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) starts at under $28,000, while the most expensive model (the BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe) starts at more than $91,000—and goes up quite a ways from there.
The vast majority of premium-midsize cars come only as 4-door sedans, though the 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, Infiniti Q50 and Q70, Lexus ES and GS, and Lincoln MKZ.
Volvo introduces all-new S90 sedan and V90 wagon models; the S90 launches first, with V90 and SUV-flavored V90 Cross Country versions to follow. (The V90 Cross Country will essentially replace the outgoing XC70 in Volvo’s model lineup.) The BMW 5-Series sedan is redesigned for 2017, but the new model was yet to be officially introduced as of this writing. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan and wagon are also redesigned, though coupe and convertible models carry over for 2017 on the previous-generation platform. Highlights of the new E-Class’s advancements are autonomous “Drive Pilot” capabilities, high-tech car-to-car connectivity features, and a forthcoming plug-in-hybrid model.
The Audi A6 gets revised styling, along with increased horsepower ratings and a sporty 3.0T Competition model; the Audi A7 also gets minor styling updates and a 3.0T Competition model. The Cadillac CTS gets updated styling, an available rearview-camera mirror, and a sporty Carbon Black appearance package. The Infiniti Q50 adds 2.0t Sport models, plus a new Design Package for V6 Sport models. The Jaguar XF gains a new base trim level and an available 2.0-liter diesel 4-cylinder engine. The high-performance Lexus GS F model gets available Linear Adaptive Variable Suspension. The Lincoln MKZ is thoroughly refreshed with all-new styling, a host of new safety and technology features, and an available 400-hp twin-turbo 3.0 V6 engine. The Volvo S60 and V60 lose their available 2.5-liter 5-cylinder engine. The rest of the premium midsize-car class sees either no changes, or minor revisions such as updated infotainment systems and/or changes 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 sedan has a 577-hp 5.5-liter turbocharged V8.