YONKERS, N.Y. — Consumer Reports recently tested five redesigned luxury sedans from Cadillac, Acura, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Lincoln, and just one posted an overall score considered to be "excellent."
Field testers put each vehicle through a battery of examinations at its center in East Haddam, Conn., and the Cadillac CTS received the excellent status by getting a score of 84.
Acura's vehicle in the test group came in second place. The RL had a score of 80, determined to be "very good" by the magazine.
Two other luxury units received "very good" scores and finished right behind the Acura RL. Both coming in at 79 were the Mercedes-Benz E350 and Audi A6.
Rounding out the most recent batch of testing was the Lincoln MKS, which also received a "very good" score at 75.
However, the performance of the Cadillac CTS placed the vehicle into a unique position in Consumer Reports' evaluations. The score put up by the model trailed only the Infiniti M35 among the 13 luxury sedans that have been rated by the publication.
"With excellent driving dynamics, a smooth and punchy drivetrain and a well-furnished interior, the CTS outscores some of the best imported luxury sports sedans," noted David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test.
Despite the glowing review, what the publication considered to be below-average reliability kept officials from recommending the Cadillac CTS.
In fact, the only luxury sedan the publication recommended was the Acura RL. Officials pointed out that the Mercedes-Benz unit is too new to have reliability data. Furthermore because they tested the Audi A6 3.0T and Lincoln MKS Ecoboost with newly introduced engines, they did not want to make a prediction on reliability.
"Consumer Reports only recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on Consumer Reports' Annual Auto Survey of its more than 7 million print and Web subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test," officials explained.
As a bonus, Consumer Reports also tested a hybrid vehicle when it made its latest evaluation of luxury sedans.
Testers gave an "excellent" score of 83 to the Lexus HS 250h. They mentioned the mark was slightly higher than what they awarded to the Toyota Prius.
Consumer Reports analysts also shared additional comments about each of the five luxury sedans and the hybrid unit they recently reviewed:
"The CTS gives up virtually nothing to the premium European cars tested in terms of refinement, powertrain, ride or handling. The ride is supple and controlled and handling is agile and sporty. The Cadillac CTS Premium RWD ($50,995, MSRP as tested) is powered by a 304-horsepower, 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine that delivers lively performance and gets 19 miles per gallon overall in CR's own fuel economy tests. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts responsively. Braking is excellent. The interior is plush, with well-fitted padded panels and nice touches of wood and chrome. It has a moderately sized trunk."
"The Acura RL is a pleasant and refined car, but the driving experience isn't special enough to justify its $50,000 price tag. The car is full of electronic conveniences, but the ride and backseat are not as comfortable as those found in competing vehicles. Handling is sound, but less sporty than most of its competitors. The Acura RL AWD ($50,660, MSRP as tested) is powered by a 300-horsepower, 3.7-liter V6 engine that is smooth and slick and delivers 19 mpg overall on premium gasoline. The five-speed automatic transmission is very smooth and responsive. Braking is very good. The RL's high-quality interior has impeccable fit and finish. For a car in this class, the RL's trunk is modest."
"Audi freshened the A6 with a new, supercharged engine that improves performance while retaining decent fuel economy. Handling remains responsive and secure, the seats are very comfortable, and the interior is nicely finished. The A6 Premium 3.0T Quattro AWD ($53,075, MSRP as tested) is powered by a 300-horsepower, 3.0-liter supercharged V6 engine that delivers strong acceleration and 20 mpg overall on premium fuel. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. Braking is very good. The rich interior is trimmed with high-quality materials and panels are tight-fitting. Trunk space is good."
"The redesigned E350 doesn't ride as comfortably or handle as well as its predecessor. Handling is still capable but not exceptional, and the ride isn't as absorbent as before, but still the E350 is quick and quiet, solid, comfortable and luxurious. The Mercedes-Benz E350 RWD ($55,245, MSRP as tested) is powered by a 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine that delivers smooth and strong performance and 19 mpg overall on premium fuel. The seven-speed automatic transmission usually shifts smoothly. Braking is very good. The interior is nicely finished with padded panels and high-quality materials. The trunk is good-sized."
"The MKS, which is based on the Ford Taurus, doesn't do much to set itself apart for its higher price. It has many amenities and well-finished interior, but the driving experience is ordinary. The Lincoln MKS EcoBoost AWD ($52,770, MSRP as tested) is powered by a 355-horsepower, 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 engine that provides strong performance and gets 18 mpg overall. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts quickly and smoothly. Braking is very good. The inviting interior has thickly padded and stitched panels and nicely detailed front perforated-leather seats. The MKS has a good-sized trunk, but its opening is very short."
Lexus HS 250h
"Though pleasant overall, the HS 250h doesn't have the refinement, quietness and ride comfort associated with the Lexus brand. The cabin is narrow, and handling is unexciting. The Lexus HS 250h Premium Hybrid ($38,939, MSRP as tested) is powered by a 187-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder hybrid electric/gasoline engine that delivers adequate performance and excellent fuel economy at 31 mpg overall. It can drive up to 26 mph on electric power alone. The CVT transmission works very smoothly. Braking is very good. The interior trim uses high-grade materials. The trunk is modest."