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Luxury Car Shopper Consensus: The Best Luxury Sedan in the Prestige Luxury Category

January 27th, 2012

What do real luxury car owners have to say after a hands-on, back-to-back comparison of nine top-selling prestige luxury sedans like the BMW 535i, Mercedes E350, Audi A6, and Jaguar XF?  To find out, we invited over 100 entry luxury sedan owners to a test facility to conduct a detailed evaluation of each of the cars.  We had each segment owner rate the cars on 87 different attributes.  In effect, we paid them do the shopping for you, sparing you driving all over town to visit the different dealerships and grapple with eager salesmen.  Then, we tabbed up the results to present you with their clear consensus findings.  So, which car is the winner in the eyes of real luxury owners like you?

Here in a nutshell is what we learned.

First Runner UP:  BMW 535i

Since it’s major in 2010, the 6th generation of the BMW 5-series has been the best-selling US Prestige Luxury Sedan.  The 535i claimed the 2nd highest rating for overall vehicle with our consumer test panel, easily outscoring three other cars tied for 3rd place.  In addition to driving dynamics, where the 535i is widely recognized as the leader, the 535i took top beauty honors, scoring at the top of the heap for exterior appearance in the eyes of luxury owners.  It also rated best in class for interior appearance, an honor it shared with the Mercedes E350 and Infinity M37.  Other BMW strengths included interior controls, where its unique gateless shifter design was well-liked, and the trunk, which features above average space and ease of loading.  Weaknesses include rear seat comfort and roominess, front cup holders, and the price, which was second highest of the 9 sedans tested, just behind the Mercedes E-Class.  So, if driving dynamics are a high priority with you, you probably need look no further than the 535i

And, the Winner:  Mercedes E350

Since it’s major as a 2010, the 4th generation Mercedes E-Class has been the second best-selling Prestige Luxury sedan in the US.  The E350 edged out the BMW 535i in our static test to score best-in-class for overall vehicle.  The Mercedes claimed best-in-class honors for 7 of 8 summary categories – interior appearance, interior controls, interior storage, front seat comfort and roominess, rear seat comfort and roominess, trunk area, and visibility.  It scored above average for exterior styling, where it was seen as classy, elegant, refined, sporty, and aggressive.  The E-class’ only weaknesses were the appearance and feel of its column-mounted gear shift and warranty.  Despite having the highest price in the study, value for the money rated in the top 3 of the 9 sedans tested.

To get all of the insights entry luxury owners had after testing the 535i, E350, as well as seven other prestige luxury sedans, cars like the Audi A6, Jaguar XF, and Infiniti M37, click here.