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Wheels--Luxury Sedans - Ladue News: Business & Wealth

Wheels--Luxury Sedans

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Posted: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 10:31 am | Updated: 10:36 am, Wed Aug 31, 2011.

For those who enjoy the finer things in life, a luxury sedan is the preferred mode of transportation. But with so many on the market, how do you decide which one to drive?

The first contender is the 2012 Infiniti M37, which boasts attractive styling and an excellent balance between luxury, comfort and performance. The styling is mildly aggressive, with nice flowing curves and a sleek profile.

Supportive leather front seats are both heated and cooled, while dual automatic climate control affords individual driver and passenger comfort. Nice wood accents dominate the dash and console. A touch screen interface that also has a remote dial is relatively easy to use, and hard buttons are used for ventilation and audio controls. A rearview camera assists with reversing. Navigation is an option, as are blind spot and lane departure warning systems. Rear seat passengers get their own air vents and have plenty of room to stretch out, including leg room, and the trunk is huge.

The 3.7 liter V-6 engine generates 330 horsepower and sits pretty far back in the engine bay for better weight distribution, and thus better handling. The V-6 has plenty of power and accelerates briskly. Power is distributed via a 7- speed automatic transmission to either the rear or all four wheels, though at low speeds it seems to be hunting for the right gear sometimes. The all-wheeldrive system stays engaged until the car hits about 12 mph, at which time the M37 becomes a rear wheel drive car for better handling. The all-wheel-drive M37 is a very nice handling car that’s fun to drive, especially in sport mode, but it still has a comfortable ride and gets 17 mpg city, 24 highway. Braking also is good. Four suspension settings are available: snow, economy, normal and sport. The whole car has a very solid, luxury car feel to it.

According to Plaza Infiniti GM Scott Brenner, “The M37 combines distinctive styling with sportiness and luxury. In addition, it has top notch quality and is a terrific value.” The M37 starts at about $48,500; $50,700 with all-wheel-drive. Its V-8 brother, the M56, costs around $60,000.

Another luxury sedan, possibly the ultimate performance sedan, is the new 2012 7-series sedan from BMW. The new 7-series starts with evolutionary styling changes that thankfully fully shed the ‘bangle butt’ of the old 7-series. It now sports chiseled good looks and classic BMW proportions.

Equal detail was applied to the luxurious interior, which is bathed in rich leather and warm wood. Supportive front seats are heated and cooled. BMW has retained its infamous I-Drive system that combines a dash screen with a remote joystick on the console between the seats that controls a variety of functions, including navigation. Thankfully, the dual automatic ventilation and the sound systems get their own dedicated controls. Rear and side view cameras make reversing and parking at a curb much easier. Back seat passengers in the long wheelbase version get enough leg room to accommodate an NBA player. The trunk, however, is not as large as expected.

Of course the best part of any BMW is driving it, and the 7-series does not disappoint. The potent, 4.4 liter twin-turbo V-8 engine pumps out 400 horsepower to either the rear wheels, or in the X-Drive version, all the wheels, through a 6-speed automatic transmission. With this configuration, mileage is 14 city, 20 highway. An inline 6, a V-12 and a hybrid V-8 also are available, the latter two with an 8-speed automatic.

The driver chooses from one of four driving modes ranging from comfort to sport +. Driving in sport creates a fantastic-handling car that makes you forget the rear seat and the 2-plus tons of vehicle surrounding you. Acceleration is tremendous at any speed, with no sign of turbo lag. Eighty mph feels like 60, and 60 feels like you’re crawling. Handling is all BMW, with nice tight steering, minimal roll in turns and great road feel. The heads-up display, which shines a digital speedometer on the windscreen in front of the driver, is a nice feature but is negated by wearing polarized sunglasses.

Autohaus BMW’s Gerd Petermann boasts, “The 7-series handling is superb. It’s a fairly big car, but it drives like a little sports car; nothing compares to it on the twisty roads, where its nimble, balanced ride really shines.”

All this luxury and performance doesn’t come cheap, of course. Base price for the all-wheel-drive long wheelbase version is around $92,000, and reaches six figures with several popular options.

Robert Paster (robertpaster.com) also is an attorney in private practice, concentrating in estate planning and probate.

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