Best Luxury Cars For Those On A Budget

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When you think of premium vehicles, the first ones to come to mind are executive sedans like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, or a classy sports car like the BMW M4. These are rather expensive items, so not many of us can hope to own one without years of saving. Luckily, they aren’t the only options, and there are several top-tier automobiles on the US market that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

If you don’t mind looking a bit abroad, Infiniti and Lexus both offer a lineup of luxury cars that undercut the European manufacturers by a fair margin. However, if you have your heart set on one of the classic names in automotive excellence, you still have a few options. Smaller models from the big three – Mercedes, BMW, Audi – can be picked up for less than $40k, such as the Audi A3 or BMW 2-Series.

And, there are a fair number of cars manufactured in the USA that seek to compete with the top brands, including those from Lincoln and Cadillac. In the past, these automakers have managed to keep their prices low, but this came at a cost to quality and performance. This reputation may need reevaluation, though, as recent updates to their lineups show a marked improvement across the board.

Here are just a few of the best of these affordable luxury vehicles that you may want to consider when you go looking to buy your next car.

Lexus ES

The premium division of Toyota has spent the last few years redefining its image to be taken more seriously by those who have favored models from the Germans. This bolder, sportier makeover has spread across the entire range, including the smallest nameplate. The ES was given a mid-life update for 2021 and now has more to offer than ever before.

Even the base model is powered by a capable V6 engine developing 302 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. This is enough to inspire a sense of confidence, but there is no real sportiness to be had here. If you want to save a few extra bucks, the hybrid powertrain might appeal with its improved fuel economy.

It looks amazing, though, both inside and out. There is no shortage of tech, either, with a comprehensive infotainment suite and plenty of safety features coming standard. However, passenger and cargo space is a little tight, though it is quite liveable as a daily driver and even a family hauler.

Lincoln Corsair

Americans love their SUVs, so it’s no surprise that the luxury brands are working hard to meet the demand. While Lincoln has a few executive sedans in its garage, its crossovers are far more impressive. The compact Corsair is a very impressive product for its sub-$40k price tag. Its redesign in 2020 has helped set it up to go up against its European competitors, but it still feels lackluster in some areas.

Neither of the two turbocharged four-cylinders really wow with their outputs, performance, or even their gas mileage. It gets access to an all-wheel drivetrain for those who live in wetter, colder parts of the US, but it won’t inspire confidence off-road. On the road, though, it is smooth and comfortable.

As with most high-riders, it supplies a spacious interior with a more-than-adequate trunk. Unfortunately, it still hasn’t quite shaken its reputation for subpar materials, though they have improved noticeably. On the plus side, there are plenty of features, including blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and forward collision avoidance.

Genesis G70

Both of the executive sedans from the new luxury wing of Hyundai are well worth the acclaim they have received, but the smaller G70 is the more affordable option. It has been specifically designed to nip at the heels of the most prestigious brands like Mercedes and BMW. Remarkably, it has been doing a great job.

Though not the sportiest-looking car on the road, it has plenty of power on tap, especially when specced with the V6 engine. Along with a rear-wheel drivetrain, this supplies the compact with loads of oomph. Sadly, the manual gearbox is limited to the weaker engine option, if you are looking for a more engaging driving experience. Nevertheless, it feels great in town or on the highway, and it rides like a proper luxury vehicle.

The luxury appeal doesn’t end there, though. The interior is superbly built and the quality of the materials are top notch. The overall size of the cabin is not quite so accommodating. Those up front get more than enough room to stretch out, but back-seat passengers aren’t so lucky. The trunk is also on the small side, with only 10.5 cubic feet of capacity.

No shortage of options

All in all, these are just a few of the great choices available to those shopping on a budget. As with any vehicle, you will need to weigh the pros and cons against your specific needs, and if you have a little extra padding in your books, you may be able to spec on some packages to make up the difference. There are some relatively cheap options from the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW, but Asian automakers are quickly closing the gap, while homegrown companies are reclaiming some of the lost luster.