The newest flagship sedan from Cadillac, with a name that heralds a complete revamp of the line-up, the CT6 combines luxury and advanced tech. Just check out the smart rear view mirror, which actually shows a video image and gives an unobstructed view of what's behind you.
At an option price of $3,400, you can add the Bose Panaray audio system.
Designed specially for the CT6, Bose integrated 34 speakers into the car, including two 70mm bass speakers in the floor and line arrays of smaller speakers in the A-pillars. Pictured is the center fill, which motors up form the dashboard. There are also speakers in the headrests. Four amps power the system producing 570 watts.
Reviewing this car, Roadshow editor Antuan Goodwin wrote "The Panaray rig is loud and very clear, but what it really brings to the table is excellent staging for every seat in the house."
Jaguar is known for classic British coachwork, and the newest generation XJ, its top sedan, epitomizes this idea. In its long wheelbase version, the XJ L offers rear seat passengers executive transportation, with the ability to remain productive on the go.
To add high-quality audio to the experience, tick the $4,200 option box to get the Meridian Reference Surround System.
Jaguar has adopted British loudspeaker maker as its sound supplier of choice, and the Meridian Reference Surround System represents the company's current best effort for in-car audio. This system uses 26 speakers, with a few embedded in the backs of the front seats, as shown here, to give rear-seat passengers an excellent listening experience.
Meridian's Tri-field digital signal processing blends the output from the speakers to create seamless reproduction. To accommodate a wide array of sources, including low-bandwidth satellite radio and digital files, Meridian's Digital Dithering technology processes the signal, attempting to smooth the output. The system's amp puts 1,300 watts of power behind the sound.
Volvo hit a home run when it released its XC90 crossover vehicle last year, winning awards from most major automotive publications, including Roadshow's own three-way comparison of luxury SUVs. The XC90 encapsulates comfort and elegance, with a high-tech edge including advanced driver assistance features and economical drive systems.
For a mere $2,650 you can add the Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound System.
The Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound System in the XC90's most visual feature is the "Tweeter on Top", a 25mm tweeter placed in the center of the dashboard, pictured above. But built into the structure of the car is an air-ventilated 250 mm subwoofer, serving as a foundation for this system's refined sound. A 1,400-watt 12-channel amp serves up the power.
Along with digital signal-processing presets called Studio and Individual Stage, drivers will find one called Gothenburg Concert Hall, which attempts to recreate the acoustics of its namesake physical location in Sweden.
The remarkable Audi Q7, the newest generation of Audi's largest SUV, combines excellent high-performance handling with advanced safety and human-interface technologies. Drivers benefit from the Virtual Cockpit, a large LCD instrument panel that puts infotainment controls right up front.
To take the audio experience up to a totally new level, you will need to add $5,000 for the Bang and Olufsen 3D Advanced Sound System.
With the 3D Advanced Sound System, Bang and Olufsen uses a couple of strategies to try and add height to what has been traditionally a lateral sound plane. First of all, it adds tweeters high in the A-pillars. Second, Bang and Olufsen worked with the Fraunhofer Society, the inventor of the MP3 audio format, using its Symphoria 3D algorithm to add a vertical axis to the sound reproduction.
The result is an enveloping audio experience with exceptional separation, allowing for distinct audio reproduction.
The latest generation of Mercedes-Benz's S-class flagship model is a couple of years old now, but it set a new standard for luxury sedans, combining advanced technologies with the most comfortable ride quality. It includes a system that can take over the driving in stop-and-go traffic, and Mercedes-Benz has added a gorgeous coupe version to complement the sedan.
For a pricey $6,400, you can add the Burmester High End 3D Surround System to this luxurious vehicle.
Similar to the Bang and Olufsen 3D system in the Audi Q7, German hi-fi maker Burmester adds a dimension of height to music reproduction, partly by putting 3 of the system's 24 speakers in the roof. To control the audio output, Burmester came up with its own 3D algorithm. The 1,540-watt amp offers a channel for each speaker, allowing individual control and fine audio shaping.
The latest BMW 7-series is a technological marvel both inside and out. BMW's biggest sedan uses carbon fiber in its passenger cell to reduce weight and increase stiffness, and gives drivers a variety of gee-whiz features, such as gesture control to change the volume. Along with luxury, the new 7-series maintains BMW's classic performance edge.
For a mere $3,400 you can add the Bowers and Wilkins Diamond Surround System, where "diamond" has a literal meaning.
The Bowers and Wilkins Diamond Surround System incorporates 16 speakers, which may not sound like much considering the competition. However, some of those speakers, including the one pictured here, use Bowers and Wilkins' nautilus design. To prove the name, Bowers and Wilkins uses diamonds in the tweeter domes, which adds stiffness, so that the domes don't deform under pressure, preserving the audio fidelity.
To add some oomph, Bowers and Wilkins integrates two 217mm subwoofers into the car, and powers the whole system with a 1,400-watt 10-channel amp.
The granddaddy of the cars rounded up here, the Lexus LS 460 is long overdue for a generational update. However, it remains an excellent luxury choice for its ride quality, power and surprisingly good freeway fuel economy. The old roller has fallen behind when it comes to dashboard and driver-assist technology, but it remains a credible luxury flagship.
It was also an early high-end audio player with its Mark Levinson Reference system, available for a paltry $1,580.
The Mark Levinson system in the LS benefits from 19 speakers, which includes a big, 250mm subwoofer. Powered by a 450-watt, 16-channel amp, the system uses what Mark Levinson parent company Harman calls Greenedge technology. Greenedge was introduced to maintain audio quality while reducing power use, which ultimately can affect fuel economy.
The Mark Levinson Reference system has been a standout for balance fidelity since its launch in the LS.
The RLX represents Acura's first real attempt to compete in the big luxury sedan segment. The company incorporated luxury and sport handling, through such tricks as four-wheel-steering. Along with a standard V-6 version, Acura also offers the RLX Sport-Hybrid, which uses a similar drivetrain architecture as that created for the new NSX.
Opt for an Advance Package model, at $6,000 over the base version, and among the tech goodies you will get the Krell Premium Audio system.
Known in audiophile circles, US-based Krell Industries produces high-end amps and speakers. Acura tapped the company to add audio refinement to its new luxury sedan, resulting in a 14-speaker system with incredible fidelity. The system produces visceral bass you can feel through your entire body, while vocals are pristine and clear.
Lincoln holds a venerated name among luxury automakers, although it recently suffered from some troubled years in owner Ford's shadow. The MKX seems to herald a new luxury era, where Lincoln differentiates itself from Ford. The MKX is a comfortable and spacious crossover, and should soon be followed by an entirely new Continental, reviving one of Lincoln's most famous models.
To upgrade the luxury in the MKX, Lincoln tapped equipment supplier Harman, which came up with the Revel Ultima premium audio system, part of the $4,400 Luxury package.
The Revel Ultima system gives the MKX 19 speakers, powered by two amps with a combined 1,200 watts, making for clean, well-balanced sound reproduction. Taking into account the many low-bitrate audio sources in common usage, Revel Ultima includes what Harman calls Clari-Fi, a signal processing system that attempts to make up for artifacts and lost information in a track.