Premium wheels

From the October 2021 print edition

Many drivers think of “executive vehicles” as strictly being big, premium-brand sedans, but that’s no longer the case. These can now also include SUVs, crossovers, and three-row vehicles, and come well-outfitted from mainstream manufacturers as well as the upscale brands. We’ve rounded up a selection of eight possibilities for your fleet.

Chrysler 300
Built in Ontario and available in three trim levels, this full-size sedan comes with a 3.6L V6, available in

rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. The top 300S trim can be optioned with a 5.7L Hemi V8 making 363hp, in rear-wheel only. The all-wheel system has an active transfer case with front-axle disconnect for better fuel economy when power to all wheels isn’t necessary. Standard or available features across the lineup include adaptive cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, dual-pane sunroof, heated and ventilated seats, navigation and safety assist technologies including blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist.

Lexus NX
For 2021, Lexus’s compact crossover comes with a 2L gasoline engine in the NX 300, or as the NX 300H hybrid, with a combined city/highway fuel consumption rating of 7.5L/100km. Both models include all-wheel drive. The redesigned 2022 model will offer four engine choices, including turbo and non-turbo 2.5L gas engines. The 2022 NX 350h hybrid will be rated at 6.5L/100km in combined driving, while the fourth choice will be Lexus’s first plug-in hybrid. When charged, it can drive approximately 58km on electric-only. When that depletes, it automatically reverts to conventional gas-electric hybrid operation, providing fuel-free driving without “range anxiety.”

Genesis G80
Genesis is the luxury brand offered by Hyundai, and the G80 is the mid-range of its three sedans. It’s available as the 2.5T Advanced, with 300-horsepower, 2.5L turbocharged four-cylinder; or as the 3.5T Prestige, with a twin-turbo 3.5L V6 making 37hp. Both are standard with all-wheel drive and offer a balanced combination of sporty handling with a smooth ride and roomy interior. The trim levels are all-in, and include navigation, wireless charging, scheduled maintenance, and in applicable areas, a concierge service with pick up and delivery for service visits, including leaving a courtesy loaner.

Toyota Venza
The Venza name returns on a hand-some, all-new SUV. It comes in three
trim levels, and all are powered by a fuel-saving, gas-electric hybrid system that makes a combined 219hp. All include an on-demand all-wheel-drive system with electric motors for the rear wheels, providing fuel-free instant traction when needed. The hybrid system self-recharges and doesn’t get plugged in. The Venza features a lovely interior with premium materials, and all trims include blind-spot monitoring, wireless charging, and power liftgate. Upper levels include a split-screen infotainment system, ventilated seats, and a panoramic sunroof that electronically switches between clear and frosted glass.

Infiniti QX55
An all-new model for 2022, the five-seater QX55 compact crossover shares its platform with the QX50,
but with a flowing rear roofline. It uses a turbocharged 2.0L four- cylinder with an unusual variable-compression technology that maximizes fuel efficiency or performance, depending on how you’re driving it. All three trim levels include all-wheel drive. The sloped rear styling cuts down slightly on rear-seat headroom, but the cargo space is generous and there’s a hidden cubby under the cargo floor. Available features include a twin-screen infotainment system with navigation, ProPilot Assist highway-driving assistant, cooled seats, rain-sensing wipers, Wi-Fi hotspot and tri-zone climate control.

Lincoln Nautilus
The midsize, five-seater Nautilus is built in Ontario, and comes in a single “Reserve” trim level but can

be upgraded with options. These include switching the standard 2.0L turbocharged engine for a twin-turbo V6, which makes 335hp and adds an adaptive suspension. Both engines come with all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Standard or available features include a heated steering wheel, wireless charging, rear-seat entertainment system, heated and ventilated seats, panoramic sunroof, and the Lincoln Way App, which includes valet service for maintenance appointments, and the ability to use your phone as the vehicle’s key fob.

Subaru Ascent
Subaru’s largest SUV includes a premium interior and seating for seven or eight people. It uses a 2.4L horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine with automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT) and all-wheel drive with settings for snow or mud. All trims include EyeSight, Subaru’s camera-based suite of safety-assist technologies, including adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and emergency front braking. The third row is tight and best for children, as most are, but access to those seats is easier than in many rivals. At its highest trim, just below $52,000, the Ascent includes ventilated leather-clad front seats, heated second-row seats, interior wood trim and rain-sensing wipers.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class
The midsize E-Class wears a lot of hats, available as a sedan, station wagon, coupe or convertible. All

are also available as higher-performance AMG models. The sedan starts as the E 350, with a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder, and can be optioned to the E 450 with turbo 3.0L inline six engine. All other vehicle configurations start as the E 450. All can be ordered as the AMG E 53 with 429hp; while sports-minded execs can get the sedan and wagon as the 603hp E 63 S. No matter the vehicle or engine, 4Motion all-wheel drive is standard across the board.