Top-Rated 2021 Luxury Cars in Appeal According to Consumers

Christian Wardlaw | Sep 15, 2021

Performance, design, and emotion all play a significant role in the choice of a luxury car. After all, this is what you’re paying extra for in the first place. In this respect, the results of the J.D. Power 2021 Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout (APEAL) Study are even more important when you’re researching your new ride.

2021 Lexus IS Teaser

The APEAL Study measures what people like and dislike about their new vehicles. The survey data on which it is based comes from verified owners of new cars, trucks, and SUVs, people who’ve been driving them for at least 90 days. Based on this consumer-provided information, J.D. Power creates an overall index score that reflects a model’s overall appeal. The higher the index score, the greater the model’s appeal to the consumers who own them.

The top-rated 2021 luxury cars in appeal according to consumers are listed below in ascending order by index score. Note that we include only 4-door sedans; see our separate list of the most appealing coupes and convertibles if you want only two doors on your next luxury car.

10. 2021 Lexus ES - Find the best Lexus deals!

2021 Lexus ES Front Quarter View

Priced like a compact sedan but sized like a large model, the Lexus ES offers genuine value among luxury cars. And for the 2021 model year, the ES lineup expands to include the ES 250 with a 4-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive

With this change, buyers now choose between the ES 250, ES 300h gas-electric hybrid, and the ES 350. For a sportier look, F Sport trim is offered with the ES 250 and ES 350. Lexus also makes blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic warning standard for most ES models, and an ES 350 Black Line Special Edition debuts.

The index score for the 2021 Lexus ES is 862. The ES ties with the Mercedes-Benz A-Class on this list, but they do not tie in the APEAL Study because they are in different vehicle segments.

9. 2021 Mercedes-Benz A-Class - Find the best Mercedes-Benz deals!

2021 Mercedes Benz A Class Front Quarter View

The smallest and most affordable sedan in the Mercedes-Benz lineup is called the A-Class. It comes in A 220 and AMG A 35 model series, with the automaker’s 4Matic all-wheel drive (AWD) an option for the A 220 and standard for the performance-tuned AMG 35. For 2021, the A 220 models get standard 18-inch wheels, and both 64-color ambient lighting and blind-spot warning are standard for all A-Class variants. 

The index score for the 2021 Mercedes-Benz A-Class is 862. The A-Class ties with the Lexus ES on this list, but they do not tie in the APEAL Study because they are in different vehicle segments. 

8. 2021 BMW 5 Series - Find the best BMW deals!

2021 BMW 5 Series Front Quarter View

BMW’s midsize sedan comes in five model series with your choice of turbocharged 4-cylinder, 6-cylinder, and V8 engines. A plug-in hybrid model is also available, providing up to 21 miles of electric driving range. And then there is the high-performance M5 version to consider, which includes BMW’s xDrive AWD system as standard equipment.

For 2021, BMW updates the car’s styling, upgrades the safety systems, adds new instrumentation and infotainment technology, and installs a mild-hybrid 48-volt electrical system in 540i models.

The index score for the 2021 BMW 5 Series is 865. In the APEAL Study, the 5 Series ties with the Mercedes E-Class in the Midsize Premium Car segment. 

7. 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class - Find the best Mercedes-Benz deals!

2021 Mercedes-Benz E Class Front Quarter View

Available as a sedan or a station wagon (and as a coupe and convertible), the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class offers a choice between turbocharged 4-cylinder, turbocharged mild-hybrid 6-cylinder, and turbocharged V8 engines. Most versions of the car come with 4Matic AWD, and two AMG performance-tuned variants are available.

This year, Mercedes gives the midsize E-Class a styling update, standard widescreen digital instrumentation and infotainment systems with improved voice recognition, and upgraded safety technology. The E-Class Wagon now comes standard with All Terrain specification, making it look more like an SUV.

The index score for the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is 865. In the APEAL Study, the E-Class ties with the BMW 5 Series in the Midsize Premium Car segment.

6. 2021 Audi A6 - Find the best Audi deals!

