Marc UrbanoCar and Driver
There’s nothing humble about sitting through traffic in a 17-foot sedan that costs four times what most people make in a year—especially when the car starts rubbing your shoulder. Of course, for some, it’s just money. And while the models on this list of full-size luxury cars are fewer than the pins on the bowling lane, the most promising options here are hard to knock.
You won’t see many of these models hanging around your neighborhood, and full-size luxury sedans are still threatened by the popular mid-size and full-size luxury SUVs. But it’s a beautiful, thrilling machine—even if someone else is sitting in the driver’s seat.
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While the Maserati Quattroporte’s enormous trident emblem and distinct styling set it apart from the others on this list, those features fail to give this full-size luxury sedan an edge over the competition. Still, the Quattroporte is one of the easiest six-figure Italian cars to come by, but for a price like the BMW 7 series, we think it should feel roomier than the 5 series.
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If you like giant grilles, the plastic basket on the front of the Lexus LS is sure to please. It’s one of the largest sedans from Japan sold in the United States, and its smooth and powerful 416-hp twin-turbo V-6 makes it feel like more than just a posh Toyota. There’s also the LS500h hybrid model which combines power from a V-6 and two electric motors to produce a peak output of 354 horsepower. We think it makes more sense to avoid hybrids given their higher price and limited fuel economy improvements. With an EPA-rated combined range of 25 mpg, the LS500h manages to better the LS500’s combined figure by just 3 mpg. Avoid heavy options and the relatively inexpensive base price of the LS makes it quite an attractive option. That said, once you get closer to the six-figure mark, you’re probably better off looking at one of Lexus’ German or Korean competitors.
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Genesis redesigned the G90 for 2023, and the resulting product is absolutely stunning. Between its stunning design and high-quality cabin, the second-gen G90 looks and feels significantly more expensive than its sub-$100,000 asking price. That said, the big Genesis still needs a bit of polish to really overtake its German rival. With a bit more dynamic prowess, a slightly more interesting powertrain, and customizing features like wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the G90 might manage to take the top spot in this small but competitive segment.
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On the surface, the Audi S8 may look like a large, civilized sedan, but throw in some nuts, and this sled — powered by a 563 hp twin-turbo V-8 — rockets to 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds. That’s a lot of headache for a car that weighs more than two and a half tons. Its nearly $120,000 starting price is also quite heavy, and to unlock the S8’s true luxury potential, you’ll have to spend a lot more adding a bunch of optional extras.
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BMW continues to push design boundaries with the new 7 series. Redesigned for 2023, the flagship sedan’s slab-sided sheet metal, split headlamps and large grille provide a distinct look that helps it stand out from the competition. Whether consumers find the new 7 series appealing remains to be seen. Full-size luxury sedans are more about what’s inside, and the big Bimmer doesn’t disappoint. The cab is well appointed and the rear seating area offers ample space. While we wish the tiller 7 was a bit more communicative, and as clear and responsive as a sedan’s touchscreen, we still think this BMW could benefit from a few more hard buttons.
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If you’re curious how the 563-hp Audi S8 ranks lower than the A8 tamer, here’s why: value. While the A8’s 335-hp turbocharged V-6 lacks the power of the S8’s V-8, and even some of its rival six-cylinder engines, Audi’s hefty under-$90,000 entry cost arguably makes it a better buy. It’s also more fun on detours than one might expect from a flagship luxury sedan. Combined with its quiet and comfortable cabin, the A8 establishes itself as one of the best full-size luxury sedan options available today.
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The Mercedes-Benz S-class remains the best of the crop of full-size luxury sedans. It’s no wonder the six-cylinder S500 took top honors over the Genesis G90 and Lexus LS500 in a recent comparison test. Appreciate the large Merc’s luxurious interior, as well as its ability to function as an attractive luxury barge and a surprisingly not-so-sport sedan. No matter what seat you occupy in S-class, you are sure to be satisfied. That said, not everything in the S-class is perfect, as Mercedes’ latest infotainment system would like. Blame it on the lack of physical buttons, as well as the hard-to-operate steering wheel controls. However, none of these aspects of the S-class are bad enough to undermine the better qualities of the car, which is why Mercedes’ flagship gas-powered sedan maintains its top spot in the full-size luxury sedan segment.
MORE ABOUT THE MERCEDES-BENZ S-CLASS
Annually 2023 Full-Size Luxury Cars Ranked from Worst to Best
7. Maserati Quattroporte
5. G90 incident
4. Audi S8
3. BMW 7 Series
2. Audi A8
1. Mercedes-Benz S-Class
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