Buy/Drive/Burn: 2018 Midsize Luxury Cars Nobody Buys

buy drive burn 2018 midsize luxury cars nobody buys

The Buy/Drive/Burn series has ventured into unpopular cars territory a time or two before. Most recently we discussed three large American sedans that are most unpopular indeed (two of those three are now on their way out). Today we pick a Buy amongst three lower-volume midsize offerings from second-tier luxury brands.

All three cars today cost about the same, are about the same size, have V6 engines, and all-wheel drive. But the similarities stop there.

Buick Regal GS

Buick’s Regal model returned to North America after a hiatus in the mid-2000s, this time as a light rework of the European market Opel Insignia. Built in Germany and Canada, the first generation was not especially successful. For 2018, Buick had a rethink, bringing over a brand new Opel Insignia to represent for Regal. The prior, singular sedan body style was gone, replaced by a five-door liftback of sedan appearance, and an all-wheel drive TourX wagon.

Now built only in Germany by employees who work for Peugeot, the Regal continues to be ignored by most everybody. But not today! Opting for the top trim GS version nets Regal buyers GM’s 3.6-liter V6. That mill produces 310 horsepower and motivates all four wheels under the 4,270-pound sedan. By the time you add all the options that should be standard, you’ll pay roughly $43,000.

Infiniti Q50 3.0t SPORT

The Q50 started its life back in 2014 as the replacement for the popular G series Infiniti sedans. Residing on the very same FM platform as the prior model, engines were carried over as well, and the 3.7-liter made up the vast majority of North American sales (the VQ35 powered the Hybrid). 2016 saw a general update in style and technology, plus a new engine lineup. The starting cylinder count dipped to four with the introduction of a 2.0-liter engine developed jointly with Mercedes-Benz, while higher-end trims featured a new 3.0-liter V6 turbocharged engine.

The Q50’s top trim is now the Red Sport 400, with extra boost for the V6 and a horsepower figure of 400. But that’s out of today’s price range. What’s on offer here is a 3.0-liter SPORT trim, which is in all caps. 300 horsepower travel to all four wheels, and the ask is around $41,000.

Acura TLX 3.5 Tech

The TLX was a brand new offering in 2015, when Acura decided it no longer needed two sedans (TSX, TL) that performed the same function and were purchased by roughly the same customer. Like most successful Acura products, the TLX is based on the Accord platform. TLX saw a refresh for the 2017 year when it joined Acura’s other offerings with an updated “diamond-pentagon” grille and sharper rear lamps. The base engine offering in the TLX is the 2.4-liter also found in the smaller Civic-based ILX. Halfway up the trim chart, the engine’s swapped for Honda’s 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6. Today’s budget allows for the V6 and Tech Package, but not the sporty A-Spec. Paired with all-wheel drive, the asking price is $41,900.

Collectively, these four-doors are largely ignored, but today you’ll pick one for the long haul. Which is the Buy?

[Images: GM, Corey Lewis/TTAC, Honda]

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  • RHD RHD on Dec 02, 2018

    The Buick isn't really a Buick, it's a French Opel with a Buick badge, built in Germany. Maybe that is a good thing, maybe it isn't. But the parts will probably be pricier than American built Buicks. The Infiniti is the best looking of the bunch, especially in blue, and that turbo engine is probably pretty sweet. The Acura is most likely the nicest to drive. In my experience, at least, Acuras (and Hondas, their nearly identical twins) have terrific ergonomics, a good balance of handling and comfort, and are practically bulletproof. If you had to put 200K on any of these three, the Acura would be in the best shape and would have had the least unscheduled maintenance. The Buick would probably already be at Pick-N-Pull. But I require a manual transmission, so the Acura would be for to my kid to drive to the University.

  • Cbrworm Cbrworm on Dec 03, 2018

    Interesting options. I think I would drive and/or buy the Infiniti. I'm not terribly fond of the Q50 3.0t SPORT, but it's the only one of the bunch I would be interested in driving or owning - even in its base form, it can be silly fun - just don't spend too much time thinking about the steering. I think my least favorite would be the Buick. I don't know, they are all pretty unappealing, and they are probably all decent cars. Buy the Acura Drive the Infiniti Burn the Buick

  • DenverMike When was it ever a mystery? The Fairmont maybe, but only the 4-door "Futura" trim, that was distinctively upscale. The Citation and Volare didn't have competing trims, nor was there a base stripper Maxima at the time, if ever, crank windows, vinyl seats, 2-doors, etc. So it wasn't a "massacre", not even in spirit, just different market segments. It could be that the Maxima was intended to compete with those, but everything coming from Japan at the time had to take it up a notch, if not two.Thanks to the Japanese "voluntary" trade restriction, everything had extra options, if not hard loaded. The restriction limited how many vehicles were shipped, not what they retailed at. So Japanese automakers naturally raised the "price" (or stakes) without raising MSRP. What the dealers charged (gouged) was a different story.Realistically, the Maxima was going up against entry luxury sedans (except Cimarron lol), especially Euro/German, same as the Cressida. It definitely worked in Japanese automaker's favor, not to mention inspiring Lexus, Acura and Infiniti.
  • Ronnie Schreiber Hydrocarbon based fuels have become unreliable? More expensive at the moment but I haven't seen any lines gathering around gas stations lately, have you? I'm old enough to remember actual gasoline shortages in 1973 and 1979 (of course, since then there have been many recoverable oil deposits discovered around the world plus the introduction of fracking). Consumers Power is still supplying me with natural gas. I recently went camping and had no problem buying propane.Texas had grid problems last winter because they replaced fossil fueled power plants with wind and solar, which didn't work in the cold weather. That's the definition of unreliable.I'm an "all of the above" guy when it comes to energy: fossil fuels, hydro, wind (where it makes sense), nuclear (including funding for fusion research), and possibly solar.Environmental activists, it seems to me, have no interest in energy diversity. Based on what's happened in Sri Lanka and the push against agriculture in Europe and Canada, I think it's safe to say that some folks want most of us to live like medieval peasants to save the planet for their own private jets.
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  • MaintenanceCosts There's no mystery anymore about how the Japanese took over the prestige spot in the US mass market (especially on the west coast) when you realize that this thing was up against the likes of the Fairmont, Citation, and Volaré. A massacre.