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10 Best Used Luxury Cars

Benjamin Hunting
by Benjamin Hunting
July 2, 2014
6 min. Reading Time

Choosing the best used luxury cars means balancing comfort, style, budget, and performance.  With so many more features than most standard automobiles - and typically a higher level of technology to boot - you have to be careful to select a used luxury car that isn't going to drain your bank account via repair costs during the course of ownership.  You'll also want to grab a secondhand luxury car that's at the optimum point in its depreciation curve, which usually means three to four years since it first went on sale, to maximize your savings.  Shop smart, and you can drive around in the lap of luxury for the price of a mid-size family sedan.

Let's take a quick look at 10 of the best used luxury cars on the market.

10 Best Used Luxury Cars - 01 - Hyundai Genesis

The 2015 Hyundai Genesis is a luxury dark horse, a mid-size sedan that offers as much equipment as major names in the business, but at a much more affordable price.  This value proposition is reflected even more strongly when purchasing a used Hyundai Genesis, as depreciation has significantly dropped the cost of parking one of these cars in your driveway.  When fully loaded, the Genesis offers fear such as adaptive cruise control, heated and cooled leather seats, a 17-speaker stereo system, adaptive HID headlights, and a sunroof, and you can choose between either a 333 horsepower, 3.8-liter V-6, a 5.0-liter V-8 that's good for 429 horses and 376 lb-ft of torque, and on some model years, a 378 horsepower 4.6-liter V-8.  An eight-speed automatic transmission handles the shifting duties for vehicles built from 2012 onwards.


10 Best Used Luxury Cars - 02 - Lexus LS

If you need something a little bigger to satisfy your luxury craving, then a used Lexus LS is just the ticket.  Out of all of the full-size luxury car offerings, only the Lexus LS can claim to be bulletproof in terms of reliability, easily dusting its European rivals when it comes to time spent outside the service bay.  This is a big deal on a flagship sedan, as that slice of the market is often jam-packed with doodads and gizmos waiting to fail as soon as the warranty has expired.  Available in both regular and extended wheelbase editions, the Lexus LS provides a calm, if unengaging ride, and LS 460 models are motivated by a 380 horsepower, 4.6-liter V-8 that's also capable of producing 367 lb-ft of torque.  An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard, and all-wheel drive can be found as an option on many used examples of the vehicle.  More recent models offer a bit more grunt in rear-wheel drive form, and a bit less when all four wheels are driven.


10 Best Used Luxury Cars - 03 - Acura TSX

The Acura TSX has flown under the used luxury car radar for many years, which means that prices are subdued and selection is good when searching out a secondhand example.  The Acura TSX is a bit bigger than a compact and somewhat smaller than a mid-size car, giving it decent handling thanks to a relatively light curb weight.  It's not as big inside as some of its rivals, but it does feature a host of technological features (such as GPS-linked climate control) that are backed by parent company Honda's reputation for reliability.  When found with its 201 horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine the TSX is more frugal than fun, but buy a model powered by its available 3.5-liter V-6 (280 horsepower and 254 lb-ft of torque) and you're going to enjoy yourself behind the wheel.  The four-cylinder's saving grace is a six-speed manual gearbox option, with the six-cylinder featuring a mandatory five-speed automatic.


10 Best Used Luxury Cars - 04 - Volvo C30

The Volvo C30 is a fun little hatchback that was largely ignored during its 2008-2013 production run.  Targeting the 2011-and-up editions of the Volvo C30 gets you a very stylish, and fairly practical (20 cubic feet of total cargo space) premium ride that looks like very little else in its class.  The R-Design model offers the best handling of the bunch, thanks in part to 18-inch tires and a stiffer suspension, but all versions of the C30 are motivated by the same 227 horsepower, 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine.  A six-speed manual transmission elicits the greatest number of thrills from the five-banger (which can also be auto-stirred by a five-speed self-shifter), and you can even find some editions of this Volvo with a blind spot monitoring system installed (playing up the company's reputation for safety).


