When you think of a “car”, just a generic automobile, you are probably envisioning some vaguely car-shaped four-door economy car. The sedan is, essentially, the default setting for a car. If you can make a decent one that is reliable and affordable, you will sell a lot of them. But how do you go about making a really good sedan? For starters, it should go fast.
There have been plenty of attempts that have come up short, either not delivering what people wanted or not having a good balance of fun and practicality. For a long time, there was a big divide between sports cars and sedans in terms of performance. The BMW M5 changed all of that when it proved it could hold its own against sports coupes. Since its introduction, the fast sedan has become a staple in the lineup of every luxury brand.
BMW still makes incredible performance sedans that provide the standard to which all others can be compared, but are there areas where other manufacturers could do it better? 2017 is an exciting year for cars, and sedans are no exception. These 15 cars made this list of best sedans for combining high performance and four door practicality in a way that makes them stand out, even in a sea of other sedans.
15. 2017 Nissan Sentra Nismo
Compared to mid-range and higher range options, there are relatively few economy performance sedans. Of these, none are particularly impressive compared to smaller, cheaper performance hatchbacks. Nissan is aiming to change that in 2017 with the Sentra Nismo.
Before you get too excited, know that this is not some all-wheel drive, flame-spitting beast. It is a fairly normal family sedan with sporty styling. Its turbo-charged engine churns out a rather unexciting 188 horsepower. I really wish they made this model have over 200. 0-60 takes just over 7 seconds.
Still, if you are going to pick up an economy sedan to mostly commute with and you want something with a stick shift and turbo noises, then this is a great choice. It is pretty bland with just a hint of excitement. But for the price (starting under $25,000), it is hard to beat.
14. 2017 Subaru WRX STI
Subarus are their own breed of car. Subarus make Subaru People, and these people tend to adhere strictly to the Japanese brand. That’s because if you prioritize fun, adventure, and value over all else, there is just no other option. There is no Subaru that embodies this more than the 2017 Subaru WRX STI.
This is a practical sedan with four doors and seating for five people. The gas mileage isn’t stellar for a car with a four-cylinder engine, but performance comes at a cost. In this case, there is 305 horsepower on tap for all four wheels to use and the whole thing will go from 0-60 in 4.7 seconds. Bare in mind, this car starts at less than $37,000.
While the big German sedans tend to steal the spotlight with their big engines and high top speeds, Subaru has carved out its own niche with people who love their inexpensive, boxer-powered cars. If you are interested in becoming a Subaru Person officially, look into grabbing a 2017 WRX STI. Warning: you may feel the sudden urge to drink Red Bull or buy a mountain bike.
13. 2017 Audi RS3
Audi has a natural gift for making their relatively conservatively styled cars look menacing in performance trim. Not only is the 2017 Audi RS3 not an exception to this rule, it is a rather extreme example of it. The curves and angles work just right to tell onlookers that there is something special about this particular car. That is, of course, because there is something special about this car.
The RS3 has a turbocharged 2.5 liter 5-cylinder engine that makes a very impressive 400 horsepower. This goes to all four wheels, a given for a car with four rings on the grille, and brings the whole car up to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds. That is some serious speed for an A3. I’m sure the small size of the car helps keep the weight down, and your passengers would be decidedly more comfortable in an S6.
Still, if you mostly use your car for yourself and a passenger, you will love this car and always have the rear seats in case you need to drag a few more people along. I am really looking forward to seeing this car, as it doesn’t go on sale until summer. If you want to look more mature than someone in a WRX while having just as much fun, look no further.
12. 2017 Kia Stinger
I am pretty good at forming opinions about cars. It is most of what I do, really. In the case of the Kia Stinger, I just don’t know. It seems so promising but also somehow… off. Hyundai owns Kia and have themselves been doing a wonderful job of making interesting and good-looking cars over the last few years. The aim seems to be that Kia will reflect that at a lower price point.
