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Luxury Guide

We define luxury as a maker’s top-of-the-line product. It has high standard content, and you’ll feel cosseted and pampered when you sit inside. How expensive it is will vary, but for a car of its type, it will have a extra few dollar signs next to it.

BMW X6

Year: Starting at $59,800 MPG 16-23 When it comes to the X6’s styling, the word “distinctive” is used. This unusual cross between a coupe and station wagon is also “interesting” and “different.” It squints at you from a wide and bold face. Creases in the hood emphasize the potential lying below with subtlety. At the very least, the X6 offers a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder making 300 horsepower in the X6 xDrive35i. The turbocharged V-8 is available in 400- and 550-horsepower versions with the X6 xDrive50i and the X6 M. Whereas the BMW X5, upon which the X6 is based, is unabashedly a sporty SUV, and the two vehicles share the same 6,000-pound towing capacity, the X6 never aspires to carry the entire crew: the car seats five, but the second row’s middle position gives new meaning to the phrase “in a pinch.” With an all-wheel-drive system that can favor the outside wheels in a corner for surer grip, the X6 handles better than you might think. The sloping roofline and high-waisted body combine to make it hard for the driver to see all around, so the backup camera and available blind-spot detection are essential survival items. …
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Cadillac CTS

Year: Starting at $38,905 MPG 18-27 The Cadillac CTS family of cars includes sedan, coupe, and wagon body styles and CTS and CTS-V versions. All this choice lets you decide where you fall on the spectrum of desire: are you shopping Cadillac because you’re looking for a traditional plush sedan, a testosterone-spouting luxury sports car, or a little of each? For starters, there’s the very competent “regular” CTS, powered by a pair of V-6 engine choices. The rear-wheel-drive CTS sedan and coupe ride on the same wheelbase, but the coupe is about two inches lower and two inches shorter, with a more steeply angled windshield. All three CTS body styles get the same 27 mpg on the highway. Get the Touring or Performance versions for more of a kick, or the Sport Wagon for more versatility. Then there’s the CTS-V, which famously set a speed record at the Nürburgring race circuit in Germany a few years back. It’s set up for performance with Brembo brakes, an airflow-improving grille, performance tires, a set of center-mounted, mouthy tailpipes, and, last but not least, a supercharged V-8 engine that puts out 556 horsepower—and helps limit fuel economy to a maximum of 19 mpg on the highway. …
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Infiniti QX56

Year: Starting at $60,750 MPG 14-20 The refined Infiniti QX is a full-size luxury SUV that was redesigned for 2011 to make it look more like the brand’s smaller cohorts. It pulls off the difficult trick of being cushy and rugged all at once – but it is better at hauling people than cargo. Ride and handling are improved since the QX has been designed as an SUV rather than being built off a modified pickup-truck platform. Still, the QX’s snow and tow modes made it a valiant performer in bad weather and boat transportation. It can haul up to 8,500 pounds. Buyers should be prepared to shell out major bucks at the gas pump. Both the rear- and four-wheel drive versions of the QX return only 14 mpg in city driving and 20 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA. The standard 5.6-liter V-8 engine has direct fuel injection and makes 400 horsepower. It is linked to a seven-speed automatic transmission. The enormous SUV can seat up to eight in three rows of leather-lined luxury. Check the box for the no-cost split bench seat if you need room for eight. While 2013 pricing has yet to be announced, expect to pay over $60,000 for the biggest SUV in the Infiniti lineup. The price escalates if you add such options as the $2,950 theater package, which includes dual seven-inch color monitors with wireless remote to keep the kids entertained on long trips. …
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Infiniti M37

Year: Starting at $48,700 MPG 18-26 The 2013 Infiniti M performance luxury sedan is designed to give Nissan’s upscale brand a foothold in a segment dominated by Mercedes-Benz and BMW. However, that foothold may be shod with an L.L. Bean utility boot instead of a sexy Jimmy Choo. The M sedan gets a bulging, strapping exterior that gives few clues to the car’s elegant interior. So top drawer is the cabin of the M that it can be ordered with a special Japanese ash wood trim with genuine silver embedded in the grain. Of course, the trim is part of a $4,200 premium package. Such packages can raise the price of the M well past the $50,000 mark rapidly. A base M37 starts at $49,095, including an $895 destination charge. There are three engine choices: a 330-horsepower 3.7-liter V-6, a 360-horsepower hybrid V-6, and a 420-horsepower 5.6-liter V-6. The hybrid version is fast and frugal, returning 27 mpg in city and 32 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA. A seven-speed automatic transmission is standard on all models. All-wheel drive is available. The 2013 M lineup gets a serious boost of sportiness, with the popular sport package offered for the first time with Infiniti M AWD models and a new performance tire-and-wheel package with twenty-inch wheels and tires and sport brakes that replaces the previous eighteen-inch wheel package. …
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Cadillac Escalade

