Photo Credit: Benjamin Hunting
$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.
1) 2015 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid
The 2015 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 41 mpg city and 39 mpg on the highway.
2) 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
The 2015 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.
3) 2015 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
It’s hard to claim a piece of the British vehicular aristocracy for less than $50,000, but the 2015 Range Rover Evoque compact crossover manages to accomplish that task. Land Rover’s stuffed a bunch of its off-road capabilities and plenty of high-class features into its smallest vehicle, and wrapped it up in an eye-catching package that evokes the Range Rover spirit while bringing its own youthful touches. To fit under the price cutoff, order the base model, which is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four that produces 240 horsepower and can sprint to 60 mph in just over seven seconds. The 2015 Evoque comes with a nine-speed automatic transmission, and can be had in front-wheel or all-wheel drive.
4) 2015 Infiniti Q40
Though the 2015 Infiniti Q40 sedan is one of the brand’s entry level models, it was designed to stand strong against competition from Europe, so it should come as no surprise when it delivers a high level of sporty performance and an upscale feel to go with its curvy good looks. The Infiniti Q40 sedan provides a 3.7-liter V-6 that is good for 328 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, and while all-wheel drive is optional, a seven-speed automatic transmission is standard. The Q40's platform has been specifically designed to balance luxurious comfort with precise road-holding ability, placing the affordable car in the upper echelon of compact premium sedans.
5) 2015 Acura TLX
All new for 2015, the Acura TLX was designed to replace Acura’s TL and TSX, so this luxury sports sedan is under quite a bit of pressure. The liberal use of LED lighting is one of the TLX’s standout features, providing a look that’s high tech yet upscale. The base trim is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, paired to a new eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox, good for 206 horsepower. Stepping up to the 3.5-liter V-6 yields 290 horsepower, put to the ground courtesy of a nine-speed automatic transmission. Both versions yield plenty of luxury equipment and upscale options typical of the Acura brand.
6) 2015 Audi A5
The 2015 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 around $40,000. 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 220 horses (reflecting a 9-horsepower increase for 2015) and 258 lb-ft of torque, and quattro all-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox are also standard. An eight-speed automatic is available with the A5.
7) 2015 Lexus ES
The 2015 Lexus ES holds steadfast in demonstrating what has made the mid-size sedan the best-selling passenger car for the Japanese brand. The Lexus ES is 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.
8) 2015 BMW 5 Series
For 2015, the BMW 5 Series starts at an MSRP that sneaks in under our cutoff with fifty bucks to spare. So, you can get a 5 Series for $50,000, but you won’t have a whole lot of choice. It’ll be the base 528i, which is a rear-wheel drive four-door sedan that’s powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four with 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. The 2015 528i also features dual automatic climate control, the BMW Assist system, a sunroof, HID adaptive headlights, an adjustable suspension and throttle, and imitation leather seats. An eight-speed automatic transmission that includes a start/stop feature to eliminate fuel wasted at idle is included free of charge.
9) 2015 Cadillac CTS
Newly refreshed for 2015, the Cadillac CTS sedan stands alone against the Europeans, since as of this model year, the Sport Wagon and coupe have been pared from the CTS lineup. The four-door’s wheelbase gained an additional inch, and the car’s body gained four inches, pushing the CTS into mid-size territory. Though the CTS is available with three different drivetrains, only the base turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four fits within our price target. That’s okay, though. For less than $50,000, the 2015 CTS comes with 272 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, in either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive configuration, with shifting duties handled by a six-speed automatic. Tons of standard and optional features help the 2015 Cadillac CTS stand its ground against the import crowd.
10) 2015 Audi A6
The 2015 Audi A6 is an alternative to Mercedes-Benz and BMW for those who want a 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 220 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.