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Thursday Throwdown: Luxury Full-Size Sedans

In today’s Thursday Throwdown, we look at luxury full-size sedans. Most of our picks are in the higher end of the luxury market with one noted exception. Some of these vehicles may be a surprise while others would likely make most “best of” lists in this segment.

Our top picks have been chosen for their excellence in the luxury sedan market. We’ve made choices for best value, best fuel economy, quietest ride and more. It should be noted that in this category, most vehicles are not crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), so safety scores are not listed.

These 2014 models are beginning to appear as used car and dealer demonstration vehicles now, so be sure to check out our Used Car Listings to find one for yourself.

Side-by-Side Comparison Chart of Top Picks

2014 Luxury full-size sedans New $ MPG
Audi A7 $64,500 18/28
BMW 7-Series $74,000 19/29
Cadillac XTS $41,420 18/28
Lexus LS $72,140 16/24
Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class $72,100 18/27
Mercedes-Benz S-Class $92,900 17/25

2014 Top Luxury full-size sedans Picks

Lowest Entry Price: Cadillac XTS
Best Value: Audi A7, Lexus LS
Best Fuel Economy: BMW 7-Series
Quietest Ride: Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class
Most Refined Overall: Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class
Most Refined Interior: Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Most Fun To Drive: Audi A7, Cadillac XTS

2014 Audi A7

An athletic option in comparison to most of our other choices, the Audi A7 was an easy pick for fun driving and high value. The price point and excellence this Audi offers make it a good choice for many luxury buyers. The A7 is marked by its excellent driving dynamics and beautiful interior.

2014 Audi A7
2014 Audi A7 (Audi of America, Inc.)

The base Audi A7 is powered by a supercharged V6 gasoline engine, but for those who can, an upgrade to the refined and powerful turbodiesel V6 is recommended. The diesel engine offers good performance, excellent fuel economy (24/38 mpg city/highway) and higher resale value for the car. The quick response of the eight-speed automatic transmission will also be appreciated.

The interior of the A7 is graceful and efficient, this being the hallmark of most Audi sedans. It utilizes excellent materials and fine workmanship throughout, with wood or aluminum accents setting off the leather upholstery. With seating for five adults plus all of their luggage, the Audi A7 is a great choice in the luxury segment.

2014 Audi A7
Base price new: $64,500
EPA mpg (city/highway): 18/28
Crash test ratings: IIHS – N/A, NHTSA – N/A

2014 BMW 7-Series

For those in the luxury market who are looking to maximize fuel economy without sacrificing luxurious amenities, the BMW 7-Series is a perfect fit. The 7-Series separates itself from other BMW sedans by offering a wider number of powertrain options and focusing on luxury rather than a sporty driving experience.

2013 BMW 7-Series
2013 BMW 7-Series (BMW North America, LLC)

The 7-Series includes engines ranging from a turbocharged six-cylinder base engine to a twin-turbo V8, a high-performance V12 and a hybrid option. The base 740i achieves excellent fuel economy at 19/29 mpg while the ActiveHybrid 7 sees 22/30 mpg city/highway.

The comfort-oriented BMW 7-Series is best known for its opulent interior space and classic BMW looks. Teutonic quality and attention to detail are found throughout the cabin of the 7-Series, making it a runner up in our Best Interiors choice.

2014 BMW 7-Series
Base price new: $74,000
EPA mpg (city/highway): 19/29
Crash test ratings: IIHS – N/A, NHTSA – N/A

2014 Cadillac XTS

By far the lowest-priced entry on our list, the Cadillac XTS is our surprise choice and was a very close runner-up to the Lexus LS as a value proposition. Despite not winning that post, the XTS is still noted for its comfortable and roomy interior, powerful Vsport trim and smart driving dynamics. The base level V6 engine is adequate and up to the task of daily driving, while the twin-turbocharged V6 in the Vsport model brings a spike to the punchbowl.

2014 Cadillac XTS
2014 Cadillac XTS (General Motors)

The XTS is a nicely rounded luxury car at the lower end of the luxury market, offering a quality interior, a solid daily driving experience and more. It’s a good choice on many levels.

2014 Cadillac XTS
Base price new: $41,420
EPA MPG (city/highway): 18/28
Crash Test Rating: IIHS – G/N/G/G/G, NHTSA – 5-Stars

2014 Lexus LS

The Lexus LS is a well-rounded, opulent choice in the luxury sedan market. Although it does not shine in any single area, it covers all bases well. Seating is excellent and roomy, fuel economy is on par with the class and luxury appointments and fit and finish are superb.

2013 Lexus LS
2013 Lexus LS 460 (Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.)

The LS features a strong, though sedate, engine mated to a well-mannered eight-speed automatic transmission. Models are available with a long wheelbase, adding rear legroom to an already well-sized cabin. There’s also a hybrid version to maximize fuel economy around town. The hybrid achieves 19/23 mpg city/highway versus the 16/24 mpg of the standard gasoline model.

With plentiful standard features, a well-made cabin and a gentleman’s ride quality, the Lexus LS is a good choice in the luxury segment and thus won our pick for best value.

2014 Lexus LS
Base price new: $72,140
EPA mpg (city/highway): 16/24
Crash test ratings: IIHS – N/A, NHTSA – N/A

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class

The Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class wins two places on our top picks list and would have won a third had not its brother, the S-Class, taken the spot for best interior. As it is, the CLS-Class is a beautiful, almost extravagant, machine with a finely-crafted interior, a great lineup of engine choices and lovely driving dynamics. The base model’s twin-turbo V8 engine is a strong pusher for this sedan while two AMG variants offer more sport-tuned excitement with more displacement.

Mercedes CLS-Class
Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG (Mercedes-Benz USA)

Soft leather offset by beautiful wood inlays mark the interior of the CLS-Class, along with carbon fiber accents and well-crafted seating. The rear seats, leave something to be desired for larger passengers, but they are more than fine for average-sized adults.

The fastback styling of the CLS-Class is a big part of its appeal from the exterior, but means trunk space is a bit sparse. “What is luxury without beauty?” Mercedes seems to ask here. We agree.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class
Base price new: $72,100
EPA MPG (city/highway): 18/27
Crash Test Rating: IIHS – N/A, NHTSA – N/A

2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

The S-Class is Mercedes’ executive line of luxury sedans. Its status as one of the best luxury cars on the road is undisputed. The S-Class easily won our pick for Most Refined Interior, though its brother the CLS-Class (above) took Most Refined Overall.

2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class (Mercedes-Benz USA)
2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class (Mercedes-Benz USA)

The S-Class is powered by a muscular twin-turbo V8 engine and seven-speed automatic transmission. Shifting is smooth and acceleration is smart despite the sedan’s bulk. A high-performance AMG model is also available to further enhance performance.

The interior of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is beyond compare. With extremely well-chosen interior components and trim, plush seating and beautiful mixes of texture and color, the interior of the S-Class has no rival. Add in the available executive options for rear seating, such as massaging seats and leg rests, and things go beyond excellence. Finally, the Mercedes-Benz Magic Body Control system gives the car the most comfortable ride on the road.

Whether driving yourself or being chauffeured, the S-Class is an easy choice when money is no object.

2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Base price new: $92,900
EPA MPG (city/highway): 17/25
Crash Test Rating: IIHS – N/A, NHTSA – N/A

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