Vehicle Name Sorted Alphabetically Kelley Blue Book Sorted by Pricing
2005 Acura RL

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "Most improved luxury car: The Acura flagship, redesigned for 2005, has some quirks and drawbacks. It trades Acura's excellent touchscreen navigation system for the dreaded German-style rotary knob interface. It's the first car to receive real-time traffic information, but the nav system only displays it, ignoring it when routing. The ride quality is overly taut, yet the body leans some in turns. So why is this car worthy of mention? Because it promises every good thing for which Acuras are known, gobs of standard gee-whiz technology, a handsome exterior, a gorgeous interior and a milestone powertrain. Acura has recognized that luxury cars need lots of power, and that power plus front-wheel drive equals disdain among many drivers. The RL has an impressive all-wheel-drive system that begs you to throw it aggressively into turns and dares you to try and unsettle it. Finally, Acura has the right idea."
$12,100 – $12,100

2005 Acura TSX

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "Sport without shame: The front-wheel-drive TSX was the first Acura for grown-ups that addressed the major criticisms levied against the brand: a lack of style and soul. Slotted between the youth-oriented RSX coupe and TL sedan in terms of price, size and torque, the TSX looks sharp and athletic, from its aggressive front fascia to its squared-off rear end. With a sweet six-speed manual, the 2.4-liter four-cylinder has surprising oomph, and I found myself throwing it into every tight corner I could find. When so many of the fun luxury cars are German, with the corresponding high cost of ownership, the TSX's promise of reliability, fuel economy and low emissions are, in more ways than one, a breath of fresh air."
$11,650 – $11,650

2005 Audi A4

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "Sport meets practicality: Available in sedan, wagon (Avant) and convertible (Cabriolet) forms, the A4, with front- and all-wheel drive, is the most successful model to buck the 3 Series formula. Audi takes partial credit for breaking me of my slavish commitment to rear-wheel drive. Quattro all-wheel drive is a different but undeniably sporty experience, and even the front-drive models command respect. Interiors that are the industrywide benchmark for quality certainly make a difference in this vehicle class. The model's Achilles heel is cost of ownership due to average to below-average reliability and costly repairs."
$6,750 – $11,450

2005 BMW 325

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "As good as they say: Competing automakers have been trying to catch up with the 3 Series for as long as I can remember. They've failed, in my opinion, because they ignored the thing that makes it a success: It's the driving, stupid. Consumer opinions of the various brands are all over the map, but the masses seem to agree that the 3 Series is simply a joy to drive. Only now that contenders have emulated the 3's design principles are they taken seriously. Even though its next generation isn't far off, the 2005 is a class act that's free of the 'advanced' electronics that have earned derision in other BMW models."
$7,700 – $10,450

2005 BMW 330

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "As good as they say: Competing automakers have been trying to catch up with the 3 Series for as long as I can remember. They've failed, in my opinion, because they ignored the thing that makes it a success: It's the driving, stupid. Consumer opinions of the various brands are all over the map, but the masses seem to agree that the 3 Series is simply a joy to drive. Only now that contenders have emulated the 3's design principles are they taken seriously. Even though its next generation isn't far off, the 2005 is a class act that's free of the 'advanced' electronics that have earned derision in other BMW models."
$8,975 – $11,200

2005 BMW 645

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "Best luxury two-door: The BMW 6 Series is significant in many ways. It's the first 6 Series since 1989, which is interesting, and it's the first of BMW's new designs that actually works, which is a revelation. Critics have belittled American-born chief designer Chris Bangle for the design direction reflected in the 7 Series, Z4 and 5 Series. The 6 Series finally breaks through with styling that goes beyond the acceptable to the stunning. That's not just me talking. The coupe and convertible meet with universal enthusiasm. Finally well executed, Bangle's vision delivers a car like people have never seen before — and love. (If the panel gaps — accentuated by the quirky design — bother you, buy a black one.) Did I mention the excellent balance and optional active steering? The eager V-8, the six-speed manual, the intoxicating exhaust note, the adaptive headlights? OK, so it has iDrive . . . try to ignore it."
$17,600 – $20,100

