If you want attention, drive a flashy sports car. If you want to be transported comfortably and effortlessly to your destination, drive one of the best full-size luxury sedans — or better yet, have someone else drive one for you. The flagship luxury sedan is still the universal symbol of wealth and power, and the options available today are better than ever. Here’s a look at all the full-size luxury sedans currently available and a preview of those on the horizon.
2022 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Long considered to be the benchmark in the full-size luxury sedans segment, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class continues to be a solid pick in the face of growing competition. The S-Class entered its seventh generation in the 2021 model year, bringing a fresh new design, standard mild-hybrid efficiency, and a healthy dose of tech to the flagship luxury sedan table.
A massive 12.8-inch OLED touchscreen takes center stage inside the cabin and is complemented by a 12.3-inch free-standing instrument screen. The lineup starts with the S500, which gets a 429 hp turbocharged 3.0L inline-six, and from there ladders up to the S580 with its 496 hp twin-turbo 4.0L V8. Both cars use Mercedes’ 48-volt mild-hybrid tech, but a more advanced plug-in hybrid system with 500 hp is set to debut in the S580e.
The “base” S500 starts at around $110,000. If that price is hard to swallow, you’ll want to sit down for this next one. At the very top of the S-Class hierarchy is the 2022 Mercedes-Maybach S680, which is expected to start well over $200,000. But for Bentley- and Rolls-Royce-rivaling luxury, and a 6.0L V12 good for 621 hp and 737 lb.-ft. of torque, that’s a relative bargain.
2022 Lexus LS
The LS sedan was once an unexpected entry from an upstart brand. But that was more than 30 years ago, and Lexus is now a fixture of the American luxury market. As such, the expectations for its flagship luxury sedan are perhaps a little higher.
The 2022 Lexus LS delivers the quality we’ve come to expect from Toyota’s luxury division, but it falls short in a few spots when measured against the competition. The rear seats aren’t as spacious as you’d expect for an executive vehicle, and its ride is less refined than others in its class. However, with its aggressive styling inside and out, the LS is a standout option in a segment not known for, well, standing out.
The sedan received a refresh for 2021, which brought with it a much welcome touchscreen infotainment system. Before the update, drivers had to suffer through a tedious and unintuitive touchpad interface. The new 12.3-inch touchscreen is easier to navigate and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.
Though it was rumored that the refresh would bring a V8 back to the lineup, the Lexus LS soldiers on with a 3.5L twin-turbo V6 (416 hp, 442 lb.-ft.) in the LS500 and a naturally aspirated 3.5L V6 hybrid system (354 hp combined) in the LS500h. Pricing starts around $77,000, but the LS can be optioned to well over $100,000.
2022 BMW 7 Series
BMW has positioned itself as the sporty choice in the luxury segment, and the BMW 7 Series adheres to the brand’s usual MO. Refreshed for the 2020 model year, the 7 Series received an enlarged dual-kidney grille and a host of other updates. The 7 Series can be had in numerous configurations, from the base 740i to the plug-in hybrid 745e xDrive to the absolutely bonkers 600-hp Alpina B7. There’s a 7 Series model for just about everyone.
The hybrid, with its turbocharged 3.0L inline-six and electric motor, is particularly compelling. Producing 389 hp and 442 lb.-ft. of torque, the hybrid system doesn’t feel underpowered — even under the hood of a car as large as the 7 Series. Being a plug-in, the 745e can travel 17 miles on battery power alone. It’s a good start for an electrified BMW flagship sedan, but the real game-changer is expected to arrive with the next-gen 7 Series.
Dubbed the BMW i7, the model will be an all-electric version of the 7 Series with an estimated battery range of more than 300 miles and as much as 640 hp. Unlike the Mercedes EQS, which rides on a new dedicated EV platform, the i7 will use an updated version of BMW’s CLAR architecture shared with the next 7 Series. Though they’ll have underpinnings in common, the i7 will look very different from its conventionally powered counterpart, based on recent spy shots. Currently, the 7 Series starts around $87,000 and goes up from there to about $160,000 for an M760i.
2022 Genesis G90
Hyundai’s Genesis luxury lineup was met with a great deal of skepticism when it launched in 2015, but in just a few years has become a legitimate player in the premium segment. The Genesis G90 serves as its flagship sedan, and it does a pretty good job.
