Luxury knows no limits. It’s the buzzword of the automobile industry these days, and with contenders like Nissan, Toyota and Mitsubishi joining the race with BMW, Mercedes and Cadillac, luxury car buyers now have more lavish options than ever.

Of course, all this luxuriating on the showroom floor isn’t just happenstance. It’s an aggressive yet highly sophisticated campaign to “get while the gettin’ is good,” so to speak. Baby boomers are entering their peak earning years and the luxury car market is projected to be the fastest growing segment over the next several years.

If you’re among the growing number of upwardly mobile splendor seekers, your potential investment deserves some serious research. To help get you started, we’ve assembled a luxury-car briefing of sorts – a partial listing of some of the most splendiferous sedans and sports cars available today. Go ahead. Take one for a spin.

You deserve a little luxury.

CADILLAC ALLANTE Designed by Italian coachbuilder Pininfarina, the 1989 Allanté is capable of 0 to 60 mph acceleration in less than 8.5 seconds. This year, Allanté received a substantial power boost over last year’s 4.1-liter V8 with a new 200 horsepower tuned-port-fuel-injected (TPFI), 4.5-liter V8 designed exclusively for the ultra-luxury, two-seat roadster. Additional refinements include softer leather seating and door panels, a sophisticated theft-deterrent system, engine oil life indicator and centra] door unlocking from the trunk. Word has it that Allanté is the only automobile in the world to be built on a production line that spans two continents, linked by a unique 747-traversed Airbridge. This conversation piece lists at $57,183.

VOLVO 760 At the top of the Volvo scale of sedans and wagons come the luxurious 760s. The sophistication and ride comfort of the sedan is world class, and the extensive list of standard equipment on 760s makes options unnecessary. Available with either a 2.8-liter V-6 engine or Volvo’s famous turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the 760 is a delight to drive. Standard luxury features include leather-faced upholstery, power sunroof, a spectacular stereo system, automatic climate control, power windows and central locking. Lists at $33,000.


No luxury car listing would be complete without making note of this beauty. Technical enhancements designed to add even more refinement to Rolls-Royce motor cars available to North American motorists have been engineered into the 1989 range. Interior features include lambs-wool carpeting, matching polished veneers and rich Connolly leather. Standard equipment includes heated rear-view door mirrors and an independent hydraulic suspension system with a self-leveling mechanism that automatically compensates for load changes. FYI: The first Rolls-Royce car sold in America was bought by a Texan, Captain Hut-ton, in 1906 -just two years after Henry Royce built his first car. Lists at a mere $205,500.

The Rolls-Royce name, mascot, badge, and radiator grille are registered trademarks.

BMW 750 iL The flagship of Bavarian Motor Works’ model lineup, it’s the ultimate luxury car. The only sedan sold in America with a V-12 engine, the 750iL’s handling is crisp and precise, yet the ride is quiet and smooth. With a wheelbase 4.5 inches longer than that of the 735i, there’s added stretch-out room in the rear seat, and special features enhance luxury even beyond the other 7-Series models. Among them are full leather interior trim, a cellular telephone, electrically adjustable rear seats and, a system that automatically ventilates the interior when the car is left standing. New features for 1989 include an optional compact-disc player-changer. An exhilarating driving experience in the $72,000 range.

SAAB 900 TURBO CONVERTIBLE This one has become a true status car in its few short years of availability. For 1989, the allocation of the high-speed convertible was increased for the United States, and a number of new luxury appointments were added. The convertible’s cloth-covered top has an integral head-liner and glass rear window with electric defroster. For ease of operation, the top is electro-hydraulically operated by a console-mounted switch. Standard equipment includes leather upholstery, fog lights, an anti-theft system, electrically operated windows and a new three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift boot. With five-speed transmission, lists at $32,059.

