Hitting the road in style no longer means committing to a painful car note.
The auto industry has evolved light years beyond where it was a mere generation ago. Underwhelming style and performance of the '90s has given way to technologically advanced machines. Even entry level cars now have power and features that would have ranked as luxury a decade ago. Therefore, the best luxury cars for the money have also taken advantage of these advancements. Not only are luxury appointments now standard across the board, they've become much cheaper.
Competition among auto brands and improvements in manufacturing have worked to the consumer's benefit. We now have access to cars that our grandparents never imagined. And it has incredibly become affordable to regular folks. The luxury auto segment was once dominated by Bentley and Rolls-Royce. These cars focused on opulence and a smooth ride. Then there were Italian and other exotic cars if you wanted performance. Over recent decades though, the lines have become increasingly blurred. Lexus, Audi and Acura have emerged among a new breed of luxury. A lower price point mixed with the combination of performance and comfort have redefined the market to craft the best luxury cars for the money.
It is now prime time to take advantage of the best luxury cars for the money.
Every automotive generation has had its great values. But times continue to change. With those advancements comes a sliding scale of what constitutes a worthy investment. What used to pass for luxury just won't cut it among today's best luxury cars for the money. We've taken a look at the new models currently on sale and generally like what we see. But there are a few that really seem to offer more of real substance than others. And we're talking about cars that cost the same or barely more than their more pedestrian counterparts.
What constitutes a great value in luxury cars?
Ask any two car buyers what they value most and you're likely to get two different answers. That's why the best luxury cars for the money offer everything to everyone. Well, maybe not exactly. But it can certainly seem that way when you're behind the wheel of some of these contenders. Style, luxury and performance converge in each of these cars for an unforgettable driving experience. It's easy to find a great car these days. What can be hard is finding the perfect luxury car in a market crowded with great choices. We think these models make a compelling case to stand out from the pack.
The luxury car market isn't as exclusive as it used to be.
Several luxury auto companies have launched or split from parent companies to create more competition than ever. And many standard brands are continuing to offer options packages that put them on par with any luxury model. Some buyers remain loyal to a particular brand. They might want to see the three pointed star on the hood of their Mercedes-Benz. Maybe they need the acres of wood and hand stitched leather inside of a Bentley. But brand loyalty is less pronounced than ever. That means legendary car companies have had to step up their game. It could also work out to your favor if you are not tied to a particular brand. By shopping around, you might just find a car that completely exceeds your expectations and serves as one of the best luxury cars for the money.
Take a look at the best luxury cars for the money.
Car brands can no longer afford to cut corners when it comes to luxury brands. Competitors have improved to the point that you can always find a model to suit your tastes. We've collected several of the cars setting the pace as the best luxury cars for the money.
1. Lexus GS
Lexus is always a solid contender among value conscious luxury car buyers. Launched as an upscale alternative to Toyota about 30 years ago, it has really blossomed. The current iteration of the GS represents the great strides this company has seen. But it is also near the end of its design cycle, which means there could be great bargains out there.
And it remains a sharp look. Some people are put off by the sharp lines and massive grille. But if you think it is beautiful as so many others do, check it out now. It might rank as one of the best luxury cars for the money in any given year. A price starting a few thousand south of $50,000 makes it a clear contender. This year, however, it represents a particularly high value and one of the best luxury cars for the money.
2. Audi A6
Off the lot, you might be on the hook for a bit more if you opt for the A6. It has a slightly higher average price versus a comparative Lexus GS. But Audi has grown by leaps and bounds in the luxury department. What was once seen as Volkswagen's lackluster answer to Lexus and Infiniti has become a powerhouse. The German engineering is evident throughout this and others in the Audi lineup.
The A6 justifies any extra retail price with unparalleled bang for the money. It earns a spot among the best luxury cars for the money through an opulent experience. The Audi rings on your grille might not have the gravitas as a Spirit of Ecstasy. But once you start the engine and take off, it might not matter that much. And for a tiny fraction of the cost, you could stock a warehouse for the cost of a Phantom. Audi's typically have higher repair costs, but interior quality is top notch. Fit and finish is also class leading. Fuel and insurance costs are also lower than some luxury competitors, making it one of the best luxury cars for the money.
