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Today’s stretched sedans deliver up to 601 horsepower, voice-activated massaging seats, and a plush ride fit for royalty.
CAR AND DRIVER
There’s nothing humble about sitting in traffic in a 17-foot-long sedan that costs four times what most people make in a year—especially when the car starts rubbing your shoulders. Of course, for some folks it’s only money. And while there are fewer models on this list of full-size luxury cars than pins in a bowling lane, the most promising options here are tough to knock.
Combined, this segment sold fewer models than Acura sold TLXs in 2020, so these wildly luxurious machines don’t cater to the majority. You won’t see many of them, and full-size luxury sedans are still threatened by popular mid-size and full-size luxury SUVs and crossovers. But they are beautiful and fascinating machines—even if someone else is driving them. Here’s how they rank.
More New SUVs Ranked from Worst to Best:
COMPACT | MID-SIZE | FULL-SIZE | 3-ROW8. Maserati QuattroporteVIEW PHOTOSMASERATI
The Maserati Quattroporte turns up the flame for 2021 with a new high-performance model. The souped-up Quattroporte Trofeo has a 580-hp twin-turbo V-8 with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It comes only with rear-wheel drive. Lesser trims get a 424-hp twin-turbo V-6, and the Quattroporte S Q4 comes with all-wheel drive. Although its enormous trident emblem and distinct styling set it apart from others on this list, those features don’t take it far enough. It’s certainly one of the most obtainable Italian cars out there, but for something priced like a BMW 7-series, we think it should feel roomier than at least a 5-series.
- Base price: $104,185 (S) $148,085 (Trofeo)
- EPA Fuel Economy combined/city/highway: 19/16/24 mpg (RWD V-6)
- Trunk space: 19 cubic feet
If you love giant grilles, the plastic basket on the front of the Lexus LS is sure to please. It’s the largest sedan from Japan sold in the U.S. and its smooth and potent 416-hp twin-turbo V-6 makes it feel like more than just a fancy Toyota. For 2021, Lexus added revised LED headlights, glossy black taillight accents, and interior improvements suck thicker armrests and seat cushions and a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment display. There’s also an LS500h hybrid model that combines the power from a V-6 and two electric motors for 354 horsepower. The hybrid adds $14,500 to the starting price but only delivers 6 more mpg on the EPA combined cycle compared with the more powerful V-6. We think it makes more sense to keep the gas engine but add the $17,000 Luxury package. It adds heated and cooled front and rear seats, 28-way power-adjustable massaging front seats, and a rear center console with touchscreen controls for climate and audio. An adjustable suspension, 20-inch wheels, and a 360-degree camera system are also included. If only there was an option that would delete the troublesome touchpad infotainment controls.
- Base price: $76,325
- EPA Fuel Economy combined/city/highway: 28/25/33 (RWD Hybrid) 22/18/29 (RWD V-6) mpg
- Trunk space: 17 cubic feet
The Volvo S90 has it all: modern good looks, a smartly appointed interior, a plug-in-hybrid powertrain, and an 9.0-inch vertical infotainment screen that’s as easy to use as a smartphone. The 2021 model received a subtle styling update to the front grille, front and rear bumper covers, and new taillights and wheel designs. A 316-hp turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder comes standard with an eight-speed automatic. The plug-in-hybrid version has all-wheel drive and gets an EPA-estimated 60 MPGe combined. The EPA also says it’s possible to go as far as 490 miles between fill ups with the PHEV. The interior features a gorgeous mix of high-quality materials such as brushed metal, leather, and open-pore wood. It also received a Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, making it one of the safest cars to drive today.
- Base price: $52,595
- EPA Fuel Economy combined/city/highway: 60 MPGe (PHEV) 25/21/32 (AWD) mpg
- Trunk space: 13 cubic feet
The BMW 7-series asks, however do you want it? And even if you don’t need it, this Bimmer fits in more than just one pair of shoes. A 320-hp turbocharged inline-six is standard, and for $9100 more, the all-wheel-drive 745e plug-in hybrid combines that same engine with an electric motor for a total output of 389 horsepower. Further up the tax bracket you’ll find a 600-hp Alpina B7 that’s cheaper and quicker than the 601-hp V-12–powered M760i. Every 7-series has a quick-shifting eight-speed automatic. The B7 is our pick, as it’s a fortress of comfort that doesn’t sacrifice any go when life presents a problem best solved with a flat gas pedal. Although there are plenty of horses pulling the wagon, we wish the 7-series felt more stable when moving side to side. We get it, its soft suspension is part of its luxurious attitude, but others do it better, and for substantially less money.
