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 around $26,000, while the most expensive model (the BMW 8-Series Gran Coupe) starts at around $85,000—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, Lexus ES, Lincoln MKZ, and Volvo S60/V60 and S90.
WHAT’S NEW FOR 2020
The Cadillac CT5 is an all-new, rear-wheel-drive-based 4-door sedan that debuts as a replacement for the discontinued Cadillac CTS. The CT5 will offer a 237-hp 2.0-liter four at the start of production; a 335-hp 3.0-liter V6 will become available later in the model year, along with a performance-oriented CT5-V model with an estimated 355 hp.
The Audi A6 and A7 lines gain high-performance S6, S7, and RS 7 versions. An A6 allroad wagon and high-performance RS 6 Avant wagon are slated to join the lineup as well. The BMW 5-Series loses its diesel-engine 540d model, but the M550i gets a 67-hp bump, to 523 total, and the 530e plug-in hybrid gets a larger battery pack. The BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe (which is actually a “coupe-styled” 4-door sedan with a rakish roofline) and Gran Turismo (a 4-door hatchback sedan) are discontinued, but a new 8-Series Gran Coupe—which is based on the design of the new-for-2019 8-Series two-door coupe and convertible—takes the place of the outgoing 6-Series version and includes an ultra-performance M8 version.
The Jaguar XF loses its diesel engine and the Portfolio and Sport trim levels, but gains a uniquely trimmed Checkered Flag Edition. The Infiniti Q50 gets a new-generation infotainment system but loses its turbo 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine; the 300-hp 3.0-liter V6 is now the standard powerplant. The limited-edition Kia Stinger GTS model offers an optional “D-AWD” all-wheel-drive system that can be set to deliver 100 percent of the engine’s power to the rear wheels. The Lexus GS lineup loses its 4-cylinder-powered GS 300 models. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan’s E300 models are renamed E350 and get an upgraded 4-cylinder engine with 255 horsepower, up from 241 hp. The Volvo S90 sedan and V90 wagons lose their entry-level T5 4-cylinder engine, but the S90 gains a larger battery pack on T8 plug-in hybrid models and a sporty R-Design trim package. After its redesign last year, the Volvo V60 wagon sees the return of its SUV-flavored Cross Country model, and also gets a very limited-production T8 Polestar Engineered model with a 415-hp plug-in-hybrid powertrain. Regular V60 wagons lose their T6 all-wheel-drive powertrain, leaving only front-drive T5 models.
MODELS THAT OFFER SOMETHING UNUSUAL
Several premium midsize cars offer high-performance variants with breathtaking capabilities. The Audi S6 and S7 have a 444-hp, twin-turbo 2.9-liter V6, while the RS 6 Avant and RS 7 have a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 that makes 591 hp. The BMW M5 and M8 Gran Coupe have a 4.4-liter turbo V8 rated at 600 hp, or 617 with the Competition Package. The Lexus GS F is equipped with a 467-hp 5.0-liter V8. The Mercedes-Benz AMG CLS53 has a turbocharged, mild-hybrid 3.0-liter 6-cylinder that puts out 429 hp, and the AMG E63 S has a 603-hp 4.0-liter turbocharged V8.
Vehicles in the Premium Midsize Car class:
BMW 8-Series Gran Coupe
Buick Regal Sportback
Buick Regal TourX