often dominated by imports. The STI is a bit of an outlier in this comparison due to its rough-around-the-edges attitude and hardcore performance focus, but recent strides towards taming the experience in the cabin show movement towards a more moderate approach for the rally star. Finally, the Acura and Volvo are both decent propositions in their own way, but don’t have the thrills needed to place higher in these particular rankings.

But as always, we gotta hear from you, dear reader – what do you think of these five rides? Do you agree with how we ranked them? Tell us in the comments section.

Tables And Graphs

Exterior Dimensions

Acura TLX exterior dimensions
Wheelbase (inches) 109.3
Length (inches) 190.3
Height (inches) 57
Width (inches) 73
Track front/rear (inches) 62.8 / 63.1
Alfa Romeo Giulia exterior dimensions
Wheelbase (inches) 98.8
Length (inches) 163
Height (inches) 56
Width (inches) 61
Track front/rear (inches) 61.2 / 63.3
Cadillac ATS exterior dimensions
Wheelbase (inches) 109.3
Length (inches) 183.6
Height (inches) 56
Width (inches) 71
Track front/rear (inches) 59.6 / 60.9
Subaru WRX STI exterior dimensions
Wheelbase (inches) 103.3
Length (inches) 173.8
Height (inches) 57.9
Width (inches) 70.7
Track front/rear (inches) 60.2 / 60.6
Volvo S60 exterior dimensions
Wheelbase (inches) 109.3
Length (inches) 182.5
Height (inches) 58.4
Width (inches) 73.4
Track front/rear (inches) 62.1 / 62

Interior Dimensions

Acura TLX interior dimensions
Head room front/rear (inches) 37.2 / 36.7
Leg room front/rear (inches) 42.6 / 34.5
Shoulder room front/rear (inches) 57.5 / 55.4
Passenger volume (cubic feet) 93.3
Cargo volume (cubic feet) 13.2
Alfa Romeo Giulia interior dimensions
Head room front/rear (inches) 38.6 / 37.6
Leg room front/rear (inches) 42.2 / 35.1
Shoulder room front/rear (inches) 56.1 / 53.6
Passenger volume (cubic feet) 95.4
Cargo volume (cubic feet) 12
Cadillac ATS interior dimensions
Head room front/rear (inches) 38.6 / 36.8
Leg room front/rear (inches) 42.5 / 33.5
Shoulder room front/rear (inches) 55.2 / 53.9
Passenger volume (cubic feet) 90.9
Cargo volume (cubic feet) 10.4
Subaru WRX STI interior dimensions
Head room front/rear (inches) 37.2 / 37.1
Leg room front/rear (inches) 43.3 / 35.4
Shoulder room front/rear (inches) 55.6 / 54.2
Passenger volume (cubic feet) 93.1
Cargo volume (cubic feet) 12
Volvo S60 interior dimensions
Head room front/rear (inches) 39.3 / 37.4
Leg room front/rear (inches) 41.9 / 33.5
Shoulder room front/rear (inches) 57 / 55.2
Passenger volume (cubic feet) 92
Cargo volume (cubic feet) 12

Engine, Drivetrain, And Chassis

Acura TLX engine, drivetrain, and chassis specs
Engine type: 2.4-liter four-cylinder, 3.5-liter V-6
Drivetrain type: FWD, AWD
Transmission type: eight-speed automatic, nine-speed automatic
Horsepower: 206 at 6,800, 290 at 6,200
Torque: 182 pound-feet at 4,500, 267 pound-feet at 4,500
0-to-60 mph: 6.8 seconds, 5.8 seconds
Top speed: 130 mph
Fuel returns: 24 mpg city and 35 mpg highway, 21 mpg city and 34 mpg highway
Curb weight: 3,483 pounds, 3,585 pounds
Alfa Romeo Giulia engine, drivetrain, and chassis specs
Engine type: turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Drivetrain type: RWD, AWD
Transmission type: eight-speed automatic
Horsepower: 280 hp at 5,200 rpm
Torque: 306 pound-feet at 2,000 rpm
0-to-60 mph: 5 seconds
Top speed: 130 mph
Fuel returns: 22 mpg city, 32 mpg highway
Curb weight: 3,450 pounds
Cadillac ATS engine, drivetrain, and chassis specs
Engine type: turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, 3.6-liter V-6
Drivetrain type: RWD, AWD
Transmission type: six-speed manual, eight-speed automatic
Horsepower: 272 hp at 5,500 rpm, 335 hp at 6,800 rpm
Torque: 295 pound-feet at 3,000 rpm 285 pound-feet at 5,300 rpm
0-to-60 mph: 5.9 seconds, 5.5 seconds
Top speed: 150 mph
Fuel returns: 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway, 20 mpg city and 30 mpg highway
Curb weight: 3,411 pounds, 3,373 pounds
Subaru WRX STI engine, drivetrain, and chassis specs
Engine type: turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder
Drivetrain type: AWD
Transmission type: six-speed manual
Horsepower: 305 hp at 6,000 rpm
Torque: 290 pound-feet at 4,000 rpm
0-to-60 mph: 4.7 seconds
Top speed: 159 mph
Fuel returns: 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway
Curb weight: 3,441 pounds
Volvo S60 engine, drivetrain, and chassis specs
Engine type: turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, twin-charged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder
Drivetrain type: FWD, AWD
Transmission type: eight-speed automatic, six-speed automatic
Horsepower: 240 hp at 5,600 rpm, 302 hp at 5,700 rpm, 250 hp at 5,400 rpm
Torque: 258 pound-feet at 1,500 rpm, 295 pound-feet at 2,100 rpm, 266 pound-feet at 1,800
0-to-60 mph: 6.2 seconds, 5.3 seconds
Top speed: 130 mph (est.)
Fuel returns: 26 mpg city and 38 mpg highway, 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway, 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.
Curb weight: 3,433 pounds

