What's white and Swedish and semi-swift? Give up? Answer: the Volvo S60 T5 AWD. Volvo positions the T5 as the base trim on its S60 sedan, forcing enthusiast buyers to shell out for T6 and T6 R-Design models. That said, base is relative in cars that cost over $30K or so. We spent a week with a T5 AWD version of the S60, trying very hard not to make jokes about ABBA, Ikea, and Swedish Fish. We failed.
Lexus has been trying to beat BMW at the mid-size sports sedan game since 1998, joining Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi in attempts to out-do the much-loved BMW 3-Series. The first and second generations of the Lexus IS fell short of the mark, but that doesn't mean they were terrible cars -- far from it. But overall competence isn't enough to get enthusiasts shopping in the near-luxury sports-sedan segment to part with their money.
Once upon a time, the Hyundai Azera was a bland near-luxury sedan that did well as a value proposition against other bland near-luxury sedans, thanks to its low price. That all changed in 2012, when Hyundai redesigned the Azera, giving it striking looks.
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