By on January 31, 2019

Today’s edition of Buy/Drive/Burn was generated by a discussion over at the TTAC Slack room. The conversation turned to sporty midsize luxury sedans from 2014, and one staff member regarded one of these choices with a “meh.”

Let’s see how you feel about them.

BMW 528i

The sixth-generation 5 Series (known as F10) debuted for the 2011 model year, as BMW expanded beyond the usual sedan and wagon variants and into a third utility liftback style known as Gran Turismo. Engines of four, six, or eight cylinders were available depending on market, as well as turbo options and a couple of diesels. Today’s selection is the North American base model for 2014, the 528i. Contrary to BMW’s past lives, the “28” here actually means a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four. It produces 240 horsepower, all of which are sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic. $49,500.

Lexus GS350

The Lexus GS entered its fourth generation for the 2012 model year, riding atop a new variation of the N platform used for its prior generation. Unlike the BMW, the GS was (and is) solely a sedan. For 2014, only one engine powered the GS — a 3.5-liter 2GR-FSE V6. Uplevel trim variants added all-wheel drive to the mix, and the range topped out at the AWD GS450h. Today’s base model GS350 pairs 306 horsepower with an eight-speed automatic. $47,700

Cadillac CTS

Cadillac’s CTS was new for 2014, as a new, angular version replaced its more upright predecessor. For the first time, engines of four cylinders were offered alongside the six- and eight-pot versions. The coupe and wagon variants of the second-generation CTS faded from view at this point. Still, they continued selling alongside the sedan in their old guises for 2014 before being discontinued, which means in 2014 there were 12 different trim trees for the CTS. Today’s selection is a 3.6L Luxury, which features GM’s ubiquitous 3.6-liter V6. With 321 horsepower, the CTS is the most powerful car on offer today. Like the other two, it uses an eight-speed automatic to sort out the power. $53,700.

Which sedan gets the Buy?

[Images: Lexus, BMW, GM]

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52 Comments on “Buy/Drive/Burn: 2014 Midsize Luxury Sedan Shootout...”

  • avatar

    Easiest one ever: buy GS, drive Bimmer, burn Caddy. Done.

    • 0 avatar

      You must like burning money then?

      Lexus looses it value just like any other luxury vehicle.  So I wouldn’t believe the wive’s  tale about Lexus holding their value. Residual values are set by the banks and the food chain of auction and dealerships just play along to make as much money as they can out the consumers.

      Edmunds long term test of the Lexus GS loosing over 1/3 of it’s value from MSRP.

      “Resale and Depreciation:

      We accumulated 20,940 miles on our 2013 Lexus GS 350. Edmunds’ TMV® Calculator valued the vehicle at $47,431 based on a private-party sale. The market did not seem to support this price, as CarMax offered us $40,000 and the best we could muster from a private partywas $41,000. This made for 30-percent depreciation from our paid price of $58,377. We were disappointed.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    This feel easier than usual, Corey.
    Buy the GS. Sure the mouse thing is dated and weird, but it could just last forever and it’s conservatively attractive.
    Drive the CTS. Hooray power, boo smallish rear seat.
    Burn the 528. It was better than the E60 but still not special, and the dash feels 10 feet high from behind the wheel.

  • avatar

    Buy the Lexus. Reliability, quality and better handling that many realize. Drive the BMW. 5 Series is still a classic. Burn the Caddy. Burn it with fire. Then burn it again just to be sure.

  • avatar

    Buy the Lexus, because long term value and dependability

    Drive the Cadillac, because I haven’t driven a modern Cadillac in a long time and want to draw my own conclusions

    Burn the Bimmer because long term cost of ownership just isn’t worth it

    • 0 avatar


      CORRECT, as usual, SIR!

      Lexus – solid as a bank vault but as exciting as vanilla yogurt
      Cadillac – driving experience is American translation of German dynamics (weird things will fail during ownership.)
      BMW – cheaper in the long run to take the same amount of money as the MSRP and set it on fire.

  • avatar
    Philippe Pietro

    Buy the Lexus. Better resale value and reliability. Plus, it’s kinda good looking.

    Drive the Cadillac. Nice power, good looking inside and out, great handling.

    Burn the BMW. Maintenance costs will kill you eventually. So, kill the car first.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree. I don’t think the Lexus is great looking, but at least it’s not as hideous as the new ones.

