Like every other car class and segment in the industry, the mid-size luxury car market has diminished in recent years. More and more Americans would rather drive a high-riding box. The 10 players who remain on the playing field are a diverse bunch and, in addition to old-fashioned sedans, the list of vehicles includes a number of coupelike four-doors and hatchbacks. High-tech features and all-wheel drive are still commonly available in this group. Several offer a wide range of engine options, from fuel-efficient four-cylinders to hybrids and turbocharged stump-pulling V-8s. For the best mid-size luxury crossover and SUVs, click here.Ranked from worst to best by C/D’s editors, based on objective testing and subjective driving impressions, click through to check out everything in the mid-size luxury car segment and see pricing and specs.
10. Lexus ES
The Lexus ES is more fun than it used to be, but it’s still the brand’s most traditional product and remains its best-selling car. Impeccably built, the front-wheel-drive ES is known for its high quality and quiet, calm operation. It performs well enough for most buyers but would never be described as a sports sedan. Several trim levels and powertrains are available. This year, Lexus adds the entry-level ES 250 to the range, with all-wheel drive and a 203-hp four-cylinder. ES buyers can also choose a 302-hp V-6 or a fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain. Unfortunately, Lexus still hasn’t replaced its difficult-to-use touchpad-based infotainment system.
Base price: $41,025 Engine: 203-hp 2.5L inline-four, 302-hp 3.5L V-6; 2.5L inline-four, 118-hp AC electric motor, 215 horsepower combined Trunk space: 17 cubic feet
9. Maserati Ghibli
It’s the only Italian in this class, and some of us have taken to calling the Ghibli the Fredo of Maserati’s lineup. The smaller of the brand’s two sedans, the Ghibli does feature spicy-sounding twin-turbocharged V-6 engines, and this year it gets a racy Trofeo trim with a 580-hp twin-turbo V-8. Otherwise, the Ghibli has always failed to live up to its heritage and big price tag, especially its switchgear and infotainment system, which are shared with other Fiat Chrysler products. (Maserati is owned by Fiat Chrysler.)
Base price: $73,685 Engine: 345-hp twin-turbo 3.0L V-6; 424-hp twin-turbo 3.0L V-6; 580-hp twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-8 Trunk space: 18 cubic feet
8. BMW 5-Series
Once the handsome star of this show with an unbeatable mix of youthful energy and athleticism, the BMW 5-series has grayed around the temples and grown a bit of a muffin top. Customers looking for The Ultimate Driving Machine will be disappointed as the 5-series isn’t as sweet to drive as its predecessors or its rivals in this class. It has shifted away from its sporty roots, becoming more luxurious and loaded down with technology in the process. Four models are offered, including a plug-in hybrid. The sedan is still capable of serious speed when equipped with its optional twin-turbo inline-six and V-8 engines, but some of the old magic has been lost.
Base price: $55,195 Engine: 248-hp turbo 2.0L inline-four; 335-hp turbo 3.0L inline-six; 180-hp turbo 2.0L inline-four, 111-hp AC electric motor, 248 horsepower combined; 456-hp twin-turbo 4.4L V-8 Trunk space: 15–19 cubic feet
7. Mercedes-AMG CLS53
Mix the four-door coupe body style of the Mercedes-Benz CLS-class with an AMG-amplified suspension and engine package and you’ve got a beast with 429 horsepower and all-wheel drive. The CLS53 shares its underpinnings with the E-class, and this one can hit 60 mph in 4.0 seconds and cover the quarter-mile in 12.5 seconds at 111 mph. Under its long hood is a smooth 3.0-liter inline-six that benefits from turbocharging and a mild 48-volt hybrid-assist system called EQ Boost to produce 384 pound-feet of torque, silky refinement, and admirable fuel economy.
Base price: $82,545 Engine: 429-hp turbo- and supercharged 3.0L inline-six, 21-hp AC electric motor, 429 horsepower combined Trunk space: 12 cubic feet
6. Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class
With its low-slung roof and more aggressive lines, the Mercedes-Benz CLS-class is a pure style play. Based on the mainstream E-class, the first CLS is a design icon that practically invented the “four-door coupe” label. Just one non-AMG flavor is available, the CLS450 with rear- or all-wheel drive, and a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six paired with a 48-volt hybrid-assist system called EQ Boost. The silky smooth setup provides 362 horsepower and gets the Benz from zero to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds.
