Perhaps more than any other segment, luxury cars take a wide, diverse variety of forms. Of course, there are still traditional sedans like our 2021 Motor1.com Star Award–winning Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but the field also includes EVs, sporty crossovers, compact hatchbacks, and a healthy number of SUVs.
But in spite of the diverse crowd that contended for the 2022 Star Award for best luxury vehicle, our decision wasn’t particularly challenging. After a full week of testing, the Land Rover Range Rover set itself apart with a consistently enjoyable and comfortable driving experience in a variety of situations. But before we could decisively name a winner, we had to suss out the praise and pain that each particular vehicle in our test brought with it, with a few surprises along the way.
What We Looked For
The best luxury vehicles are faultlessly constructed with high-quality materials throughout the cabin. The ride quality should be unflappable on any surface, both in terms of what the passengers feel and what the driver experiences through the steering. The cabin should isolate its occupants from exterior noises or unpleasant vibrations with extreme prejudice. Automakers should outfit luxury products with their most advanced technology, including over-the-top speaker counts and expansive and attractive displays. And these vehicles’ exterior designs should shout about their owners’ taste and wealth through their sheetmetal.
|Quick Stats||2023 Acura Integra A-Spec w/Technology|
|Engine:||Turbocharged 2.0-liter I4|
|Output:||200 Horsepower / 192 Pound-Feet|
|Base Price:||$30,800 + $1,095 Destination|
The 2023 Acura Integra is somewhat controversial, what with its Honda Civic bones and middling 200-horsepower output. But the compact five-door is relentlessly charming, offering a light-on-its-feet driving experience, nearly perfect manual gearbox, and rev-happy thrust that belies the engine’s modest output – sound familiar? The new Integra also has more space than a Mercedes-Benz CLA and nicer cabin materials than an Audi A3. The Integra is somewhat reasonably priced at $37,395 as tested. That’s much more than its Civic Si cousin but far less than a comparably equipped product from Audi, BMW, or Mercedes.
Unfortunately, we still felt that price was a mite high for something whose interior styling reminded us too much of a $21,000 Civic – nice as it may be. And there’s an unfortunate amount of road noise that makes its way into the cabin, perhaps due to that cavernous hatch.
|Quick Stats||2022 BMW iX xDrive50|
|Motors:||Twin Electrically Excited Synchronous Motors|
|Output:||516 Horsepower / 564 Pound-Feet|
|Base Price:||$83,200 + $995 Destination|
Consider the BMW iX one of our Star Awards dark horses. Many of us immediately discounted its 8-bit beaver styling, then found ourselves appreciating its posh, impeccably designed cabin with unique details like wood trim on the touch-sensitive iDrive buttons. The X5-sized electric crossover also boasts some darned-impressive driving dynamics, with good body control, nice manners on bad pavement, and electric propulsion sounds scored by Hans Zimmer.
But few of us could get past that divisive exterior styling, and the iX felt a bit too expensive at nearly $100,000. Still, the driving experience is an excellent balance of comfort and sportiness, which makes us very happy.
|Quick Stats||2023 Genesis G90 3.5 E-SC|
|Engine:||Twin- Turbocharged 3.5-liter V6|
|Output:||409 Horsepower / 405 Pound-Feet|
|Base Price:||$88,400 + $1,095 Destination|
Genesis products from the last decade were damned with faint praise – nice enough, I guess, with a healthy discount over their competitors. But our lukewarm feelings for the brand have been fully relegated with the arrival of the 2023 Genesis G90, a car that is finally a worthy competitor for the luxury crown. The creamy-smooth luxobarge transforms into a firmly damped sport sedan with the press of a button, refreshing in a world where drive modes usually feel like placebos. The 3.5-liter V6 engine in the G90, meanwhile, features both a turbocharger and an electric compressor for genuinely surprising acceleration.