Year: Starting at $63,170 MPG 13-18 If you want to drive—and be seen in—a huge luxury vehicle that puts you up high, swathes you in comfort, and makes you feel special, the Cadillac Escalade just might be your vehicle of choice. The 2013 Escalade family is available in regular and extended lengths, rear- or all-wheel-drive versions, and in a death-by-chocolate Platinum edition. Every one of them is powered by a 6.2-liter V-8 engine. And if you have a taste for irony, there’s the Escalade Hybrid. Its fuel economy is a fifty percent improvement on the standard model. The ESV is the extended-length version of this SUV, and it’s twenty-one inches longer than the standard model, which is already 202.5 inches long. An eight-inch flip-down screen will help amuse passengers in the third row of the ESV, or take out the third row altogether, fold down the second row, and amuse yourself with 137.4 cubic feet of cargo room. For 2013, the Escalade gets several new metallic paint choices, including Midnight Plum, which is coming later in the year. Even more decorative is the Platinum model, with decorative French seams on the instrument panel, center console, and door trim, plus wood inlays, aniline leather-trimmed seats, heated and cooled cup holders (!), a power lift gate, and a plethora of Cadillac wreath-and-crest logos. …
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Cadillac Escalade EXT

Year: Starting at $63,060 MPG 13-18 If you absolutely can’t make up your mind whether to get a luxury vehicle or a pickup truck, here’s your answer. The Cadillac Escalade EXT is fancy yet reasonably practical, with seating for five thanks to a rear bench seat. You wouldn’t get the Escalade EXT for serious ongoing hauling needs, since its truck bed is only five feet long, but it comes with GM’s clever Midgate system, also used on the Chevrolet Avalanche. The Midgate lets you fold the rear seats down and extend the pickup bed inside the cabin, giving you a much more useful eight-foot bed. You can also unlatch the rear window and store it inside a recess in the Midgate panel for open-air driving enjoyment. Features and goodies are extensive and include Bose audio, leather-trimmed heated and cooled front seats, and dual-zone climate control. There’s also a standard lockable tonneau cover—although you can take it off to increase storage versatility. Since this is, after all, a sport-utility vehicle turned into a pickup, it shares the same V-8 engine and six-speed automatic transmission as the other Escalades. The Escalade’s all-wheel drive and 7,600-pound towing capacity mean it’s more than just a good-looking luxury vehicle—it’s one you can actually get some utility from. …
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Cadillac SRX

Year: Starting at $37,155 MPG 17-24 As it made its place in the competitive world of crossover vehicles, Cadillac’s mid-size SRX has gone through several changes: from its origins as a rear-wheel-drive vehicle to its current front-/all-wheel-drive setup, from a seven-seat to a five-seat vehicle, and from a pair of V-6s, one of which was a turbo, to a single, higher-horsepower V-6 engine. For 2013, changes to the SRX are evolutionary. The front upper and lower grilles have been updated, and the interior gets upgraded technology. Among the safety improvements is the interesting Safety Alert Seat, which vibrates one of the driver’s seat bolsters when there’s a perceived danger such as too close proximity to an object such as a tree or another vehicle. There’s also adaptive cruise control and automatic braking, both of which rely on radar and sensors to the extent of actually putting on the brake for you if danger is imminent. The SRX also has Cadillac’s new Cue information and entertainment system, which triggered a redesign of the intstrument cluster and center stack, plus such luxury amenities as a rearview camera, heated front seats, a leather-trimmed steering wheel—you can get it heated as well—and a power sunroof. Performance and Premium versions get some new twenty-inch wheel designs. You can dress up the SRX’s interior with an all-black look to go with the French stitching and polished chrome, and there’s even sapele wood trim as an option. …
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Cadillac XTS

Year: Starting at $44,075 MPG 17-28 Cadillac’s desire to win shoppers over (or back) to its brand, away from German luxury sedans, is well known—and understandable. This new car should help with that. No, the all-new XTS is not a high-performance car—look to Cadillac’s other new model, the ATS, for that—but it still should appeal to many import buyers as well as to the older demographic that Cadillac has long attracted. Why? Because it is straight up hedonistic, with a gorgeously luxuriant interior and a smooth ride in the best large-sedan manner. The feeling starts with Cadillac’s new Cue information and entertainment system, making its debut on the 2013 XTS. Its eight-inch touchscreen incorporates the capacitive touch of an iPhone for a satisfyingly intuitive user experience. It continues with the Bose audio, leather trim choices all the way up to a buttery full leather interior depending on model, subtle accent lighting, and real wood trim. The XTS is a front-wheel drive car, in contrast to the ATS, and all-wheel drive is available. Its safety systems are as thoroughly indulgent as its luxury equipment. For example, there’s an optional Driver Assistance active safety package that incorporates active short-range radar and a smart camera above the inside mirror that shoots twelve high-definition photos per minute, all in the service of spotting and avoiding hazards. Performance purists may dislike the fact that the XTS has front-wheel drive, but this is probably not the product they’re looking for anyway. …
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Fisker Karma

Year: Starting at $102,000 If the Fisker name doesn’t sound familiar, that’s because this American carmaker is only five years old. The plug-in hybrid Karma is the only Fisker model currently on sale, and with a price hovering around $100,000 it is no impulse buy. The Karma aims to illustrate that environmentally friendly doesn’t mean boring, and in that right they have certainly succeeded. The Karma’s batteries have a range of about fifty miles, after which a gas engine takes over until batteries are recharged. At times, for instance during fast acceleration, the Karma operates using both battery and gas engine power. For even more eco-friendliness, the Karma has a solar panel roof that increases the electric range by about four to five miles per week. Those extra miles won’t get you far, but it still adds a certain car-of-the-future feel to Fisker’s first offering. When it’s running on electric, the Karma gets an impressive 54 miles to the gallon equivalent. On the gas motor, however, it earns an entirely unimpressive 20-mpg combined. This relatively low number belies the Karma’s true spirit – that of a luxury sports car. With an attractive interior, unforgettable design, and innovative technology, the Karma can’t fail to make a statement. …
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