Are you looking to treat yourself when your tax refund comes in? Many people are due for credits and refunds this year thanks to stimulus packages. Maybe you’re considering the used luxury vehicle market where you can get even more for your money. Luxury price tags can be out of reach with brand-new cars, but when you look at the used market, there are plenty of options.
The luxury segment for both cars and SUVs is extremely competitive. Your choices will likely come down to whether comfort, performance or affordability are your main concerns. However, some luxury vehicles manage to do all three competently.
Here are some of the top choices for luxury sedans.
BMW 3 Series
The compact 3 Series comes in both sedan and wagon layouts. BMW is known for its luxury models, and the 3 Series is considered the flagship model for the carmaker. The main claims to fame for the 3 Series are its sharp handling, comfortable ride and driver-friendly interior. A few different engine choices are available, including a turbocharged inline-six. You can choose other drivetrain options such as AWD, RWD and a manual transmission on some models.
Made by Honda’s luxury division, the Acura ILX closely resembles the Honda Civic. It’s a small, four-door luxury sedan with an available four-cylinder engine and a dual-clutch transmission with incredibly smooth shifting. For those who have a Civic, this is a nice upgrade.
The ATS is another compact luxury car with either a coupe or sedan layout and a choice of RWD or AWD. Featured engines on the ATS include a powerful four-cylinder and a turbocharged V-6 upgrade. Handling on the ATS is precise and responsive, and the ride is comfortably luxurious. The ATS also sports one of the highest-quality interiors ever installed in a GM vehicle.
You might not think that Hyundai makes a luxury car, but they do in the full-size Equus. Its affordable price will still get you many of the same luxury trappings that its competitors offer for much more. A powerful V-8 delivers brisk acceleration, a comfortable ride and respectable handling. The interior features enough sound-deadening materials to make it quieter than most.
Another full-size luxury sedan from Hyundai, the Genesis comes in either AWD or RWD. You can get it with the Ultimate Package upgrade, which decks it out with just about every luxury feature you might want, including a 17-speaker audio system, top-notch interior, power rear sunshade and a heads-up display. The Genesis has a ride more accurately described as comfy rather than sporty.
The XE fits into the compact luxury segment with its elegant interior and smooth handling. With a mostly aluminum body, the XE is quite light, which makes it feel faster than average, especially with the available supercharged V-6. A sophisticated suspension gives it the kind of cornering ability you would expect on a race car.
Made by Nissan’s luxury division, the Infiniti Q50 offers luxury in a compact format. A wide selection of available engines includes a powerful V-6 and an economical hybrid among other choices. A nice feature on the Q50 is its direct adaptive steering system, which decreases road vibration felt through the wheel. Along with its comfortable ride and smooth handling, the Q50 offers an attractive interior with quality materials.
Kia’s luxury sedan is very similar to the Hyundai Equus. However, it’s more similar to American luxury offerings versus European or Japanese models. It uses the same V-8 engine as the Equus, but it also offers a more fuel-efficient V-6 engine. Both engines have plenty of power to make the K900 confident and comfortable in highway and city driving.
The S60 fits into the compact luxury sedan market, and it’s loaded with unique features that are hard to find on other cars. One such feature is its choice of engines. The S60 offers some interesting selections here, like a turbocharged inline-five engine and a four-cylinder with both turbocharging and supercharging. You can also choose from a FWD layout or an AWD layout. Both handle safely and securely.
Made by Toyota’s luxury division, the ES is a midsize luxury car that has a similar footprint as the Toyota Camry. It offers a FWD layout and secure handling to move you around town. Engine choices range from a hybrid to a peppy V-6. The ES is a very roomy car with a classic profile in an affordable price range.
Top Luxury SUVs
Along with luxury cars, there’s also a luxury SUV segment for those who want the smooth handling and posh interiors of a luxury vehicle but who also want a commanding road view and extra cargo and passenger space.
Lexus LX 570
Unsurprisingly, Lexus has a large entry here with the LX 570 that can seat up to eight people. The LX 570 offers a few unique features for its class, including a full-time 4WD system, various off-road upgrades and a 5.7-liter V-8 engine that gets 383 horsepower and 403 pound-feet of torque, which means you can tow a decent amount, too.
Honda’s luxury SUV entry comes in with strong reliability ratings and a standard AWD system. It features seating for seven passengers and around 90 cubic feet of cargo space. Depending on the model year, the available engine is a 3.7-liter V-6 paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain is good for 300 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque.
One of the most appealing features of this luxury SUV is its economical 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6. Not only is it extremely fuel-efficient at 24 city mpg and 31 highway mpg, but it also puts out plenty of power with 240 horses and 428 pound-feet of torque. The Q5 TDI includes standard quattro AWD, seating for five passengers and a luxury interior.
As a full-size luxury SUV, the XC90 tends to get forgotten alongside many sportier crossovers. However, the XC90 comes with good reliability ratings, an attractive interior, optional AWD and a competent V-6 engine that achieves 240 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy on the XC90 isn’t bad either for its size at 23 highway mpg and 16 city mpg.
If you want a lot of room in your luxury SUV, then the Enclave is a solid choice with its seating for eight passengers and over 100 cubic feet of cargo space. The Enclave isn’t a truck-based SUV, either, which makes it more civilized and comfortable on the road.
The M-Class is the flagship model of the Mercedes-Benz SUV lineup. It has room for five passengers and a few different engine choices, including a 3.5-liter V-6 and a 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6. AWD is a standard feature as is the seven-speed automatic transmission. The M-Class doesn’t get carried away, but it’s a solid luxury entry.
Which luxury vehicle will you choose? The segment offers a lot of choices to fit many budgets with a range of variations in performance, space, size and fuel economy.