But the styling is a bit too overwrought for most of us on staff, and gee-whiz interior features like the electric door closers were frustrating more than convenient. But even so, Genesis now builds some of the best cars in the world, and the comparatively low $100,370 as-tested price is merely a bonus in the G90’s favor, rather than its sole selling point.
|Quick Stats||2022 Genesis GV70 3.5T Sport Prestige|
|Engine:||Twin-Turbocharged 3.5-liter V6|
|Output:||375 Horsepower / 391 Pound-Feet|
|Base Price:||$41,000 + $1,045 Destination|
When the Genesis GV70 took the “W” over a comparable Lexus NX earlier this year, we knew it would eventually go toe to toe with the industry’s best luxury cars in our Star Awards testing. What we didn’t expect is how closely it would vie for the title. Although its tech suite lags a bit – wired smartphone mirroring and a lack of USB-C ports are just plain outdated – the rest of the car is a nearly perfect balance of sportiness and comfort. For starters, the cabin boasts better materials than any of its German competition, and although the ovoid styling may not be to everyone’s tastes, it’s undeniably distinctive and Genesis-like.
A turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 pumps out 375 hp, with a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system providing traction and thrills in equal measure – go ahead and hang the tail out a bit if you want. As on the G90 sedan, the adaptive dampers go from canyon-carver to boulevardier with the touch of a button, giving the GV70 better reflexes than some dedicated sports cars without sacrificing comfort. And the spacious rear seat and cargo area makes it a compelling family car too. While it may not have taken the overall win in our Luxury category, the Genesis GV70 was at least one editor’s personal favorite of any of the cars in our Star Awards testing.
|Quick Stats||2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph AWD|
|Output:||295 Horsepower / 270 Pound-Feet|
|Base Price:||$46,850 + $1,025 Destination|
If we handed out Star Awards for most improved, the Infiniti QX60 would win in a landslide. The old SUV’s jellybean-minivan proportions and droning CVT made it a poor fit for the stylish, avowedly Japanese luxury brand, but thanks to a crisp-shifting nine-speed automatic and trimmer, tauter sheetmetal, the QX60 is a genuine contender. Then there’s the Autograph trim’s gorgeous cabin, resplendent with semi-aniline quilted leather and open-pore wood. Additionally, this is still a family-sized crossover, with plenty of room for seven (as long as three of them are on the shorter side). And that gold-and-black exterior? Yes. Just, yes.
Alas, we found the 3.5-liter V6 to be a bit coarse and underpowered. The Infiniti QX60 is an excellent family SUV with a strong dose of luxury, but we wish it were a touch smoother and more fun to drive.
|Quick Stats||2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer Series III 4×4|
|Output:||471 Horsepower / 455 Pound-Feet|
|Base Price:||$87,995 + $2,000 Destination|
When Jeep first admitted that its highest-trim Grand Wagoneer models would eclipse $100,000, some folks snickered. But what they didn’t realize is that the good people in Auburn Hills can make a luxury vehicle just as easily as they can a trail-dominating Wrangler Rubicon. As such, the Grand Wagoneer comes loaded for bear with heated and ventilated seats for the first two rows, a McIntosh audio system, six – count ‘em, six – infotainment screens, Amazon Fire rear-seat entertainment, walnut interior accents, embossed metal dash trim, and more.
But this isn’t ‘70s American luxury, where you could get away with some fancy doo-dads and neglect the driving experience entirely. Instead, the Grand Wagoneer has real authority on the road, thanks to its smooth, quiet ride and commendable power from its 6.4-liter V8. The big Jeep can also tow 8,260 pounds as tested, meaning if you’re a luxury buyer with some luxurious toys, you can do it all with one vehicle. Think of it like that and the $116,720 price as tested almost feels like a bargain.
|Quick Stats||2022 Lucid Air Grand Touring|
|Motors:||Two Permanent Magnet Motors|
|Output:||819 Horsepower / 885 Pound-Feet|
|Base Price:||$154,000 + $1,500 Destination|
What a machine. In spite of it being the automaker’s first production car, the 2023 Lucid Air is so fully baked and cohesively designed that it could have come from a legacy brand. We tested the Grand Touring model, which at the time of our Star Awards evaluation was the base model, yet it still boasts 800 hp from its dual electric motors, a fast-charging 900-volt-plus electrical system, and an EPA-rated range of 469 miles – nice. That futuristic EV system comes wrapped in equally forward-thinking styling, with a gorgeous one-box shape that shows it’s possible to make space pods pretty.
