Talk about your hard calls. Assembling this list of ten of the best luxury cars under $40,000 took a lot of consideration. Why? Truth be told, it’s kind of hard to go wrong with any of the cars in this category. With practically all of the traditional luxury manufacturers dipping into the market farther upstream with lower priced models designed to attract younger buyers, the sub-$40,000 category has become seriously competitive. That said, here are ten of the best luxury cars under $40,000.
10 of the Best Luxury Cars Under $40,000
Photo Credit: Acura
2016 Acura ILX — MSRP $27,900
An early entry for the 2016 model year, Acura’s ILX just got a makeover and is now more powerful, considerably better looking, and blessed with a very healthy array of electronic driver’s aids. The luxury sport sedan also delivers admirable handling and outstanding safety scores. In addition to the power upgrades, styling enhancements, and new technological features, the Acura’s body structure has been stiffened considerably to improve both safety and handling. A 201-horsepower, 2.4-liter inline 4-cylinder engine feeding the front wheels through an 8-speed automated manual transmission supplies power. Standard features include a sunroof, automatic LED headlights, keyless entry and ignition, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, and a multiview rearview camera. Options include adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, navigation, and automated braking for frontal collision mitigation.
Photo Credit: Audi Media Services
2016 Audi A3 — MSRP $30,900
Establishing itself as the benchmark of “affordable” luxury cars right out of the gate, the Audi A3 wows buyers with its remarkable ability to be handsome – even though it’s sized in a category people usually refer to as “cute.” The high quality interior fitments, broad range of body styles (including a convertible, a sedan, and a 4-door hatch/wagon), plus a nice selection of powerplants (including gasoline and electric), make the A3 a serious competitor. The bar has officially been raised in this category. Standard features include automatic xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, Bluetooth, a video interface, automatic wipers, and satellite radio. Options include LED headlights, blind spot monitoring, a 14-speaker audio system, automated parking, and navigation.
Photo Credit: BMW
2016 BMW 3 Series — MSRP $33,150
For many years now, the BMW 3 Series has been the sports sedan most often emulated. Every luxury manufacturer with serious intent has a model playing in this space, but year in and year out BMW’s 3 Series bests them all with a combination of engaging dynamics, preternatural smoothness, brilliant engines, and sheer panache. Offered in both sedan and wagon formats, as well as with gasoline, diesel, and hybrid powertrains, the BMW 3 Series is exceptionally formidable. A selection of automatic and manual transmissions is offered along with a choice between rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. Standard features include keyless entry/ignition, automatic wipers, foglights, Bluetooth, and dual-zone automatic climate control.
2016 Cadillac ATS — MSRP $33,215
For a number of years now, we’ve cheered as Cadillac delivered new model after new model with all the attributes we love in a contemporary luxury car. Just as is the case with all its siblings wearing the wreath and crest badge, style is the smallest Cadillac’s long suit. But the ATS is more than just a smooth guy in nice clothes. There’s also a dynamic driving experience, sumptuous interior appointments, and long list of cutting edge technological features. A nice selection of engines and a choice of rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive help, too.
Photo Credit: Infiniti Media
2016 Infiniti Q50 — MSRP $33,950
The Infiniti Q50 sedan is easily competitive with anything else in its class, delivering outstanding handling to go along with the dynamic performance from its selection of turbocharged engines. All-wheel drive is offered as well. Standard features include automatic LED headlights, LED foglights, heated exterior rear-view mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, and power-adjustable front seats.
2016 Lexus ES — MSRP $38,100
While most of the competitors in this segment tout their performance credentials, with the slick rear-drive IS sedans in their portfolio, Lexus can afford to go mellow with the ES. Thus you’ll find the model (while a competent handler) places more emphasis on smoothness, quietude, and luxury. Where the others go varoom-varoom, the Lexus ES comes with a Zen-like ohhhhhmmmm. Standard features include xenon headlights, LED running lights, a sunroof, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, Siri Eyes Free (for smartphone applications), and a rearview camera. The engine is a 3.5-liter V6 with 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. Output is fed to the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Photo Credit: Lincoln
2016 Lincoln MKZ/MKZ Hybrid — MSRP $35,190
Handsome, well crafted and wonderfully tech-laden, the svelte Lincoln MKZ Hybrid delivers outstanding fuel economy for a luxury car, plus loads of style for people who prefer to be socially responsible in a quiet way. What’s more, the Lincoln offers the advantage of near exclusivity. Since most people don’t know what it is, if you’re the sort of person who wants to ride right and keep the planet tight, but doesn’t need to be in the limelight, the Lincoln hybrid luxury car is the one. On the other hand, if you’d rather not go hybrid, Lincoln offers the standard MKZ at the exact same starting price. MKZ’s standard features include LED headlights and taillights, an adaptive suspension system, keyless entry and start, dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Photo Credit: Hyundai
2016 Hyundai Genesis — MSRP $38,750
Pound for pound, dollar for dollar, one would be hard pressed to find a better value in a luxury car than Hyundai’s all-new Genesis. In 2009, when Genesis debuted as the most expensive Hyundai ever offered at the time, it was a nice car with a few rough edges. Now, the rough edges have been smoothed away and Genesis can truly claim to be a refined luxury automobile. Engines ranging in power from 311 to 420 horsepower motivate the rear-drive powertrain. All-wheel drive is offered as an option. Comfort and convenience features include automatic headlights, automatic climate control, heated mirrors, automatic wipers, heated front seats, keyless entry and start, Bluetooth, and navigation. Options include automatic high beams, lane departure warning with lane keeping assist, plus front and rear parking sensor arrays.
2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan — MSRP $38,950
The upscale Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan provides a full slate of state-of-the-art tech features. The standards include automatic headlights and windshield wipers, auto dimming mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, the COMAND telematics interface with a 7-inch monitor, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. Options include LED headlights, heated front seats, a 13-speaker audio system by Burmester, a scented cabin air filtration system, ventilated front seats, partially autonomous steering, forward collision warning with automatic braking, and a panoramic sunroof. The rear-drive sedan also offers an all-wheel drive option.
Photo Credit: Volvo Cars
2016 Volvo S60 — MSRP $34,150
As of last year, Volvo’s midsize sedan now features new engines, an 8-speed transmission, and engine stop-start technology—while maintaining its leadership as one of the safest models in its class. However, even with its safety badge of honor worn so proudly, Volvo’s cars are strong performers with satisfying handling and good power. Most powertrains are front-drive, although all-wheel drive is offered as an option. Standard features include automatic headlights and wipers, LED running lights, headlight washers, heated mirrors, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, power folding rear headrests, Bluetooth, and a 7-inch monitor.