Comfort, refinement, economy, striking looks and of course the right badge. The perfect executive car needs to tick all the right boxes in order to be a successful companion to the executive driving it, usually up and down the country's motorways and A-roads, day in, day out, conducting business.
We have compiled a list below featuring ten excellent executive cars from the world's most renowned and sought-after manufacturers. The best cars will combine all the factors mentioned, and add in other extra details to ensure they stand out from the strong competition.
With such a strong market, our list features the very best and demonstrates why they have been chosen, along with quirks and features of that particular model.
Which one will you go for?
BMW 3 Series
Starting strong, the BMW 3 Series has been the text book answer to the best executive car for multiple generations. It continues to be an excellent all-round package thanks to a superb driving experience, multiple model choice and of course, the sought-after BMW badge.
Executive sharp and stylish looks are accompanied by a range of superb engines, offering varying levels of economy and performance, so you can have a more dynamic or comfortable 3 Series, depending on your preference. M sport models for example take inspiration from BMW M cars, and therefore feature sportier suspension and body styling.
Interior material choice is excellent, as you would expect for a BMW and the 3 Series is therefore a lovely place to spend time. BMW infotainment ensures long drives are far more enjoyable, as do the upgraded audio options providing crystal clear sound and Bluetooth connectivity.Search Used BMW 3 Series
You can't mention the best executive cars, without including the fantastic Mercedes-Benz C-Class - a car that has been battling it out with the BMW 3 Series for many generations.
Like the BMW, the C-Class is a text book approach to the executive car. Each C-Class is well made, features classy exterior styling and details, along with state-of-the-art technology too.
Mercedes-Benz are the market leader for brand-new cutting-edge technology. Options like radar guided cruise control were first showcased in a Mercedes-Benz, and so many models are available with similar technology. This makes long, boring motorway journeys far easier and of course ensures the C-Class is beautifully comfortable.
Multiple engine choices and trim levels mean you can specify a C-Class to your exact needs. AMG-Line models are great for those wanting dynamic styling and poise, without the enhanced running costs of an out and out AMG model.Search Used Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz continue to be the three king pins in the executive and premium car market. The Audi A4 goes head to head with the models mentioned previously.
German designs, technology and desirability continue to be at the top of the list for most car buyers. The Audi A4 looks to disrupt the success of the 3 Series and C-Class by updating its design language, featuring sharper styling details, along with featuring Quattro all-wheel drive in some models.
Audi were also the first to take a very different approach to interiors, unveiling the stunning 'Audi Digital Cockpit', which you can find in the Audi A4. As well as interior detail, exterior design by Audi is again causing a headache for other German car manufacturers.
Features on the A4 such as sequential turn indicators indicators ensure the A4 stands out from competition, for those who appreciate incredible attention to detail.Search Used Audi A4
Not all great executive cars come from Germany. Here in the UK, we are just as good at making them, and the Jaguar XE is proof.
Heritage and history count for a lot, and Jaguar were once the symbol for luxury and class. Today, the Jaguar XE mixes the renown luxury and class of old with a refreshingly unique approach that has seen performance and bespoke touches being applied.
The XE is a fine looking car and like the competition comes in many specification choices. Characterful big powered petrol versions are joined by more efficient diesel engine options.
In a world where German cars seem to dominate, the Jaguar XE can make you proud to be British thanks to its unique styling and staying true to heritage in offering a fine driving experience, and ensuring driver and passengers will never feel like they need something more.Search Used Jaguar XE
Another German manufacturer, but Volkswagen offer a more affordable way into a sought-after German built executive car. The Volkswagen badge may not have the prestige of the other three manufacturers mentioned previous, but in some aspects, the VW Passat can hold its own for sure.
Being a VW, the build quality is superb and being a member of the VWAG group (Volkswagen Audi Group) the Passat has a digital cockpit which certain helps in making boring drives a lot more entertaining and generally nicer to use.
Passat models have a reputation for offering incredible economy too with 60-70mpg easily achievable.
If you want a great looking car, that won't look out of place next to a more expensive German alternative, but still provide you with a perfect executive daily driver, the Passat does not disappoint.Search Used Volkswagen Passat
Audi A3 Saloon
Another Audi in our list, this time it's the Audi A3 Saloon. Initially the Audi A3 started life as a hatchback, but as ever, to keep competitive in the market Audi created the A3 Saloon. Simply put, an Audi A3 with a bigger boot and saloon car practicalities.
It is a handsome looking car and certainly warrants the executive car classification. The Audi design language is apparent in the exterior looks with distinct, sharper more aggressive lines, sequential turn indicators and of the sought-after Audi four ring badge.
Inside it's the same story. The virtual cockpit is stunning, and material choice is wonderfully premium. The A3 Saloon is also very well put together and will do the monotonous motorway journeys with ease. A fine selection of engine choice complements the overall appeal too.Search Used Audi A3
BMW 5 Series
Essentially the BMW 5 Series is a bigger version of the BMW 3 Series, but there is of course more to it than just size.
The 5 Series is more expensive to buy, and therefore comes with an enhanced standard specification and more interior space, being a bigger car. Although both the 3 and 5 Series are typically dynamic to drive, as is the case with most BMW models, the 5 Series is more comfortable than the smaller 3 Series, but the 3 Series is more agile and therefore more suited to a keener driver.
However, the 5 Series offers more road presence and in the executive market, a 5 Series is a bit more of a status symbol than its smaller sibling. Either way, you cannot go wrong with either BMW.Search Used BMW 5 Series
Another German car, another Mercedes-Benz. The E-Class, in short is a larger version of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Of course, a bigger more expensive car is much more than just space and the E-Class emits a greater road presence, whilst on the interior there is more space also, along with more standard equipment.
For executive car purposes, the E-Class offers more comfort too, as well as more power due to the car's overall size. The E-Class isn't as agile as the C-Class, but this is the beauty of manufacturers offering different cars and in different sizes as you can find the perfect solution to your needs.Search Used Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Just like BMW and Mercedes-Benz, Audi too offer a larger version of an executive car. So, if the Audi A4 is slightly smaller than what you need, then the larger A6 is also available.
Staying true to larger car protocol offered by multiple manufacturers, the Audi A6 offers more interior space and practicality, as well as offering more power, more standard specification and of course, a bigger and more profound road presence.
Being an Audi, you still get all the must have Audi design features such as the stunning virtual cockpit, sharper flushing indicators and interior materials that ensure the A6 is a fine place to spend copious amounts of time.Search Used Audi A6
A break from the large number of German cars in our list, and a uniquely different approach by Japanese car manufacturer Lexus.
Lexus are essentially more luxurious Toyota models, similar to how Audi cars are more luxurious VW models. Therefore, with family DNA coming from Toyota, you can be sure the Lexus IS will be well built and also rather reliable.
It has its own design language too, very angular and a lot more independent than its rivals. Interior quality is great and on par with rivals bringing together digital instruments and infotainment for an interior fit for spending lengthy periods of time in.
One thing Lexus are great at is hybrid versions of its cars, which have been on the market for a lot longer than its German rivals in some instances, so the technology is tried and tested too.Search Used Lexus IS
There are more executive cars out there, and we are starting to see volume brands try and steal some of the action, which is good for evolution of the cars mentioned above.
Still not convinced? Why not browse our complete selection of used cars and see what you can discover today.
Search Used Stratstone Cars