Upscale sedans

Hyundai Genesis tops 5 rich offerings at bargain prices

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The Hyundai Genesis (available to subscribers) outscores this month's field of upscale sedans and is now our highest rated vehicle in the category, just outscoring the Lexus ES. That accomplishment by the South Korean automaker solidifies its reputation as a builder of high-quality vehicles in several diverse automotive segments.

Spacious and well appointed, the rear-wheel-drive Genesis offers good value and is a compelling alternative to luxury vehicles costing thousands more. We tested the six-cylinder version, which offers more than adequate performance. A V8 version is also sold, but it was not available in time for our test.

The market for upscale sedans is very competitive, and some models blur the lines between upscale and luxury cars. (Luxury models are usually more opulent and costly.) In turn, automakers are offering more choices than ever in the segment.

This month's group of cars includes five new or redesigned upscale sedans. In addition to the Genesis, we tested the sporty, rear-wheel-drive, Australian-designed Pontiac G8; the new Lincoln MKS; the redesigned Acura TL; and the Nissan Maxima (all available to subscribers). All-wheel drive is available on the MKS and TL.

Prices for these upscale sedans ranged from $33,660 for the Pontiac to $40,880 for the Lincoln.

The cars in this group have notable differences. Some are tuned to be pampering cruisers while others are more sporty in character, and there are many iterations in between. The Genesis and MKS are more lavish. The Acura TL should appeal to those who desire a sportier drive. The G8 is a performance sedan. The Nissan Maxima is a pleasant enough car overall, but it doesn't offer a whole lot more than the less costly Nissan Altima V6.

In addition to those vehicles, we also tested the sporty Jaguar XF (available to subscribers), the newly christened replacement to the S-Type sedan. The XF, which went on sale last spring, cost $54,075. It comes with a V8 engine and is priced like competitors' V6s.

We also tested the freshened Acura RL luxury sedan with its new 3.7-liter engine. It's a slick car, but it's not special enough to command such a premium over the new TL. It's an update of our 2005 test of the RL.

Coming soon

Most models in this class are recent designs, and a few notable entries are in the pipeline. Watch for a freshened Audi A6 in spring 2009 and a redesigned Mercedes-Benz E-Class to follow soon afterward. A diesel version of that upscale sedan will be offered as part of the Mercedes redesign; such an engine is available with the current E-Class. A diesel-powered version of the A6 has been reported to be in the offing.

Used-car alternatives

You can save money or get more for your money by buying used. Skipping the luxury brand often lets you buy more vehicle for the money.

Model Current value
2006 Infiniti M35 $23,175
2006 Acura TL 21,575
2006 Toyota Avalon XLS 19,475
Posted: January 2009 — Consumer Reports Magazine issue: February 2009