Most cars trundling down the highway come with price tags that sit comfortably below the $50,000 mark. Some offer a great deal for the money, and some are exciting, but mostly they just get the job of daily driving done and not much more. Take a peak above that threshold, and the offerings start to get interesting.

The luxury car market is filled with excess, creature comforts, power and design — you get what you pay for and if you have the money to do so, it translates into a truly special driving experience (or passenger experience if you have that much money). The higher you go in price, the more ridiculous the cars can seem; to keep things and relatively realistic, explore a $100,000 cap. Not too outlandish, but just enough to spoil yourself.

Coupes

Fewer Doors, More Fun

Mercedes-Benz E400

Best All-Rounder: The E-Class is the Goldilocks choice between coupes and sedans. Next to the S- and C-Class, the E-class is neither too luxurious nor too sporty (respectively); it’s just right. Usually, when car manufacturers attempt to keep both those plates spinning, they end up compromising the whole car. Instead, Mercedes started with a sumptuous, easy-going car and peppered in sportiness to taste. The E400 is more of a comfortable S-Class Coupe on a budget than an apex-hunting C-Class loaded with every creature comfort available. Which is a good thing.

Engine: 3.o-liter V6 biturbo
Horsepower: 329
Torque: 354 lb-ft
Drive: RWD
0-60 mph: 5.5 seconds
Top Speed: 130 mph

Lexus LC 500

Best Japanese GT Car: Lexus has bided its time for years, observing the grand tourer segment and reading the consumer landscape. As such, the all-new LC 500 is so original and impressive in design execution that it automatically rises to the top — above BMW’s stale 6-Series and Mercedes’ admittedly very plush but quite staid S-Class Coupe. That translates to a big win for Lexus and a super exciting opportunity for car buyers and enthusiasts, and it should make Germany nervous as hell.

Engine: 5.0-liter V8
Horsepower: 471
Torque: 398 lb-ft
Drive: RWD
0-60 mph: 4.4 seconds
Top Speed: 168 mph

BMW 440i

Best RWD Performance Luxury Car: The 440i finds itself tucked nicely under the raucous M4. But where the M4 goes full ballistic missile into sportiness and track capability, the 440i maintains its civility, which doesn’t take away from its handling capabilities. It just makes it more livable, day to day.

Engine: 3.0-liter Twin turbo inline-six
Horsepower: 320
Torque: 330 lb-ft
Drive: RWD
0-60 mph: 4.8 seconds
Top Speed: 155 mph

Audi S5

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Best AWD Performance Luxury Car: The S5, is, at its core, a fantastic car, capable of making ordinary drivers look heroic. And that’s exactly the kind of car Audi is the master of building. One that, in the hands of any driver, can still carve through mountain roads with aplomb and inculcate confidence in the process. In this era of pragmatic German performance cars, you buy an S5 if you actually want to go for a drive.

Engine: 3.0-liter turbocharged V6
Horsepower: 354
Torque: 369 lb-ft
Drive: AWD
0-60 mph: 4.3 seconds
Top Speed: 155 mph

Sedans

Classic Luxury, Modernized

Genesis G90

Most Underrated: The G90 is a new luxury flagship from Hyundai’s aspirational brand, Genesis. It’s a big, relatively pricey option aimed to compete with the esteemed Mercedes S-Class and Lexus LS. And it’s a bold opening shot. On the road, the G90 is smooth as glass and exceptionally well tuned, soaking up gentle curves at speed and racing forward with barely any hint of road or engine noise, thanks to its copious sound-deadening technologies. It’s almost shockingly quiet. Like, Rolls-Royce quiet. It is, in short, a worthy competitor for the best from Germany and Japan.

Engine: 5.0-liter V8
Horsepower: 420
Torque: 383 lb-ft
Drive: AWD
0-60 mph: 5.3 seconds
Top Speed: 148 mph

Audi A8L

Most Executive: The 2018 A8 sedan is the most technologically advanced production car Audi has ever put on the road. The headlining feature, which Audi calls “traffic jam pilot,” marks the biggest step towards full autonomous driving from any of the big three German brands. It allows you start your business day before you’ve even walked into the office — letting you do paperwork while it does the driving work. The A8 takes over acceleration, braking and steering responsibilities and can start from a dead stop. But, for the system to be allowed to activate at all, the traffic you’re sitting in has to be on the highway, and that highway has to have a median barrier between you and the oncoming traffic, and the system only works up to 60 kph (39 mph).

Engine: 4.0-liter V8
Horsepower: 450
Torque: 444 lb-ft
Drive: AWD
0-60 mph: 4.4 seconds
Top Speed: 130 mph

Cadillac CT6

Best American Luxury: The Cadillac CT6 is a lightweight, high-class, long-wheelbase flagship that Johan de Nysschen says represents the “spiritual home” of the brand. The top-of-the-line Cadillac’s hallmark is its weight — or lack thereof — sitting 1,000 pounds lighter than an S-Class and 100 pounds lighter than a 5-series. The car is wide, no doubt, but it’s not fat. The 400 horsepower, 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 has an eager, quick punch forward, and it won’t leave you wanting for power.