The low roof does demand a compromise in ingress – you’ll bang your head on the roof every time you step into the rear seat – and the screen-heavy secondary controls require some getting used to. But with a smooth, comfortable ride and airy interior (thanks to the flat floor and full-glass roof), the Lucid feels thoroughly modern in a way that no other car in our Star Awards testing does. It’s a long-range electric car that demands little of its driver other than to get in, get comfortable, and enjoy the ride.
|Quick Stats||2022 Land Rover Range Rover L SE 7-Passenger|
|Engine:||Twin-Turbocharged 3.0-liter I6 w/ISG|
|Output:||395 Horsepower / 406 Pound-Feet|
|Base Price:||$110,000 + $1,350 Destination|
For many luxury buyers, their new vehicle primarily needs to get them where they want to go in comfort and style, but there’s no denying the appeal of brand cachet and more-than-you-need capability. It should come as no surprise to folks with those priorities that the winner of our Motor1.com Star Award for Best Luxury is the brilliant Land Rover Range Rover. The Range Rover is a legend among the well-heeled, but we didn’t award it based simply on heritage alone.
Foremost, the new Range Rover took its win on merit of the comfortable, cosseting driving experience it offers. The ride is smooth and composed over all kinds of pavement, and the Range Rover even acquits itself okay on a curvy road – no one claimed the long-wheelbase SUV would be sporty, but it’ll handle the scenic route just fine. We tested the base powertrain, a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six with 395 hp and 406 lb-ft, and we found it to be a better companion to the smooth, graceful Range Rover than the optional, but peakier and less smooth, twin-turbocharged V8. Save your money, because the base engine is the one to get.
That cash is better used on any of the Range Rover’s impressive interior options. With our tester’s Showroom Specification package, the seats, dashboard, and door panels are upholstered in soft, supple leather, with soft-touch materials that extend from the roof all the way down to your feet. Heated seats are standard for all passengers, in this case seven thanks to the long-wheelbase model’s standard third row. We also enjoyed the optional first-row massage and second-row seat ventilation whenever we took the Rover into town for supplies.
The Range Rover drew some divisive opinions on its styling – the front end does indeed feel rather monolithic and featureless, while the unusual taillight treatment and side vent motifs look a bit gaudy for gaudiness’ sake. But a strong shoulder line and large greenhouse tie the new Rangie in with its predecessors, and the gorgeous, warm-gray metallic paint coordinated perfectly with its Caraway light brown interior color. Add on those optional 23-inch wheels for maximum posing.
And yet, even with some of those boxes ticked, the Range Rover still slotted in with an as-tested price of $130,175. While that’s definitely not cheap, the Range Rover feels every bit as luxurious and impressive as any other car in this competition, with the added bonus of a long wheelbase and third row of seats, to say nothing of its rugged reputation and extensive suite of off-road electronics and assistance tech. As the old chestnut goes, the journey is as important as the destination, and the Range Rover will treat you right every step of the way – no matter where that destination may be.
How We Choose Star Awards Winners
The Motor1.com Star Awards start with vehicles that received the highest Star Ratings throughout the year. Our awards consideration set starts with vehicles that are either all-new or significantly revised over the last year. From there, we invite the best vehicles to join us for a week of head-to-head testing.
During the year we let data take the lead in our rating system, but the goal of Test Week is to compare vehicles head to head – on the road, on the track, or in the dirt as the case may be – to see which competitor in each segment stands out with unmissable value, incredible technology, and impressive real-world behavior. Any vehicle invited to participate in Star Awards is excellent, but only the very best in each segment can claim the title.
Photo Credit: Logan Zillmer