So where does the Stinger come in? Well, it seems to be packing a lot of high quality features and I have to wonder what the price will be when that is announced later this year. A 365 horsepower twin-turbo V6 will live under the hood, and there is an optional Harmon Kardon stereo with 720 watts. Paired with the sporty yet distinctly Kia styling, it makes me more curious than anything else.
This car could be awesome or it could be laughably bad. I don’t know if a really expensive Kia will sell, so I hope that the price they decide on is somewhat reasonable. I hope this is a sign of things to come for Kia, as this is the most interesting car they have announced in years.
11. 2017 Cadillac ATS-V
As strange as it may seem to have an American sedan made by GM competing with the likes of the M3 and C63, the ATS-V is genuinely an impressive car. On top of the fact that it is comfortable, quick, and available with Recaro sport seats, it is also a few thousand dollars cheaper than its imported counterparts. Not bad looking either.
When you hear the name Cadillac, it may bring to mind long front-ends covering big, iron V8 engines and suspension that is more suited to a water bed than a vehicle. Well, not this time. The ATS-V is powered by a twin-turbo V6 engine that makes a very healthy 464 horsepower. It is rear-wheel drive, and makes the charge from 0-60 in just 4.2 seconds.
Sure, the styling may not be for everyone, and this car is really not particularly subtle. It is, however, available with a manual transmission. That little detail is more rare every year. To a few people looking for a fast sedan that will provide a whole lot of power for the money required, the ATS-V will be perfect.
10. 2017 Mercedes-AMG C63 S
Now, as good as the 2017 Mercedes-AMG C63 S is, the price is pretty insane compared to the competition. The starting price is just over $81,000 and a well-specced version will set you back over $100,000. For a C-Class. Even for a really nice sedan, that is a bit much.
Unlike the BMW M3, Audi S4, and Cadillac ATS-V, the Mercedes uses a twin-turbocharged V8 to make power at the rear wheels. While the extra grunt is awesome and the sound that comes out of the rear is unbelievably nice, it only makes 503 horsepower. Two turbos, eight cylinders, and over $100,000 and that’s all you get? In the age of massive horsepower numbers in performance cars, I thought Mercedes would have a bit more fun with their AMG models. Still, the end result of a 3.9 second 0-60 is not bad for a rear-wheel drive car.
It’s important to remember that it is still an AMG Mercedes, and that the interior will be gorgeous and the driver experience will always be memorable. It will be comfortable on the highway and alarmingly fast when you put your foot down. As stylish as it is, it may have to step it up to compete with the Alfa Romeo Giulia.
9. 2017 BMW M3
The BMW 3 is so many things to so many different people. Uptight bankers love them, tattooed youths love them, and just about every gearhead with a pulse has wanted one at some point. As legendary as this model is, that history leaves some big shoes to fill. Even though fans expect the M3 to one-up itself every model, it gets more difficult with each iteration.
As is traditional, the M3 uses a straight-6 engine hooked up to two turbochargers. This makes up to 444 horsepower from the factory. While this is on par with its rivals, the M3 has them beat in terms of aftermarket support for performance parts. The M3 has a huge following and you can upgrade just about anything on it. From the factory, 0-60 takes just 4 seconds.
It starts at just over $64,000, and that is a pretty reasonable price for a fast and luxurious sedan that will do a pretty decent job of holding onto its value. Buying an M3 is like joining a big club full of very enthusiastic people who spend a lot making their cars go fast. Ok, some spend a lot to make them sit really low on cool wheels, but you get the point.
8. 2017 Lexus GS F
If you want something that is a bit bigger than an M3 or a C-class, but you also want something that is fun to use when you want to want to put your right foot down, then check out the 2017 Lexus GS F. It’s not something that is going to keep up with twin-turbo V12 monsters, but it does a great job of acting lighter and smaller than it really is.
You can’t miss that great big grille, but the rest of the car is styled a bit too much like a big Camry. Still, it doesn’t look bad. The 467 horsepower made by the V8 is nice as well, but I feel like a performance car that starts at $85,000 should offer something as far as forced induction goes. If you are that worried about turbo lag, there are always superchargers.
