Is your ride due for an upgrade?
Frugal car buyers assume that luxury cars have no place in their garages or driveways. In many cases, they’re right. Buying more car than you can afford is one of the easiest and most preventable ways to get into debt. More than that, it’s often futile: to get out of debt caused by an unwise car purchase, you very often have to sell the vehicle.
But luxury cars aren’t solely for the rich and famous. If you have ample personal savings, reliable income, and budgetary discipline, you may have the means to buy a new or used luxury car.
A handful of new base-model luxury cars start at under $30,000. Pre-owned luxury cars (typically coming off three-year leases) can cost as little as $15,000, though their long-term maintenance costs are likely to be higher than their brand-new counterparts. Note that after taxes and fees, your final price may be higher, though you can and should try to negotiate a better selling price at the dealership.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the segment’s best deals.
Surprisingly Affordable Luxury Cars
1. Cadillac ATS
- Class: Midsize sedan, coupe
- EPA MPG: 22 city, 31 highway
- MSRP: $34,595
- IIHS Crash Safety Rating: Superior (front crash prevention only)
The Cadillac ATS is available as a sporty four-door sedan or sleek two-door coupe. The base model has a 272 horsepower, 2.0-liter engine with automatic start/stop capabilities. Rear-wheel drive comes standard, but you can upgrade to all-wheel drive for a couple thousand more (the precise increase depends on options). StabiliTrak technology improves braking and stability in challenging road conditions, even with rear-wheel drive.
Inside the cabin, Cadillac offers a comprehensive “infotainment” system called CUE. CUE’s features include an 8-inch touchscreen, 10-speaker surround sound system, wireless charging capabilities, voice recognition commands, Apple and Android operating system integrations, and a rear-view camera. ATS also has its own wireless hotspot, plus OnStar service and a complimentary SiriusXM trial subscription.
2. Volvo S60
- Class: Midsize sedan
- EPA MPG: 25 city, 36 highway
- MSRP: $33,950
- IIHS Crash Safety Rating: Good
The Volvo S60 has long been a popular mainstay of the venerable Swedish automaker’s lineup. The base version, called Dynamic, is a relative bargain at less than $34,000. Other customized trims and packages cost nearly twice that.
The good news: you don’t need the high-end Inscription Platinum ($42,000) or Polestar ($60,000) to feel like you’re driving a luxury car. The base S60 has 18-inch alloy wheels, leather seats, and swanky aluminum interior touches. A 5-cylinder engine delivers 240 horsepower at 258 pound-feet of torque – more than enough for a thrilling burst of speed whenever warranted. The optional all-wheel drive package cuts fuel economy by 5 MPG (down to 31 MPG highway), but it’s certainly welcome in cold climes.
Even the Dynamic version has customization options galore. One popular add-on is the $1,950 Vision package, which features rear cameras, keyless ignition, HomeLink (a smart home hub integration), blind-spot information, and park-assist capabilities. The $1,500 Technology package boasts adaptive cruise control, driver alert control, lane-keeping assist, active high beams, and collision warning with auto-braking capabilities.