Today, the cost of an average new car has risen to $33,560, or about one-third more than the average model did in 2000. There are a lot of reasons for this (costs related to safety and emissions equipment, tech, etc.), but there are also a lot of people who are just willing to pay more to get the car they want. Earlier this month, Ford announced that buyers are willing to part with an average $44,000 for a new F-150 pickup, and that’s America’s best-selling vehicle.
Unsurprisingly, this trend is even more pronounced in the more exclusive luxury segments, where more Americans are buying premium cars than ever before. Looking to explore the upper echelons of the mass-market luxury car segments, The Truth About Cars crunched the numbers and came up with the 10 best-selling models in America priced above $70,000.
Of course, like any list comparing cars, there are some caveats. Popular models like the Porsche Cayenne and BMW M5 are absent from the list, because while they can sell for six figures, the base price of their lineups fall short of the $70k cutoff. As a result, a few surprises were able to crack the top 10 and make things interesting.
Here are the 10 most popular cars Americans are willing to spend over $70,000 on.
10. Mercedes-Benz SL-Class
It may not be the most beautiful car in the world anymore, or even the most high-profile car in its class, but Mercedes’s SL-Class is still one of the most popular luxury grand tourers in the world. We recently drove the high-performance SL63 AMG (above) and found it to hold its own in a stable with the AMG GT S – an impressive feat in and of itself. From the luxury-laden $85,050 SL400 to the $217,550 fire-breathing SL65 AMG, and everything in between, Americans took home 2,201 examples of Mercedes’s venerable roadster through June.
9. Porsche Panamera
While the Cayenne is Porsche’s big moneymaker, the Panamera’s lofty $78,100 starting price puts it at a $20,000 premium over the popular SUV, while the fully-loaded Exclusive Series model can creep dangerously close to $300,000. Despite looks that are still polarizing at best, the car’s near-911 caliber handling and fantastic V6 and V8 engine options make it a joy to drive. It’s arguably the best full-size sports sedan in the world, and this year, Porsche has already sold 2,492 stateside.
8. Audi A8
Audi has long set itself apart from Mercedes-Benz and BMW by offering powerful, elegantly designed, tech-laden cars, with the A8 effortlessly handling the role as brand flagship. From its $77,400 base model, with its 333 horsepower V6, to the $137,000, 500 horsepower A8L W12, the A8 is more tech-focused than the S-Class, better looking than the 7-Series, and more exclusive than both. Through June, 2,517 Americans opted to take the big Audi over its rivals.
7. Porsche 911
It’s hard to find fault in Porsche’s iconic 911, and so far this year, 5,072 Americans have agreed. With no less than 25 different models of the 911 to choose from, from the base $84,300 Carrera to the $194,600 Turbo S Cabriolet, there’s more than enough to keep everyone happy. But remember, Porsche is notorious for its a la carte options list, so it’s likely most 2015 911s changed hands for close to six figures.
6. BMW 6-Series
In just one generation, the 6-Series has gone from BMW’s oddball to arguably the most versatile model in its lineup. Available as a coupe, convertible, and sedan, the 6 looks gorgeous in every incarnation, and drives even better. From the $76,600 coupe, to the breathtaking $112,400 M6 Gran Coupe sedan, 5,084 6-Series cars found buyers through June.
5. BMW 7-Series
If the A8 offers tech and elegance, and the S-Class offers old-school opulence and engineering, BMW’s 7-Series offers the perfect blend of luxury and sportiness. Even as an all-new 7-Series is set to hit dealerships within the year, BMW’s outgoing flagship is still a strong seller, with 5,223 cars finding a home so far this year.
4. Cadillac Escalade ESV
Cadillac’s ESV is the long wheelbase version of the already long Escalade, and while the company is still struggling to sell its fantastic sedans, it can’t built its big SUVs fast enough. The ESV was redesigned for 2015, and to say buyers have responded to it well is an understatement. This year, 6,401 Americans have been willing to part with at least $76,965 for one.
3. Range Rover
Like the 911, the Range Rover is an iconic model that builds on a successful base and goes from there. From the $83,495 base model to the practically hand-built Autobiography Black LWB starting at $185,030, there’s plenty of Range Rover for people to choose from. This year, 9,166 Americans already have.
2. Cadillac Escalade
While the Range Rover’s sales numbers are impressive, Cadillac’s 9,910 Escalades make it the most popular luxury SUV in the country. In fact, if you combined Escalade and ESV sales, it would easily be the best-selling model above the $70k mark.
1. Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Since the Escalade and the ESV are counted as separate models, that leaves the mighty S-Class to top the list. Despite being having the most expensive base price of any car featured here (at $95,325), Mercedes has already sold an impressive 10,580 versions of its flagship model this year. The S-Class’s seamless blend of forward-thinking engineering, and truly opulent luxury has made it the standard-bearer in the full-size luxury sedan segment for 40 years, and with the current car, it’s unlikely to give up its crown anytime soon.
While this surge in luxury car sales is making dealers and new owners very happy, the real winners here are the automakers. Thanks to a recovering U.S. economy and the unprecedented growth in China over the past decade, the luxury auto market is estimated to be worth about $100 billion annually. As Americans continue to appreciate the finer things in life, and sales records break year after year, it looks like the next Big Three really could be BMW, Mercedes, and Audi.
Follow Derek on Twitter @CS_DerekS