With everyone busy back to school shopping, I think it’s time to do a little browsing myself. I’ve got my sights set on finding the sweetest sport sedan on the market, and have narrowed my contenders down to five, each one from a seriously competitive automaker, including: Audi, Acura, BMW, Lexus, and Nissan.
Since I like to think of myself as a lifelong learner, the start of the new school year is the perfect excuse to explore the 2016 sport sedan selection.
Which will it be…the Acura TLX, Audi A4, BMW 328i, 2016 Lexus IS F, or the Nissan Maxima?
These are my favorite kinds of tough decisions because no matter, you can’t choose wrong. All of these 2016 sport sedans are winners, they just school the competition for different reasons.
The 2016 Acura TLX: Assured Agility
Having replaced the compact TSX and midsize TL, the 2016 Acura TLX is a brand new creation, combining a lot of what we loved from both the TSX and TL models.
As though to make up for the one car replacing two, the 2016 Acura TLX comes with two engine options.
The first, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder, rated at 206 horsepower and 182 lb.-ft. of torque, is exclusively offered as front-wheel drive and operated by a unique eight-speed automated manual transmission, similar to the one found in Porsche’s PDK.
So equipped, the TXL makes it to sixty mph from zero in 7.4 seconds, which is a little pokey, but the fuel economy, estimated at 28 mpg combined, is exceptional. It comes down to personal preference. Are you more interested in speed or saving a few bucks?
The 3.5-liter V6 option, generates 290 horsepower and 267 lb.-ft. of torque, paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission in front or all-wheel drive. Speedier than the TLX 2.4, the TLX 3.5 takes 6.4 seconds to reach sixty mph from a standstill, but fuel economy drops to 25 mpg.
With either powertrain, the 2016 Acura TLX returns a quiet, smooth ride, in a significantly enhanced interior cabin and starts at the MSRP of $40,295.
The 2016 Audi A4: An Elite Athlete
Of these five sport sedans, the Audi A4 is like your best friend’s mature older sibling. Does everything right. Always looks right to the minute. And, above all, knows what’s what.
This is the only luxury sport sedan in which leather upholstery comes standard. Nothing but the best for the Audi A4. Just consider the names of the trim levels: Premium and Premium Plus. Of course.
Regardless of trim, all 2016 Audi A4 sedans are operated by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, generating 220 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. Standard control comes from the front-wheel drive and continuously variable transmission (CVT), but all-wheel drive is an option, paired to a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission.
As with any responsible first-born sibling, the A4 has the best in reliable safety features and, with summer tires, came to a stop from 60 mph in an impressive 108 feet, as tested by Edmunds.
Thanks to its enlarged interior, the Audi A4 is no longer considered a compact luxury sedan, but a luxury sedan able to comfortably accommodate five passengers with ample room and refinement.
Pricing for the 2016 Audi A4 ranges between $35,900-38,000.
The 2016 BMW 328i: The I Has It
Part of the BMW 3 Series, the brand’s best-selling model, is set to release this fall with new equipment tucked under the hood. Specifically, an all-aluminum inline six-cylinder, able to generate 320 horsepower and 330 lb.-ft. of torque, which represents a horsepower boost of 20 over its predecessors.
Paired with either the standard eight-speed automatic transmission or the available six-speed manual, the automatic reaches sixty mph in 4.8 seconds in two-wheel drive, but only 4.6 seconds in all-wheel drive. Actually, independent tests returned even more impressive times of 4.4 seconds.
By either estimate, the BMW 328i brings serious speed to the sport sedan segment, and features all the goodies from the preceding Sport Line, which includes bigger alloy wheels and a sport steering wheel.
Starting price is $38,350, with fuel economy EPA-estimated at 23 city/35 highway mpg.
The 2016 Lexus IS F Sport Takes the Triple Threat Further
Well, the 2016 model year will mark the release of three new Lexus IS models: the IS 200t, IS 300 AWD, and IS 350 – the last two having replaced the Lexus IS 250 and IS 250 AWD. With the available F Sport package, the Lexus IS line layers extra pressure on its same-segment competitors. If the models and packages weren’t choice enough, drivers can decide whether they prefer rear-wheel or all-wheel drive and purchase accordingly.
The IS 200t is exclusively rear-wheel drive, and equipped with a 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine with intercooler, operated by an eight-speed automatic transmission, the IS 200t is rated at 241 horsepower and 285 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,650-4,400 rpm.
For your all-wheel drive option, check out the IS 300 AWD, which comes outfitted by a 3.5-liter V6 engine, rated at 255 horsepower and 236 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,000-4,800 rpm, paired to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Rounding off the trio is the IS 350, sharing the same V6 drivetrain as the 300 AWD, but able to produce 306 horsepower and 277 lb.-ft. of torque, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
I was already struggling to pick my preference between these three, but the one thing I do know is that no matter which one I ultimately choose, I will have it enhanced by the available F SPORT package, which ups the sportster’s athleticism, providing a finely-tuned suspension, 18-inch wheels, and a sportier interior and exterior.
Can’t have too much of a good thing, if you ask me. Lexus wants to make its sport sedan even more toned and muscled – I’m all for it!
Just need to rustle up about $38,000…
The 2016 Nissan Maxima: Premium Performance
The brand new Nissan is looking pretty slick.
But, as we all know looks aren’t everything, and the Maxima backs up its imposing stance with serious skills.
More powerful than ever before, the aerodynamic 2016 Nissan Maxima is lighter, with improved handling and responsiveness.
Under the hood, expect to find a 3.5-liter VQ-series V6 engine, generating 300 horsepower and operated by Nissan’s-exclusive Xtronic transmission (think continuously variable transmission). All of the five models are excellently equipped on their own, and include the Maxima S, SV, SL, SR, and Platinum.
The Maxima SR is the sportster of this eighth generation, featuring 19-inch wheels, available summer performance tires, Active Ride Control, Active Trace Control, and active engine braking. Not surpringly, the Maxima SR’s suspension has been sport-tuned for all this activity.
Check out my buddy, Roman Mica, who had the opportunity to test drive its performance:
Nissan didn’t sacrifice comfort for performance though. The SR is rich in leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, simulated suede interior details, and finds its way in the dark with LED headlights.
Priced at $37,670, the SR has segment-average speed, getting sixty mph from zero in 6.2 seconds, but better than average fuel economy, EPA-estimated at 22 city/30 highway/25 mpg combined.
So, with my search well underway, I’m still not sure exactly which sport sedan to choose. Guess that means I’ll just have to test drive them all!
After all, research is a crucial component of education. If I’m going to make an informed decision, I’ll need to do some serious legwork.
I suggest you do the same…and find your own sweet sport sedan to start 2016 in style.