Consumer Reports has just finished evaluating four mid-sized luxury sedans, and the 2012 Audi A6 managed to tie with the Infiniti M37 for the top spot. The publication cites the German four-door's substantial improvements over last year as the reason behind its success.

In previous evaluations, the A6 has managed to score just 79 points on the CR scale. This year, that number jumped to 93. The A6 garnered praise for its strong acceleration, apt handling, comfortable ride and quiet, well-appointed interior. Those are all attributes we're inclined to agree with.

The A6 didn't take the top nod when it came to fuel economy, however. Consumer Reports says that the Mercedes-Benz E350 Bluetec remains king of that hill by returning an average of 26 miles per gallon. The full report is expected to land on news stands on December 6, though readers may get an early scoop by checking the final results on ConsumerReports.com right now. Hit the jump for the full press release.
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CONSUMER REPORTS: AUDI A6 TOPS RATNGS OF MIDSIZED LUXURY SEDANS

Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTec fuel economy champ in group with 26 mpg


YONKERS, NY - The redesigned Audi A6 has been significantly improved and now ties the Infiniti M37 for the top spot in Consumer Reports' midsized luxury sedans Ratings. The Audi was tested as part of a group of four luxury sedans in the magazine's January issue.

The Audi achieved an Excellent overall test score of 93, the same as the previously tested M37. The A6's big jump in score from the 79 of the last A6 tested is the result of an inviting combination of strong acceleration, agile handling, a comfortable ride, and a quiet, well-finished interior.

"The redesigned Audi A6 is an impressive car and a joy to drive," said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center in East Haddam, CT.

The full report on midsized luxury sedans will be available on www.ConsumerReports.org on November 22nd and in the January issue of Consumer Reports on newsstands December 6. Updated daily, Consumer Reports.org is the go-to Website for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information. Check out CR's ongoing Twitter feed at @CRCars.

Fuel economy has not been a high priority for luxury-car buyers, but erratic gas prices and higher federal fuel-economy standards on the horizon are increasingly making automakers look for ways to improve gas mileage even in this category. The four cars tested in this group-the Audi A6, Infiniti M35h, Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTec, and Saab 9-5-approach the goal in different ways.

Those include hybrid and diesel drivetrains, lightweight materials, seven-or eight-speed automatic transmissions, and supercharging and turbocharging which lets a car squeeze more power from a smaller engine. The result: gas mileage for these tested vehicles is among the best in the category, although the cars' overall performance varies dramatically, from the top-rated Audi to the bottom-rated Saab.

The fuel economy champ in this class is now the E350 BlueTec, which received an "Excellent" road test score and is powered by a diesel engine. Its tested overall fuel economy of 26 mpg edges out the hybrid M35h's 25 mpg. The trade-off is some engine noise at low speeds.

The M35h is Infiniti's first hybrid and received an Excellent road test score. The gas-electric system helps deliver quick acceleration and fuel economy that's on par with some four-cylinder family sedans, but its power delivery tends to be jerky and abrupt and its handling and braking are not quite up to that of the conventional M37. That detracts from an otherwise outstanding package.

The redesigned Saab-9-5 is disappointing in this rarified class. It shares a platform with the Buick LaCrosse and Regal, its former GM cousins, but the 9-5 doesn't measure up well to those models or its competitors. Despite its excellent fit and finish and fairly nimble handling, it has a noisy four-cylinder turbocharged engine, a stiff ride, impaired visibility, and relatively slow acceleration. Overall, it doesn't score high enough to be recommended.

Also included in the January issue is an Auto Test Extra test of the Mini Cooper Countryman S, a small SUV that has more room than the typical Mini but retains the Mini line's sporty good looks, agility, very good fuel economy and fun-to-drive feel. It scored a Very Good road test score but suffers from a stiff ride, noisy cabin, and confusing controls.

This group includes recently introduced or redesigned midsized luxury sedans. The Audi A6 was redesigned for 2012 and the Saab 9-5 was redesigned for 2011. The Mercedes-Benz E350 Bluetec is the diesel version of the previously tested gasoline-powered Mercedes-Benz E350.The Infiniti M35h is the recently introduced hybrid version of the previously tested M37 sedan. The Mini Cooper Countryman was introduced in 2011.


