The term was originally introduced in the 1930s and applied to lighter, more streamlined closed body coachwork fitted by car makers. Rover, for example, had Sports Saloon versions of several of their models.
In North America, most luxury import sedans are often considered "sport sedans" because of their higher performance, handling, and expensive available amenities relative to that of mass market cars. There is some price overlapping, for instance as an entry-level BMW 328i has a similar (manufacturer's) suggested retail price to a Toyota Camry XLE V6.
The term "sport sedan" also came into being, when comparing luxury import sedans (i.e. BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz), which were smaller cars popular with young buyers that focused on performance and handling, to domestic luxury marques such as Cadillac and Lincoln, for older customers and which emphasized size and comfort. In the 1980s and 1990s, the change in consumer demographics towards smaller and sportier luxury cars, along with Japanese luxury brands, led to a decline in the prestige of domestic luxury marques, whose chief offerings were the Cadillac DeVille and Lincoln Town Car. However, since the 2000s, Cadillac and Lincoln have begun producing competitive models such as the Cadillac CTS and Lincoln LS. Buick was retained as General Motors's traditional luxury brand and emphasized comfort and amenities instead of driving experience.
Luxury performance sedans sold in North American have a smaller range of engines, tending towards the high-powered side, compared to their European lineups. For instance Mercedes-Benz advertises all of the 2009 US/Canadian models of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class as a "sport sedan", not just the high-performance C63 AMG.
In the midsize sedan category in North America, the 2008 Nissan Altima has been described as the sportiest in its classification, compared to the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. The first-generation Mazda6 and Mazda3 were also known as sport sedans as well, when tested against other vehicles in their size class.