      The BMW could have been a ‘drive’ contender except for the 4-banger. Although I suspect the Caddy would be more rewarding even with equal engines.

      • 0 avatar
        Philippe Pietro

        Those Lexus were quite good looking. But honestly, if only design was a subject, I’d take the Caddy. I couldn’t agree more when you said the four banger in the Bimmer pushed it out of the driving car and the Caddy would beat the Bimmer even with the smaller engine. BMW fours are good, but lack some “Je ne se pas”. The GM LTG is a joy… In the end, I’d keep the Lexus. Hahaha!!!

  • avatar

    Buy the Lexus for longevity

    Drive the Cadillac for the chassis

    Burn the BMW

  • avatar

    Of these three, I’d put my money up for the GS, though I’d have to address the infotainment immediately (Grom VLine).

    I’d drive the CTS to see if the drive matches the hype.

    Burn the Bimmer. Heavy, unreliable, inert, boring to look at in and out. Basically the opposite of the E60 528i that preceded it.

  • avatar

    Buy the Lexus. You’ll never drive it because it is so boring but thanks to the cult of Lexus you will get your money back in a few years when you decide to unload it. Drive the Caddy, that’s what it does best in this group. Burn the BMW, just another in a string of very disappointing and often troublesome BMWs during this decade.

  • avatar

    Buy: Lexus – It just makes sense. Plus cooled seats!

    Drive: Tough call, but I’m gonna go with the BMW. It’s known to be comfortable and iDrive > CUE

    Burn: CTS. Not a bad car by any means but the interior screams more Chevy than Cadillac and I’ve never really liked to styling.

  • avatar

    Buy the Lexus. No brainer. And for anyone who’s interested, these are a STEAL used. In my neck of the woods, 2015s with light miles, the V-6 and AWD are going for mid-20s.

    Drive the Caddy – it has the best sorted chassis. Plus, every time anyone drives a Caddy, DW gets tweaked.

    Burn the Bimmer – a car like this should NOT have a four banger, even if it’s as good as this one is.

  • avatar
    A Scientist

    Buy: Lexus, because of reliability and resale as others have already mentioned

    As far as the other two, the answers boil down to one thing for me in this class:

    Drive: Cadillac, because 321 horsepower

    Burn: BMW. This *would* have been my buy answer. But a 240hp (LOL), turbo four-banger in my $50,000 “midsize luxury sedan”? Burn with extreme prejudice

  • avatar

    Definately buy the Caddy!!! drive the Bimmer, hell i cant burn that Lexus those are some of the most reliable cars built. i’ll just keep it as a spare.

  • avatar

    Well this is fairly easy for me The smart money and I agree is to buy the Lexus but since I value the drive over the buy I will buy the Caddy , if for no other reason to know I am causing a blood vessel to break in DW brain.

    I will drive the Lexus bc I think it will drive the best, hold up the longest and cost me the headaches and cash to do just that.

    Burn the Bimmer – because it gave us the egg shaped Fugly Gt version, Ok to be fair they also made a wagon but I can not overlook the GT so into the flames it goes, and of the three it would cost the most to own long term.

  • avatar

    Buy the Lexus – Probably least cost of ownership
    Drive the BMW – But only if it is a rental or lease.
    Burn the Cadillac – Just my prejudice. Other than full sized SUVs I cannot believe GM will get anything right.

    • 0 avatar

      GM gets a lot of things right. How are they any different than other automakers?

      • 0 avatar

        You are right that the American-brand automakers got a lot of things right, after 2008.

        But for many previous owners of American-brand cars who did not have a good ownership experience, it is like having survived promaine poisoning at your favorite restaurant.

        Why would you ever want to dine there again?

  • avatar

    Buy: BMW – At least in the 5 series it’s safe and is extremely comfortable. Drivers ergonomics is unmatchable in this group.

    Drive: CTS- would be fun to rag out a Caddy

    Burn: Lexus GS- well it’s a Lexus and they are probably the cheesiest brand right now.

  • avatar

    Buy the Lexus. Easy. Always buy the Lexus. Not enough headroom in these things and the mousy infotainment was cheesy in 2014 let alone 2019. But it’s still a pleasant car that will last a long time.

    Drive the CTS. It isn’t a Cadillac and it’s made of Chinesium but among the two remaining competitors it really is as simple as 6>4.

    Burn the BMW, along with all all other four cylinder cars that cost over $30,000.

