2018 Honda Accord TouringEdit ・ Photo by Honda
Let’s be honest: If you’re looking for new luxury sedans under $30,000 and you want to stick to one of the “real” premium brands, you’re pretty much out of luck. This is only to be expected, of course, since that price point is thousands of dollars less than the transaction cost of an average new vehicle today. But if you’re looking for luxurious new sedans priced below $30K, and you don’t care what company makes them, keep on reading.
That’s because we’ve tracked down 10 cars with affordable MSRPs that still deliver impressive levels of upscale content, including leather seating surfaces, LED lights, mobile Wi-Fi hotspots, and heated and ventilated seats. For an extra dash of premium credibility, we even found two options that aren't from the traditional mainstream brands.
The mid-size 2018 Buick Regal Sportback would seem to be an ideal choice among the luxury sedans under $30,000, since it does come from a brand with premium positioning yet has a base MSRP of $24,990.
Yet as you can tell from the Sportback’s name, it’s not exactly a sedan: Despite its shape, the all-new Regal actually has a hatchback-style opening at the rear instead of a trunk, like sophisticated entries from Audi and BMW. That's close enough for our purposes, especially when you consider that the Regal Sportback’s Preferred II trim, priced at $29,730, showcases lux cues such as a heated and leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, LED daytime running lights, 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot.
Photo by General Motors
Another logical luxury sedan under $30,000 is the 2018 Acura ILX. Despite being the entry point to the Acura lineup, the compact ILX nonetheless offers upscale standard features such as the brand’s "jewel eye" LED headlights, and those are matched by standard LED daytime running lights and LED taillights.
In the cabin, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel and leatherette seats are standard, while the AcuraWatch Plus trim — with an MSRP of $29,4000 — adds a comprehensive package of driver assistance technologies that bundles adaptive cruise control, collision-mitigation braking, lane-keeping assistance and road-departure mitigation. And all that’s along with a multi-angle rearview mirror, power moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control and keyless entry with push-button ignition.
Photo by Acura
Moving into the mainstream brands, the mid-size 2018 Kia Optima offers many of the high-end features that customers expect in pricier luxury sedans. It all starts with Kia’s typically dramatic approach to exterior design, but there’s also much substance to go with the Optima’s uplevel style.
For example, ordering the Optima EX trim with the EX Premium Package keeps the car well under our $30K ceiling, at $27,900, yet owners will still enjoy leather-trimmed seating, a 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, and both heating and ventilation for the front row. A panoramic sunroof and LED daytime running lights are on hand as well, as are technologies including Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, a rearview camera, a blind-spot monitor, lane-change assistance and rear cross-traffic alert.
Photo by Kia
With its eye-catching, multi-surfaced sheet metal, the mid-size 2018 Chevrolet Malibu certainly looks like a luxury sedan — despite a starting price of $22,555. Combine Chevy’s commitment to connectivity technologies with the Malibu’s options menu, and you can configure a car that lives up to that billing, too.
Take the Malibu LT: This trim opens at $26,000 with not only mobile Wi-Fi and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, but also LED daytime running lights, a rearview camera and heated exterior mirrors. Next, with $4,000 left to play with below our $30,000 price cap, you can select options that range from heated leather seats to a premium Bose audio system to a dual-pane sunroof.
Photo by General Motors
Also qualifying for our gallery of luxury sedans under $30,000 is the 2018 Hyundai Sonata, which wears a refreshed and more elegant exterior design for the new model year. Here, we recommend the Limited trim. With a highly affordable MSRP of $27,400, the mid-size Sonata Limited delivers premium amenities like fully climate-controlled front seats — with heating and ventilation — and leather surfaces throughout. The car’s steering wheel also is wrapped in leather, and it has standard multi-function controls to complement the 7-inch infotainment screen and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay smartphone-integration functionality.
The Sonata Limited additionally stands out with a sunroof, a hands-free trunk, a rearview camera, 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and Hyundai’s high-tech Dynamic Bending Lights, which turn with the steering wheel to improve visibility when cornering.
Photo by Hyundai
The 2018 Honda Accord is another affordable mid-size sedan that's easy to confuse with a luxury car. According to Honda, the all-new 2018 Accord is “the most dramatically styled, premium and fun-to-drive” version yet, and we can’t disagree.
The $29,970 EX-L trim, for instance, provides standard leather upholstery, heated front seats and a 12-way power driver's adjustments in the cabin, then supplies full LED headlights, LED fog lights, LED brake lights and LED turn signals as part of its dynamic exterior design. The car also welcomes lux levels of tech content that includes Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, an 8-inch infotainment screen and a full complement of Honda Sensing driver-assistance measures.
Photo by Honda
Like the Accord, the 2018 Toyota Camry is an all-new mid-size sedan that brings new levels of premium content and stylish design to a long-running nameplate. For the Camry, however, the best way to maximize your $30K budget is with its athletically accented XSE trim.
The car’s sticker price of $29,000 gives you a little room to breathe, financially speaking, although you can still bask in the comfort of standard multi-stage seating for the eight-way power-adjustable front seats. All seats are trimmed in leather, as is the sport-style multi-function steering wheel. Also distinguishing the XSE cabin is an app-based navigation system and Toyota’s extensive package of safety technologies.
Photo by Toyota
All-wheel drive luxury sedans under $30,000 are even harder to find than their front-wheel drive counterparts — except at your local Subaru dealership. That’s where you can find the 2018 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Limited that blends standard all-wheel drive, standout features and a starting price of $29,095.
Subaru’s mid-size sedan provides expected premium cues such as leather-trimmed seating, a heated front seats, LED daytime running lights and a power moonroof. But it also takes things to the next level with heated rear seats and a Harman Kardon audio system with 12 speakers and a high-efficiency amplifier that’s good for 576 watts of power. Paired with that setup: an infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay smartphone integration.
If you prefer your luxury sedans under $30,000 to come from German brands, you can opt for the 2018 Volkswagen Passat. The mid-size VW is available from $29,595 in its SE with Technology trim, and this model boasts equipment that’s missing from many “real” premium cars. Though it doesn’t serve up leather upholstery, the car goes beyond heated front seats to also ventilate the front row and supply heating for the back seats, all of which are surfaced with Volkswagen’s V-Tex synthetic leather.
Meanwhile, the Passat also checks in with equipment like LED headlights, daytime running lights, and taillights, a hands-free trunk, power moonroof, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay.
Photo by Volkswagen
The last of our luxury sedans under $30,000 is the 2018 Kia Forte. Now, Kia’s compact car may not seem all that premium at first glance — but then again it might. The EX trim, after all, spices up its exterior with LED positioning lights, rear combination lights and mirror-mounted turn-signals, a power moonroof and a hands-free trunk are also standard, just like with much more expensive vehicles.
Nor did Kia skimp in terms of premium interior features. In fact, the Forte EX is kitted out with leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control and push-button start. As a final benefit, the Forte EX’s MSRP of $21,600 leaves enough cash for upgrades ranging from ventilated front seats to navigation.
Photo by Kia