2012 Infiniti M on road ・ Photo by Infiniti
As long as you shop carefully, a preowned luxury car can actually be a pretty good deal. Of course, a key part of that strategy is to know what you want before you shop—whether you prefer a certain brand, a specific bodystyle, or even have a checklist of desired features, it’ll keep you from wasting time looking at models that don’t match your criteria. There’s a lot of used luxury cars available, and depending on how old a car you’re willing to consider, 30 grand can buy a lot in terms of size, power, and features. Let’s take a look at some of Autobytel editors’ favorite used luxury cars that are usually available for $30,000 or less.
The 2014 Acura TL is a midsize sedan that offers strong reliability ratings according to J.D. Power and Associates, plus strong safety scores, with a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The Acura TL seats five, with generous backseat proportions. A 280-horsepower V6 and a 305-horsepower V6 are available, and the more powerful version also adds all-wheel drive. 2014 was the Acura TL’s last model year before being discontinued, but that shouldn’t dissuade any potential buyers, as it still features contemporary styling and technology. According to the used car listings searchable through Autobytel, it’s reasonably easy to find a 2014 Acura TL amongst used luxury cars under 30k.
Photo by Acura
The Audi A3 sedan is another of our favorite used luxury cars under 30k. The 2015 A3, which was redesigned for that model year, provides a strong value. The safety ratings of the 2015 Audi A3 aren’t as good as the 2013 model, but it still offers decent reliability, updated technology options, and a crowd-pleasing assortment of turbocharged engine options. Autobytel’s used car search shows that there’s just a few used 2015 Audi A3s available for under $30,000, but the previous generation A3 may offer up some real bargains. And fans of the Sportback hatchback bodystyle should note that it was only available until 2013—except for the much pricier plug-in hybrid A3 e-tron model.
Photo by Audi
BMW’s entry level coupe, though now discontinued, is a prime example of a great used luxury car under 30k. The 1 Series’ styling still emulates that of the brand’s current lineup, so the car doesn’t yet look old. J.D Power gives the 1 Series a top score in reliability, so it’s unlikely to let you down. And provided you don’t actually need a sedan or a lot of cargo space, the 2013 1 Series is a lot of fun to get around in, even in the base model. We targeted the 2013 model year because it was the last year that BMW produced the 1 Series, and found plenty of affordable examples well within our price range.
Photo by BMW
The midsize Cadillac CTS might well be out of the reach of many buyers when new, but it’s an excellent candidate for one of our favorite used luxury cars under 30k. The 2013 CTS has reliability that’s well above average, based on J.D. Power and Associates’ data, and is a safe choice for a family vehicle, according to the IIHS, which named the car a Top Safety Pick, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which awarded a 5-star overall rating. The 2013 CTS was sold in sedan, coupe, and wagon bodystyles—obviously, some of these will be easier to find on the used market than others, but should be available for $30,000 or less.
Photo by General Motors
With above-average reliability ratings and good safety scores, the next of our favorite used luxury cars under 30k is the 2014 Hyundai Genesis. The Genesis is a large car, but both the 333-horsepower V6 and the 429-horsepower V8 provide more-than-adequate juice, with the V8 offering an extra fun factor. The Genesis competed amongst the luxury leaders in this class by offering plenty of upscale standard features. The Hyundai Genesis was redesigned in 2015, so finding a newer-generation used Genesis within our price range is tricky, but possible. The 2013 model year Genesis is also a good candidate, since its safety and reliability ratings are on par with the 2014 model highlighted here.
For a large luxury sedan that offers strong acceleration and a firm ride, take a look at the 2012 Infiniti M. It’s one of our favorite used luxury cars under $30,000 because, in addition to its power and handling capabilities, the Infiniti M is also safe and reliable, according to J.D. Power, the IIHS, and the NHTSA. The 330-horsepower V6 powers the base model, but a 420-horsepower V8 was also available, and both came with the choice of rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. We found that the 2012 Infiniti M was most plentiful at or below the $30,000 cap, but if you find a good deal on a newer one, more power to you.
Photo by Infiniti
Large luxury hybrids are not cheap cars, but there are some good deals to be had on used luxury hybrids for less than 30k. The 2011 Lexus GS Hybrid is one of our favorites, thanks to its top reliability ratings, good safety ratings, and competitive fuel economy. The Lexus GS Hybrid is fun to drive, since its two electric motors provide instant torque and, paired with a V6 engine, put 340 horsepower to the rear wheels. The Lexus GS was on hiatus in 2012 and came back redesigned for 2013; while newer examples of the Lexus GS are generally too expensive for us to consider, the regular Lexus GS and slightly older GS Hybrids are also good choices.
Photo by Lexus
Lexus contributes another model to our list of favorite used luxury cars under 30k with the midsize IS. The 2013 IS was sold in sedan and hardtop convertible bodystyles, boasting good reliability and safety scores. Lexus decked out the IS with an upscale, comfortable cabin, as well as a range of engines. However, most buyers should probably avoid the base IS 250 due to its low 204-horsepower output, and look instead for an IS 350. We picked the 2013 IS due to its combination of good ratings and availability of affordable examples, but the IS has shown a history of being a solid car, and we say, buy the newest or best-equipped one you can afford.
Photo by Lexus
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class, in many ways, helps shape the large luxury segment, and the 2012 E-Class is one of our favorite used cars for less than $30,000. It’s got good safety and reliability scores, and offers excellent comfort, style, and power. In 2012, the E-Class was offered as a 5-passenger sedan or station wagon, or a 4-passenger coupe or convertible. Rear-wheel and all-wheel drive were both available, along with a range of engines that includes an efficient BlueTEC turbodiesel and a peppy 402-horsepower V8. You probably can’t go wrong with a late-model used Mercedes E-Class, so feel free to expand your search beyond the 2012 model year.
Photo by Mercedes-Benz
The 2014 Volvo S80, a large sedan, earns a place on our list of the best used luxury cars due to its comfort, safety, and reliability. We’ll come right out with it: driving a base model 2014 Volvo S80 is probably going to be pretty boring, but if the budget allows, the S80 T6 model provides 300 horsepower from its turbo 6-cylinder, and brings with it all-wheel drive and competitive fuel economy. Older examples of the Volvo S80 had an even stronger reputation for lackluster performance, but if that’s not a priority, the car’s solid reliability and great safety (typical for the brand) might be worth the trade-off for a used luxury car under 30k.
Photo by Volvo