  • avatar

    Buy the Lexus – It is superior in every way except rear seat room.
    Drive the Cadillac – When people wonder why they’re gone, you’ll have the answers.
    Burn the BMW – This generation 528i has absolutely nothing to recommend it.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Buy the Lexus for all the exact same reasons as everyone else.

    Drive the Bimmer and be glad to give it back before something goes wrong.

    Burn the Cadillac for no other reason than the touch controls on the center stack. I would consider buying one in real life if those weren’t part of the deal. Plus, it’s the most expensive of the bunch by a lot and what do you get for your money – besides incentives?

  • avatar

    Buy: Lexus GS, and this was recetnly high on my buy list for the 3.5L V6 and the reliability.

    And this where it gets tough, being an ex-BMW fanboi

    Drive the Cadillac. Not a huge fan of the car – given GM and all that.

    Burn the BMW – no self-respecting 5-series should have a 4-banger. Straight-6, either NA or turbo, is the only way I would want to roll in ze Bavarian Moterwerks (unless it was a small 2-series).

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      It’s worth noting that for the F10 5 Series’ debut, in 2011, the N/A I6 was carried over on the base 528i. In 2012, the turbo-I4 replaced it.

      But, we’re talking about 2014 here, so, yeah, well into the years of the base I4.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I am the opposite.

    Buy: BMW, the rules say you have to do 3.

    Drive: The Cadillac, might as well be different. The small amount of time I spent in a CTS, I enjoyed vs the BMW time I have spent so this is the car I would drive.

    Burn: Lexus. I test drove a 14′. What a total turd: slow, requires high octane, lots of road noise, and the most needlessly confusing interface with a mouse-like blob on the console. I disliked everything about this car.

  • avatar

    Buy the Lexus….reliable, boring, they make great used cars when you get rid of it
    Drive the Cadillac….most poerful engine, best handling ad I still lke the Art $ Science aesthetic
    Burn the BMW….I own a BMW but am so disappointed with the dumbing down…(numbing down) of BMW. The N20 engine although having a good power output and flat torque sounds like a diesel when idling and can’t hold a candle to the sublime straight six. Plus a base 528 looks like an appliance…especially in silver……boring

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

    Buy the Lexus, without question. Best vehicle, best financial decision (such as that is in this segment.)

    Drive the Bimmer. Even with a four-banger, the 5-Series strikes the best balance for me between luxury and sporting pretensions.

    Burn the Cadillac. I nearly had this as my “Drive” until I remembered that one drives in order to arrive somewhere… and arriving at the wheel of a Cadillac just doesn’t convey the image Cadillac owners and fanbois like to think it does.

  • avatar

    Buy the GS, because I did and it was a great car.
    Drive the CTS, because it does drive well.
    Burn the weaksauce and scary to own BMW, 240 HP 4 cylinder? Really??

  • avatar

    This was easy for most of you. For me, not so much. I find the Cadillac, by far, the looker of the group. I’ve always kinda-sorta liked the Lexus, but would rather have an IS. BMW would usually be the choice car for driving pleasure, but by this point, a lot of the fun had been sucked out and replaced with electronic nannys. No, this isnt as simple as it was for a lot of you.

    So, I must go against the grain here, which means:

    Buy the Cadillac. Honestly, it *is* the one (out of these three) I want the most. It’s good looking, drives well and despite GM, should not be all that hard to live with. Besides, I am not one to let safe words like “resale value” determine which car I like more. I buy the car I want, not what I think someone else might want several years later. The only time I study resale value is if I plan to flip (resell) the car in short order. I also find that most cars will last quite a while if taken care of.

    Drive the BMW. Again, if we are honest here, its bound to drive better than the Lexus.

    Burn Lexus. It was almost a toss up between this and the BMW, only the Bavarian has a better chance of putting a smile on my face as I drive it like I stole it. I dont hate the Lexus, but among these, it’s the least sporty and the most boring. That’s the only tipping point that relegated it to burn.

  • avatar

    Little known factoid about the F10: in the first year of its introduction [2011], the 528i carried over the N52 inline six making 240hp, but paired it to the ZF8. Hence the 32mpg highway EPA rating. No x-drive though. Clean examples of that powertrain WITH THE SPORT PACKAGE in the 50k mile range can be had now for $13k-$18k. I’d hit that as the value buy if one wants an F10. Otherwise 535i x-drive all day long.