None of the vehicles in the test group are Recommended. The 9-5 didn't score high enough, and Consumer Reports does not have sufficient reliability data for it. The others are too new for Consumer Reports to have reliability data. Consumer Reports only Recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on CR's Annual Auto Survey of its more than seven million print and Web subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test.

Prices for the tested luxury sedans ranged from $46,655 for the 9-5 to $58,655 to the M35h. The well-equipped Mini Cooper Countryman S cost $32,500.

The A6 succeeds in many areas; it's agile, comfortable, quiet, and quick. It also rides smoothly, has a sumptuous and accommodating interior, and returns commendable fuel economy. Handling is nimble and the quick steering gives good feedback. The Audi A6 3.0T Quattro Premium Plus ($56,295 MSRP as tested) is powered by a 310-hp, 3.0 liter supercharged V6 engine that is buttery smooth and delivers excellent acceleration. It gets 22 mpg on premium fuel in CR's own fuel economy tests, impressive given the car's quickness and the added weight of its all-wheel-drive with premium fuel. The eight-speed automatic transmission has almost imperceptible shifts. Braking is Very Good. The interior is finely finished and includes many high-tech features.

The E350 is a quiet and luxurious sedan with a very well-finished interior, comfortable seats and a substantial feel. Handling is agile for its size and the Mercedes is quiet and steady on the highway, but some diesel engine noise is noticeable at low speeds. The Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTec ($57,525 MSRP as tested) is powered by a 210-hp, 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 engine that provides abundant torque and returns an impressive 26 mpg in mixed driving. The seven-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly overall, except for the occasional bumpy shift. Braking is Very Good. The cabin is very well finished, but controls can be complicated.

The hybrid system of the M35h tends to be jerky and abrupt, detracting from an otherwise commendable driving experience. The M35h has nimble handling and a firm yet supple ride. It's quiet inside, especially when the car is in electric mode, but the engine is oddly loud when it idles. The Infiniti M35h ($58,655 MSRP as tested) is powered by a 360-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine and electric motor that gets 25 mpg overall on premium fuel. Braking is Very Good. The seven-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. The cabin is rich looking. The hybrid battery robs a lot of trunk space.

Consumer Reports' engineers see the 9-5 as a poor value, even given Saab's typical generous price incentives. Handling is fairly nimble but the stiff ride feels jittery even on the highway. The Saab 9-5 Turbo4 Premium ($46,655 MSRP as tested) is powered by a 220-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers OK performance and 22 mpg on premium fuel but lacks the refinement of many V6s; a V6 is available with all-wheel-drive, but most 9-5s will have the tested four-cylinder engine. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts very smoothly and responsively. Braking is Very Good. The interior is nicely-finished but thick roof pillars and small windows impede visibility.

The four-door Countryman can seat four comfortably, unlike other Minis. It has quick steering, fantastic agility, minimal body lean and strong tire grip. A trade-off for its sporty charter is a stiff ride that is jittery even on the highway. Road and wind noise permeate the cabin. The Mini Cooper Countryman S ALL4 ($32,500 MSRP as tested,) is powered by a 184-hp, 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers very good acceleration and gets 26 mpg overall with premium fuel. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. Braking is Very Good. Lots of interior detailing forms a whimsical interior environment but the eccentric controls and displays can be frustrating. Only one suitcase fits in the back with the rear seats up, but folding the seats creates more room.

