Despite their sometimes-staggering prices—or maybe because of them—there are more premium large cars on the market than large cars. High prices usually translate into higher profit margins, which is why companies can subsist on relatively low sales volumes.
Cars in this segment range in base price from just over $41,000 (the Genesis G80) to around the $200,000 mark (top-line versions of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class). That’s quite a big spread, but the high end of the scale offers some very opulent large cars with tremendous capabilities and an air of exclusivity. Note that we classify cars where the least-expensive model starts well north of $100,000 as “exotics,” which aren’t included here.
Hyundai jumps into the luxury-vehicle game in earnest for 2017 by launching a new high-end brand named Genesis. The inaugural Genesis sedans—the G80 and G90—both fit into our premium large car category. The G80 is essentially a rebadged, better-equipped version of the existing Hyundai Genesis sedan. The larger G90 is a redesigned flagship model that takes over the Hyundai Equus’s position in size, price, and luxury features. With the launch of the Genesis brand, both the Hyundai Genesis and Equus are discontinued.
Lincoln revives its Continental name on a new 400-hp twin-turbo V6-powered sedan that’s based on a stretched version of the Ford Fusion’s front-wheel-drive platform. The Continental essentially takes the place of the discontinued-for- 2017 MKS in Lincoln’s lineup. The Porsche Panamera is redesigned on an all-new platform with fresh styling, a raft of high-tech new features, and two new turbocharged engines: a 440-hp 2.9-liter V6 and a 550-hp 4.0-liter V8.
After its redesign last year, the BMW 7-Series gains an all-wheel-drive version of the 740i, the revival of the specially tuned and trimmed Alpina B7 model, and a 740e xDrive plug-in-hybrid. The Cadillac CT6, which debuted for 2016, is also slated to get a plug-in- hybrid variant this year. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class line’s updates include a 2-door convertible body style, a Maybach S550 4MATIC model, and a “Magic Sky Control” panoramic sunroof that can turn opaque at the touch of a button. Information on the 2017 Jaguar XJ and Kia K900 was unavailable as of this writing, but we don’t expect any major changes. The rest of the class is either unchanged or sees minor updates such as revised infotainment systems or updated trim.
There are four hybrids offered in the premium large class: the new BMW 740e xDrive plug-in hybrid, the forthcoming Cadillac CT6 plug-in hybrid, the Lexus LS 600h, and the Mercedes-Benz S550 Plug-In Hybrid.
At the opposite end of the range are the performance models. Most of the cars in this class offer a V8, but some go above and beyond with something special. Audi’s S8 offers a 605-horsepower twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8. The BMW Alpina B7 has a 600-hp twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8. Jaguar’s XJ is offered in an XJR model with a 550-hp 5.0-liter supercharged V8. The Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG packs a 621-hp 6.0-liter V12. The new Porsche Panamera can be had with a 550-hp 4.0-liter turbocharged V8. In terms of body styles, there are only two that vary from the 4-door-sedan norm. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class offers a 2-door coupe and convertible, and the Porsche Panamera is a 4-door hatchback. Same goes for drive wheels. Rear-wheel drive is the norm, and most of those cars are also available with all-wheel drive, which is standard on the Audi A8. The only front-drive cars are the Cadillac XTS and Lincoln Continental, which are also offered with all-wheel drive.