Everybody wants a little luxury, now and again. In the automotive industry it can come at a premium, but many brands are finding ways to trickle comfort down into more affordable models these days. Even some pricier true luxury cars are being built to last longer and therefore hold their value, making them smart purchases as well as fashionable ones. Our list of the 10 cheapest luxury cars to own takes into consideration purchase price, reliability, resale value, fuel economy and, of course, bang for the buck. You’ll find established brands and surprising newcomers alike, and maybe even your own car (lucky you). Turns out, there are tons of different ways to find luxury on a budget.
10 Cheapest Luxury Cars to Own
Photo Credit: Acura
Hot off the presses with a brand new look for 2017, the Acura MDX returns as one of the best value luxury cars in the entire automotive industry. That legendary Honda reliability combines with Acura’s reputation for building great SUVs, and a number of standard features that make the MDX a clever choice. Front-wheel drive models start from $43,950 while AWD models run an extra $2,000. Every MDX comes with the familiar 3.5-liter V6 engine with 290 horsepower and 267 lb.-ft of torque, and fuel economy rated up to 20/27 MPG. The MDX retains its value very well, too, so you’re likely to recoup your investment down the line.
Photo Credit: Audi
Here’s an example of unique design going a long way. All of Audi’s models are generally strong values, with lots of standard features and quattro all-wheel drive packing proven performance. But the A7 earns its spot on this list with dramatic coupe-like styling that redefined the way a luxury 4-door sedan should look. That makes them hot on used car lists, and its $68,300 base price makes the A7 look like a bargain in hindsight. The most common engine is the supercharged 3.0-liter V6 with 333 horsepower and 20/30 MPG rating.
Photo Credit: BMW
No surprise to see a BMW on a list of great luxury cars. But it may be out of the ordinary to see one listed for its value. The X1 is a worthy exception, thanks to a combination of comfort and performance easily atop the luxury subcompact crossover class, and a starting price as low as $33,100 MSRP. All-wheel drive is an extra $2,000, but that’s it for trim options, so the X1 tops out just above $35,000 before you add options. Not bad for a quick, spacious and doting small SUV at all. The engine is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder making 228 horsepower and returning up to 23/32 MPG.
Photo Credit: General Motors
While its price may compete directly with the Honda Civic and Ford Focus, the interior and smooth ride of the Buick Verano put it among much more elite company. Starting from just $21,065, the Verano offers true luxury car cabin materials and craftsmanship. Its comfortable ride and solid fit and finish lend a regal air, with suspension that soaks up road imperfections and keeps your spine unaware. Concessions can be found in the rear seat and under the hood, where a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine makes 180 horsepower and 171 lb.-ft of torque for 21/31 MPG ratings. If the Verano seems underwhelming, remember, it's legitimate luxury for less than a Prius.
Photo Credit: Cadillac
There are so many ways to love the Cadillac Escalade. You can focus on its smooth ride, comfortable seats, crisp updated CUE infotainment, or guttural 6.2-liter V8 engine pumping 420 horsepower and 460 lb.-ft of torque. Personally, I’m drawn to its looks, so overly brash and unapologetic you can almost see it winking through that chrome grille. Starting from a $72,970 base price, the Escalade is among the most affordable large luxury suvs and might well be the best package overall. It’s also full of surprises: the V8 can return up to 15/22 MPG and resale value is generally strong, as well. Is the Escalade a little much? Yes. But it's also a lot of luxury for the money.
Photo Credit: Genesis
Formerly the Hyundai Genesis, the 2017 Genesis G80 has finally broken away from its original namesake and branched out on its own. Its remarkable value will remain, though, starting with a base price of $41,400 for a true midsize luxury car good enough to compete directly with the big names with decades of prestige to draw from. The G80 makes up for that with a stunning list of standard features that includes adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking. The interior boasts executive space and the ride is butter soft. The 3.8-liter V6 makes 311 horsepower, while the award-winning 5.0-liter V8 with 420 hp is priced from $54,550.
Photo Credit: Lexus
Lexus CT 200h
The standard-bearing brand for peace of mind makes its first appearance here with one of its less heralded models. While the CT 200h isn’t one of Lexus’ top sellers, its unique take on luxury and reasonable price are more than enough to earn a spot on the list. In fact, the CT 200h fuel economy ratings of 43/40 MPG are so strong that they’re enough to overlook the sluggish 134 horsepower on tap. Competitors have also surpassed its ride quality and infotainment mousepad. But the CT 200h remains popular thanks to a comfortable interior and usable cargo space from its hatchback design. Starting at just $31,250, it’s easy to see why people become owners, and stay owners.
Photo Credit: Lexus
Lexus is almost guaranteed to make multiple appearances on this list, and being that the GS might be the best vehicle across the brand, it’s only right to see it here. Starting from a $45,615 base price, the Lexus GS offers delicious interior quality with a smooth and classy ride, making a statement without being flamboyant. It’s also more capable of exciting performance than its stablemates, and the new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine will even reach 22/32 MPG. Predictably, the GS has an outstanding reliability rating, avoids costly repairs and retains its value extremely well. Lexus has learned how to add fun and luxury without sacrificing peace of mind. Lucky us.
Photo Credit: Porsche
Color us shocked, too. You simply don’t expect to see the “There Is No Substitute” brand popping up on something as sensible as list of the cheapest luxury cars. And yet, the Porsche Panamera does offer an undeniably spacious and well-appointed interior wrapped up in a genuine track performance package. Base models start from as little as $78,100 MSRP and hold their value extremely well — better than any high-end luxury competitor, in fact. Before you go rush out and buy that GTS or Turbo, though, keep in mind that… you know what? Reliability is high and with a minimum 310 horsepower, these things rock. Go ahead and spring for the Panamera.
Photo Credit: Volvo
Volvo faithful can sometimes be a bit fanatic. In the case of the S60, they have perfectly good reason. The Volvo S60 competes in a very competitive segment, and distinguishes itself with an exceptionally comfortable ride and possibly the best front seats — period. The base engine is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that makes 240 horsepower, 258 lb.-ft of torque, and rivals anyone with 25/37 MPG fuel economy ratings. It’s also composed and nimble, and starts from just $33,950. Volvos hold their value very well, too. Could it use an update? Sure, especially the interior design and infotainment system. But the S60 has personality at a reasonable price, and that will always be worth something.