Luxury sedan showdown
A sedan that costs more than $40,000 had better do more than go from point A to point B.
by Lawrence Ulrich, MONEY magazine

NEW YORK (MONEY magazine) - These days a terrific new four-door sedan can be had for about $20,000.

So if you're willing to spend double or even triple that, you have the right to expect a spacious head turner that can chauffeur the kids around in style and safety, help land you a prime space from the parking valet, and knock off 500 miles on a highway or back road without breaking a sweat.

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There's a name for this automotive triathlete: luxury sports sedan. Cars in this class promise a lot more than the prosaic family four-door, adding style and status along with amenities such as creamy leather, 22nd-century gizmos, and enough air bags to float the Goodyear blimp.

The very best of these vehicles add one more thing to the mix: the assurance that your big bucks were well spent. To find out which cars are worth your wallet, I assembled five of the newest combatants.

I tested them on highways, New York City commutes and racecourses. I looked at performance (from accelerating to braking and the handling in between), luxury (features, ergonomics, driver and passenger comfort), design (exterior and interior styling, materials, fit and finish) and value (a lower price isn't enough; it's what you get for your dollar that counts), and rated each attribute on a 10-point scale.

Adding up the scores for these categories produced one clear winner, one exceptional runner-up and a few surprises.

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