The world's top luxury sedans are in a universe all to themselves. Competing not so much on price as on prestige, comfort, and in some cases innovative technologies, the best luxury sedans aim to satisfy buyer who will accept nothing less than perfection in the pursuit of the ultimate in automotive transportation.
We've put together a list of 10 of the best luxury sedans currently available. Many of these models represent the flagships of their respective brands, but certain others made the cut due to their unique position in the premium segment, or for what they have to offer to a very specific type of buyer.
Let's take a quick look at 10 of the best luxury sedans on offer in the United States.
The 2013 Hyundai Equus was the Korean brand's great experiment: can an uber-luxury car compete on its merits alone without having to rely on the badge adorning its front grille? So far, the answer seems to be 'yes,' with the Hyundai Equus enjoying a welcome reception from automotive critics who laud its long list of standard gear, substantial comfort, and generous interior dimensions. Standard power comes from a 5.0-liter V-8 that generates 428 horses and 376 lb-ft of twist, and the rear-wheel drive Equus is shifted via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Pricing for the luxury sedan is perhaps even more shocking than its humble origins, as the vehicle starts at under $60,000.
10 Best Luxury Sedans - 02 - 2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is in some ways the bogey that Hyundai was shooting for with the Equus. More accurately, however, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the moving target that premium automakers the world over have been attempting to match in terms of refinement and prestige for decades. The S-Class portfolio has diversified to include a hybrid model, the option of all-wheel drive, a turbodiesel drivetrain, and even two high performance AMG models. The Mercedes-Benz S600 is also one of the few twelve-cylinder sedans still available in this second decade of the 21st century, sporting a 5.5-liter, twin-turbo mill that generates 510 horsepower and 612 lb-ft of torque.
10 Best Luxury Sedans - 03 - 2012 Porsche Panamera Turbo S
The 2012 Porsche Panamera Turbo S is the ultimate expression of the brand's push into more mainstream markets in order to supplement its sports car business. The Porsche Panamera Turbo S is notable for turning in performance the belies its elegant accoutrements and not-insignificant curb weight. All-wheel drive is standard with the Turbo S model and helps to corral the 550 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of twist provided by the sedan's twin-turbo 4.8-liter V-8. A seven-speed, dual-clutch automated manual transmission is offered with the Porsche sedan, and styling is strongly reminiscent of the iconic Porsche 911.
10 Best Luxury Sedans - 04 - 2013 Lexus LS
The 2013 Lexus LS has been heavily refreshed for the current model year, and that effort has included dramatic new styling for the previously stoic full-size sedan. The Lexus LS also gains a revamped interior that substantially upgrades its quality of materials and ergonomics, and an available F Sport model provides extra thrills from behind the wheel for those seeking a more engaging driving experience. The LS maintains its 4.6-liter V-8 engine for 2013, with a slight bump in output that brings it to 386 horsepower and 367 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed autobox is standard, all-wheel drive is optional with the sedan, and a hybrid version serves as the priciest of all Lexus sedans.
10 Best Luxury Sedans - 05 - 2013 BMW 5 Series
The 2013 BMW 5 Series might not be a range-topper like some of the other entries on this list of the best luxury sedans, but it's certainly a leader in its class. The mid-size BMW 5 Series shines when it comes to driving dynamics, providing a bit of fun and copious cornering confidence despite its family-friendly interior size. Like several of its German compatriots, the 5 Series lineup now provides a hybrid model (although tuned more for performance than exceptional fuel mileage), but most buyers will opt for one of its turbocharged four, six, or eight-cylinder mills, with the latter producing 400 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque. Transmission choices for the 5 Series include a six-speed manual and an eight-speed automatic, and of course all-wheel drive can be selected on its options sheet.
10 Best Luxury Sedans - 06 - 2012 Infiniti M
The 2012 Infiniti M has managed to work its way into the conversation when it comes to discussing top luxury sedans due to the respectable engineering effort that went into developing its most recent platform. The Infiniti M combines the brand's penchant for sporty handling and acceleration with its focus on high tech features, and some consider the M the true 'driver's car' of the mid-size luxury segment. A hybrid Infiniti M is available, but maximum performance is found in either the 330 horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 or the 420 horsepower, 5.6-liter V-8 that are found under the hoods of the M37 and M56, respectively. A seven-speed automatic transmission handles the shifting duties for either model, and all-wheel drive can be added to both.
10 Best Luxury Sedans - 07 - 2013 Lexus ES 300h
The 2013 Lexus ES 300h is another all-new effort that satisfies eco-conscious luxury fans seeking comfortable daily transportation. While the Lexus ES 300h might not provide the same level of luxury as other mid-size sedans, it is exceptionally quiet and smooth on the road and it can be loaded up with features such as navigation, HID headlights, heated and ventilated leather seats, and Lexus' high tech active safety systems. The ES 300h's 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine develops 200 horsepower in conjunction with a battery-powered electric motor, a continuously-variable automatic transmission is standard, and fuel economy is listed at an exceptional 40-mpg in stop and go driving and 39-mpg highway on the highway.
10 Best Luxury Sedans - 08 - 2012 Bentley Continental Flying Spur
The 2012 Bentley Continental Flying Spur is an excellent indication of what can be accomplished in a full-size luxury package if money is no object. Based around a 12-cylinder engine that makes use of twin turbochargers to squeeze out 552 horsepower, the very heavy Bentley Continental Flying Spur performs like a four-door checking in at half its mass. With a bespoke interior consisting of wood trim, deep pile carpet (and whatever color one might want to have decorating the passenger compartment), the Flying Spur offers submarine-like quiet inside its cabin. This makes its ability to reach 60-mph in less than five seconds even more amazing.
10 Best Luxury Sedans - 09 - 2013 Jaguar XJL
The 2013 Jaguar XJL has always been an outlier when compared against its Teutonic rivals, in that it manages to offer overwhelming amounts of luxury at a more reasonable - although still dear - price point. The Jaguar XJL is the long-wheelbase version of the base XJ, which means more rear seat room for those who prefer to enjoy their champagne while being chauffeured. For buyers more interested in driving themselves, the XJL Ultimate trim level rewards with 510 horsepower from a supercharged, 5.0-liter V-8, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and a top speed of almost 180 miles per hour.
10 Best Luxury Sedans - 10 - 2012 Audi A8L
The 2012 Audi A8L is the final 12-cylinder, full-size luxury sedan on this list. The Audi A8L is also available with a V-6, but its most prestigious power plant is a 6.3-liter W-12 motor that produces 500 horses and 463 lb-ft of torque. Audi's famed quattro all-wheel drive system is charged with sending that output to the pavement, and an eight-speed automatic transmission handles the gear-shifting duties for the automobile. The A8L's long wheelbase also makes possible a four-passenger cabin that is reminiscent of being ensconced inside a private jet thanks to the sheer range of comfort and technology features, including full leather trim and upholstery, a night vision camera, a refrigerator, and a reclining back seat.