2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG first driveEnlarge Photo
Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG
The four-passenger, rear-wheel drive 2011 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG, with a starting price of $99,050, coddles driver and occupants in ultimate luxury: Nappa leather, sports seats, all the bells and whistles included. Besides eye-catching exterior design, the power beneath the hood tells the rest of the story: 507-horsepower 6.3-liter V-8 engine mated with AMG Speedshift plus seven-speed automatic transmission reaches 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. Yes, there’s a tradeoff in fuel efficiency, EPA estimated at 12 mpg city/18 mpg highway (versus 14/21 for regular CLS550, which starts at $74,000). Still, small families with luxury sports sedan tastes and cash to spend can get by with either the CLS63 AMG or CLS550.
2011 BMW 7-SeriesEnlarge Photo
BMW Alpina B7
Based on BMW’s flagship 7-Series, the 2011 BMW Alpina B7 offers high-performance and luxury in a family sedan – albeit one that carries a base price of $122,000. Power comes from a 500-horsepower, Alpina-tuned, twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 engine generating 516 pound-feet of torque that still achieves an EPA-estimated 21 mpg highway. Intelligent all-wheel drive system, standard and optional safety features like night vision with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning system, and blind spot detection – and zero to 60 time in 4.5 seconds – call out for applause. Of course, consumers can also go for the $137,000 BMW 760Li with its 535-horsepower 6.0-liter twin-power turbocharged V-12 – that gets an estimated 19 mpg highway. Either way, BMW's 7-Series top-line models (in terms of horsepower, performance and price) are pretty appealing.
2011 Hyundai EquusEnlarge Photo
Here’s the only non-500-horsepower sexy family car on the FCG list – but it’s a good one, especially because it’s so unexpected. Hyundai stunned the automotive world with its all-new luxury performance sedan, the 2011 Hyundai Equus. With MSRP starting at $58,000 (Signature) and $64,500 (Ultimate), the rear-wheel drive Equus is powered by the award-winning 385-horsepower 4.6-liter Tau V-8 engine paired with a ZF six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway. Inside, there’s leather everything, including four heated and cooled premium seats and 12-way power driver seat that offers massage. Nine standard airbags, vehicle stability management system, available lane departure warning system and more add to driver and occupant safety. Free maintenance, valet service, and impressive warranty are other standout Equus selling points. See The Car Connection review of the 2011 Hyundai Equus here.