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With an updated look, an interior filled with high-tech toys and standard V8 power, the 2012 Jaguar XF offers impressive performance, but lacks the comfort of some competing luxury large cars. As a result of its exterior facelift and some welcome interior updates, reviewers say that the 2012 Jaguar XF improves on an already-competitive model. Features such as the red, pulsating start button and stainless steel shift dial that rises from the center console remain, but the big interior updates include more-supportive front seats, a color information display in the gauge cluster and additional buttons which ease use of the XF’s touch screen interface. However, these advances don’t make the XF perfect. Reviewers say that many functions still require you to work through a series of on-screen menus to access audio, navigation and climate control functions. This can require a little extra time and attention, but shoppers looking for value should appreciate that the XF comes standard with ample tech features such as navigation, Bluetooth and USB connections.
There’s a reason why the 2012 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is at the top of the luxury large car heap. Although Mercedes redesigned the E-Class in 2010, the automaker continues to tweak and improve the E-Class sedan. Autoblog writes, “If we didn't know any better, we'd swear the E-Class is trying to be a better S-Class." Inside, the E-Class is basically unchanged for 2012. Reviewers find the same comfortable, opulent interior seen on the 2011 model, and although critics love the high-quality materials and excellent build quality, they do have a few concerns. They note that the E-Class’ price can inflate quickly with options, and while the E-Class comes standard with Mercedes’ COMAND system, a handful of reviewers say that it complicates audio, climate and navigation functions. However, the E-Class still has a spacious back seat, a large trunk and some significant updates under the hood. Both the E350 and E550 have increased power and fuel efficiency for 2012, and the E550 now comes standard with Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive. Shoppers looking for great fuel economy may also want to consider the diesel-powered E350 Bluetec, while the new E63 AMG gives performance enthusiasts an alternative to sports sedans like the Audi S6 and BMW M5. With so many available options, there’s an E-Class that will suit every shopper’s needs, provided you’ve got the cash to buy one.
With a high-quality interior and nimble handling, critics agree that the redesigned 2013 Lexus GS is set to give German luxury large cars a run for their money. While some cars are easily labeled as comfortable, luxurious or sporty, the redesigned 2013 Lexus GS offers a combination of the three. Inside, reviewers find a striking interior with comfortable seats, and although the 2013 GS carries a similar engine to the outgoing 2011 model, critics remain pleased with its capable handling and comfortable ride. However, some reviewers think that by trying to please everyone, the 2013 Lexus GS may end up lacking its own distinct identity. Consumer Guide writes, “It strikes a decent balance between the sporty character of the BMW 5-Series and coddling of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, but the fact that it doesn't really stand out in any one area might put the GS at a disadvantage among discerning luxury-car buyers.” Despite this concern, many shoppers might be well-suited to the Lexus GS’ even-keeled nature, and a number of improvements make it a more attractive luxury large car than the 2011 model. The cabin and trunk are more spacious, and fuel economy is slightly better than the outgoing GS. And while Lexus offers the same basic warranty as rivals like the Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Lexus also backs its vehicles with a separate powertrain warranty, which should appeal to buyers who intend to keep their cars longer.
Test drivers love the 2012 Audi A7’s performance, attractive exterior and stunning interior. Still, the A7 falters with steering and brake feel that some reviewers don’t like. The 2012 Audi A7’s sleek, sexy design makes it unique among luxury large cars. Reviewers are floored by the A7’s combination of beauty, technology, power and refinement, but some note that the Audi A7 is not the most affordable car in its class. Still, the A7 earns top honors from the automotive press. Automobile Magazine writes, “Mesmerizing to look at and seductive to drive, the Audi A7 is a car to aspire to -- and an entirely worthy Automobile of the Year.” The praise doesn’t end there either. The 2012 Audi A7 was named one of Car and Driver's 10 Best Cars for holding its own against pricier super luxury cars. Car and Driver reports, “The A7 is so good that it has already trumped, in a comparo, the V-8-wielding Mercedes-Benz CLS550.” Inside, the A7 features stunning interior materials, which include soft leather and variety of available woods to accent the dash, console and door trims. Audi continues to push the envelope with class-competitive cabin electronics as well. Models that carry Audi’s MMI navigation system also come with Audi Connect, which uses a SIM card to turn the A7 into a wireless hot spot. The data connection also provides real-time updates to the navigation system, displays Google Earth views and informs with timely weather, news and point-of-interest information.
Audi’s overhaul of the 2012 A6 may seem like just a few subtle exterior tweaks, but inside and under the hood, there are substantial changes. CNET writes, “Navigation enhanced by Google, a touch-pad cabin tech interface, a supercharged direct-injection engine, an eight-speed transmission, and Quattro all-wheel drive combine to make the 2012 Audi A6 one of the most cutting-edge cars on the road.” Two engines are available in the 2012 Audi A6: a turbocharged four-cylinder in the front-wheel drive 2.0T model and a supercharged V6 in the all-wheel drive 3.0T. Although it may not be every buyer’s first choice, the A6 2.0T will likely appeal to shoppers who are looking for good fuel economy, but don’t need the extra power or all-wheel drive.
While not as versatile as its sedan sibling, test drivers agree that the 2012 Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe and convertible are splendid luxury cars, provided you’re willing to make a few compromises. "Coupes share many of the sedan's virtues but cramped interior accommodations make them suitable for single folks or empty-nesters,” says Consumer Guide. “Convertibles are pricey but extraordinarily well engineered.” However, these tradeoffs aren’t specific to the E-Class. Rivals such as the BMW 3-Series, Infiniti G and Lexus IS are all available as sedans, coupes and convertibles. And just like the E-Class, space dwindles and the price goes up when you opt for a coupe or convertible. Fortunately, many of the attributes that make the E-Class sedan great also apply to the 2012 E-Class coupe. Like the sedan, which is reviewed separately, coupe and convertible models get engine upgrades for 2012, which offer more power and better fuel economy. Reviewers generally agree that more power and better fuel economy are good things, and they also approve of the E-Class’ composed, yet comfortable, handling.