The G90 sedan was refreshed for the 2020 model year with a completely different exterior design, an updated interior, and more tech features. Two engine choices are available, including a 365-hp twin-turbo 3.3L V6 and a 420-hp 5.0L V8. Like its now-discontinued corporate cousin, the Kia K900, the G90 offers exceptional value in the class of full-size luxury sedans, delivering an upscale interior, generous standard safety feature content, and good performance at a competitive price.
Despite the luxury sedan’s recent facelift, an all-new Genesis G90 is in the works and could arrive as early as 2022. The next-gen Genesis G90 is expected to ride on a stretched version of the GV80 SUV platform and could get an all-electric version, possibly called G90e, to compete with the BMW i7, Mercedes EQS, and Cadillac Celestiq.
2022 Audi A8
With its sharp exterior lines, the Audi A8 exudes sophistication. That goes hand-in-hand with the German brand’s tech-focused identity. Audi’s flagship sedan entered its latest generation in the 2019 model year, outfitted with a dual-screen infotainment system, an available rear passenger foot massage, and other useful upgrades.
A 335-hp turbocharged V6 is standard in the base A8, but engine options don’t stop there, of course. A plug-in hybrid model pairs that V6 with an electric motor for a total output of 443 hp and an all-electric driving range of 18 miles. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the performance-oriented Audi S8, which packs a twin-turbo 4.0L V8 good for 563 hp and 590 lb.-ft. of torque.
A mid-cycle refresh is coming for the 2022 model year, but changes should be relatively minor. Expect updated headlights and taillights and subtle revisions to the front and rear fascias. One rumor suggests Audi could resurrect the Horch brand, one of the pre-war German automakers absorbed by Auto Union, the entity we know as Audi today. Horch-branded A8s would likely be aimed squarely at Mercedes-Maybach models, meaning an even more premium A8 could be on the horizon.
2022 Maserati Quattroporte
It’s not the newest or best-selling of full-size luxury sedans, but it is the most Italian. Introduced way back in 2013, the sixth-generation Maserati Quattroporte has enjoyed an unusually long life cycle.
The model was first refreshed in 2016 and received another facelift for 2021. Along with cosmetic updates, the 2021 Maserati Quattroporte benefits from a larger infotainment screen, improved adaptive cruise control and lane-keep systems, and a new Trofeo model with 580 hp.
Each Quattroporte model comes with a Ferrari-sourced beating heart, with a twin-turbo 3.0L V6 or 3.8L twin-turbo V8 to choose from. These glorious-sounding engine choices help the big Italian four-door stand out from its peers.
The 2021 refresh will only have to tide Maserati buyers over for a couple of years. The Quattroporte will be fully redesigned by 2023, according to a recently released product timeline, which also reveals that a fully electric version is on the way.
2025 Cadillac Celestiq
The Cadillac name was once synonymous with luxury in the U.S., but its prestige gradually eroded in the face of strong competition from Germany. The brand has only recently begun reclaiming lost ground with strong products like the CT6 sedan.
But as good as the CT6 is, it’s no flagship. Cadillac is saving that honor for the Celestiq, an all-electric full-size luxury sedan due in the next few years.
Inspired by the Escala concept from a few years back, the Celestiq will feature a cab-rearward design and incorporate styling elements similar to those seen on the Cadillac Lyriq electric SUV. The Celestiq and Lyriq share the same GM BEV3 Ultium modular battery platform, but the Celestiq will be significantly longer than the midsize-EV crossover.
Details are slim at the moment, but the flagship sedan will get standard all-wheel drive, four-wheel steering, and a full glass roof when it goes on sale. GM says that will happen no later than 2025.
2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS
With the introduction of the 2022 EQS, there are now two flagship sedans wearing three-pointed stars on the market. The EQS is Mercedes’ answer to the Tesla Model S, Lucid Air, and others in the growing electric sedan space. It also shares many technologies in common with its conventionally powered sibling, the Mercedes S-Class.
What the two cars don’t share, however, is a platform. The EQS is underpinned by Mercedes-EQ’s new EVA2 skateboard-style dedicated EV platform, which houses a 108-kWh battery pack.
Two models will be available at launch, the rear-drive EQS 450+ and all-wheel-drive EQS 580 4Matic. The former is rated at 329 hp and 406 lb.-ft. of torque while the latter pumps out a whopping 511 hp and 615 lb.-ft.
The EQS is estimated to hit 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and go on to a computer-limited top speed of 130 mph. Exact EPA range estimates haven’t been released, but based on numbers from the European test cycle, you can likely expect over 300 miles.