2005 BMW 745

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "The driver's choice: BMW's iDrive system — the driver's interface for things like the stereo and climate control — is not the spawn of Satan. Unlike some people, I don't think it's that bad. But I can't say I've found the benefit of it either. If you can ignore iDrive and don't mind the controversial exterior styling, the 7 Series is the best car in its class for people who love sporty driving. The technology that really matters is behind the scenes, transparently improving the driving experience. The interior offers luxury on a par with the Audi A8 L."
$11,800 – $15,500

2005 Cadillac CTS

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "The Cavalry rides again: My gripe with the CTS has always been its styling, inside and out, but it doesn't seem to be holding others back. The car has bypassed the Audi A4 in sales. Following the 3 Series formula, the CTS has dynamics worthy of Germany's famed Nürburgring, the racetrack at which its chassis was tuned. I thought the early versions of the larger CTS felt heavier than the 3 Series and Infiniti G35, but the 3.6-liter V-6 — now available with the manual as well as the automatic transmission for 2005 — mitigates the heft. Cadillac's impressive comeback has been propelled by this model, and it's easy to see, or uh, understand why."
2005 Infiniti FX35

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "Luxury sport on a shoestring: Audacious looks, rear-biased all-wheel drive, a 315-horsepower V-8 and superfirm suspension make the FX45 go like a shot and corner flatter than flat. Infiniti wasted no weight or cost making this beast an off-roader. Its 20-inch wheels are meant for pavement and do a great job of sticking you there. It's quicker than the Porsche Cayenne S for about $11,000 less, and way quicker than the slightly less expensive base Cayenne. For less money still, the FX35 has a respectable V-6 that loses only about a second to the FX45 in the sprint from zero to 60 mph, and offers a more comfortable ride. Seriously, Porsche should be ashamed of itself."
$13,350 – $13,350

2005 Infiniti FX45

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "Luxury sport on a shoestring: Audacious looks, rear-biased all-wheel drive, a 315-horsepower V-8 and superfirm suspension make the FX45 go like a shot and corner flatter than flat. Infiniti wasted no weight or cost making this beast an off-roader. Its 20-inch wheels are meant for pavement and do a great job of sticking you there. It's quicker than the Porsche Cayenne S for about $11,000 less, and way quicker than the slightly less expensive base Cayenne. For less money still, the FX35 has a respectable V-6 that loses only about a second to the FX45 in the sprint from zero to 60 mph, and offers a more comfortable ride. Seriously, Porsche should be ashamed of itself."
$15,150 – $15,150

2005 Infiniti G35

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "3 Series on a budget: For an example of how important the driving experience is in entry-level luxury cars, look no further than the Infiniti G35, one of the first models to land in the 3 Series' ballpark. The interior isn't ultraluxurious, but that hasn't hurt the G's sales, which have blasted past the Audi A4. The 3 Series formula — rear-wheel drive, a gutsy six-cylinder and an exquisite six-speed manual — is the engine of the G35's success."
2005 Jaguar XJ

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "Grace in motion: The XJ Series, Jaguar's flagship sedan, is a beautiful car whose athleticism and poise took me by surprise. Cutting-edge all-aluminum construction makes the car light and surprisingly quick, even in the XJ8 and Vanden Plas trim grades. The XJR's supercharger shaves roughly a second from the zero-to-60-mph sprint, but it's best appreciated in the effortless passing at any speed. From the umbrella tacked under the trunk lid to the tiny cupholders, the XJ is British indeed. The interior is smaller than the German cars', and behind the times — in design and the glorious lack of a computerized interface. No results are in for this generation, redesigned in 2004, but Jaguar overall has a history, even recently, of below-average reliability. If you can overlook that, the XJ is unique in this class, clearly a Jaguar and an elegant choice."
2005 Land Rover Range Rover

