Despite the thoughts and values of the current majority in the US Congress, compromise should be a win-win, which in the case of the sedans profiled here, all boils down to two things: Power versus glory!
Lincoln MKZ and Ford Fusion
Lincoln’s MKZ boasts a few industry leading standards to include THE largest glass retractable roof in a luxury car. And for it’s hybrid version, THE most fuel efficient in its class. For a few thousand less, Ford’s Fusion at the Titanium trim level posses the type of sublime appeal that’s sure to appease a champagne drinker. MKZ AWD is base priced at $37,815, with the Fusion Titanium coming in at $32,200.
At the trim levels tested and reviewed here, each has all wheel drive and a cushy ride. MKZ handles heavy, as does the Fusion. Fusion is, however, a bit more agile from the start. Both are solid and tight. Each has visual appeal to captivate: Fusion, with it’s Aston Martin-esque front fascia, raised beltline and overall sleekness, and MKZ with it’s bodacious front grill and overall elite presence. Each scores big on style and is therefore a can’t miss in that area.
MKZ: A standard 2.0 liter four cylinder turbo engine is powered by 240 horses yielding 270 pound-feet of torque at the base level, with a six speed automatic tranny. Other than the 2.0 liter engine hybrid, an available 3.7 liter engine with 300 horses under the hood, yielding, 277 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy is government rated at 25 miles per gallon combined, which breaks down as 22 city/31 highway.
Fusion: The Titanium’s 2.0 liter inline four cylinder turbocharged engine with 237 horses under the hood yields 250 pound-feet of torque, harnessed by a six speed automatic tranny as well. And yes, the fuel efficiency is the same as the MKZ above.
Lexus LS460 F Sport and Lexus ES350
LS460 F Sport is base priced at $71,990, with the ES350 trailing at a significant difference of $36,100. Here’s where you definitely get what you pay for. But either way, there is no loss.
The LS460 F Sport exudes true power and authority. It does so with vigor well beyond the days of Lexus past---a time when luxury was soft spoken. The F Sport is a definite game changer for the brand, giving it a place at the table beside German rivals as a true performance vehicle. By way of contrast, the 192.7-inches long ES350 (compared to the 200-inch LS460 F Sport is the type of vehicle that will allow you to float in with style and class, but just a little less rigor on the road.
LS460 F Sport: Whether you choose all wheel drive or rear wheel drive, LS460’s V8 engine size is standard at 4.6 liters. The all wheel drive’s 360 horse’s are outshined by the rear wheel drive’s 386 horses. All include an eight speed transmission. The difference: 0-60 in 5.4 seconds or 6.0 seconds—your choice. But if the idea of road dominance, with the ability to pass at highway speeds and change lanes mid day when senior citizens tend to opt for the number one lane—the choice is clear here. Add to thrill the driving modes ranging from Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport+ and yet again the game is changed whereby in Sport+ mode, LS460 F Sport is the beast you’ll never have to tame.
Fuel economy is 19 miles per gallon combined, with 16 in the city / 24 on the highway and a ton of fun achieving either.
ES350: The 3.5 liter V6 engine makes a statement with just 268 horses and a six speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is combined at 24 miles per gallon (21 city / 31 highway). Therefore, you’re looking at 0-60 in 7.1 seconds in the smaller sibling—still flying under the Lexus badge of honor.
Hyundai Equus and Azera
Kick yourself if you’ve yet to visit a Hyundai dealership to test an Equus. In fact, you lose all street-cred as a true blue auto aficionado for having not done so! For the more subdued consumer choosing to remain in the premium level, Hyundai’s Azera has got to be one of the best buys on the market.
Equus, fully loaded, is based at $61,000, with Azera at $32,250.
Equus: In Korea, Equus is a chauffeur driven car. And while the North America version has retained much of the rear comfort and full comfort control elements, it’s power for the price simply exceeds all other rivals on the playing field—Japanese and German. Standard in the Equus is a 5.0 liter V8 429 horsepower engine that gracefully discharges like a rocket when called upon is measured for 0-60 at 5.4 to 5.7 seconds, depending who you ask. With all that power, an eight-speed tranny helps reign in some of the fuel economy for a combined rating of 18 miles per gallon (15 city / 23 highway). But let that in no way put a damper on the fun of the responsiveness of the drive, especially when in Sport driving mode. Equus floats like a butterfly on the road in great part due to an electronically controlled air suspension system and Continuous Damping Control’s ability to electronically monitor the wheels, the body of the car and the lateral acceleration. The one issue with Equus is the refresh for model year 2014, in which designers opted out of LED daytime running lights---a signature for EVERY high end luxury automobile.
Azera: Technically, the next in line beneath the Equus is Genesis. But shifting from a luxury experience to a premium experience is the Azera. In addition to its hot looks—a stark reminder of the Lexus ES350, what’s great about Azera is the fact that it feels so dang-gone luxurious, especially when you include the $4,000 Technology Package’s 19-inch rims and glass panoramic tilt and slide sunroof. In terms of power, Azera comes to the table with a 3.3 liter, 293 horsepower engine, yielding 250 pound-feet of torque and a six-speed automatic transmission, which is definitely something to be proud of considering its combined fuel economy rating of 23 miles per gallong (20 city / 29 highway).
For 2013, Jag threw a couple of curves intended to make us lust even further over its base model XF. Aside from a new dazzling set of signature J-shaped LED daytime running lights, the steel bodied XF now includes three engines that begin with an impressive 23 miles per gallon combined (19 city / 30 highway). What makes it such a thriller are the three trim levels, followed by another two at the high performance XF level.
For the more conservative, the 2.0T offers the greatest fuel-efficiency (considering its frame and luxury status) by way of a four-cylinder engine with 240 turbo charged horses under the hood. With 251 pound-feet of torque and 0-60 at a conservative 7.5 seconds, it sells at the base price of $46,975.
From there it’s up to the 3.0 in rear or all wheel drive--a difference of $50,500 or a straight $53K.
Gone are the days of XF’s former base model 5.0 liter V8. The new option at the “3.0” includes a 340 hp V6, with 332 pound-feet of torque for 0-60 in 5.7 seconds and 6.1 seconds in the all wheel drive model. Jag clocks top speed at 120 miles per hour in the 3.0. Imagine the fun to be had, still with a combined fuel economy of 21 miles per gallon (17 city / 28 highway).
Take it higher with a 5.0 liter V8 Supercharged at $68,100. With it comes 470 horses, 424 pound-feet of torque with 0-60 in 4.9 seconds. This is where knowledge of fuel economy begins to become irrelevant. But just for the asking, the Supercharged scored a combined government rating of 18, with 15 city / 23 highway.
Want more? At $83,200, XFR includes a 510 horsepower supercharged V8 with 461 pound-feet of torque to outshine the Supercharged model’s 0-60 by two seconds. And finally, the top dog in the XF lineup---the $99K XFR-S, pushes it to the max with 550 supercharged horses and 502 pound-feet of torque, for 0-60 in 4.4 seconds.
The entire XF family includes an eight speed automatic tranny and the proper Jaguar accoutrements.