Engine: 3.6-liter V6
Horsepower: 404
Torque: 400 lb-ft
Drive: AWD
0-60 mph: 5.0 seconds
Top Speed: 155 mph

BMW 750i

Better to Be the Driver: Despite its over-the-top luxury appointments, the new 7-Series is very much a driver’s car. If it weren’t, BMW wouldn’t have dared to roll it out for the first media drives at the Monticello Motor Club racetrack in New York. The 7-Series more than proved its mettle, with surprisingly brisk acceleration and crisp handling. Sure, it plows into the turns a bit, but only compared to a track monster like the M3, its rascally nephew. Compared to any other 4,500-pound luxury sedan, it’s a dream in the turns.

Engine: 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8
Horsepower: 445
Torque: 479 lb-ft
Drive: RWD
0-60 mph: 4.6 seconds
Top Speed: 130 mph

Mercedes-Benz S550

Better to Be the Passenger: Mood lighting, scented oils, foot rest, massaging seats and a cooler for champagne — the S-Class isn’t so much a luxury car as it is a pampering hotel on wheels. You could get this car to drive every day and be pleasantly happy with your choice, but if you have the means, the real (read: better) S-Class experience is in the back seat.

Engine: 4.7-liter biturbo V8
Horsepower: 449
Torque: 516 lb-ft
Drive: RWD
0-60 mph: 4.8 seconds
Top Speed: 155 mph

Volvo V90 Cross Country

Best Bargain for Space: This segment — one luxurious notch above Subaru’s stake in the market — features stiff competition: the Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain, which is the high-luxury option, and Audi’s A4-based Allroad, which is a commendable entry, though its all-wheel-drive system leaves a lot to be desired. Unlike its competitors, though, the V90 Cross Country is new from the ground up, meaning it’s purpose-built to be better than the German offerings. It’s better-looking, not derivative. It’s supremely comfortable, not smugly cushy. Its power delivery and management are engineered for excellent response and mileage, an aim of Volvo’s new era. It’s a usurper of the stodgy E-Class and partial let-down Allroad.

Engine: 2.0 liter supercharged & turbocharged inline-four
Horsepower: 316
Torque: 295 lb-ft
Drive: AWD
0-60 mph: 5.9 seconds
Top Speed: 131 mph

SUVs and Trucks

Modern Luxury

Cadillac Escalade Platinum

Ultimate American Luxury: The Cadillac Escalade may be the most recognizable pick on this entire list. And it’s popular for a reason. The Escalade’s big, bold design, massive presence and expansive interior have made it popular with celebrities, pro athletes and artists alike. Not to mention it can move for a near 6,000-pound beast — 0-60 in 5.8 seconds is impressive for a small sports car, not to mention something the size of a small school bus.

Engine: 6.2-liter V8
Horsepower: 420
Torque: 460 lb-ft
Drive: 4WD
0-60 mph: 5.8 seconds
Top Speed: 112 mph

Volvo XC90 T8 Plug-In Hybrid

Best Design: Aesthetically, the XC90 SUV has a confident, broad-shouldered stance, but the lines are drawn a little tighter than the competition, corners are tucked and the roofline is flattened for a leaner look. The grille bares bigger teeth than the previous-generation XC90, and the “Thor”s Hammer” LED running lights and tall rear taillights add crisp parentheses to a bold statement. Inside the XC90, materials are earthy and elemental — brushed metal surrounds, fragrant leather and real blond wood abound. The clean lines and unfussy visuals are hallmarks of Scandinavian design, which makes the small Swedish flag stitched to the seats a little superfluous.

Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged inline-four w/ 87hp electric motor
Horsepower: 400
Torque: 472 lb-ft
Drive: AWD
0-60 mph: 5.3 seconds
Top Speed: 132 mph

Land Rover Range Rover

Best Off-Roader: Since its inception, the Range Rover has been one of the most adept vehicles off-road, no matter how laden with luxury it’s become. Unlike rivals that seem to be hampered by the extras fitted, the Range Rover seems to revel in it. It’s like the modern equivalent of a Victorian-era expedition, where explorers brought every creature comfort they could carry — except the luxurious extras come standard in the Range Rover.

Engine: 3.0-liter supercharged V6
Horsepower: 340
Torque: 332 lb-ft
Drive: AWD
0-60 mph: 7.1 seconds
Top Speed: 130 mph

GMC Sierra Denali

Most Luxurious Pickup: When the upgraded 6.2-liter V8 boosts this 5,000-plus pound mountain of metal to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds — faster than a GTI — you’ll wonder why you hadn’t purchased this antithesis of subtlety earlier. Sure, it has horsepower for days and can tow more than 9,000 pounds, but what really impresses is the interior: swaths of soft leather and plush seats, the driver assistance package and incredible noise-cancellation technology make this pickup a far cry from the ranchhand work truck on which it’s based.

Engine: 6.2-liter V8
Horsepower: 420
Torque: 460 lb-ft
Drive: 4WD
0-60 mph: 5.4 seconds
Top Speed: n/a

Mercedes-Benz GLE 43

Best Mid-sized SUV: Somehow, Mercedes managed to get a mid-sized SUV to handle just as adeptly on-road as it does in light off-roading situations. It’s not quite a crossover, but it’s not a big, lumbering G-Wagen, either. Yet you can still sense the DNA of both in the GLE 43.

Engine: 3.0-liter biturbo V6
Horsepower: 362
Torque: 384 lb-ft
Drive: FWD
0-60 mph: 5.6 seconds
Top Speed: 135 mph

Maybe Something More Affordable?

There are 265 car models available in the U.S. market; thus, there are choices. We help narrow them down. Read the Story