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "The ultimate luxury SUV: One could argue that luxury and off-roading don't go together. But if you're of the school that believes luxury sport utility vehicles should handle the luxury and SUV roles well, the Range Rover is unmatched. Reengineered by BMW when it owned the Rover Group briefly at the end of the 20th century, the Range Rover is every bit as technologically advanced and capable off-road as anything from Hummer or Mercedes-Benz, and far more luxurious, refined and comfortable. It's a lot of the things for which people hate SUVs . . . and the Range Rover makes it very difficult to care."
$13,400 – $18,900

2005 Lexus LS 430

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "Most comfortable: While its size compares to the imported 'prestige' flagship sedans such as Audi's A8 L, BMW's 745, Jaguar's XJ Series and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, its base price is closer to Mercedes' smaller E-Class — at least until you add the optional doo-dads. Upgrades in 2004 made the LS 430 a bit quicker and sportier, but what it does best — and better than the other cars — is comfort. It isolates occupants from the road and environment like no other, and it has one of the quietest cabins on the market. If you can find a better car for a cross-country drive, buy it."
$18,100 – $18,100

2005 Lexus RX 330

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "Comfort above sport: In our SUV Buying Guide, I deem the Acura MDX the best overall near-luxury SUV because it rates average or above in almost every category, and it seats seven occupants. The Lexus RX 330 compares in terms of crash tests, reliability, residual value, fuel economy and many other intangibles. It gives up some handling prowess in favor of ride comfort, and it seats a maximum of five. If five seats are all you need, the RX 330 is the most luxurious and comfortable in this category."
$15,550 – $15,550

2005 Lincoln Navigator

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "Best overall full-size luxury SUV: The Cadillac Escalade is the only real competitor for this slot: full-size sport utility vehicles with three rows of seats. The Caddy's main advantage is more power, but the Navigator's superior crash-test ratings, lower center of gravity and roomy cabin give it the edge. Its third row is more accommodating than many vehicles' second-row seats, and it folds into the floor where the Escalade's must be removed for full cargo capacity. The Navigator was the first model to reflect Ford Motor Co.'s newfound emphasis on interior quality, and it shows."
$10,850 – $10,850

2005 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "Get it while it's cool: The S-Class lags the competition in that it hasn't been redesigned since 2000 — and that might actually be a good thing. The Comand system was never a paragon of usability, but at least it only controls the navigation system. (Certainly a complicated iDrive-type interface is on the drawing board at Mercedes — it's the German way.) The current S-Class has a nice balance of comfort, drivability and prestige — without the technology overkill that's engulfed Germany. The wizardry is mainly in the service of performance and safety, including an available seven-speed-automatic transmission and the futuristic Pre-Safe system that positions occupants optimally before a collision."
$12,350 – $16,550

2005 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "Best luxury roadster: Though roadsters tend to be designed for sport, the SL500's 2-ton heft makes it slower than one would expect from its 5.0-liter V-8. I also can't attach the sport designation to any Mercedes with the company's electrohydraulic brakes. (It's a worthy experiment, but it compromises fine control and pedal feel too much, disqualifying even the uber-expensive and lightning-quick SL600 and SL65 AMG versions.) But if you're talking luxury, this car is it: beautiful, rich styling, a lavish, quiet interior and a retractable hardtop that's a treat to watch. Who wouldn't look good in this car?"
$18,500 – $34,200

2005 Saab 9-3

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "The Swede comes of age: Once disasters in terms of reliability, current Saab models rate as average to above, and repairs aren't as costly as they once were. Subjected to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's front- , side- and new rear-impact crash tests, the 9-3 is the top-rated car among the organization's moderately priced and luxury midsize cars. (Large luxury cars have yet to be tested for side impact, which leaves open the chance that the 9-3 will have the highest ranking of all luxury cars tested.) The sporty front-wheel-drive 9-3 has a clever rear suspension design that combats understeer. It's available with a manual transmission, but it's the automatic that stands out: The car's electronic drivetrain management is arguably the best in the world — so adept at controlling the transmission, by-wire throttle and turbocharger that you might not know it's a turbo for the lack of lag. A soft-top convertible makes this model all the more attractive."
$4,800 – $7,975