BMW Still Wins Out as the Best Luxury Car Brand According to Consumers

At one point in time, BMW was the best luxury car brand. So much so, that the brand became a status symbol. Basically, if you wanted people to think you were someone, you drove a BMW. However, times change, and there’s a lot of new players in the luxury car segment. Take Genesis for example. The brand has quietly been sneaking up on BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Lexus. With so much choice in the marketplace, it’s time to figure out if consumers still prefer the old ways, or if attitudes have shifted.

Which luxury car is better? BMW stands tall

The new BMW M3 luxury sports car on a forested road
BMW clearly makes an effort to shake up design | BMW

Recently, a study by Kelly Blue Book found that when Americans ask “What’s the best luxury car?” the conclusion they often reach is BMW. As I said above, that’s been the case for some time. Moreover, BMW’s lineup structure lends itself quite well to American buyers. Take one of the brand’s most popular models, the 3 Series. You can have Beamer 3 Series in just about any flavor you like. And if there’s anything we American’s like, it’s flavor (unfortunately no cheese-flavored BMW’s of yet, but I’ve reached out for comment).

Anyway, you can get a 3 Series in hyper-fast M flavor (above), RWD, AWD, sedan or SUV, stick or automatic. Variety is the spice of life, and BMW is better than Audi in this regard. At least, in the eyes of consumers. One can argue that Audi does interiors better, but that’s a conversation for another time. Moreover, it isn’t just the 3 Series this applies to. Beamer has done it with the BMW 5 Series models as well, with similar success.

Change is slow in the automotive industry

An Audi luxury car dealership in Poland
Audi wins on dealer aesthetics | Karol Serewis via Getty Images

Clearly, the formula works. KBB states they conduct the survey every quarter. BMW has held the “most preferred luxury car brand” title for a stunning 12 quarters. However, change in the industry is constant, and new challengers are always popping up, in addition to competition from staples such as Mercedes and Audi. Now to circle back to Genesis for a moment. Hyundai’s luxury spin-off has shown real promise, and their models are subjectively more handsome than BMW models.

That said, there’s another component to the success of the Bavarian best luxury car. It’s generational. I’m 23 (a child, yes) and to my parents, BMW still symbolizes luxury and status. My dad knows I like cars, but doesn’t really know much about cars beyond that. He points out “nice BMWs” to me all the time. They’re a status symbol to him, and many parents pass that perception down to their children.

Are EVs better luxury cars?

A close-up of BMW's corporate HQ building
Not exactly the prettiest building | Christof Stache via Getty Images

The 2021 BMW M440i Is a Symptom of a Larger Problem

All this to say nothing of EVs. Despite BMW’s outstanding 12 quarter run, KBB said that “Americans looked at the Tesla Model 3 more than any other luxury vehicle.” EV’s are changing how Americans view luxury, and features like one-pedal driving lend themselves to an ease of use that petrol cars usually can’t match. Not to mention, EVs are virtually silent, a hallmark of the luxury car. And that’s exactly why BMW is making a foray into EVs with some of their new models. Whether they can match EV behemoths like Tesla and Lucid remains to be seen.