VW PASSAT SEL PREMIUM
Mpg: 23 city/34 highway
0-to-60 mph: 7.7 seconds
While VW offers an Executive trim level for its CC flagship sedan, the high-end version of the midsize Passat is called the SEL Premium. The Passat’s styling is a bit dated (the latest design debuted in 2012) but it still holds its charms. That’s also true inside, where the layout is clean yet flaunts many Audi-chic elements.
The bolstered seats, especially, are a delight. There’s also plenty of headroom and legroom, even in the backseats. But the touchscreen is dinky, and the infotainment system isn’t very intuitive. Still, there’s a choice of two fine engines: a fairly quick four-cylinder turbo or a more spirited V6 that lets the Passat scoot from 0 to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds.
The German engineering also shines through on the road, with responsive steering and braking. Another plus: a long list of standard features, including heated seats, LED headlights/taillights, power-folding mirrors, automated parallel-parking system, hands-free trunk opener with foot sensor, high-end Fender stereo and more.
Mpg: 19 city/27 highway
0-to-60 mph: 6.9 seconds
If the old-school exterior on the VW Passat evokes a “dad jeans” sensibility, then the Infiniti Q50 is channeling a skinny-jeans vibe: its form fitting, with a tight and sassy rear.
This shapely sedan drives just as nice, too, with solid handling and superb body control. A four-cylinder engine comes standard. But it’s hard to resist choosing one of the two zippier V6 options, one of which comes with 400 hp to help rocket the Q50 from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds. There also are four trim levels — base, Premium, Signature and Sport — with various mix-and-match packages. But all trims come with push-button start, smartphone-app integration and an infotainment system with voice recognition.
The backup camera also offers a 360-degree, bird’s-eye view that really helps when parking. While there are other niceties, like an eight-inch upper touchscreen and seven-inch lower touchscreen, the interior hasn’t kept up with the times. And though there is a hybrid version, the Q50’s other engines aren’t as fuel-friendly as what many competitors offer. But this Infiniti still scores when it comes to the long warranty, affordable price, and top-notch ratings for safety and reliability.LINCOLN CONTINENTAL BLACK LABEL
Mpg: 18 city/27 highway
0-to-60 mph: 5.5 seconds
Many millennials probably don’t understand the hoopla surrounding the rebirth of the Lincoln Continental. After all, it’s been 15 years since this sedan — basically an also-ran for rental-car companies — graced dealer showrooms. Yet the new Continental proves how silver foxes can reinvent themselves.
With a stunning grill and other styling borrowed from Bentley, the Continental is much more than a replacement for the MKS sedan. This is a full-size flagship, measuring 117.9 inches in length and weighing a hefty 4,555 lb. Luckily, any of the three available V6 engines have plenty of pep to power this land yacht. And traveling around town or cross-country is equally pleasant.
There is overwhelming opulence everywhere, with the much-ballyhooed 30-way power seats, rear-seat climate controls, panoramic sunroofs and all the latest safety gear. The four trim levels include a base-model Premier, Select, Reserve and high-end Black Label, which also comes with a concierge program for pickup and delivery, complimentary car washes (anytime/anywhere) and other services. Perhaps the only thing this car doesn’t do is pump your gas for you.