LEXUS LS 400 Another of the latest words in luxury, it’s the top of Toyota’s luxury line of automobiles scheduled to go on sale next month at exclusive Lexus franchises nationwide. Its 4.0-liter, four-cam, 32-valve aluminum V8 engine is the first to be offered by a Japanese manufacturer and capitalizes on Toyota’s experience in developing multi-cam, multi-valve engines. Despite its estimated 250 horsepower, the LS 400 will not be subject to a Gas Guzzler tax. This alone sets it apart from its competition and reflects an “attention-to-detail” engineering philosophy evident throughout the Lexus flagship. An LS 400 with typical options such as leather interior, keyless remote entry and moonroof will be priced at around $37,500.

RANGE ROVER The 1989 Range Rover, enhanced with more than 30 engineering and design changes, is the most powerful version of the world famous four-by-four ever offered. The newest edition of the British-built sport/utility vehicle is faster, quieter and more luxurious than ever. The engine is more responsive for stop-go city driving through a 13 percent increase in torque, to 220 lb-ft at 3,250 rpm. For use in hot and cold weather extremes, the V-8 powered, aluminum-bodied 1989 Range Rover has a 20 percent boost in air conditioning cooldown in summer, and electrically heated windshield and washer jets for winter’s ice and snow. Lists at $36,600. The only options available are all-leather upholstery at $1,125 and electronic sunroof at $1,375.

Chrysler New Yorker LANDAU Chrysler Motors took a quantum leap forward in drivetrain technology this year with the introduction of a world-wide, industry-first fully adaptive electronic 4-speed automatic transmission, which is standard equipment in the New Yorker/Landau sedans. The New Yorker’s electronic memory driver’s seat says a lot about Chrysler’s emphasis on comfort. The feature allows two people who drive the car most frequently to program and set seat and recliner positions that can be recalled by pressing a button. Affordable luxury in the $23,000 range, the prestigious New Yorker Landau blends traditional styling with the latest technology. Covered by an exclusive Chrysler luxury car “Crystal Key” 5-year/50,000-mile basic warranty which runs concurrently with Chrysler Motors’ 7-year/70,000-mile limited power train warranty.

JAGUAR XJ6 This year’s model shows a marked improvement in standing start acceleration over the 1988 model due to increased engine performance and a new rear axle ratio. A number of other changes were also introduced for the ’89 model year, chief among which are passive front seat belts. Changes to the dash board continue the “fine-tuning” theme, with a new LCD read-out for the clock, an improved method of operation for the cruise control, and modifications to the unique Jaguar Vehicle Condition Monitor. Jaguar buyers are covered for the full period of the warranty at no extra charge by Jaguar Serv-ice-On-Site. Administered for Jaguar by the Cross-Country Motor Club, Service-On-Site is a roadside assistance plan offering coverage nationwide and in Canada. 24-hour service applies to emergencies from mechanical problems to flat tires. If the disablement is more than 50 miles from the driver’s home, the owner/driver will be provided, as needed, with reimbursement for alternative transportation, hotel, meals, etc. Luxury Jaguar-style. Priced at $44,500.

Buick Park Avenue ULTRA As its name reflects, the Ultra takes its driver to the extreme in American-engineered luxury. Introduced this year as Buick’s ultimate luxury sedan, the Ultra brings that famous “Buick ride” to a new level of luxury with a more responsive “Dyna-ride” suspension, 20-way power driver and passenger seats and lots of interior leather. New optional equipment in this series includes a remote keyless entry system (a great security benefit, and combined with the illuminated entry option, may be used to locate the car at night in a crowded parking lot!) and an electrochromic day/night inside mirror which dims automatically to reduce distracting glare when driving at night. No ballyhoo, here! Priced from around $19,000 to $26,800, the Park Avenue Ultra provides the proof that Buick is strongly enhancing its 85-year heritage of offering distinctive American cars brimming with luxury and value.

ERCEDES-BENZ 190E 2.6 The 190 range of four-door Mercedes-Benz sports sedans, which has been at or near the top of the popularity list of Mercedes models since its introduction in 1984, has a new look and a list of added features for 1989. The 190E 2.6 has a smooth and responsive 158-hp, overhead-camshaft six that can move it to 60 mph in 9.1 seconds with a manual transmission and gives it a top speed on the test track of 129 mph. It is the only Mercedes model offered in North America with choice of a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. The patented five-link rear suspension design, later adopted in the mid-size 300 Class cars, controls wheel movements for both precise handling and comfortable ride. Among the standard, luxury features, the radio includes a speed-dependent, volume-control device that automatically adjusts sound level with vehicle speed. Manufacturer’s suggested list price is $32,500.

