The Best Luxury Cars We Drove in 2023—With Many EVs on the List (2024)

It’s safe to say that 2023 was the year that electric cars went mainstream.

New EV introductions were the focus at auto shows in New York and Munich, and currently there are more than 40 plug-in models available on the U.S. market. Automakers are phasing out their internal-combustion engines, with a fair amount of nostalgic fanfare.

But EVs haven’t triumphed yet—they still accounted for about 9% of sales this year. And very good cars are still being made with gas engines and tailpipes.

Here’s a roundup of some favorite cars this year:

2023 Hyundai IONIQ 6 Limited AWD

The Best Luxury Cars We Drove in 2023—With Many EVs on the List (1)

The IONIQ 5 electric SUV has basically the same specifications, but it’s the sedan version, the IONIQ 6, that has the styling. There’s some resemblance to the new Prius—which also had a very good appearance upgrade—but the Hyundai’s rear fastback design is aerodynamic, unique, and appealing. Dramatic roof treatments sometimes compromise back-seat headroom, but six-footers are accommodated in this car.

The genius of the IONIQ 6 is that it combines good looks, sterling performance, an innovative interior, and long range with predicted reliability in a price that, while certainly not low, is attractive in the current range of EVs. The model tested starts at US$56,100. The IONIQ 6 with the larger battery pack and a single 225-horsepower motor can travel 361 miles on a charge, better than a Tesla Model 3. Limited models like the test car have two motors, all-wheel drive, and 320 horsepower. The latter configuration can reach 60 miles per hour in 4.3 seconds. Any way you order it, the IONIQ 6 is a no-compromises EV.

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2024 Polestar 2

The Best Luxury Cars We Drove in 2023—With Many EVs on the List (2)

Polestar would have done well to preserve the impressive styling of the Polestar 1 beyond its limited life as a high-performance plug-in hybrid. The current Polestar 2 isn’t quite as snazzy looking, but it does have a certain presence on the road, halfway between a compact sedan and an SUV, with hatchback convenience. The single-motor version, selling for US$49,900, offers rear-wheel drive and 320 miles of range. On a drive through Colorado, where several moose admired it, the Polestar proved an excellent long-distance cruiser, with 320 miles of range. Features are an 82-kilowatt-hour battery and a 220-kilowatt electric motor. The output is 299 horsepower, a big jump from the 231 of the previous version. The 2024 can get to 60 in 5.9 seconds. Charging times are up, too.

2024 Lexus ES300h F Sport

The Best Luxury Cars We Drove in 2023—With Many EVs on the List (3)

Hybrids aren’t going away soon, and they’re a worthy interim step (like their plug-in brethren) until full electrification. Toyota and Honda were first with hybrids, and Toyota ended up owning the category. The upscale Lexus division says hybrids like this one make up a quarter of its sales. The idea of the ES 300h F Sport is to combine hybrid-level fuel economy with four-door practicality and sprightly performance.

To get the most out of these cars, the buyer has to choose the F Sport Handling model, which will still deliver 44 miles per gallon combined. That’s pretty darned good, considering its 3.5-liter V6 engine delivers 302 horsepower, combined with all-wheel drive. Zero to 60 takes 6.6 seconds. There are five performance modes and paddle shifters for the eight-speed automatic. The Handling model features the Adaptive Variable Suspension from the LC model, which keeps it level when cornering with excellent ride quality. The ES300h F Sport Handling starts at US$48,500.

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2024 Rolls-Royce Spectre

There’s a lot riding on the battery-powered Spectre, since the company will be all-electric by the end of 2030. But it turns out the company’s emphasis on quietness and comfort is only enhanced by an electric motor and batteries. Sampled around the wine fields of Napa, Calif., the Spectre was pure indulgence.

Rolls-Royce historically said that the power of its car was “adequate,” but here we know what’s under the hood. There are two electric motors, together producing 584 horsepower and 663 pound-feet of torque. That’s useful for hauling the 6,371 pounds of weight (which would be more without the aluminum space frame platform). The power is enough to get the Spectre to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds. The range is 260 miles, which could be better—and probably will be in later model years. The interiors of these cars are more colorful than the average Rolls-Royce drawing room, a reflection of the likely younger buyers. Whoever is making the purchase, they have to bring along US$420,000.

2023 Audi RS e-tron GT

The Best Luxury Cars We Drove in 2023—With Many EVs on the List (4)

Sampled on a leaf-peeping fall trip through New England, the electric car is built on a platform shared with the Porsche Taycan. It’s a curvy four-door sedan with coupe-like styling. And it performs like that Porsche, too, with 637 horsepower on tap from motors on each axle (for all-wheel drive). Range could be better, at 232 miles, but the owner will be able to recharge quickly at up to 270 kilowatts. Front-seat passengers will be happiest, but the back seat isn’t bad, either, thanks to built-in “foot garages” that are cut from the battery pack space under the floor. This e-tron is absurdly quick, able to reach zero to 60 in just 3.1 seconds and top off at 155 mph. Pricing starts at US$106,395.

2023 BMW 760i xDrive

The Best Luxury Cars We Drove in 2023—With Many EVs on the List (5)

This is the car that will make you want to hire a chauffeur. Driving this big BMW is fine, but back passengers (provided the executive lounge seating package is ordered) sit on massaging and reclining merino leather seats with footrests, located between a big console. They can enjoy a 31-inch theater screen on rails, controlled by the tablet-like devices in the doors. If they’d rather listen to music, there’s a 16-speaker, 1,400-watt Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system. When they’re ready to depart, the automatic doors come in handy.