3. Genesis G80
A newcomer to the game, Genesis is trying hard to prove it belongs in the luxury class. Thirty years ago, Hyundai was a fledgling Korean car maker struggling to sell cheap cars in America. Not only is that brand now well respected, it has launched its own luxury line. Genesis began as a high end model in the Hyundai line up. Now it is its own brand and the G80 shows that it is one of the best luxury cars for the money.
First of all, it starts out at a significantly lower price than some of its more famous competitors. Secondly, it offers some luxury features not usually found anywhere near that price. We'll be honest, though. Buying this generation of Genesis still requires a bit of compromise. Fuel economy and base performance fall behind most of its peers. Then there's the immeasurable compromise of driving a Genesis instead of, say, a BMW. But then there's that Hyundai warranty so you can cruise with confidence. Plus you can save a ton of money while you're at it!
4. Acura TLX
Maybe you've gotten to this point in the list and think we have a different definition of value. If the bottom dollar is your bottom line, we recommend the Acura TLX. Sure it's smaller, less powerful and has slightly less fancy features. But you can get one for at least $10,000 less than most of the other cars on this list. You can buy one for just a hair over $30K or lease one on favorable terms. If you're truly in it for the luxury, there are plenty of reasons to spend the extra money. Even if it's a high end Acura, other models certainly have more to offer in that department.
But our list is measuring comparative dollar value. And there are few others who can make the case this car can. For starters, it is backed by Honda's long track record of reliability. Then there's Acura's attention to detail in fit and finish as well as ride quality. If you can overlook a little more plastic on the interior and a tight fit in for rear passengers, it's worth a look. Oh, and did we mention you can save $10,000 or more? If you want style and affordability, this is one of the best luxury cars for the money.
5. BMW 2 Series
Sometimes you just need the "ultimate driving machine." If only a BMW will do but you want to stick to a budget, the 2 series is a great option. This one starts out in the mid to high $30K range. But even at that base price, you get an array of innovative luxury options. LED headlamps, keyless entry and ignition are a few of the standards. From there, you can add on a bevy of other high end features and functions.
There's a reason drivers continue to flock to BMW. These cars are meant to be handled in the moment. But they've also gotten increasingly luxurious in recent models, too. So the relatively new 2 series benefits from decades of engineering and performance advancements. You can have the handling and comfort of a BMW for the price of a well equipped Accord. Between the luxury customization and status of BMW, this is one of the best luxury cars for the money.
6. Volvo S60
The Volvo S60 is a refined machine. Its base price isn't as low as some others on this list, but it comes with a lot. You might already associate the brand with industry leading safety features. In this arena, the S60 certainly doesn't disappoint. Then there is the elegant styling. Gone are the boxy Volvos of the '80s. The lines get more beautiful with each new generation. But the fit and finish of these cars is where you really see the value that makes this one of the best luxury cars for the money.
At an extremely competitive starting price, Volvo offers a ton of features. A quiet cabin and smooth ride are givens. You'll find a sunroof, Xenon headlamps, and on board Wi-Fi capabilities. The plush leather is expertly stitched. The seats are planted; they're very comfortable on long rides and around tight corners. Standard options even include some features that almost always cost extra. For example, the base model comes with low speed forward collision mitigation technology. It also includes adaptive cruise control and rear parking sensors. And the navigation system is highly intuitive and user friendly. All of that is in the base model. And that kind of value earns you an elevated spot among the best luxury cars for the money.
Don't spend more than you have to on your next luxury ride.
Having it all doesn't mean spending it all. We hope you've learned a little more about where to find the best values in this highly competitive market. With so many great brands competing for your dollar, the end result are great bargains. Combine that with more affordable technology and manufacturing, and you can ride in style on the cheap.
If you enjoyed our list, consider sharing it with the luxury auto enthusiasts in your life. Don't forget to share your favorite luxury ride in the comments section below and tell us why you love it!
Related article: Having a Car Isn't Always Worth It, and We'll Tell You Why