ACURA LEGEND With more than a quarter of a million units sold since their 1986 introduction, Legend automobiles are definitely speaking the luxury seekers’ language: innovative engineering (sophisticated engine technology derived from Honda’s highly successful Formula 1 racing program); attractive styling (aerodynamic design elements, all-around driver visability of 310 degrees); ergonomically advanced interior (includes 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory and 4-way power-adjustable passenger seat on LS, plus a specially designed Acura/Bose R Music System); and lasting value and durability (Named to Road & Track’s “10 Best Cars Based on Value” list for 1988). All Acura automobiles are also covered by a 3-year, 36,000-mile limited warranty. Holding its own in the local and national luxury/performance market segments, Acura has become a legend in its own time with a three-year head start on the intense competition about to take place as other manufacturers from Japan introduce their own upscale divisions. Starts at $22,895 to $30,255.

INFINITI Q45 For luxury that goes on and on, the Q45 (a five-passenger, V-8-powered, high-performance luxury sedan) will head Nissan’s Infiniti Division line of automobiles to be introduced in the United States in early November. Designed to take on such established competitors as Mercedes Benz, Jaguar and BMW in the rarified atmosphere of international luxury sedans, the Q45 is powered by an entirely new, 4.5-liter, quad-cam, 32-valve aluminum V-8 with 278 horsepower and 292 lbs ft. of torque. The standard Q45 will come equipped with all the amenities one expects from a fine luxury sedan. Interior options in either rich leather or natural wool in a concept Infiniti dubs “unified tactile sense” ensure that all touchable parts have a consistent look and feel. Thus, the leather covering of the steering wheel and automatic transmission selector are always taken from the hide of the same animal-no matter what the cost – which, by the way, is expected to be in the $40,000 range.

Ford Thunderbird SC

Literally and luxuriously, a super coupe! Thunderbird, which led the way for Ford’s popular “aero look” in 1983, set a new standard in aerodynamic styling with the sleek, all-new 1989 model. A new platform gives the car a longer, wider stance for improved ride and handling characteristics. The Super Coupe is equipped with a supercharged, inter-cooled 3.8-liter V-6 engine. Thunderbird options include the Ford JBL Sound System, a digital disc player, an anti-lock brake system and a power moonroof. Priced in the $22,000 range.

The Land of Aahs

Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore!” No kidding, Dorothy. Once settling for tinny sound emitted through munchkin speakers, today’s car buyers are being swept off their feet by a whirlwind of car stereo wizardry.

Standard features on many new cars include top-of-the-line speakers, crossovers, AM/FM cassette players, equalizers, compact disc and digital tape players and all the accessories. Six XM-801 amplifiers provide the “brawn” that generates 960 watts in the Sony Digital Project Car. The “brains” behind the brawn is the XEC-1000 3-Way Crossover Network, mounted into the back panel of the trunk (right). The “heart” of the compact disc changer system is the CDX-A2001 Disc-Jockey? autochanger, which stores and plays 10 compact discs and is mounted on the left of the trunk floor.

The Car Stereo Stores’ owner John Page gives high marks to Alpine and Nakamichi car stereo systems, with particular praise for Sony’s leadership in developing the ultimate in high-end car CD changers-“the hottest trend on the market.” Also, if you’re out car shopping, give a listen to the team efforts of Ford/JBL, BMW/Pioneer, Cadillac/Bose, Jeep/Jensen.

So Dorothy, the car stereo sound of your dreams is no longer somewhere over the rainbow. Shop the after-market scene, inquire about the make of the system on your next test drive and be choosy. You spend a lot of valuable time out there on the freeway. Why endure another drive with your car’s stereo blahs when you could turn it into a ride through the land of aahs.


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