Way back when, there was great disparity between luxury cars and cars for the common man. Over time, that disparity has lessened as the result of a combination of more entry-level luxury car offerings and rising prices for more mainstream, conventional cars.
A loaded Chevrolet, for example, can easily play into the price range that one would be looking at for a lightweight luxury car such as a Mercedes-Benz CLA. While the vehicles may not be in the same class, it’s a fairly new trend (relative to the history of the auto industry) to have different badges occupying the same price bracket.
However, as manufacturers strive to make cars suitable for everyone’s needs, brands are finding that they must coexist. On that matter, Kelley Blue Book has compiled a list of 10 luxury cars that fall under $40,000. And while they won’t come loaded to the gills with optional extras, they present a relatively affordable play on the luxury market.
10. Volvo S60
Often overlooked next to its luxury peers, the Volvo S60 “offers some of the finest luxury appointments, driving characteristics, and safety technology in the segment,” Kelley Blue Book notes. It starts at around $32,400.
9. Buick Enclave
Starting at $38,445, the Buick Enclave offers a comfortable and “upscale” ride with “seating for seven, well-mannered driving dynamics, and innovative safety features like an industry-first front center airbag,” all for scores less than its luxury SUV counterparts.
8. Acura RDX
The Acura RDX — with its $34,520 starting MSRP — offers one of the best values for its segment, and although it lacks the distinction and prestige of some of its European rivals, it is a thoroughly comfortable and well-built, practical utility vehicle for a very attractive price point.
7. Mercedes-Benz CLA Class
At just a shade under $30,000 at base, the Mercedes-Benz CLA is not just the automaker’s most affordable U.S.-bound model but one of the most affordable plays for entry-level luxury across the board. “Combining striking looks and responsive performance with highway fuel economy of 38 miles per gallon, [the CLA is] more than just a wallet-friendly way to enter the realm of the 3-pointed star, [it is also] arguably the best-looking Mercedes sedan available at any price,” Kelley Blue Book says.
6. Lexus ES
The Lexus ES might be one of the most affordable larger luxury sedans, with a starting price of $36,470 (even the hybrid model starts below $40,000, though barely). Recently redesigned, the Lexus offers a compelling case for a well-equipped, roomy runabout.
5. Infiniti Q50
Bumping out the popular G37 sedan, the Infiniti (NSANY.PK) Q50 is a worthy contender if the Lexus isn’t for you. The Q50 reportedly puts down 328 horsepower but can still achieve 30-plus highway miles per gallon, making the Q50 a double-edged sword.
4. Lexus IS
A step below the Lexus ES is the IS, which, although smaller, is more affordable and more efficient. The IS starts at $35,950 and “debuts with a more aggressive exterior and a sleeker interior that appeal to the younger professionals it courts,” Kelley Blue Book writes, adding that “its reputation for resisting both repair shops and depreciation, meanwhile, makes the IS sedan all the easier to recommend.”
3. Audi A5
The Audi (VLKAY.PK) A5 offers 220 horsepower, up to 32 miles per gallon on the highway, and all-wheel drive, all for under $40,000, to say nothing of the usual refinement that comes along with the four rings. According to Kelley Blue Book, ”Audi’s A5 captivates in every sense, from the visual of its hunkered frame and the feel of its controls to the way it blends performance and comfort in a perfect dance.”
2. BMW 3 Series
The BMW 3 Series is essentially the gold standard for entry-level luxury cars, and at just $32,750, it’s an affordable option relative to the luxury market at large. Kelley Blue Book says the BMW is “an exciting, affordable entry-level luxury car that you bought because you craved it, not because you couldn’t afford the 5 Series.”
1. Cadillac ATS
The Cadillac ATS, with its “sport-sedan chassis” and “Ritz Carlton interior” for a $32,000 starting price “all make it one of the smartest show-off purchases you can make,” Kelley Blue Book says. Cadillacs are finally becoming their own vehicles and shying away from the fancied-up Chevrolet approach that plagued them for so long.