For the most part, this segment of the auto industry has been dominated by the Germans – BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi – due to their legendary engineering and design skills. But new offerings from Lexus, Infiniti and Cadillac are challenging that notion with new aggressive designs and much improved driving dynamics.
Here are our picks for the best luxury sport sedans on the market right now. Spoiler alert: It's definitely not made up of all German cars.
7. Acura TSX
Sticker Price: $30,635 - $39,275
Invoice Price: $28,835 - $36,831
Fuel Economy: 22 mpg city, 31 mpg highway
When it comes to shopping for a luxury sport sedan, the Acura TSX is an enticing choice because of its low starting sticker price compared to the other vehicles on this list. But, as a car, it's just not quite as good. The engines is less powerful, handling is underwhelming, interior is mediocre and tech is just plain blah. The TSX does have a strong history of reliability going for it.
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6. Infiniti Q50
Sticker Price: $37,050 - $45,350
Invoice Price: $34,325 - $41,992
Fuel Economy: 20 mpg City, 29 mpg Highway
The Infiniti Q50, essentially the redesigned and renamed G37, dropped a couple of spots for us, mostly because it failed to capture our hearts on the road. The G37 used to be one of the best cars in this group since it matched its competition in nearly every aspect, including exterior design, interior comfort and driving dynamics, for a cheaper price. Unfortunately, it simply feels blander these days and has gotten much more expensive (the G37 was $5,000 less). It's still a sharp car and we certainly wouldn't tell you to write it off completely, but shop the others if you're in the market.
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5. Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Sticker Price: $35,800 - $62,750
Invoice Price: $33,294 - $58,358
Fuel Economy: 22 mpg City, 31 mpg Highway
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a strong contender in this segment. It's fun to drive and super comfortable. The main issue with it, though, is that it hasn't undergone a sizable overhaul since the 2008 model year. Sure, there have been tweaks here and there, most noticeably the addition of a 1.8L turbocharged 4-cylinder as the base engine, but to the casual observer, this is essentially the same car it was six years ago. The C-Class is set to be completely redesigned for the 2015 model year. When that happens, this car could very well make an aggressive move up our list.
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4. Lexus IS
Sticker Price: $35,950 - $38,485
Invoice Price: $33,436 - $35,792
Fuel Economy: 21 mpg city, 30 mpg highway
Sure, it's polarizing, but the new design of the Lexus IS is eye-catching and is representative of a new serious foray into sportiness from Toyota's luxury arm. This redesigned luxury sport sedan is bigger, faster, quieter and just plain better than both its older version and several other cars on this list. The IS 250 is a bit underpowered, though, so if you're in the market and can spare the expense we recommend opting for the IS 350 with its bigger 3.5L V6 engine. It's a hoot to drive.
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3. Audi A4
Sticker Price: $33,800 - $34,700
Invoice Price: $31,434 - $32,272
Fuel Economy: 24 mpg City, 32 mpg Highway
The Audi A4 is very close to being the best car on this list. It has the most attractive exterior design and comes with the best interior, complete with a host of tech and infotainment features that make riding in the cabin a superb experience. The A4 is also quite fuel efficient and can be had with Audi's legendary Quattro all-wheel drivetrain, making it an excellent choice if you live in a place that sees lots of rain or snow. The problem is that the A4 just isn't as engaging to drive as the top two cars on the list.
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2. Cadillac ATS
Sticker Price: $33,065 - $48,195
Invoice Price: $31,246 - $45,062
Fuel Economy: 22 mpg City, 33 mpg Highway
Cadillac blew a lot of people away when it released the all-new ATS this year. For a long time, the brand was generally identified with an older generation, lacking the speed and sportiness of carmakers like BMW and Audi and instead associated with big, cushy, boring rides. That's no longer the case. The ATS is fast, nimble, sleek and aggressive, especially with its burly 3.6L V6 engine (the base engine is a 2.5L 4-cylinder). The ATS has an Achilles Heel in its CUE infotainment system, though. While, in theory, the system is cutting edge, it is simply too laggy and confusing.
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1. BMW 3 Series
Sticker Price: $37,300 - $41,450
Invoice Price: $34,315 - $38,135
Fuel Economy: 23 mpg City, 35 mpg Highway
The BMW 3 Series continues to be the benchmark for this segment. The car is simply so well engineered that it's going to take a mistake of epic proportions on the part of BMW for it to fall out of the top spot. In addition to its utterly fantastic driving dynamics, the 3 Series also has a plush interior and handsome styling. Unfortunately, this all comes at a cost. The base price or the 3 Series is $37,300, which is higher than any other car on this list.
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