$50,000 buys a lot of car these days, and this remains true when shopping in the luxury segment. The $50k price point allows buyers to get behind the wheel of an entry-level mid-size model or a very well-equipped compact, and this particular range also includes a few coupes and wagons in addition to the premium sedans that are the standard mark of success in any company's employee parking lot.
Let's take a quick look at 10 of the best luxury cars available for under $50k and see what makes them a good choice for buyers on a healthy budget.
The 2013 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is an intriguing luxury car under $50k due to the fact that it is priced exactly the same as its gas-powered, entry-level equivalent. This makes it a phenomenal value when compared against several of its competitors which charge a premium for the additional eco-cred associated with a hybrid system. Well-equipped on the inside, the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid comes with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder gas engine that is paired with an electric motor that together generate 188 horsepower and return fuel mileage of 45-mpg city and 45-mpg on the highway.
Best Luxury Cars Under $50k - 02 - 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a great choice in the compact coupe or sedan area of the luxury market. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class provides a variety of different engine and trim level choices under $50k, including the 1.8-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that generates 201 horsepower in the C250 and the 248 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 found in the C300. The C350's 302 horsepower version of that same engine also fits under our price cap, and so do the 4MATIC all-wheel drive versions of the cars. Pretty much the only edition of the C-Class you have to shell out over $50k for is the C63 AMG, which verges into supercar territory.
Best Luxury Cars Under $50k - 03 - 2013 Jaguar XF
The 2013 Jaguar XF is a significant amount of premium metal for less than $50k. Luxury value for your money has always been a Jaguar hallmark, and with the Jaguar XF representing the most affordable sedan in the brand's lineup it's only natural that it would offer a pair of $50k-friendly editions. The base Jaguar XF comes with HID headlights, leather upholstery, Bluetooth connectivity, and a touchscreen interface, in addition to its 240 horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo engine. The next step up - the XF 3.0 - features a supercharged V-6 that can be counted on to produce 340 horses and 332 lb-ft of torque. Each mill is matched with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Best Luxury Cars Under $50k - 04 - 2013 Infiniti G Coupe
The 2013 Infiniti G Coupe provides premium shoppers with a two-door option that is both advanced from a technological perspective and also more than a little sporty. The Infiniti G Coupe continues the automaker's push to deliver an engaging driving experience alongside its innovative safety, communications, and entertainment systems, and it also comes with a rear seat that is actually usable in a pinch. The G Coupe's only available engine is a 3.7-liter V-6 that is good for 330 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, and it's possible to choose between either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is also available as an option with the G Coupe, making it a respectable four-seasons performer.
Best Luxury Cars Under $50k - 05 - 2013 Acura TL
The 2013 Acura TL is often overlooked when shopping for a luxury car under $50k, but there's a lot to like about this mid-size entry. The Acura TL sedan's somewhat polarizing front fascia keeps some buyers away, but entering into its cabin reveals high quality materials, a logical design layout, and the availability of advanced features such as a solar-linked automatic climate control system. A 3.5-liter, 280 horsepower V-6 is the TL's base engine, but upgrading to the Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) model introduces a 305 horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 into the equation. Transmission choice for the 3.5-liter TL is restricted to a six-speed automatic, but the 3.7-liter offers up a six-speed manual alongside the auto unit.
Best Luxury Cars Under $50k - 06 - 2013 Audi A5
The 2013 Audi A5 coupe has been extensively praised for its flowing lines and for having one of the best interiors in the business. For all of its outward beauty the Audi A5 is actually quite affordable in comparison to other two-door luxury models, starting at under $40,000. A recent refresh has perked up the A5's looks even further, and when outfitted with the sport package a tighter suspension system helps the coupe hug the curves with greater confidence. All versions of the Audi come with the same 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that is turbocharged to churn out 211 horses and 258 lb-ft of torque, and quattro all-wheel drive and a six-speed manual tranny are also standard. An eight-speed automatic is available with the A5.
Best Luxury Cars Under $50k - 07 - 2013 Lexus ES
The 2013 Lexus ES has been completely redesigned for the current model year and the updates have done nothing to dilute what has made the mid-size sedan the best-selling passenger car for the Japanese brand. The Lexus ES remains whisper-quiet at all speeds, continues to coddle occupants inside its roomy, comfortable cabin, and it provides the kind of reliable, luxurious daily transportation that is favored by those regularly facing down a long commute. A 268 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine gives the ES decent performance, and its six-speed automatic transmission is designed for smooth shifting, but the Lexus ES isn't about heady acceleration - it's about relaxing as you are isolated from the outside world so you can unwind at the end of the day.
Best Luxury Cars Under $50k - 08 - 2013 BMW 5 Series
The 2013 BMW 5 Series has long been the benchmark against which other mid-size luxury sedans are measured, and it's actually possible to get behind the wheel of the base BMW 528i for about $1,000 less than $50k. Dual automatic climate control, the BMW Assist system, a sunroof, HID adaptive headlights, an adjustable suspension and throttle, and imitation leather seats are all in the cards for the most affordable BMW 5 Series, and under its hood lurks a 240 horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder mill that makes use of a turbocharger to also produce 255 lb-ft of torque. Unlike past versions of the car a manual transmission is not available with the entry-level model, but an eight-speed automatic that includes a start/stop feature to eliminate fuel wasted at idle is included free of charge.
Best Luxury Cars Under $50k - 09 - 2013 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon
The 2013 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon is the very first family wagon from the domestic brand better associated with sedans and SUVs. The Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon rides on the same lithe platform as the CTS sedan, which means that it offers far better handling than any crossover could provide while still featuring a respectable 58 cubic feet of total cargo space. It also provides all of the same luxury features as the four-door edition of the CTS. A six-speed automatic transmission is found across the board with the CTS Sport Wagon, regardless of whether it is outfitted with its standard 270 horsepower 3.0-liter V-6 or its upgraded 318 horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6. All-wheel drive can also be added to the Sport Wagon to give it a formidable traction advantage in inclement weather.
Best Luxury Cars Under $50k - 10 - 2013 Audi A6
The 2013 Audi A6 - fresh from a recent re-engineering effort that has broadened its mid-size appeal - is an alternative to Mercedes-Benz and BMW for those who want roomy premium car. The Audi A6's list of available equipment, including features such as night vision and quad automatic climate control, can easily push its price beyond $50k, but the 2.0T Premium and 2.0T Premium Plus models each fall under our self-appointed cut-off and still come with a respectable amount of luxury gear. Even adding quattro all-wheel drive to the options sheet doesn't push the bottom line higher than 50 big ones.
The 2.0T in the A6's trim designation refers to its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which is a ringer for the motor found in the previously-discussed A5 and which produces the same 211 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Drivetrain differences between the two models include the availability of front-wheel drive and a continuously-variable automatic transmission, with an eight-speed autobox stepping in for the quattro edition of the car.