Go for the Gold
These powerful, stylish luxury sedans have the midas touch.
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The acclaimed executive-status, must-have Mercedes-Benz S600 flagship sedan is challenged head-to-head this year by an upstart. Volkswagen, whose products have usually remained in the midrange price category, debuts a surprise: the 2004 ultraluxury four-door W12 Phaeton. Packed with the newest technology and electronics within its smoothly contoured frame, the $94,600 W12 includes VW-patented, permanent all-wheel drive; four-wheel anti-lock brakes; stability control; Tiptronic five-speed automatic transmission; and OnStar.
Under the hood, the 6.0-liter W12 (two conjoined V-6s) accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in under six seconds and pumps out 420 horsepower. Inside, you'll find four-zone climate control; lots of leather, wood, brushed metal and chrome; and a heat-reflective, shatterproof window coating. You can order the Phaeton with a back-seat bench or two armchair-like buckets separated by a console that could double as a miniconference room. Front seats have 18-way memory, and all seats are heated.
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