Base price: $71,295 Engine: 362-hp turbo 3.0L inline-six, 21-hp AC electric motor, 362 horsepower combined Trunk space: 12 cubic feet
5. Genesis G80
New for 2021, the Genesis G80 makes a move from the 10th spot on this list. With a distinctive new look and a more luxurious interior, its base price has jumped about $5000. However, the G80 is still a luxury bargain offering any feature you can find on its competitors listed here. The base engine is now a 300-hp 2.5-liter inline-four, and there’s an optional twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 packing 375 horsepower. Both engines pair with an eight-speed automatic transmission and either rear- or all-wheel drive. Sadly, the 420-hp V-8 has been shelved.
Base price: $48,725 Engine: 300-hp turbo 2.5L inline-four; 375-hp twin-turbo 3.5L V-6 Trunk space: : 13 cubic feet
4. Audi A6
When it comes to sales and star power, the Audi A6 has perennially lagged behind the BMW 5-series and the Mercedes E-class. It deserves better. Competent in every way, the A6 isn’t a thriller, but it doesn’t put you to sleep either. Redesigned last year, it’s an attractive, comfortable, and sufficiently powerful four-door that simply does everything well, and we like its new touchscreen infotainment system. There are two turbocharged engines to choose from, a 248-hp four-cylinder and a 335-hp 3.0-liter V-6, which got the sedan to 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds at our test track. A seven-speed automatic transmission and Quattro all-wheel drive are standard.
Base price: $55,945 Engine: 248-hp turbo 2.0L inline-four; 335-hp turbo 3.0L V-6 Trunk space: 14 cubic feet
3. Audi A7
Think of the Audi A7 as an A6 with flashier styling, a hatchback, and nine more cubic feet of cargo space behind the back seat. The two are mechanical twins, however, the big news for the 2021 A7 is the addition of a plug-in hybrid model that gets a turbocharged four-cylinder and an electric motor for combined output of 362 horsepower. The A7 PHEV is capable of 17 miles of electric-only motoring and has a starting price of $75,895. The standard A7 is still powered by a 335-hp 3.0-liter V-6 that uses a 48-volt hybrid-assist system to minimizes turbo lag and smooth its stop-start operation. Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic transmission are standard.
Base price: $70,245 Engine: 335-hp turbo 3.0L V-6; turbo 2.0L inline-four, AC electric motor, 362 horsepower combined Trunk space: 25 cubic feet
2. Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Synonymous with luxury, the Mercedes-Benz E-class gets an extensive mid-cycle refresh this year that applies to the sedan as well as the coupe and cabriolet models. Revised front and rear styling headline the changes, but there’s also a new steering wheel, the brand’s latest infotainment system, and enhanced driver-assistance tech. The E450 ditches its twin-turbo V-6 for a new turbocharged inline-six-cylinder engine with a 48-volt hybrid system that sends 362 horsepower to the sedan’s all-wheel drive system. There’s also a new plug-in hybrid model, the rear-wheel drive E350e, which has a four-cylinder engine and an electric motor to generate a total output of 315 horsepower.
Base price: $55,300 Engine: 255-hp turbo 2.0L inline-four; 362-hp twin-turbo 3.0L V-6; 255-hp turbo 2.0L inline-four, AC electric motor, 315 horsepower combined Trunk space: 13 cubic feet
1. Mercedes-AMG E53
What’s better than a Mercedes E-class? One with more power, bigger tires, and a suspension tuned for speedier lefts and rights. The Mercedes-AMG E53 slides in between the standard issue models and the almighty V-8-powered AMG E63 and E63 S. It may not be packing the thunder of its more powerful siblings, but it’s a hot-rod version of the luxury sedan just the same. Shared with the CLS53, its AMG-tuned turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder puts out 429 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. The inline-six is paired with a sharp-shifting nine-speed automatic transmission and 4Matic all-wheel drive, and the sedan’s standard air suspension handles twisty sections of road as deftly as the urban scape and the interstate. The last E53 coupe we tested shot from zero to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds.
Base price: $74,950 Engine: 429-hp turbo- and supercharged 3.0L inline-six, 21-hp AC electric motor, 429 horsepower combined Trunk space: 13 cubic feet
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