Pricing And Options

Acura TLX
TLX 2.4 8-DCT P-AWS $32,000
TLX 2.4 8-DCT P-AWS with Technology Package $36,050
TLX 3.5 V-6 9-AT P-AWS $35,450
TLX 3.5 V-6 9-AT P-AWS with Technology Package $39,500
TLX 3.5 V-6 9-AT P-AWS with Advance Package $42,700
TLX 3.5 V-6 9-AT SH-AWD with Technology Package $41,700
TLX 3.5 V-6 9-AT SH-AWD with Advance Package $44,900

Options –

Technology Package (perforated Milano premium leather interior, unique seats, Acura Navigation System with 3D view, 10-speaker Audio, Rear Cross Traffic Monitor), A-Spec Package (new styling for front end and rear bumper, Dark Chrome grille and trim, side skirt garnish, dark chrome light details, exclusive 19-inch Shark Grey wheels, round LED fog lights, gloss black spoiler, parking sensors, unique badging, black Alcantara/red leather inserts, metallic footrest and trim, sport seats with contrast stitching and piping, red on black gauge pod, wireless device charger, ventilated seats), Advance Package (rectangular LED foglights, rear spoiler, surround-view camera, heated and ventilated front seats, wireless device charger, remote engine start, front and rear parking sensors).

Alfa Romeo Giulia
Giulia $37,995
Giulia Ti $39,995

Options –

Driver Assistance Dynamic Plus (adaptive cruise control with automatic stop, automatic high beam headlight control, forward collision warning, infrared windshield, lane departure warning), Sport Appearance Package (18-inch aluminum wheels, painted brake calipers, gloss black window surround moldings, revised front and rear fascia), Ti Lusso Package (18-inch 10-spoke aluminum wheels, air quality system, 8-way power adjustable driver and passenger seat, leather upholstery for th dash and door panels, luxury leather seats, luxury flat bottom steering wheel), Ti Performance Package (active suspension components, aluminum paddle shifters, mechanical limited-slip differential).

Cadillac ATS
ATS Sedan $35,590
ATS Sedan Luxury $39,390
ATS Sedan Premium Luxury $44,990
ATS Sedan Premium Performance $47,990

Options –

Black Sport Appearance Package (19-inch gloss Black premium painted alloy wheels, black chrome grille, rear spoiler, black chrome rear bumper fascia molding applique, wheel locks), V-Sport Performance Suspension Upgrade Package (18-inch summer-only run-flat tires, 18-inch allow wheels, upgraded suspension), Carbon Black Package (Recaro performance seats, black chrome grille, dark finish exterior, gloss black window molding and black chrome rear fascia, rear spoiler, 18-inch After Midnight dark finish alloy wheels), Driver Assist Package (includes Driver Awareness package, adaptive cruise control, automatic safety belt tightening, power tilt and telescoping steering column, front and rear automatic braking, electronic parking brake, full-color heads-up display).

Subaru WRX STI
WRX STI $35,195
WRX STI Limited $39,995

Options –

Recaro performance front seats, Keyless Access with Push-Button Start and PIN-code vehicle access, low-profile trunk spoiler, Kicker subwoofer and stereo kit, body side molding, door edge guards, rear bumper applique, alloy wheel locks, STI carbon fiber trunk trim, STI Performance exhaust, STI front under spoiler, vortex generator.

Volvo S60
S60 Dynamic $33,950
S60 Inscription $36,800
S60 R-Design $47,400
S60 Inscription Platinum $41,000

Options –

Vision Package (adaptive digital TFT display, keyless drive, blind spot information system and cross traffic alert, Homelink, rear park assist camera, rear park assist sensors), Navigation / Harman Kardon Package (Premium stereo with 12 speakers, Sensus Navigation system), Technology Package (requires Vision Package, includes adaptive cruise control with queue assist, rear sensor, distance alert, road sign information, driver alert control, active high beams, collision warning with full automatic braking and pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane keeping aid), Sport Package ( steering wheel gear shift paddles, electric power steering personalization, sport chassis, 19-inch Portia Diamond Cut Alloy Wheels), heated front seats, rear seat entertainment system (two 8-inch touch screens, two DVD players, auxiliary inputs).

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