10 Best Used Luxury Cars - 05 - BMW 3 Series

The 2011-and-before BMW 3 Series makes our list of the best used luxury cars due to its sheer versatility and its strong all-around performance.  You can get wagon, sedan, coupe, and convertible editions of the entry-level BMW 3 Series, along with the choice between rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, as well as a six-speed manual transmission or (in most cases) a six-speed automatic.  We selected 2011 as the cut-off year for the 3 Series as that's when the most recent redesign occurred: dealer lots are full of trade-ins and lease returns parked by buyers seeking the latest and greatest model.  A 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that produces 230 ponies represents the base power plant for the 3 Series, but you can step up to a turbocharged version of that same engine in order to enjoy 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque.  There's even a turbodiesel edition of the 3 Series available that returns 36-mpg in highway cruising.


10 Best Used Luxury Cars - 06 - Audi A3

The Audi A3 presents another diesel option on our list of the best used luxury cars.  The Audi A3 TDI is a hatchback (unlike the current 2015 sedan) that offers up 140 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque from a 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine, backed by a fuel mileage rating of 30-mpg in city driving and 42-mpg on the highway.  All-wheel drive is a standard feature with the A3 TDI, giving it more than its fair share of grip in inclement weather, and a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission is also included free of charge.  Somewhat less appealing, but still a good used premium buy, is the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gas version of the A3, which can be relied on to produce 200 horses and features a choice between either the six-speed dual-clutch or a traditional six-speed manual gearbox.


10 Best Used Luxury Cars - 07 - Infiniti G Coupe

The Infiniti G Coupe rides the line between sport and luxury, all while cutting a sleek profile and offering a semi-usable rear seat.  The Infiniti G Coupe is an entry-level option for anyone who doesn't need the passenger room offered by a sedan, and who wants Japanese levels of reliability rather than choosing to roll the Euro dice on the used car scene.  If you want to lean more towards the sport side of the equation then you can find a used G Coupe that pairs its 3.7-liter V-6 with a six-speed manual transmission.  Cruisers who simply want to enjoy the Infiniti's comforts and street presence should go with the car's seven-speed automatic.  Either way, you get 330 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque to play with, and there's even an all-wheel drive model out there for cold-climate dwellers.


10 Best Used Luxury Cars - 08 - BMW 1 Series

The BMW 1 Series is another affordable option for the German brand, but one that's much more specific in its target market when compared to the 3 Series.  The BMW 1 Series comes exclusively in compact coupe or convertible form, and we recommend the fixed-roof model due to its nimble handling and eye-catching looks.  The 1 Series has been around since 2008, and it features the choice between both of the power plants offered by the larger 3 Series: a 230 horsepower, 3.0-liter six-cylinder and a 300 horsepower, turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder that's also good for 300 lb-ft of torque.  Transmission options include a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic, with the 135is model adding the extra wrinkle of a seven-speed dual clutch automated manual (and a bit of extra power from the turbo six to boot).


10 Best Used Luxury Cars - 09 - Lexus ES

The Lexus ES is one of the strongest-selling luxury cars around and it incorporates many of the 'must-haves' from traditional luxury (plush interior, soft suspension, roomy passenger compartment) with modern touches (efficient engine, infotainment, Bluetooth).  Fundamentally an unexciting car, the Lexus ES is the kind of premium ride that you'll love for its ability to erase the stress of your daily commute by way of its finely-tuned, well-isolated chassis.  Look for a 2012-and-earlier example, as that represents the previous, and more affordable generation of this mid-size sedan.  268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of twist are on tap from the ES' 3.5-liter V-6, which is shifted via a six-speed automatic transmission.


10 Best Used Luxury Cars - 10 - Cadillac CTS

The first-generation Cadillac CTS put the luxury automaker back on the map, but it was the second-generation model that cemented Cadillac's return to contender status.  The 2008 to 2013 Cadillac CTS can be found in wagon, coupe, and sedan body styles, and its sharp styling and high end ride have made it the choice of a wide demographic.  If you're looking to make a statement, the wedge-shaped CTS coupe is impossible to ignore.  If you feel a bit more traditional, then the sedan is a fine choice.  If you want a practical vehicle but are tired of SUVs and crossovers, then the wagon will haul your family and all of their gear in the utmost comfort.  A 258 horsepower 3.0-liter V-6 is the entry-level engine for the Cadillac CTS until 2010, after which it graduated to 270 horses.  You can also spec a 304 horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 under the hood of the car (318 ponies from 2012 onwards).  A six-speed manual transmission is a rare find with base models, as the available six-speed automatic was much more popular.  All-wheel drive is also offered with the CTS.



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