affordable luxury cars might not necessarily carry a brand name you were expecting, but that doesn't meant that they don't pack a punch when it comes to features, comfort, and an upscale driving experience. As more and more automakers are lured in by the profits associated with selling 'premium' models in all areas of the market, a new class of luxury cars that are cheaper than traditional options has come to the fore. These vehicles give you many of the accoutrements associated with the luxury experience but stay under (in some cases, well under) the $40,000 price cap.
With that in mind, let's take a quick look at 10 affordable luxury cars for 2014.
Affordable Luxury Cars 2014 - 01 - 2014 Buick Verano
The 2014 Buick Verano isn't just the first competitive compact car from the domestic brand - it's also one of the few small luxury cars out there that can be legitimately labeled 'affordable.' In base form, the Buick Verano presents a quiet and comfortable driving experience that attenuates the outside world in a pleasing, rather than isolating manner. Stepping up to the turbocharged version of the car introduces a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that pushes out 250 horses and 260 lb-ft of torque, transforming it into a legitimately fun option for not very much money. These two flavors of Verano have done well for Buick and helped it stealthily colonize the entry-level premium segment.
Affordable Luxury Cars 2014 - 02 - 2014 BMW 2 Series
The 2014 BMW 2 Series is a new addition to the affordable luxury car spectrum, but it carries on the legacy of last year's 1 Series in that it presents an attractively-priced compact coupe to those seeking a sporty ride. The BMW 2 Series is most appealing to budget-conscious buyers when found in 228i trim, which offers a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine good for 240 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque. For a bit more money you can add the M Sport package and benefit from better handling and a sleeker look. Transmission choices for the 228i include a six-speed manual and an eight-speed automatic.
Affordable Luxury Cars 2014 - 03 - 2014 Cadillac ATS
The 2014 Cadillac ATS is another newcomer to the world of affordable luxury cars and one that has impressed since it made its debut as a 2013 model. What do people like most about the Cadillac ATS compact sedan? There's its lithe handling, to be sure, as well as its tech-packed interior, but you can't discount the effect that its cutting edge styling has had on luring buyers into showrooms - and away from rivals like the pricier BMW 3 Series. Although there's a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder motor available with the ATS, most people order the car's mid-level 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that provides a healthy 272 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque - significant upgrades over the 2.5-liter's 202 ponies and 190 lb-ft. You can also get all-wheel drive with the Cadillac if you opt for either the turbo motor or the top-tier 3.6-liter V-6 (321 horsepower and 274 lb-ft of torque).
Affordable Luxury Cars 2014 - 04 - 2015 Audi A3
The 2015 Audi A3 represents the German automaker's fresh take on the entry-level segment, a sedan-focused strategy that includes a fair smattering of technology not often seen at the car's price point. This includes Audi A3 features such as in-vehicle 4G LTE Internet as well as a handwriting recognition system for interacting with the sedan's MMI interface. On sale now, the A3 starts out with a 170 horsepower, 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, but you can step up to a 220 horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo four that also makes all-wheel drive standard for not that much more. Either way, the Audi A3 is shifted via a six-speed automated manual transmission.
Affordable Luxury Cars 2014 - 05 - 2014 Buick LaCrosse
The 2014 Buick LaCrosse is one of the few vehicles on this list that starts out with a hybrid drivetrain. The base Buick LaCrosse features a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that works together with a single electric motor to produce 182 horsepower and return 36-mpg on the highway. A more enjoyable drive is to be had with the car's 3.6-liter V-6, however, which does a better job of motivating the full-size model thanks to its 303 horsepower and 264 lb-ft of torque. It also adds all-wheel drive to the options list, once selected. Like the Verano, the LaCrosse is a comfortable car that prizes calm over sporting antics, but unlike its compact sibling it features a generously-sized passenger compartment both front and rear.
Affordable Luxury Cars 2014 - 06 - 2014 Hyundai Azera
The 2014 Hyundai Azera is a stealth luxury car that not many people are aware of. The Hyundai Azera starts out a little bit cheaper for 2014 than it did the year before, but this full-size sedan still combines features and style in a very affordable package that doesn't cut any corners. Big inside with a reasonable exterior footprint, the Azera comes standard with a lot of equipment you have to pay more for on other premium models (such as heated leather seats and keyless ignition), and it also offers a 3.3-liter V-6 engine that generates 293 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque.
Affordable Luxury Cars 2014 - 07 - 2014 Acura ILX
The 2014 Acura ILX can be thought of as a direct response to the Buick Verano in the sense that it, too, targets compact car fans looking for luxury at a sub-$30,000 purchase price. The Acura ILX shares much of its platform and drivetrain with the Honda Civic Si, which means it gets the same rev-happy 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 201 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque on higher trim levels (along with a six-speed manual transmission). The base ILX is more staid affair, making do with a 150 horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder motor that doesn't feel quite as 'premium' as it should.
Affordable Luxury Cars 2014 - 08 - 2014 Lincoln MKZ
The 2014 Lincoln MKZ is a real looker, the kind of affordable luxury car that features styling so appealing that most people won't believe you when you tell them it cost you less than $36,000. The mid-size Lincoln MKZ even allows you to choose whether you want a hybrid or traditional drivetrain without touching its entry-level MSRP. The traditional MKZ features a turbocharged, 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder that develops 240 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, while the MKZ Hybrid offers a 188 horsepower gasoline/electric arrangement that pairs a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with a single electric motor. The upshot is 45-mpg in town and on the highway, which is tops amongst hybrid luxury sedans in its class.
Affordable Luxury Cars 2014 - 09 - 2014 Lexus ES
The 2014 Lexus ES is after the same clientele as the Lincoln MKZ, but whereas the MKZ makes its bid based on style and technology, the ES instead offers a spacious passenger compartment and an isolated ride. The Lexus ES is in many ways the ultimate luxury appliance, a premium sedan that you can count on from a reliability perspective and one that doesn't require you to interact too much with the road under its wheels while out and about. The Lexus features a V-6 as its only available engine option, a 3.5-liter mill that produces 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque.
Affordable Luxury Cars 2014 - 10 - 2014 Toyota Avalon
The 2014 Toyota Avalon is a plush full-size cruiser that's a bit more engaging to drive ever since its recent redesign. The Toyota Avalon remains one of the roomiest sedans at its price point, and like the Azera it provides access to luxury features that not everyone would associated with the logo on its grille. This includes standard equipment such as leather seats, Bluetooth connectivity, and dual automatic climate control, as well as optional gear like heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, and an adaptive cruise control system. A 268 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 sits under the Avalon's hood, where it also produces 248 lb-ft of torque.