Overall, if you want a big Japanese sedan, the 2017 Lexus GS F will be comfortable and fun every time you get behind the wheel. It won’t outrun its competition and it won’t leave your bank account untouched, but it is nice to have a few options out there that aren’t German.
7. 2017 Jaguar XE R-Sport
In terms of performance, the Jaguar XE R-Sport does not hold a candle to its competitors. As a luxury car, it is up against the likes of BMW and Mercedes, and the numbers coming from this car are just not at the same level. That’s not to say that this is a bad car. In fact, the reason this car is as high on the list as it currently sits is because it is a brand new and desirable model, and it offers a lot for what it costs.
The Jaguar XE is a cool car that manages to be both understated and tasteful while drawing the right kind of attention. I see it doing very well, and the first generation has the benefit of the “wow, new” factor. The XE R-Sport is available with most trims and both engines optional with this model. The best option is the supercharged 3.0 liter V6 that makes 340 horsepower. 0-60 takes 4.7 seconds.
That is pretty great for a car that starts at $45,000. And it’s a Jaguar. And it looks nice. It’s hard to look past the value this car offers customers. Hopefully we will see a decked-out performance model in the next year or two, because this model is off to a great start.
6. 2017 Porsche Panamera Turbo S
I remember, years back, reading about how Porsche was seeking to become a competitive manufacturer of more family-oriented cars and SUVs. I obviously thought that the idea was ridiculous; how could a company turn a lineup that consisted of the Carrera and the Boxster into anything practical? Now, I admit that I was wrong for doubting their initiative, but I also see that their idea of practical is a bit more extravagant than most’s.
The Panamera is a pricey option for a family sedan The base model will cost you around $80,000 while the Turbo S starts at $142,000. Even for something with a Porsche badge on the nose, that is a big price tag. The 570 horsepower coming from the twin-turbo V8 goes through all four wheels and brings the car from 0-60 in 3.5 seconds. The handling is outstanding and it feels more like a sports car than a handful of actual sports cars.
My only big issue with this car is how it looks. It’s just kind of blobby still, and the model has been around long enough. How many have to sell before it stops looking like a weird stretched-out Carrera with a hunch? If you have deep pockets and you like going fast (and scare the hell out of the passengers in back), then this is the car for you.
5. 2017 Audi RS7
My feelings toward the 2017 Audi RS7 are similar to my feelings toward the Porsche Panamera. They are both fast, comfortable, and a bit odd looking. At first I could stand either of them, and as it stands I think both would benefit for a slight cosmetic overhaul, but I truly respect what these cars can do. Also, the new RS7 looks amazing head-on and from the rear. Still a bit like a turtle from the side.
Audi got it right with the engine, that’s for sure. The twin-turbo V8 makes up to 605 horsepower and takes the whole thing from 0-60 in 3.3 seconds. So how did Mercedes get only 503 horsepower from their twin-turbo V8? Audi is going for gold with their new lineup, and this shows in the sheer amount of dedication they show towards making this a high-performance car.
The crazy part is that the RS7 offers customers some of the most interior space in its class. This car will be awesome on pavement and on loose surfaces, thanks to the Quattro all-wheel drive. For people looking for something sporty and fast, and for those looking to put $112,000 to good use, there is not a more practical option out there.
4. 2017 Cadillac CTS-V
If you love big, fast, possibly overpowered sedans that leave no onlookers unsure of its presence, then you already know of the Cadillac CTS-V. If you don’t, then where have you been? The CTS-V represents the potential of American auto makers and shows us what happens when they really put effort into making a good car. The result is a car that will pass anything that isn’t a gas station (cue laughter).
