AutoPacific’s 2011 Ideal Vehicle Awards (IVA) are based on 73,000 surveys completed by owners of new cars and light trucks in the United States in the first half of 2011.
The Aspirational Luxury Car consists of the smaller or more entry-level luxury vehicles such as an Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, or Volvo S60. These are the first vehicles people might consider when getting into the luxury market for the first time as they offer many features such as navigation, rear view camera, and active safety systems - as well as a premium badge.
This year's AutoPacific IVA Aspirational Luxury Car winner is the Volvo S60.
Read on to see the entire list of category candidates and how they scored.
*NOTE: Results for 2010 Model Year Vehicles are Included in the 2011 Model Year Research Because of Availability. Scores Are Shown Where Sample Sizes Allow
The all new Volvo S60 is the top rated Aspirational Luxury Car in AutoPacific’s 2011 Ideal Vehicle Research. As the class winner, its owners indicate there is little they would change about their new car with a few notable exceptions. As with many of today’s Volvos, the car is a little tight inside. About 35% of the S60 owners want more interior roominess and about 27% want more cargo room. About 15% say they would give up technology for easier to use controls. They most like S60’s ride, seat comfort and handling. The S60 wins its class by a substantial margin over the second place Audi A4.
The 2011 Volvo C70’s retractable hardtop makes it the perfect all-weather convertible option. The roof also provides additional sound insulation while driving at highway speeds, and makes the C70 a little more theft-proof than other premium convertible models. Throw in the coupe / convertible’s sleek looks and it’s clear to see why it remains such a popular luxury option.
The 2011 Audi A4’s upscale interior and available quattro all-wheel drive lift it above the German luxury fray and make it a solid choice amongst a sea of very competent compact sedans. The turbocharged A4 also offers enough power to keep things interesting without emptying your wallet at the fuel pump.
Fans of spirited driving know that the 2011 BMW 1 Series coupe (also available as a convertible) is one of the most nimble luxury cars around. Reasonably priced and, when ordered with its available turbocharged six-cylinder engine, quite quick, the 1 Series puts BMW back in touch with its lightweight performance roots.
The 2011 BMW 3 Series has long been the gold standard of the entry-level premium car field, but an impending redesign pushes the sporty model down a few pegs in this year’s rankings. Available in coupe, sedan, wagon and convertible form, there is a version of the BMW 3 Series that can appeal to almost any driver.
The 2011 Hyundai Genesis was the Korean automaker’s grand experiment: will the market accept a full-size luxury sedan that doesn’t come with the sticker shock of its Japanese and German counterparts? For the most part, the Genesis has been well received, as buyers slowly discover that they like getting a lot of car for not nearly as much money as they might expect.
The 2011 Acura TL stands apart from other affordable mid-size luxury cars in terms of styling as well as the technological goodies that Acura has stuffed inside. Of particular interest is the availability of Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, which not only makes short work of slick road conditions but also contributes to better performance in the dry. This helps make the TL a lot more fun to drive than one might first expect.
Audi’s entry into the mid-size luxury coupe segment – the Audi A5 – made a big splash when it was first introduced. The 2011 model, whether found in coupe or convertible form, continues to wow stylistas and impress drivers with its road-holding ability (thanks largely to quattro all-wheel drive) and solid power, not to mention its extensive luxury accoutrements.
Saab 9-3 (2010)
Hailed as a fitting rescue plan to lift Saab out of dire straits and put it back on track, the 2010 Saab 9-5 represented the first significant redesign of the premium sedan in close to a decade. New proportions and better power merged with traditional Saab characteristics in order to create an automobile that is equally appealing to both fans of the brand and potential first-time Saab buyers.
The 2011 Cadillac CTS – be it in wagon, coupe or sedan form – has been a home run success for the Detroit-based luxury brand. By mixing sporty driving characteristics with unmistakable sheet metal design and the best interior ever offered in a GM product, the Cadillac CTS has surpassed expectations and earned its niche in the entry-level luxury world.
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz C-Class has evolved into a legitimately sporty, affordable luxury car. The compact sedan comes in editions that accentuate either performance or luxury, with both offering a well-tuned chassis and a list of features and options that allow this least expensive Mercedes-Benz to hold its head high in the company of other, pricier models from the company.
Infiniti G (2010)
The 2010 Infiniti G sedan nicely illustrates why Infiniti has become the go-to brand for premium car fans who need to feel a strong, direct connection with the road. The responsive steering and suspension of the G sedan is backed by a strong V-6 engine that makes every corner an invitation and every straightaway a dare.
Lexus’ compact offering, the 2011 Lexus IS, enjoys a healthy following amongst entry-level buyers who seek sporty luxury sedan (or convertible) but who want to ensure that they get behind the wheel of a vehicle that will be as reliable as possible. An extra dose of fun to go with the IS’ bulletproof mechanicals would be an ideal combination, and one that could help to lift the automobile out of the 13th spot on our next survey.