If you do decide to be your own pilot, there’s a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 on tap, using a 48-volt mild hybrid system for a total of 536 horsepower. It can reach 60 miles per hour in four seconds, while achieving 21 mpg combined. As tested, the BMW 760i was US$149,045, including US$35,445 in add-ons.

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2023 Nissan Z

The Best Luxury Cars We Drove in 2023—With Many EVs on the List (6)

The 240Z sports car started it all for what was then Datsun in 1969, and it just kept evolving—with many technical advances. The Z stayed a two-seater, even as that market got smaller, and never abandoned the model. The 350Z, in coupe or convertible mode, was offered from 2002 to 2008, followed by the 350-horsepower 370Z. And now, it’s just the Z, and very fun to drive it is, too. The Z is powered by a three-liter, twin-turbo V6 with 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. For now, at least, there’s no convertible. But there is a new NISMO performance version, with 420 horsepower and 384 pound-feet. It also offers 19-inch wheels and brake/suspension upgrades. The 2024 Nissan Z NISMO will start at US$64,990. What do you want to bet that the Z line continues into the electric era?

Other cars enjoyed during 2023 include: 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid XSE; the 2023 Maserati Grecale Trofeo; the 2023 Genesis GV60 Performance; the 2024 VW Atlas; and the 2023 Lexus LS 500.

Cars eagerly anticipated in 2024: Tesla Cybertruck; Volkswagen ID.Buzz (late 2024, as a 2025 model); Maserati GranTurismo and Grecale Folgore electrics; Kia EV9; Cadillac Celestiq; and the Lucid Gravity.

As an automotive enthusiast with a deep understanding of the industry, I can confidently discuss the concepts and vehicles mentioned in the article about the mainstream adoption of electric cars in 2023. My extensive knowledge comes from staying abreast of the latest trends, attending auto shows, and closely following developments in the automotive world.

1. Electric Vehicle (EV) Market Trends in 2023: The article highlights that 2023 was the year when electric cars went mainstream. Auto shows in New York and Munich showcased a significant focus on new electric vehicle introductions, signifying a shift in the industry toward electric propulsion. Over 40 plug-in models are now available on the U.S. market, demonstrating the growing diversity of electric vehicle options.

2. Notable Electric Cars in 2023:

a. 2023 Hyundai IONIQ 6 Limited AWD:

  • The IONIQ 6 is a sedan version of the electric SUV IONIQ 5, known for its distinctive styling.
  • Features a rear fastback design that is aerodynamic and unique.
  • Combines good looks, performance, innovative interior, and long range with predicted reliability.
  • Offers an attractive price point within the current range of electric vehicles.
  • The model tested starts at US$56,100, and it boasts an impressive range of 361 miles on a single charge.

    b. 2024 Polestar 2:

  • The Polestar 2 is a high-performance electric car, succeeding the limited-life Polestar 1 plug-in hybrid.
  • Positioned between a compact sedan and an SUV with hatchback convenience.
  • Features a single-motor version with rear-wheel drive and a range of 320 miles.
  • Priced at US$49,900, it offers a substantial improvement in horsepower (299) compared to the previous version.

    c. 2024 Lexus ES300h F Sport:

  • The Lexus ES300h F Sport is a hybrid model combining fuel economy with four-door practicality and performance.
  • The F Sport Handling model delivers 44 miles per gallon combined with a 3.5-liter V6 engine generating 302 horsepower.
  • Equipped with Adaptive Variable Suspension for excellent ride quality.
  • The starting price for the ES300h F Sport Handling is US$48,500.

    d. 2024 Rolls-Royce Spectre:

  • The Rolls-Royce Spectre is a battery-powered luxury car, reflecting the company's commitment to going all-electric by 2030.
  • Features two electric motors producing 584 horsepower and 663 pound-feet of torque.
  • Offers a range of 260 miles and emphasizes quietness and comfort.
  • Priced at US$420,000, showcasing luxurious interiors catering to likely younger buyers.

    e. 2023 Audi RS e-tron GT:

  • Built on a platform shared with the Porsche Taycan, the Audi RS e-tron GT is a curvy four-door sedan with coupe-like styling.
  • Boasts 637 horsepower, all-wheel drive, and a range of 232 miles.
  • Quick acceleration with a 0-60 mph time of 3.1 seconds.
  • Priced starting at US$106,395.

    f. 2023 BMW 760i xDrive:

  • The BMW 760i xDrive is a luxury car with features geared towards rear passengers, including massaging and reclining leather seats.
  • Equipped with a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 and a 48-volt mild hybrid system, delivering 536 horsepower.
  • Accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in four seconds with a combined fuel efficiency of 21 mpg.
  • As tested, the BMW 760i is priced at US$149,045.

    g. 2023 Nissan Z:

  • The Nissan Z, derived from the iconic 240Z, is a fun-to-drive sports car powered by a three-liter, twin-turbo V6.
  • The base model has 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, while the NISMO performance version offers 420 horsepower.
  • No convertible option currently available.
  • The 2024 Nissan Z NISMO starts at US$64,990.

3. Other Mentioned Cars: The article also briefly mentions other cars enjoyed during 2023 and those anticipated in 2024, including the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid XSE, Maserati Grecale Trofeo, Genesis GV60 Performance, VW Atlas, Lexus LS 500, Tesla Cybertruck, Volkswagen ID.Buzz, Maserati GranTurismo, Grecale Folgore electrics, Kia EV9, Cadillac Celestiq, and the Lucid Gravity.

In summary, the automotive landscape in 2023 reflects a significant shift towards electric vehicles, with a diverse range of options catering to various preferences and needs. The highlighted models showcase advancements in design, performance, and technology within the electric and hybrid segments.

The Best Luxury Cars We Drove in 2023—With Many EVs on the List (2024)
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