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There’s something to be said for a luxury car that doesn’t scream “Luxury car!” The BMW 5 Series, the Volvo V90 Cross Country and Audi A6 all offer performance, class, and luxury in packages that say “I’m here on business,” not “I’m a hooligan.” Sure, these cars aren’t cheap, and they’re very sophisticated.

So which of these European mile munchers is the best to take to your next board meeting? The BMW 5 Series, set the standard, but it’s getting long in the tooth and new version is expected for 2024. So, the Audi A6 and the Volvo V90 Cross Country may be great alternatives. But they all mean business.

All business: the Audi A6

2023 Audi A6 is one of the best luxury cars for safety
2023 Audi A6 | Audi

The electric Audi E-Tron cars and the RS hot-rod sedans steal all the headlines from the A6. And, that’s perfect because nobody expects the A6 to be as good as it is. In this class, it’s the classy stealthy alternative that impresses with a stunning interior. While some say the exterior is bland, we say that’s great in the class when you don’t want to draw too much attention to yourself.

The A6 comes standard with a 261 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder, but step up to the A6 55 TFSI version and you’re rewarded with a 3.0-liter V6 that puts out 355 horses. The Audi, too, is getting a bit old and was last redesigned in 2019. But, the technology was start-of-the-art and still holds up well. In some cases, it outranks the BMW.

The A6 Premium 45 starts at about $58,000, but we’d spring for the $61,000 Premium 55 with the bigger motor all day long.

BMW will redesign the 5 Series for 2024

2023 BMW 530i white
2023 BMW 530i | BMW

For several decades the BMW 5 Series has set the standard for business-class sedans with its not-too-big and not-too-small proportions, solid luxury and good looks. But the current generation never really achieved the best-of-the-class status that BMW wants, so for 2024 we’re getting an all-new 5 Series car. That being said, the 5 Series in 530i or 540i trims is a stellar road car. But, it only achieves middling ratings from agencies like J.D. Power.

The 2023 5 Series comes in a variety of trims with a variety of motors that take it from highway cruiser to boulevard bruiser in the M550i or M5 versions with 600 horsepower. The 530i with its 248-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder gets the job done, the big six in the 540i makes more sense in this class. Inside, the BMW ditches its funky gesture-related controls that were more difficult to use than the 2023’s traditional buttons.

The 2023 5 series starts at about $57,000 but the $64,000 540i makes more sense in this class.

The Volvo V90 Cross Country

The 2023 Volvo V90 Cross Country can tow more than the ford maverick
2023 Volvo V90 Cross Country | Volvo Cars USA

The Volvo V90 Cross Country takes a different tack. It’s a (gasp!) station wagon. Dare we use the S word in print and Volvo fans come for us with pitchforks, but we think wagons are great. In the V90 you sit high, almost SUV like, but the low-slung wagon handles better than most because of its lower center of gravity and car-like proportions. This thing is made to carve the canyons that most SUVs give up on.

Inside, the Volvo has a modern, airy, mid-century feel about its design that makes it feel spacious. It has a large screen, and for 2023 it has a Google-based infotainment system. The B6 powertrain in the Volvo adds a 48-volt hybrid booster to its 2.0-liter four-cylinder which gives it a respectable 295 horsepower. We think the Volvo is a great alternative to an SUV, and yet provides most (if not more) of the capability of an SUV.

Every V90 is all-wheel drive and starts at $58,450.

They’re all business-class sedans that get the job done

All of these cars come with a full suite of driver’s assistance features, leather, and all-wheel drive can be an option. While the current generation of the 5 Series fails to impress with an underpowered base motor, it’s still the car most look to benchmark in this class. But, the Audi impresses with its buttoned-down stealthy charm. The Volvo, though, could be the iconoclast’s car for its modern wagon approach to getting the job done.


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