So, You’re Rich. Which Is the Best Car to Get Driven Around In?
(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- We test-drove/rode 10 luxury sedans to see which rear amenity package comes out on top.
Rolls-Royce Phantom Extended Wheelbase
The rear cabin of the Phantom EWB is immense—stretching 9.6 more inches than in the already sizable base car. Its two thrones perform the typical massaging, heating, cooling, and reclining, and buttons operate tray tables, tablets, doors, footrests, and the cloth curtains. There’s even a power opening for the Champagne cooler between the seats (the cut crystal glasses are manually operated). With all the sound insulation in the Phantom—even the tires are filled with noise-deadening foam—you’ll barely know the car is running. $525,000 ★★★★★
The Mulsanne is the elegant flagship of the Bentley line, with an interior covered in tanned hides (24 colors on offer; 150 hours to complete) matched by knurled knobs and chrome finishing. Hand-polished, unbleached wood veneers make the cabin feel so warm it almost blooms; ambient lighting throughout is adjustable to every mood. Two 10.2-inch tablets can play live TV and make calls via Bluetooth headphones. Internal memory, micro SD, and USB technology is placed strategically for use while you’re reclining in the massaging seats or pouring a glass from one of the three optional bottle coolers. Individual footrests in plush lambswool come standard. $304,670 ★★★★★
Lexus LS 500
The Lexus isn’t nearly as large or esteemed as its swanky rivals, but it offers one of the most precious cabins in the field. Silky leather is nipped into patterns that flow seamlessly into the architecture of the doors and windows, which are accessorized with handmade herringbone wood trim and starbursts of Kiriko glass. A seamless seatback compartment stows laptops and ephemera, so it’s a tidy space to be in—and at a max tilt of 48 degrees, the aft seats are the closest the industry gets to a 70 mph hotel room. $98,400 ★★★
Mercedes-Maybach S 650
The Maybach brand takes top-notch Benz products and adds more. Here, that means a wheelbase stretch of 8 inches, which allows the rear seats to recline 43 degrees. If the four-way adjustable headrests aren’t enough, there are attachable monogrammed quilted pillows. Passengers can also enjoy an extendable calf support (the right rear seat gets a power footrest, too), a massage program meant to feel like hot stones, power-folding tray tables, and heated armrests. A small refrigerator can chill your Champagne, which you can serve in handmade silver flutes. Cooled (and heated) cup holders handle your drinks, while special glass in the panoramic sunroof darkens at the touch of a button. A Wi-Fi hotspot allows streaming on your devices or the seatback tablets. $199,900 ★★★★
Porsche Panamera Turbo Executive
The Executive stretches the standard Panamera Turbo by 6 inches at the wheelbase, and an enormous sunroof yawns the length of the cab, making it perfect for cloud-gazing—if you’re not distracted by 10-inch entertainment screens and Bose surround-sound speakers. An active carbon filter traps pollen, airborne pollutants, and viruses and bacteria. Best of all: The Panamera is one of the few all-wheel drivers on this list. $161,900 ★★★★
Lincoln Continental Reserve
The back seat of this car, which is replacing the Town Car in fleets the world over, adds a touch of theater to almost everything. Buttery leather is bordered with ash-wood trim shellacked to a candylike sheen. The armrests have ashtrays (so retro!), and the coffin-heavy doors open with the push of a button. In addition to reclines and massages in the back, the rear-seat controls can also adjust the front passenger seat. Another subtle detail: active noise cancellation. $64,605 ★★★
BMW M760i xDrive
You’ll probably buy this with driving in mind—it has a potent V-12, which can be paired with all-wheel drive, allowing superb traction and Corvette-beating acceleration. But the ride isn’t too shabby, either. The rear seats recline, heat, and cool, and they feature eight massage modes, including two of what BMW calls “Vitality” programs. The touchscreens lead passengers through the stretching and breathing exercises of these seated workouts. There’s Wi-Fi, but only the right seat gets a folding worktable. A small, removable tablet/remote allows passengers to tweak environmental settings. An atomizer mists the cabin with a scent in three adjustable strengths. In the 7 Series, the panoramic sunroof can be digitized with pinpoint LED lights in different colors. $156,700 ★★★★
Jaguar XJL Supercharged
A half-century since it hit the road, Jaguar’s biggest cat is still a stunner, and its V-8 is more athletic than most of the pack. The longer-wheelbase version of the XJ offers an extravagant 3.6 feet of legroom in the back, and the seatbacks can be appointed with stowable 10.2-inch high-definition screens, folding business tables, and footrests. Just-right LED reading lights and a state-of-the-art Meridian sound system complete the package. $97,200 ★★★★
The Executive Comfort package for Audi’s range-topper includes a leather-covered central console that houses a pair of folding worktables and removable tablet (to minutely adjust the climate, entertainment, and lighting); a special Relaxation Seat feature with a heated and massaging footrest is best experienced if you remove your shoes. The dual-tablet rear-seat entertainment system comes with USB ports, a household power outlet, and … a DVD changer? (Perhaps this is the start of a retro wave in executive sedans, and next we’ll see a revival of cassette players and ashtrays.) High-test 8- or 12-cylinder models of the A8 are forthcoming. So don’t expect your chauffeur to win any stoplight drag races with this model—yet. $83,800 ★★★
Genesis G90 5.0 Ultimate AWD
You’ll be pardoned for not knowing Genesis, Hyundai’s upscale brand (as Lexus is to Toyota). It’s not doing all that well in the U.S., with sales of this top-of-the line sedan down about 50 percent from last year, and even those figures were quite small to begin with. This is unfortunate, because the G90 packs a lot of back-seat features into its lowish price: power window and rear windshield privacy shades, a pair of 10.3-inch LCD screens for infotainment, seats that are heated and cooled and power-adjust in up to 14 ways, including a recline feature with leg rest. There’s even a memory setting for the rear seats, something we don’t recall seeing in any other vehicles. If the armrests heated up, and the cabin’s air could be perfumed with Juul flavored nicotine fog, and a movie could be projected on the headliner, Genesis might just sell a few more cars. $75,350 ★★★
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Rovzar at email@example.com, James Gaddy
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.