- Base price: $87,795
- EPA Fuel Economy combined/city/highway: 56 MPGe (PHEV) 25/22/29 (RWD) 16/13/20 (M760i) mpg
- Trunk space: 18 cubic feet
JESSICA LYNN WALKERCAR AND DRIVER
On the surface the Audi S8 might look like a civilized big sedan, but give it the beans and this sled powered by a 563-hp twin-turbo V-8 can get to 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds. That’s a lot of giddyup for a car that weighs 5256 pounds, or nearly 500 pounds more than a Toyota 4Runner. Its $131,945 starting price is also pretty heavy, and to unlock the S8’s true potential you’ll need to spend even more. Every S8 comes with the V-8 engine, all-wheel drive, all-wheel steering, a 17-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, a head-up display, and dual-pane acoustic glass. Tack on the $5400 S8 Executive package for Audi’s Matrix-design LED headlights, OLED taillights, leather, and the adaptive cruise control that makes stop and go traffic a breeze. There’s also a $2300 Night Vision assistant package to help detect animals and pedestrians in the dark by displaying thermal imagery. Oh, and don’t forget about the $2750 Driver Assistance safety package; it raises one side of the suspension by up to 3.1 inches to help protect passengers during an accident. Yep, all that in this unassuming Audi sedan.
- Base price: $131,945
- EPA Fuel Economy combined/city/highway: 16/13/20 mpg
- Trunk space: 12 cubic feet
No, the Genesis G90 isn’t going to beat the Audi S8’s 155-mph top speed or rival the Mercedes-Benz S-class’ wall of touchscreens, but given its reasonable starting price for the segment, it deserves serious consideration. Here’s what it shares with its far more expensive competitors: It’s quiet, it’s big and comfortable, and it can make driving over even the bumpiest roads feel like riding on pillows. Some people like its steampunk looks more than others, but it drives well without requiring many thousands of dollars in additional options. Rear-wheel drive is standard, though you can add all-wheel drive for $2500. The G90 is powered by either a 365-hp twin-turbocharged V-6 or a 420-hp V-8; both use an eight-speed automatic. Its 12.3-inch touchscreen is easy to use and less complicated than the menus found in the Mercedes S-class. Like the Volvo S90, the G90 earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award for 2021.
- Base price: $73,995
- EPA Fuel Economy combined/city/highway: 20/17/24 (AWD V-6)
- Trunk space: 15 cubic feet
If you’re curious how the 563-hp Audi S8 ranks lower than the tamer A8, here’s why: The available 453-hp twin-turbo V-8 for the A8 is plenty fast and is $30,000 cheaper than a base S8. A 335-hp turbocharged V-6 is standard, and both powertrains come with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. A 443-hp plug-in-hybrid model is also available and gets an EPA-estimated 53 MPGe combined. It’s much more efficient than the gas V-6, but the difference is ultimately a drop in the bucket for a vehicle at this price. A 10.3-inch infotainment screen is standard, but the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit gauge cluster is also great for navigation. The infotainment system could use a few more knobs but the screens respond quickly and can be tailored to display whatever you find most useful.
- Base price: $87,545
- EPA Fuel Economy combined/city/highway: 21/17/26 mpg (V6)
- Trunk space: 13 cubic feet
The cream of the crop has entered a new generation for 2021, as the latest Mercedes-Benz S-class has finally arrived. It’s over an inch longer than the previous model and its wheelbase is stretched by two inches. It’s the only vehicle in the segment with flush door handles that protrude on approach. On the inside sits a 12.8-inch OLED touchscreen that serves as a giant kiosk for most vehicle functions. It might have a hood ornament on the hood, but old-school knobs and buttons within have been replaced by virtual renderings. A 429-hp turbocharged inline-six with hybrid assist is standard, but there’s also a 496-hp twin-turbo V-8 for S580 models. Even when the big Benz is switched to Sport Plus mode, the ride quality remains smooth. There’s even a trick rear-axle steering system that helps it maneuver by turning the rear wheels by up to 10 degrees. It’s also the only car on this list that will begin to massage you after you yell “I’m stressed,” at its voice assistant. Lord knows what happens if it hears you mention how lonely and wealthy you are. We haven’t driven the AMG version so it isn’t ranked yet, but if the standard models are any indication, the high-performance S-class shouldn’t disappoint.
- Base price: $110,850
- EPA Fuel Economy combined/city/highway: not yet rated
- Trunk space: 12 cubic feet