The Most Expensive 2023 Small Luxury Cars Aren’t Necessarily the Best
Among 2023 small luxury cars in particular, multiple mid-range and even entry-level options outperformed their glitzier, pricier competition. Standouts like the 2024 Acura Integra punched well above their weight this year, putting dedicated luxury cars on notice. Some of the year’s most exciting cars proved to be among the most affordable in their class.
The importance of Integra-ty
Terrible jokes aside, the 2024 Acura Integra is a masterclass in delivering luxury-level performance and trim at a price well below better-branded foes.
The Integra has always been a giant killer. From its 1986 U.S. debut, it’s been a lethal performer, particularly notable as a tuner’s dream, with custom models and the specced-up Type R capable of slaughtering supercars off the line.
The current Integra line lives up to its lineage. Per both MotorTrend and U.S. News, the latest model delivers comparable performance to dedicated luxury models like the Mercedes CLA-class and BMW 228i, despite an MSRP of almost $10,000 cheaper. Better yet, like many brilliant bargain cars, the Integra delivers that performance in a far more practical package, outperforming its luxury rivals on practical points like running costs and gas mileage.
In many ways, the Integra provides a blueprint for maximum return on investment in a small luxury car. Savvy buyers looking for a great deal on a luxury-level ride can use the Acura Integra’s market qualities as a solid guide for finding the marketplace’s best-kept secrets. Look for:
- Balanced brands: Carmakers like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, etc. are synonymous with luxury, with prices to match. Less established names – and everything’s less established than those, Karl Benz literally invented cars – can mean comparable performance for a lower price. Acura is Honda’s luxury marque, not a standalone shop. Likewise, the Genesis G70 may have been the single most underrated car this year, simply because Genesis, which is to Hyundai as Acura is to Honda, has yet to fully establish its rep.
- Sensible tradeoffs: Affordable excellence has its limits. Nothing cost-conscious offers Bugatti performance or delivers luxury at the level of a Maybach. Identify purchasing priorities – quick pickup, top-of-the-line tech, comfy family amenities – and points of possible compromise. The Integra sacrifices a bit of BHP for better gas mileage and economical running, for instance. The Kia Stinger, another comparatively inexpensive standout, goes in the other direction, with worse mileage but remarkable performance for its price.
- Something to prove. The Integra went off the market in 2005 and only came back in 2021. Honda brought its A-game to revitalize the Integra’s once-iconic identity. Likewise, the Cadillac CT4 is an excellent small luxury car looking to revitalize Cadillac’s somnolent brand identity.
Keeping those qualities in mind, dedicated car buyers willing to do a bit of legwork can consistently find excellent small luxury cars in the 2023 model year and beyond.