The 2012 BMW 5-Series offers the performance and luxury that reviewers expect, but it’s no longer the obvious choice for sport sedan shoppers. Reviewers seem to have gotten past the 2012 BMW 5-Series’ growing pains. Last year, the freshly redesigned 2011 model caught some flak from reviewers who felt that the 5-Series was no longer the decided king among sport sedans. However, what the 5-Series may have given up in athleticism, it gained in comfort, refinement and luxury. Still, the 2012 BMW 5-Series is no slouch on a twisty road. It’s currently the only luxury large car that’s available with a manual transmission, and adding the available handling and wheel packages can still make this BMW one of the nimblest luxury large cars on the market. The big news for 2012, however, is the addition of a new base engine. Like the Audi A6, BMW now offers a turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the base 5-Series, and although it has fewer cylinders than last year’s model, test drivers agree that the new engine makes a world of difference. “If anything, the turbo pumps fresh blood into the buttoned-down 5-series,” writes AutoWeek. “It's efficient, quick, and oh, you still get to drive a 5-series. It's more powerful and faster than it was last year. Don't fret about how many cylinders are--or aren't--under the hood.”
The BMW 7 Series is a line of full-size luxury vehicles produced by the German automaker BMW. Introduced in 1977, it is BMW's flagship car and is only available as a sedan or extended-length limousine. The 7 Series traditionally introduces technologies and exterior design themes before they trickle down to smaller sedans in BMW's lineup.
Reviewers say performance, luxury and user-friendly tech features make the 2012 Infiniti M a strong contender among luxury large cars. They're happy with the 2012 Infiniti M’s unusually good combination of sedan utility and sporty performance. Its combination of powerful engine choices, nimble handling, a luxuriously-appointed interior and good safety scores mean that reviewers have found a lot to like about the M. Three models are available: the M37, which features a 330-horsepower V6; the M56, which comes with a 420-horsepower V8; and the M Hybrid, which is reviewed separately. Reviewers say that while the V6 provides ample power, the V8 is blisteringly fast, and most consider the M to be one of the sportier luxury large cars. While both V6- and V8-powered cars are agile on twisty roads, a few test drivers note that the V6-powered M37 has the handling edge due to its lighter weight. Although the M has a lot going for it from a performance standpoint, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Most reviewers agree that opting for an all-wheel drive model takes away from the car’s fun factor. They say the added weight from the system negatively affects the car’s handling, steering and fuel economy. Additionally, some test drivers dislike the Sport Package that’s available on the M. This package adds larger wheels and firmer suspension components, which improve the M’s handling, but also transmit more road imperfections into the cabin. If you live in an area with rough roads, a Sport Package-equipped M may not be for you.
Reviewers love the 2012 Infiniti M35h’s combination of power, fuel economy and luxury. Motor Trend writes, “While Infiniti may be fashionably late to the luxury hybrid party, this technology-stuffed, sporty hybrid sedan certainly looks as though it will be a green machine worth keeping on the guest list.” New for 2012, this hybrid version of the Infiniti M offers the same high-quality interior and electronics seen on its non-hybrid siblings, but offers improved fuel economy thanks to its 3.5-liter V6 and 50kW electric motor. Together, the combination is good for 360 horsepower and reviewers say the M Hybrid is nearly as quick as the V6-powered M37. A seven-speed transmission puts power to the rear wheels, but unlike its gas-powered siblings, the M Hybrid is not available with all-wheel drive or Infiniti’s Sport Package, which improves handling with an upgraded suspension. Still, reviewers say that the powertrain offers smooth shifts, and that the transitions between the electric and gas motors are barely noticeable. Like most hybrids, the M35h uses regenerative brakes to recharge its batteries. These types of brakes are often disliked by the automotive press, and on the M Hybrid, reviewer opinions vary. Some say that they feel fairly natural, while others comment that there’s a synthetic feel to the braking system. Still, most test drivers are pleased with the way this hybrid rides, saying that the handling straddles the middle ground between softly-sprung and more-nimble competitors.
The 2012 Hyundai Genesis can compete with luxury sedans costing more than $50,000, but starts at $34,200, making it a good choice for shoppers who put value before brand recognition. The 2012 Hyundai Genesis is a good choice for shoppers who want luxury appointments, a powerful engine and a smooth ride but don’t want to pay a premium for similar cars from more well-known luxury brands like Lexus, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Edmunds says, "True, there are a few downsides, such as the lack of available all-wheel drive or a fold-down rear seat. But the biggest obstacle for the Genesis is likely whether customers can get over the humble badge on its deck lid." Hyundai was known more for its prices than its quality in the past. Now, Hyundai is known for its class-competitive, affordable vehicles, like the Accent, Elantra, Sonata and Tucson. The automaker also has two luxury vehicles, the Genesis and Equus, and the automotive press says Hyundai has done a good job of building well-made vehicles at competitive prices. The Hyundai Genesis received a mid-cycle refresh for the 2012 model year. Reviewers are pleased with Hyundai’s new eight-speed transmission, more powerful base V6 engine and new 5.0-liter Tau V8 engine, which is available on the new-for-2012 5.0 R-Spec trim.