Top-Rated 2018 Luxury Cars in Performance and Design

Christian Wardlaw | Jul 25, 2018

Each year, J.D. Power asks new-vehicle owners what they like the most and what they like the least about the cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans that they’ve owned for at least 90 days. This information from consumers is compiled into the annual J.D. Power Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout (APEAL) Study, which is designed to determine which makes and models people find the most appealing.

From this data, J.D. Power calculates Power Circle Ratings. These visual representations of the APEAL Study’s findings are useful to consumers during the new-vehicle research and shopping phases. People can reference the ratings while deciding which make and model will best serve their needs.

2018 Kia Stinger GT2 front quarter right photo This buyer’s guide highlights the top-rated 2018 Luxury Cars from the J.D. Power 2018 APEAL Study. Each model listed in alphabetical order below receives a Power Circle Rating of 5 out of a possible 5 for overall appeal.

2018 Audi A3

The Audi A3 lineup is a diverse one. A 4-door sedan is available in A3, sporty S3, and performance-tuned RS 3 model series. An A3 Cabriolet supplies convertible fun for four people. And the A3 e-tron is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle in a 5-door hatchback body style. Following a lineup expansion and a freshening in 2017, few changes are made to the 2018 Audi A3 line.

The 2018 Audi A3 receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5, and is the award recipient in the Small Premium Car segment.

2018 Audi A5

Audi redesigned the A5 lineup for 2018. It sits on the same platform and uses the same powertrains as the A4 sedan, but the A5 is sold in coupe, convertible, and 5-door Sportback configurations. Model series include A5, sporty S5, and performance-tuned RS 5, and trim levels include Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige.

The 2018 Audi A5 receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.

2018 BMW 2 Series

Sold in coupe and convertible body styles, the BMW 2 Series is the least expensive car the company offers. Turbocharged 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder engines supply power, and buyers can choose a manual or automatic transmission as well as rear-wheel or all-wheel drive (AWD). The performance-tuned M2 coupe is also available. For 2018, the 2 Series gains a new infotainment system and a minor interior and exterior freshening.

The 2018 BMW 2 Series receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.

2018 BMW 4 Series

The 4 Series is to BMW what the A5 is to Audi. It comes in the same three body styles (coupe, convertible, and a 5-door called the Gran Coupe), and in escalating levels of power and performance. For 2018, BMW freshens the 4 Series inside and out, re-tunes the car for improved driving dynamism, and installs a new infotainment system with an improved user interface.

The 2018 BMW 4 Series receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.

2018 BMW 5 Series

For 2018, BMW dramatically expanded the 5 Series lineup. Redesigned for 2017, the 530i and 540i are joined by a plug-in hybrid (530e), a performance variant (M550i), and a high-performance version (M5). Power ranges from a practical turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder producing 248 horsepower to a monstrous twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 cranking out 617 hp.

The 2018 BMW 5 Series receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.

2018 Genesis G80

Genesis, which is Hyundai’s luxury brand, upgraded its G80 model for 2018. In addition to subtle styling revisions and interior improvements, the 2018 G80 lineup added the more aggressive 3.3T sport sedan variant, equipped with a twin-turbocharged V6. Standard V6 (G80 3.8) and V8 (G80 5.0) models remain, the latter now available with optional AWD for the first time.

The 2018 Genesis G80 receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5.

2018 Kia Stinger

Built on a new rear-drive vehicle architecture and designed as a 5-door sportback-style vehicle similar to the Audi A5 and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, the Kia Stinger receives an APEAL award in its first year on the market. Buyers choose between standard and GT trim, the former featuring a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and the latter getting a twin-turbocharged V6 and AWD.

The 2018 Kia Stinger receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5, and is the award recipient in the Compact Premium Car segment.

2018 Lincoln Continental

Roomy and plush, the Lincoln Continental pulls off a rare trick: it’s a big car on the inside but a midsize car on the outside. With styling that recalls a Bentley, available 30-way power adjustable front seats, an optional rear executive seating upgrade, and multiple drivetrains offered across several trim levels, the Continental offers something for everyone.

The 2018 Lincoln Continental receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5, and is the award recipient in the Midsize Premium Car segment.

2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

This is the most popular car sold by Mercedes-Benz. The C-Class is offered in coupe, convertible, and sedan body styles, the latter built in the U.S. in Alabama. The C300 has a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, while the C350e features a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. Versions with “AMG” in their name gain more power, performance, and visual panache.

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.

2018 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class

The CLA-Class is the most affordable car Mercedes-Benz offers. As the CLA 250, it includes a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and front-wheel or AWD. An AMG-tuned version, the CLA45, produces significant power and performance. For 2018, the only update following a 2017 freshening was the addition of a Ice Edition version of the car.

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class receives an APEAL Power Circle Rating of 4 out of 5.


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