The Finer Things
Few symbols of success signify you've arrived better than a luxury business car. Outfitted with leather, exotic wood trim and creature comforts, along with high-performance engines, they communicate upward mobility. The good news: You can purchase a well-equipped luxury sedan--such as the Acura TL, Buick Park Avenue or Volvo S60--without breaking the bank.
The TL from Acura, starting at $33,100, is available in six versions. A comfortable, gracefully designed four-door with category-leading power, the base model boasts a strong 3.2-liter 270-horsepower engine teamed with an automatic transmission. A long list of interior conveniences includes leather-trimmed seats, doors and steering wheel; heated front seats; Bluetooth wireless technology; a tilt wheel; a power moon-roof; the Homelink system, which can control garage doors, house lights and locks; maintenance interval reminder; remote trunk release; auto-off headlights; a killer sound system; and side-curtain air bags like those in more expensive vehicles.
Larger and longer is Buick's impressive five-passenger flagship sedan, the $36,350 Park Avenue. Transporting you in spacious stateliness, this sedan has a 3.8-liter V-6 engine with 205 horsepower and a four-speed automatic transmission. Standard are front and side air bags, cruise control, a tire monitor, front split-bench leather seats, a concert sound system, anti-lock brakes, an oil/life monitor and a burled walnut/leather steering wheel. An economical touch: It uses regular gasoline.
The least expensive of the three is the $27,585 S60 sedan. Maintaining one of the safest reputations on wheels, Volvo has redesigned its midsize sedan for 2005. Available in five different versions, the base model has a 2.4-liter 5-cylinder 168-horsepower engine. Inflatable side-curtain air bags, side-impact air bags, an orthopedic driver's seat, stability/traction control and an anti-theft engine immobilizer are standard. Another safety option available later this year is Volvo's blind-spot camera to warn of approaching vehicles.
Editor and consultant Jill Amadio has been reporting on the automotive industry for 26 years.