2021 Audi A6 Front Quarter View

Audi’s midsize car comes in sedan and station wagon body styles. Sedans are available as the A6 and sport-tuned S6, while wagons are available as the Allroad and performance-oriented RS 6 Avant. Turbocharged 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder engines feature mild-hybrid technology, while the RS 6 Avant has an exclusive twin-turbo V8. All A6 models come with standard Quattro AWD.

For 2021, the Audi A6, A6 Allroad, and S6 models gain standard equipment. The RS 6 Avant is new for the model year, making 591 horsepower and accelerating to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds while carrying five people and 30 cubic feet of cargo. 

The index score for the 2021 Audi A6 is 867.

5. 2021 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class - Find the best Mercedes-Benz deals!

2021 Mercedes Benz CLA Front Quarter View

Mercedes markets the CLA as a coupe, but this car is actually a sedan because it has four doors and a trunk. It comes in CLA 250, AMG CLA 35, and AMG CLA 45 model series, with 4Matic AWD standard in AMG models and optional for the CLA 250. All three have a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, the AMG CLA 45 putting out a stunning 382 horsepower. 

For 2021, blind-spot warning and 64-color ambient interior lighting are standard, and the infotainment system gets improved voice recognition technology.

The index score for the 2021 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class is 868. The CLA-Class receives an appeal award from J.D. Power in the Small Premium Car segment.

4. 2021 BMW 3 Series - Find the best BMW deals!

2021 BMW 3 Series Front Quarter View

BMW’s vaunted 3 Series sedan requires no introduction. Long the holy grail of practicality, luxury, and driving satisfaction, the 2021 3 Series comes in 330i, 330e, M340i, and M3 model series with turbocharged 4-cylinder, turbocharged 6-cylinder, and twin-turbo 6-cylinder drivetrains. Models with xDrive have AWD, and the 330e is a plug-in hybrid supplying up to 22 miles of electric driving range.

For 2021, the 330e returns with more power and driving range than the previous 3 Series plug-in. The M340i models add mild-hybrid 48-volt electrical systems, and the redesigned M3 returns on the current-generation 3 Series platform. BMW also adjusts standard, optional, and package equipment for the year.

The index score for the 2021 BMW 3 Series is 869.

3. 2021 Cadillac CT5 - Find the best Cadillac deals!

2021 Cadillac CT5 Side View

The Cadillac CT5 is the automaker’s midsize sedan. It offers a choice between a turbocharged 4-cylinder and a twin-turbocharged V6 engine, and rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. For 2021, the CT5 adds wireless smartphone mirroring, a newly available digital instrumentation panel, and new special edition and performance packages. The automaker’s Super Cruise hands-free advanced driving assistance system (ADAS) was planned for a late introduction.

The index score for the 2021 Cadillac CT5 is 871. The CT5 receives an appeal award from J.D. Power in the Midsize Premium Car segment.

2. 2021 Genesis G80 - Find the best Genesis deals!

2021 Genesis G80 Front Quarter View Left Side

Redesigned for 2021, the Genesis G80 midsize luxury sedan moves upscale in terms of style, engineering, technology, and performance. 

The G80 2.5T comes with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, while the 3.3T features a twin-turbo V6. Both are rear-wheel drive unless you specify the optional AWD system. Tech highlights include a 14.5-inch infotainment system display, a 21-speaker premium sound system, Highway Driving Assist II hands-on ADAS, and a remote self-parking system. 

The index score for the 2021 Genesis G80 is 872. The G80 receives an appeal award from J.D. Power in the Upper Midsize Premium Car segment.

1. 2021 Lexus IS - Find the best Lexus deals!

2021 Lexus IS Front Quarter View

The Lexus IS is the automaker’s compact sport sedan, and it gets a thorough refresh for the 2021 model year. Turbocharged 4-cylinder (IS 300), V6 with AWD (IS 300 AWD), and a more powerful V6 (IS 350) are available.

Exterior styling is new, giving the IS a bolder look than before. The interior is familiar, but a new touchscreen infotainment system makes a world of difference when it comes to the user experience. The IS also gets next-generation Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 ADAS as standard equipment.

The index score for the 2021 Lexus IS is 881. It is the top-ranked sedan in the Compact Premium Car segment, but the BMW 4 Series coupe and convertible models receive the appeal award in the class.

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