Consumer Reports is the world's largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 45 Comments
      Tim Gaven
      • 3 Years Ago
      Just my opinion..... but the A6 Avant (That we are not getting here in NA) is absolutely gorgeous! Easily one of my favourite cars ever.
      donnieorama
      • 3 Years Ago
      The E350 Bluetec returns the same mileage my '00 Focus does--now if only I could find the money to buy the Merc.
      Felipe Politano
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hey, if the A6 'has managed to tie with the M37", then why isn't the Infiniti even mentioned at the title? And why is all the focus on advertising the Audi?
      Dvanos
      • 3 Years Ago
      They didn't compare it to the 5 series?? The true midsize luxury king?? Well that was before BMW numbed the steering.
      NTIV10
      • 3 Years Ago
      WTF is wrong with CR? First, no one considering an E350 or an A6 is looking at either the M37 or a freakin' Saab. Second, where the #$%^ is the BMW? I'd actually give a **** about how the A6 compares to the new 5 series.
        Alex Rodriguez MacFa
        • 3 Years Ago
        @NTIV10
        The 5 has fallen from glory mu friend. Read the reviews from many different sources and they all agree that the 5 is not the sporty sedan it used to be. To much mass and artificial feel of its steering. It's funny how Bimmer fans don't accept that Audi is nipping at their heels!!! Audi is just a RWD configuration away from besting both MB and BMW. In AWD form Audi already beats both of them in performance, weight and handling....ohhh and in style!!!
          rty
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Alex Rodriguez MacFa
          Alex you are 100% right. Bimmer fanboys are so stupid.
          Alex Rodriguez MacFa
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Alex Rodriguez MacFa
          @Wasssssup Actually I'm an Audi fan boy since 1994 before all this Audi bandwagon thing! My first Audi was a 1994 Audi 90 V6 that was a graduation gift in 1998. I 'm fan since 1994 because my cousin had a 90 Cabriolet also model year 1994 and it was a blast to drive. She still has it with 45,000 original miles. I drive it once in a while. Even as an Audi fan, I still give credit where credit is due. The 3 has always outperformed the A4 by far, but with the exception of the 1999 3 vs the 1999 A4, all other A4 designs are better looking for me.
          Wasssssup
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Alex Rodriguez MacFa
          audi fanboy much? you guys are everywhere
          NTIV10
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Alex Rodriguez MacFa
          Note that nowhere in my post did I disparage the Audi nor suggest the 5 was better. I said I'd like to know how the 5 compares to the A6. I've had four 5-series in the last 8 years and loved each of them, but to be honest the new A6 is stunning and I am less impressed by the new 5. I also rue the day BMW dropped the V10 for the idiotic fake-engine-noise V8 turbo.
          MyerShift
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Alex Rodriguez MacFa
          Audis are sweet cars nowadays. Not before the ur quattro though ;)
      ACSRHS
      • 3 Years Ago
      So if the A6 tied with the M37, then they BOTH take top spot, not just the A6.
      Sukairain
      • 3 Years Ago
      Infiniti M35h gets my vote. Amazing performance and fuel efficiency in a clean and understated package. Only thing is power delivery gets a bit funky during gas electric transition at low speeds. Can't wait for the next generation Infiniti hybrids.
      Lachmund
      • 3 Years Ago
      pretty sure the infinity is a great car but stylingwise there are worlds between them. the audi is classy and understated outside and simply gorgeous on the inside.
      lapirk
      • 3 Years Ago
      a6 vs m37?? these are nice cars but prolly for the spot of no.3. the 5 and the E are leagues ahead..
        Rick
        • 3 Years Ago
        @lapirk
        Really? So I guessed you missed that the cars were just reviewed and you missed where the A6 finished tops? I mean that's what this article is about, the A6 rated TOPS.
      Atul
      • 3 Years Ago
      They didn't test the 9-5 with tbe V6 because "most 9-5s will have the tested four-cylinder engine." That's not the point. They should test apples with apples. And anyway, I've driven the 9-4 2.0 L 4-cylinder and it was not noisy at all. CR is so selective in what they criticize for different brands and models, they can't be trusted.
        MJC
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Atul
        LOL. No one cares, since the 9-5 is 15 years old and about to no longer exist.
          Lachmund
          • 3 Years Ago
          @MJC
          or your opinion
          MJC
          • 3 Years Ago
          @MJC
          Actually my bad...I totally forgot that the 9-5 was completely redesigned! Shows you how relevant Saab is.
      sjmoo
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm guessing nobody who is commenting actually read the press release. The point of this was to test fuel-efficient new offerings. Hence, the A6 with its supercharged V6, the M37h hybrid, the E350 Bluetec, and the 4-banger Saab. With those four in mind it doesn't surprise me the A6 won. It is a dedicated sport sedan. The M37h is great, but its reflexes are dulled slightly with the added hybrid weight. The E350 Bluetec is a classic diesel Benz designed for long distance cruising, its weak fuel-saving tires aren't designed for anything sporty. The 4-cylinder 9-5 is just gutless. I love the A6, but it winning here is hardly a significant accomplishment.
        Sukairain
        • 3 Years Ago
        @sjmoo
        M35h, not M37h will out handle out accelerate out corner the A6. Sure the driving dynamic isn't as spontaneous as the M37, but it still beats its competitions hands down. Test drive one, you'll see.
      Adrián Cr
      • 3 Years Ago
      For me Jag XF because is much more beautiful and exclusive, also is a Jag lol
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