luxury cars don't always come with big silver stars plastered on the grille, or a wreath and crest slapped onto the steering wheel. There are some premium car options out there that provide the same kind of high end features and comfortable ride quality that their more expensive siblings do, but at a price that's a little bit more budget-friendly. Smaller, less expensive luxury cars are a growing trend in the auto industry, and the pool of appealing models grows larger by the year.
Let's take a look at eight passenger sedans that offer nice balance between luxury and price.
01. 2012 Buick Verano
The 2012 Buick Verano offers compact luxury car buyers a small and efficient yet comfortable package. The Buick Verano is loaded with sound-deadening materials, rendering its passenger compartment as quiet as possible, and it offers a host of premium features such as heated leather seats, an LED display that controls both entertainment and communications systems for the car, as well as a heated steering wheel and dual automatic climate control. The sedan's suspension system has also been tuned to cancel out rough pavement as much as possible.
The 2012 Buick Verano is initially offered with a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that generates 180 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque. Fuel mileage figures have yet to be released, but a six-speed automatic transmission will help to keep the Verano frugal. A turbocharged four-cylinder engine that promises to significantly improve performance is also in the cards at a future date.
02. 2011 Infiniti G25
The 2011 Infiniti G25 is the most affordable edition of the Infiniti G series four-door sedan. The Infiniti G25 comes with all of the same handling prowess that has made the G37 such a popular premium option, as well as a large chunk of the high end features that gives the four-door automobile the right to call itself a luxury car.
What makes the 2011 Infiniti G25 so much less expensive than other versions of the G series is its smaller, more fuel efficient engine. The G25 is motivated by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder motor that puts out 218 horsepower and 187 lb-ft of torque, and the engine also offers fuel mileage of 20-mpg city and 29-mpg highway. An advanced seven-speed automatic transmission is the only available gearbox with the G25, and all-wheel drive can also be ordered as an option.
03. 2011 Acura TSX
The 2011 Acura TSX leverages bold, unique styling and a chassis that has been tuned to offer an engaging driving experience that places it near the front of the pack when it comes to front-wheel drive sedans. The Acura TSX also comes with the brand's trademark list of high tech luxury features, including an available automatic climate control system that can actually track the position of the sun in the sky and then use that information to keep the vehicle's cabin at a comfortable temperature.
The 2011 Acura TSX starts out with a 201 horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that also generates 170 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is available for enthusiasts, while a five-speed autobox is also offered as standard equipment. Fuel economy for the four-cylinder TSX checks in at 22-mpg around town and 31-mpg on the highway. A more potent 3.5-liter V-6 can also be installed under the sedan's hood, and this unit is good for 280 horsepower and 254 lb-ft of twist. A five-speed automatic becomes the only transmission that can be matched with the six-cylinder engine, and fuel mileage shows as a very reasonable 19-mpg city and 28-mpg highway.
04. 2011 Lexus HS 250h
The 2011 Lexus HS 250h is a unique proposition in the entry-level luxury world, a small hybrid sedan that prizes low emissions and counts impressive fuel economy amongst its most prominent features. The Lexus HS 250h also offers goodies such as parking assistance, a navigation system, a head-up display and advanced safety equipment like adaptive cruise control and a lane departure warning system.
The 2011 Lexus HS 250h is based around the same hybrid drivetrain that is found in the Toyota Prius. A 2.4-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine is paired with a team of two electric motors to provide a total of 187 horsepower, managed by a continuously-variable automatic transmission. Fuel economy for the HS 250h hybrid is a laudable 35-mpg in stop and go driving and 34-mpg during highway cruising.
05. 2011 Volvo S40
The 2011 Volvo S40 isn't just one of the safest entry-level European sedans available, but it's also a comfortable alternative to the Teutonic mainstays of the compact premium segment. The Volvo S40 is much more svelte looking than past offerings from the Swedish car company, and its stylish and well-appointed interior includes items such as the brand's "T-Tec" leather-like seat coverings, Bluetooth integration and the option of automatic climate control, satellite radio and a navigation system.
The 2011 Volvo S40 is powered by a 2.5-liter, five-cylinder engine that is good for 227 horses and 236 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission handles the shifting duties for the small sedan, and fuel economy for the S40 is rated at 21-mpg in city driving and 30-mpg on the highway.
06. 2011 Lincoln MKZ
The 2011 Lincoln MKZ provides mid-size accommodations and an extensive list of both standard and optional features that point to the brand's focus on technological development. All versions of the Lincoln MKZ come with the Sync voice command interface, heated and ventilated leather seats, dual automatic climate control and satellite radio. Options packages can add features like a navigation system, a surround sound audio system and a stiffer suspension that improves the sedan's handling.
Adding immense value to the 2011 Lincoln MKZ, it is offered with a conventional powertrain or a hybrid-electric powertrain for the same price. The MKZ Hybrid is powered by a 2.5-liter inline-four and mated to a 106-horsepower electric motor and a nickel-metal hydride battery. With this configuration, the MKZ Hybrid returns best-in-class fuel economy rated at 41 mpg city and 36 mpg highway. As for the standard V-6 MKZ, it produces 263 horses and 249 lb-ft of torque from a 3.5-liter unit. Both front-wheel drive and a torque-managing all-wheel drive layout can be had with the MKZ, each of which is matched with a six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel mileage for the mid-size sedan shows as 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.
07. 2011 Saab 9-3
The 2011 Saab 9-3 provides another distinct styling take on the entry-level premium sedan concept. The Saab 9-3 offers a sleek look that is distinct in its class and it can also be had in Aero trim, which introduces a higher degree of handling thanks to the inclusion of a sport-tuned chassis and suspension and 17-inch wheels. Other features of note that are included free of charge with the 9-3: power leather seats, dual automatic climate control and keyless entry.
The 2011 Saab 9-3's only available engine is a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder mill that makes use of a turbocharger to grind out 210 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque. Saab's XWD all-wheel drive option can be added to the sedan's features list, and buyers can select either a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy for the Saab 9-3 is listed as 21-mpg city and 31-mpg highway.
08. 2011 Volkswagen CC
The 2011 Volkswagen CC cuts the profile of a coupe despite offering the practicality of four standard size doors, thanks to its dramatically sloping rear roofline and long rear glass. The Volkswagen CC occupies an interesting premium niche in the company's lineup, and drivers can order the car with features such as a high end navigation system, a hard drive music storage system, wood trim and even leather sport seats.
The 2011 Volkswagen CC's base motor is a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder unit that produces 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy for this engine shows as 21-mpg city and 31-mpg highway, and both six-speed manual and six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmissions are available. A throaty 3.6-liter V-6 unit that provides 280 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque can be had on the top-spec edition of the CC, and it comes standard with all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel mileage for this motor falls to 17-mpg in stop and go driving and 25-mpg on the highway.