    [My wife wouldn’t be onboard with a 5 series, however. She sees all three as cars for “established old men,” which is not me. If “premium,” no bigger than 3-series or A4. She’ll make an exception for the A5 sportback, however, on behalf of general gorgeousness.]

  • avatar

    Buy V6 Toyota, drive BMW, burn Caddy.

    *I’d buy a W212 E350. For 2014 it has the facelift so it looks “good”, engine and tranny are tried and true (and 300 hp ain’t bad), and it’s so comfy you’ll say “Volvo why?”. Will never go out of style, largely because it barely has any, and there are good deals to be had.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Buy: Lexus-It’s the closest to the first generation GS/SC. Great reliability and resale.

    Drive: Cadillac- I’m a fan of the stealth sharp edge styling with just enough heritage tailfin. American-German autobahn cruiser.

    Burn: BMW- The 5 series at least in American guise deserves the straight 6. The turbo four-banger is great in the 3 series coupe and sedan.

  • avatar

    Buy the Lexus GS. It’s a great car and it will hold the most value. This is nothing but win.

    Drive the CTS. Luxury is a great trim package, the 3.6L chain stretching issues are resolved, and it has a Cue system that works. Chassis dynamics are what the last one on this list use to be.

    Burn the BMW. Kill it with fire. Compared to the other two choices it is under-powered (and isn’t the same B&B that screams turbo-4s have no reason to exist in luxury cars???), decontented from its predecessor, and doesn’t come close to the driving dynamics of the “Ultimate driving machine.” This is mediocrity with a premium because of the badges on the sheet metal.

  • avatar

    Buy: Lexus. Internet wisdom indicates this will be the least troublesome. Also, it’s one of the last Lexus models that wasn’t eyesearingly grotesque.

    Drive: BMW. Out of sheer curiosity as I’ve never driven one of the German big 3 and I’m interested in what that hubbub is all about.

    Burn: Cadillac. It was the odd man out, and the all angles and rulers styling has never grown on me, much as I’ve tried.

  • avatar

    Buy the Cadillac – I like the looks. Have driven one and it drives very well. It is my short list of cars that I’m looking at (A lightly used ’16 – ’18).
    Drive the Lexus – Would cross-shop this with the Caddie if Lexus had not entered their “spindle-grill-gone-wild” phase (meaning MY 17-18).
    Burn the BMW – Just can’t bring myself to trust reliability factor and a 2-liter turbo is a no-go.

  • avatar

    Buy: None – Don’t want any of then
    Drive: Caddy – because I never have
    Burn: BMW and Lexus – Don’t really want to burn the Lexus, but don’t want to buy it either

  • avatar

    I would keep all three to join my collection. Well, may be I would burn BMW because it is a bogus BMW not real one, but because of climate change and to help poor in this country I would rather donate it to someone on welfare to help him to be able to drive to interview and get the job.

  • avatar

    Buy and drive them all because these will be some of the last sedans left.

  • avatar

    From a sufficiently rural northern plains point of view, and assuming buying new:
    Buy – Cadillac. Only one of the three that has a dealership presence anywhere in or near my *state*.
    Drive – Lexus. (Do Toyota dealers service Lexuses? I don’t really want to drive to Sioux Falls or Minneapolis.)
    Burn – BMW. (I have an uncle who used to buy German cars. Those cars were part of why he has a GMT400 Suburban and an EcoBoost Mustang now.)

  • avatar

    Buy the BMW because I have to buy something and it definitely won’t be that Lexus.

    Drive the CTS. It really does drive nice and I can forgive “that line” on the bodyside if it’s on the 2014 model with the nice grille and crest AND wreath.

    Burn that Lexus. I had one as a loaner for 8 days and it thumped and groaned over every road imperfection, smelled funny, was dreary grey in colour (with a black hood!?), as well as looked like the designers tried to make a Camry look like a BMW. Nothing about that car appealed to me.

  • avatar

    Now if you want a BMW without the timing chains made of cheese N20 turbo four… The 2011 F10 had the old N52 Straight six.

    The last of the great BMW NA motors.

    I have one and it has been great.

    Know nothing about the other cars so BMW wins for me!!!

  • avatar

    Exactly! Burn the BMW because it is the awful 4 cylinder turbo 528i! If it were the 535i it would jump to the front of the pack.

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