, USA Today, 'MotorWeek' $46,000 Sport Sedan Challenge

Overview1 has teamed up with our partners at USA Today and "MotorWeek" for the past three years to compare the most popular car categories on the market. We've tackled compacts, compact crossovers, midsize sedans and even minivans.

Finally, we found a segment that gave us an excuse to rent a racetrack for a day: the luxury sport sedan. Today/ "MotorWeek" $46,000 Sport Sedan Challenge

We first thought up the grouping when both BMW and Mercedes-Benz announced their entry-level versions of the 3 Series and C-Class would switch from six-cylinders to turbocharged four-cylinders like Audi's A4. Then a short while later Cadillac introduced the ATS and its turbocharged model as well.

We rounded out the group with the Acura TL — with a V-6 — and the Volvo S60 with a turbocharged five-cylinder and hit the road to California for a few days of testing on area roads, the track and the drag strip.

Find out which car bested the field — most handedly — and let us know what you think in the comment section below.



not really surprising results overall. The 3 series has won all but one comparison vs the ATS thus far. The Volvo has also done well in at least one other comparison involving these cars. The general consensus is that the C class is near rear of the pack and 328 is top of the pack. The other players are not really consistently ranked.

I do not understand the 3 series true trunk volume. some tests have listed volume at 17 cu ft which is totally unbelievable for a car of this size- in fact the 5 nor 7 series have that much trunk space. This test lists capacity at 13 cu ft which seems much more realistic.


Not surprised that the 3 Series won. All Beemer's are amazing to drive, no matter the price point. I am surprised that the 5 year old Acura beat the others. Way to go Honda!


They all are great cars, I'm surprised the Acura did so well.


They all are great cars, I'm surprised the Acura did so well.

John Bruce

I'm goin' with a well-preserved Jaguar Mk. II sedan and some minor refurbishing. Even with new leather, that should keep it around $35K


I just cross shopped this segment and ended up buying a 2013 Acura TL for $31,800. It's my first Japanese car having previously owned seven German cars, 4 Audi's and 3 BMW's. I love the interior quality, the smooth revving motor, and how comfortable the car is to drive.


The TL is really too large to compare with these cars. Generally speaking its not seen as comparable because of its size and weight and the fact that it has FWD in base form. The TL is a nice enough luxury car, but people who want a true compact sports sedan are not likely to consider it an alternative to the ATS or 3 series.


"...people who want a true compact sports sedan are not likely to consider it an alternative to the ATS or 3 series."

People from the north/ northeast will cross-shop the G37x, TL SH-AWD, 3 xDrive, A4, etc. Don't forget, the Audi A4 "base" comes as a FWD too!!

"The TL is really too large to compare with these cars"

The TL is not too large - its wheel base is actually shorter than the current 3-series. The interior room is pretty close as well. You may be thinking about the 3-series of 4 generations ago ...


I am very impressed with the BMW's turbo 4-cyl. In comparison, I find the A4's to be weaker and much less refined. The A4 Quattro drives and sounds like your average "family" sedan. The C300 4Matic is solid and refined. I don't know how it compares to the C250 ...


i'm talking about overall length, the TL is like 196" long which is close to a foot longer than some of these other sedans. RWD cars have less space relative to their wheelbase lengths than FWD cars. The new Impala has a shorter wheelbase than a CTS but it has considerably more room. TL is also heavier than all of the models in this comparison test. The AWD model is nearly 2 tons vs around 3500 for a 328i.

Michael Rubin

For under $46000 you could have put the Volvo S60 T6 AWD and even the R-Design into the running-not the T5 AWD. It would have bested the BMW 0-60 and would have beat all in handling and comfort. Bad BMW Bias here...

Why are you surprised the BMW won? German technologically in cars has been at the pivotal point of development for years. Don't get me wrong they are all brilliant cars and i am particularly a fan of Japanese car crafts. To be fair although i said i'm not surprised, after checking the rankings i did not think it would dominate the leader board that much! Must have been a fun day.

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