Car Reviews: Luxury Vehicles

Cadillac CT6 2.0L Turbo Luxury, Jaguar XF 35t R-Sport, Kia K900 V6
Buyers paid an average of just under $34,000 for their new vehicles this spring, according to Kelley Blue Book’s statistics. For most people, that’s a considerable chunk of change, to be sure. Of course, some fortunate folks have much deeper pockets. Those who can afford a new car costing double the average transaction price—say, between $60,000 and $70,000—have plenty of choices, too. But are such pricey vehicles worth it? Decide for yourself. Here are three of the latest offerings in that rarified price range: the Cadillac CT6, the Jaguar XF, and the Kia K900.

Cadillac CT6 2.0L Turbo Luxury

Vehicle layout: 2.0-liter inline-4 (265 hp), 8-speed automatic, RWD

MSRP: $59,390 (base), $59,885 (as tested)

MPG, city/hwy/combined: 22/31/25

Standard safety features: Front side, knee, and full side curtain air bags

Spare tire: Temporary spare

Crash-test ratings: NHTSA, IIHS: not yet rated

What’s cool: The 2017 CT6 will offer semiautonomous cruise control, allowing hands-off driving in stop-and-go traffic

What’s not: That the CT6 didn’t come sooner to Cadillac’s model lineup

Once upon a time, America’s Cadillac brand was the metonym for objects of high quality. In the movie Get Shorty, John Travolta’s character even famously refers to an Oldsmobile Silhouette as “the Cadillac of minivans.” Such praise was undeserved in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, however, as the automaker turned out increasingly unimaginative cars. But Cadillac has made a comeback. Case in point: the automaker’s all-new flagship, the CT6. The CT6 is a worthy competitor to top models from other carmakers, but it starts at a lower price point than most: The least expensive version is $54,490. Thanks to Cadillac’s innovative manufacturing technology, the CT6 weighs about 1,000 pounds less than a Mercedes S-Class, so the bantamweight CT6 drives like a nimble and sporty smaller car despite being quite large inside and out. A sophisticated suspension provides the comfy, quiet ride expected of a Cadillac. Powertrain options include rear- or all-wheel drive and two V6 engines, with plug-in hybrid and V8 versions to come. But the base model CT6 with a turbocharged 4-cylinder is surprisingly peppy (and is a favorite of Cadillac’s chief engineer). Impeccable fit and finish and clever features characterize the interior—for example, an industry-first streaming rear camera in place of a rearview mirror that eliminates passengers and headrests from the field of vision. In sum, one might say that the CT6 is the Cadillac of Cadillacs.

 

Jaguar XF 35t R-Sport

Vehicle layout: 3.0-liter V6 (340 hp), 8-speed automatic, RWD

MSRP: $61,645 (base), $72,285 (as tested)

MPG, city/hwy/combined: 20/30/24

Standard safety features: Front side and full side curtain air bags

Spare tire: Temporary spare

Crash-test ratings: NHTSA, IIHS: not yet rated

What’s cool: A new-for-’16 bumper-to-bumper warranty includes scheduled maintenance for five years/60,000 miles

What’s not: The gearshift knob that rises and retracts into the center console is more gimmicky than cool

 

Great Britain’s Jaguar ranks among the world’s most venerable automakers. Over the years, Jaguar’s sedans and sports cars have been acclaimed for equal parts high performance and distinctive style. Redesigned for 2016, the second-generation XF midsize sedan isn’t quite so equal. The XF’s aluminum body is sleek, elegant, and modern. Yet it bears a striking resemblance to other cars, including the Ford Fusion and Lexus LS. From the company that gave us the groundbreaking ’60s E-T ype (an example resides in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art), this generic styling is a little disappointing. The XF’s interior generally befits a luxury sedan, although some controls lack the fine feel of those in competitive Japanese or German vehicles. The XF excels when it comes to performance, however. Most automakers employ turbochargers to boost power. The Jag’s supercharged V6 provides instant—and plentiful—acceleration with surprisingly thrifty fuel consumption. A rigid structure, capable suspension, and responsive electric steering make the XF a respectable corner carver. At $52,895, an entry-level XF is attractively priced. But add all-wheel-drive and options such as Park Assist, which allows the XF to parallel park itself, and this Jaguar becomes an expensive cat.

Kia K900 V6 Luxury

Vehicle layout: 3.8-liter V6 (311 hp), 8-speed automatic, RWD

MSRP: $55,850 (base), $60,850 (as tested)

MPG, city/hwy/combined: 17/26/20

Standard safety features: Front and rear side air bags, full side curtain air bags, rearview camera

Spare tire: Temporary spare

Crash-test ratings: NHTSA, IIHS: not yet rated

What’s cool: Super-sounding Lexicon audio system comes standard

What’s not: The Kia nameplate

Pity Korean automaker Kia. Like those adults who regret their indiscreet teen postings on social media, Kia can’t seem to live down its past reputation as a producer of cheap little cars. “A Kia that costs what?” is the universal reaction when folks hear that the K900 lists for some $60,000. Yup, Kia’s top-of-the-line model runs more than 60 grand if equipped with a V8 engine. Introduced last year, the K900 targets such über-luxe cars as Audi’s A8 and BMW’s 7-series but costs tens of thousands less. With a V6 under the hood, it’s less expensive still—about $50,000 for the V6 Premium model. Smooth and potent, the V6 power-train is impressive. The cabin is downright sumptuous, designed to cosset and coddle. The backseat offers limo-like legroom, and the trunk is vast. Controls are soft-touch, and build quality is top-notch. The cabin stays whisper quiet, even at highway speeds. However … the K900 handles like Grandpa’s 1960s land yacht. It rides as if on marshmallow shocks, which smooth out potholes but allow lots of body lean. But maybe that’s okay. After all, not every car buyer longs for a sports car disguised as a luxury sedan. For them, the K900 proves to be a lot of car for the money.

Photo (top): Courtesy Cadillac

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