Upscale sedans

No losers here: The Hyundai Genesis tops a competitive group

Last reviewed: November 2011
Chrysler 300, Toyota Avalon, Hyundai Genesis, and Acura TL on Consumer Reports' test track
Winners' circle
All four upscale sedans we tested deliver strong overall performance.

You can look at upscale sedans in one of two ways: as luxury cars at a great price or overpriced family sedans. Retailing in the mid-$30,000 to low-$40,000 range, they're generally comfortable, quiet, and reasonably luxurious and offer a lot of amenities, including many of the latest safety systems, for a sticker price that doesn't rival that of a small house. But if you can give up a few extras and perhaps a bit of interior room, some higher-trim family sedans—such as the V6-powered Honda Accord and Nissan Altima—deliver similar performance and refinement but cost about $10,000 less.

For this issue, we tested the Hyundai Genesis, Toyota Avalon, Acura TL, and Chrysler 300 (all available to subscribers). All have recently been upgraded and rank among the best upscale sedans.

The Genesis has topped our Ratings (available to subscribers) in this category since the February 2009 issue (available to subscribers), when the six-cylinder version first edged out the Lexus ES 350. The Genesis received a mild freshening for 2012, giving it a softer, more comfortable ride; a stronger direct-injected V6; and a more fuel-efficient eight-speed automatic transmission, which improved gas mileage by 1 mpg. Overall, the car's performance is similar to that of last year's model, and its test score remains an excellent 92.

The Avalon has always excelled as a roomy, smooth-riding cruiser. It provides a punchy powertrain and secure handling, but no one will confuse the Avalon with a sports sedan. For 2011, it received a plusher interior with an improved control layout and better fit and finish.

Like the Genesis, the TL received a new automatic transmission for 2012 (a six-speed), which improved its overall fuel economy by 1 mpg. Its 24 mpg is now the best in this class. The TL doesn't stand out in any one area, but it is a solid car with brisk acceleration, a polished powertrain, and a mostly pleasant ride and handling. It's also the only model in the class besides the Lexus that has achieved an excellent predicted-reliability rating.

Revamped for 2011, the 300 is the best Chrysler car we've seen in decades, jumping to an overall test score of 80 from a mediocre 64 of the previous model. The 300C's quick, muscular 5.7-liter V8 engine is now complemented by responsive handling and a more comfortable ride. And thanks to a major upgrade, its roomy interior is now quieter and more luxurious. The main drawback of our V8-powered 300 is its 18-mpg fuel economy, which is the lowest in a category dominated by smaller V6 engines. The 300's corporate sister, the Dodge Charger, got 21 mpg when we tested it with a V6.

The as-tested prices for this group range from the TL's $36,465 to the 300C's $44,730. All of the models here are recommended except the revamped Chrysler 300, for which we don't have reliability data.