Luxury Overview

US News

Luxury cars are expensive.  Let’s be honest: that’s part of their cachet. Cars from luxury brands start at about $24,000 for small cars and easily reach into the $100,000-range for luxury SUVs and sports cars. It’s hard to imagine paying so much for a car, but in return you get high-end features, unrivaled performance, loads of comfort and a healthy dose of jealousy in everyone you pass.  

If you can’t swallow spending so much, see if you can get a model with similar features for less. A great example is the Hyundai Elantra. For about $22,000, you can get navigation, a rearview camera, push-button start and heated leather seating for five. Shopping budget models with luxury features is one way to save.  Just keep in mind that when it comes to luxury cars, saving isn’t always the point.

Sedans and Hatchbacks

You can get luxury sedans at any size – compact, midsize or large. No matter the size, luxury cars can offer exceptional performance or good fuel economy, so vehicle choice really depends on your lifestyle. If you want something small, utilitarian, fuel-efficient and zippy, go for the Audi A3. But if you need a model with spacious backseats that can fit your family comfortably, try the Buick Regal. It has one of the largest backseats in its class.

Large luxury cars are jazzier than small and midsize luxury sedans. They have stronger engines -- optional V8s are common -- and they have exceptional interiors. Take the Infiniti M37. It comes with wood trim, 10-way power adjustable seats, leather-trim seating and iPod connectivity.

SUVs

Other than their focus on utility, luxury SUVs are a lot like luxury sedans. They‘re available as compact, midsize or large models. The category you choose depends on your lifestyle. Among small SUVs, the Audi Q5 is very well-rounded: it has great performance, provides a top-drawer interior with comfortable seats, and is classified as an IIHS “Top Safety Pick,” making it perfect for small families. However, it only seats five, so shoppers looking for something larger should check midsize and large SUVs.

Midsize luxury SUVs seat between five and seven people, offer V6 and V8 engines, and sumptuous interiors that are similar to small SUVs. The Acura MDX comes with ample seating space for seven, high-tech features like an optional navigation system that includes restaurant reviews and a powerful, sporty drive. If you need something even larger, take a look at the bling-tastic Cadillac Escalade or the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid. Both have plenty of power and interiors that can keep even the most jaded passengers happy.

Coupes, Convertibles and Sports Cars

Luxury coupes and convertibles attract completely different crowds than sedans and SUVs. Singles and empty nesters who want something fun to kick around in on the weekends will love owning a luxury coupe, convertible or even sports car. If you fall into this category, there are plenty of options, but you have to know what you’re looking for. Regardless of what you choose, keep in mind that trunk space is almost nonexistent, as is space for more than two passengers.

Sports cars prioritize performance, which means that there is often little trunk space, poor fuel economy, and cramped cabins. The upside is that you also get powerful engines and some of the best-engineered handling on the planet. The models with the best performance will have some of the smallest dimensions in the class. Take the Lotus Elise: it has a four-cylinder engine, but it’s one of the best performing luxury sports cars on the market. Unfortunately, the Elise is uncomfortable for tall passengers. If you need roomier accommodations and more power, you can upgrade to the larger Chevrolet Corvette, which has an impressive 22 cubic feet of trunk space and a V8 engine.

If you’re going for a sports car already, why not get a convertible? Many luxury sports cars and even some coupes feature retractable hardtops. The BMW Z4 has a great retractable roof, and the stylish Audi TT is available as either a coupe or a roadster.

If you don’t want a performance car, turn to coupes and convertibles with decent performance and roomier interiors. A great example is the Infiniti G37 convertible. It has a retractable hard top, a solid 10.3 cubic feet of trunk space, a V6 engine and a luxurious interior. The G37 is also available as a coupe.

Best Luxury Vehicles

 

Hyundai Elantra Limited

Buick Regal

Volkswgen Touareg

Cadillac Escalade

Chevrolet Corvette

Max. Seats

5

5

5

8

2

MSRP

$19,980

$26,245

$44,450

$63,160

$53,600

Cargo in Cubic Feet (rear seats up/rear seats fown)

14.8

14.2

32.1/70.9

108.9 (max.)

22

Base Engine

1.8-liter four-cylinder

2.0-liter four-cylinder

3.6-liter V6

6.2-liter V8

6.2-liter V8

MPG city/highway

29/40

20/32

Diesel: 19/28

Gasoline: 16/23

2WD: 14/18

AWD: 13/18

16/26

Standard and Optional

XM Radio, iPod and USB auxiliary jacks, heated leather seats in front and back, Bluetooth, navigation

iPod connectivity, XM radio, steering wheel- mounted controls, leather seats, driver and front passenger power seats

Navigation, dual-zone electronic climate control, SIRIUS, Bluetooth, leatherette seats

Navigation, heated and powered leather seats, XM radio rear parking assist

OnStar, XM Radio, push-button start, heated and power- adjustable mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control

Safety

NA (new model)

IIHS “Top Safety Pick”

IIHS “Top Safety Pick”

Four-star overall rating from NHTSA

NA

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