City mileage is just 14 mpg, so there may be something to that joke. Still, that’s not surprising when there is an incredible 640 horsepower moving this car down the road. 0-60 happens in 3.6 seconds. I, for one, never thought I would see the day when a Cadillac could go 0-60 in under four seconds. For a car of this size, that is really impressive. When you hear “supercharged 6.2 liter V8”, you probably imagine some huge engine in a drag car that can only travel in a straight line. Not the case here.
This car can accelerate, stop, and even round a corner. All of this while remaining a big, four-door cadillac sedan. There is a reason the CTS-V gets so much attention. It is really a surprisingly good car. Once again, the CTS-V will probably spend the year showing the haters that America can make a fantastic fast sedan.
3. 2017 BMW M5
So after all these years, how does the M5 stack up? Well, from its place on the list you can probably infer that it is doing quite well for itself. It offers performance that makes sports cars tremble and it is actually comfortable and practical enough to use every day. This car is the result of decades worth of research and development.
Available with up to 575 horsepower and capable of going 0-60 in under four seconds, the M5 is suspiciously fast for how large it is. It is the heaviest M5 ever and it is still more nimble than ever. Every piece of the car works to make sure there is always power going to the ground, from the suspension to the traction control, and 575 horsepower goes a long way.
All of this, and it is even available with a manual transmission. Some people were sad when the M5 ditched the big V10 engine, but the 2017 BMW M5 is truly a great performance car and the twin-turbo V8 seems to be holding up just fine. The M5 may always be the best weekend warrior car, but those looking for a bit more style may want something more exotic.
2. 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
The 2017 Alfa Romeo Guilia Quadrifoglio is one of the most anticipated cars of the year, if not the most anticipated. It has been hyped up and paraded around and delayed and has managed to get fans riled up. Nothing unexpected for an elegant Italian sports car. Before I dive into the impressive performance stats, just take a second to look at this car. It is beautiful and mean and elegant all at the same time.
While Alfa Romeo could have sold this car with anything under the hood with it looking the way it does, they decided to be merciful and stick a lively twin-turbo V6, one that was developed with the help of Ferrari, under the hood. This engine makes 505 horsepower and makes an absolutely wonderful noise while doing so. 0-60 takes just 3.6 seconds.
This car isn’t available with a manual transmission, but it would be slower than the automatic anyway, so it may be for the best. This car is comfortable, beautiful, fast, and just plain exciting. There is no compromise with this car. If your spirited driving needs a hint more spirit, look no further.
1. 2017 Aston Martin Rapide S
Though it has been with us for a few years now, no one car has managed to top the Aston Martin Rapide in terms of style and performance for a four door sedan. Mostly because this is a car that doesn’t really need to exist, but does so anyway. No one looked at a DB9 and thought, “man, if only this were a sedan, it’d be perfect…” Likewise, few looked at the impressive array of sporty sedans available and thought that there needed to be yet another on the roads.
But, oddly enough, the whole thing just works remarkably well. It looks smooth and well-proportioned with four doors. It is distinctly an Aston Martin and yet it can be, in a very un-Aston-like way, quite practical. The S model comes with a V12 that puts out 550 horsepower. I guess that’s a lot, but for a car that starts at $210,000 there should be more. A 4.7 second 0-60 time isn’t bad though.
If you want to spend Bentley prices and give up the extra space you usually get with a $200,000+ luxury car and get a sports sedan that’s slower and less powerful than the M5, then this is the best sedan choice hands down. It’s not a practical choice to make financially, and it’s not all that practical of a car, but it’s an Aston Martin and it is as beautiful as it is universally beloved.
To recap our list of 15 Best Sedans 2017:
2017 Nissan Sentra Nismo
2017 Subaru WRX STI
2017 Audi RS3
2017 Kia Stinger
2017 Cadillac ATS-V
2017 Mercedes-AMG C63 S
2017 BMW M3
2017 Lexus GS F
2017 Jaguar XE R-Sport
2017 Porsche Panamera Turbo S
2017 Audi RS7
2017 Cadillac CTS-V
2017 BMW M5
2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
2017 Aston Martin Rapide S