Although the defining line between “regular” and “premium” cars isn’t as sharp as it used to be, the latter still tend to offer performance, luxury, and convenience features—along with a more prestigious name—for which some people still seem willing to pay extra.
Speaking of prices, our premium classes tend to span a wider dollar range than those for regular cars, and the premium midsize category is no exception. The least expensive model (the Buick Regal Sportback) starts at under $26,000, while the most expensive model (the BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe) starts at more than $81,000—and goes up quite a ways from there.
The majority of premium-midsize cars come only as 4-door sedans, though the Buick Regal TourX, Jaguar XF Sportbrake, and Volvo V60 and V90 are wagons, and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class offers not only a wagon, but also a coupe and convertible. The entries are split pretty evenly between front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive, and the majority also offers all-wheel drive. Model lines that include a hybrid version are the Acura RLX, BMW 5-Series, Infiniti Q50 and Q70, Lexus ES and GS, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and Lincoln MKZ.
Most of the big news in the premium midsize car class for 2018 centers around unconventionally styled 4-door hatchbacks and 4-door wagons. The all-new Kia Stinger launches for 2018 as a fastback 4-door hatchback sedan with a focus on luxury and performance. The BMW 5-Series Gran Turismo hatchback is redesigned, losing its 5-Series designation and moving to the 6-Series family. The Buick Regal is redesigned on an all-new platform; the previous 4-door sedan body style is dropped in favor of an SUV-flavored AWD wagon named TourX and a 4-door hatchback sedan called Sportback. The Jaguar XF lineup adds a Sportbrake 4-door-wagon body style.
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe and convertible are redesigned on the same basic platform as the E-Class sedan and wagon, which were redesigned last year. There are new trim levels too, including an E400 sedan and a high-performance AMG E63 sedan and wagon. The Acura RLX is refreshed with new styling and a 10-speed automatic transmission in place of the previous 8-speed. The BMW 5-Series line gains an M550i xDrive model powered by a 456-hp twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8, and a 530e plug-in hybrid version. The Infiniti Q50 gets freshened styling inside and out, and both the Q50 and larger Q70 have new trim-level names. The Lexus GS also gets a new model name; the GS 200t is renamed GS 300. After its redesign for 2017, the Volvo S90 gets a 4.5-inch wheelbase stretch for better rear legroom, and also gains a T8 plug-in-hybrid model. The Volvo V90 Cross Country wagon gains a non-Cross Country variant that will be built in limited numbers by special order. The Volkswagen CC is discontinued, but it is slated to be replaced for 2019 by the Volkswagen Arteon 4-door hatchback sedan. The rest of the premium midsize-car class sees either no changes or minor revisions such as updated infotainment systems and/or alterations in standard equipment and option packages.
Several premium midsize cars offer high-performance variants with breathtaking capabilities. Audi’s S6 has a 450-horsepower 4.0-liter turbocharged V8, while the hottest variant of the A7—the RS 7—packs a 605-hp turbo 4.0 V8. The BMW M6 Gran Coupe (which is actually a slope-roofed sedan) has a 4.4-liter turbo V8 rated at 560 hp, or 600 with the Competition Package. The Cadillac CTS sedan’s top engine choice is a 420-hp twin-turbo 3.6-liter V6, and the super-performance CTS-V gets a 640-hp supercharged 6.2-liter V8. The Lexus GS F is equipped with a 467-hp 5.0-liter V8. The Mercedes-Benz AMG CLS63 S sedan has a 577-hp 5.5-liter turbocharged V8, and the AMG E63 S sedan and wagon have a 603-hp 4.0-liter turbocharged V8.
BMW 6-Series Gran Turismo
BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe
Buick Regal Sportback
Buick Regal TourX