Are you looking for a luxury car at the cost of a hatchback? Today, the average cost of a new car is about $49,500, according to Kelley Blue Book, and that's a lot of money considering it will likely get you a low-spec model of a completely forgettable sedan. But what if there was a better way to buy, and you could feel like a millionaire without spending like one? Here are cars and SUVs that are big on luxury and small on price on the used market.
Mercedes-Benz S-Class - Definitive Luxury For A Fair Price
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the car you buy when you want luxury, refinement, technology, and performance. Since 1972, the S-Class has led the way in all four highly competitive categories.
The model is known for its safety and technological innovations, like bringing ABS and airbags to the mass market along with active safety restraints, air suspension, and adaptive cruise control. These cars are plentiful, reliable, and earlier models, with their over-engineered build quality, can be found used for as low as $11,000.
BMW 7-Series - A Legitimate Rival To The S-Class For Driving Enthusiasts
The BMW 7-Series has always felt like the response to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, with MB striking first and BMW launching a counter-strike with their interpretation on how to do big sedan luxury. A great car in its own right, the 7-Series puts the focus on driving performance and handling.
Certainly no slouch in the luxury department, the big Bavarian is completely at home wafting you down the motorway. The E32 (1986-1994) and the E38 (1994-2001) generations are intensely cool and affordable, but we were even able to find a 2016 model used for $32,000.
Cadillac XTS - Pure, Simple American Luxury Without The Land-Barge Stigma
Competent, understated and well-rounded are all words that describe the Cadillac XTS. It sounds a bit like telling someone that they "have a great personality," but make no mistake, the XTS is a good car that oozes American luxury style without carrying the traditional Cadillac stigma of being your Grandma's land-yacht.
Not flashy or ostentatious, the Cadillac XTS is just a very well made sedan. Available in FWD or AWD, the 3.6L V6 is a good engine and can be found as low as $17,000 on today's secondary market.
Volvo S80 - It's Like Driving An IKEA Model Living Room
There's something about cool, crisp, and modern Scandinavian design that stands out. The popularity of IKEA speaks to this, and Volvo's recent resurgence under parent company Geely is another example of our taste for Swedish style.
Hip, trendy and as safe as a Cold War era nuclear bunker, the S80 was Volvo's flagship luxury sedan. With a bargain price from secondary sellers, it's available with either a 3.2-liter naturally aspirated straight-six or a turbocharged 3.0-liter straight-six which was good for 300 hp. These beauties can found for under $10,000 used.
Porsche Cayenne - Sport Utility Perfection
Porsche 911 enthusiasts owe a debt of gratitude to the Cayenne. Without this SUV to keep Porsche profitable, there likely wouldn't be a 911 in all of its variants today. Granted, the first generation Cayennes are not the best looking vehicles on the road, but they are capable.
You can find Cayennes with a V6, a V6 diesel, a V6 Hybrid, a V8 and the neck-snapping twin turbo V8. If you're willing to put in a bit of effort searching, 2007 models can be found for well under $20,000 is good condition.
Bentley Turbo R - You Don't Need To Be A Prince To Own One
Two and a half tons of pomp and circumstance! The Bentley Turbo R has gobs of presence and with the turbocharged 6.75 liter V8 under the hood, it is remarkably quick for a car as big as the Palace of Westminster. The "R" actually stands for "roadholding" and the handling was much improved over previous Bentleys or the era.
It's been said that Bentleys are for driving and Rolls Royces are for being driven in. If you're into driving old-school, coach-built British luxury, then the Bentley is your car. For what you get, the Turbo R is a bargain at $30,000 used.
Maserati Quattroporte - The Armani Suit Of Cars That Won't Break The Bank
Italian style with Ferrari V8 engine; this is the correct way to do luxury. The Quattroporte is Maserati's 4-door executive sedan. It comes with all the power, performance and panache that you would expect from the storied brand with either a 4.2 or 4.7 liter V8 and world-class handling.
If you want to look like a millionaire on a thousandaire's budget, this is the way to do it. This car turns heads everywhere it goes, mostly because the Ferrari derived V8 is loud, but also because it oozes style. And the best part is used it can run as low as $34,000.
Rolls-Royce Silver Spur - A Bentley's Grown-Up, Mature, And Affordable Sibling
If you can get past all the Grey Poupon jokes, you'll be ahead of the game in a Silver Spur. The Spur is Rolls-Royce's long wheelbase version of the Silver Spirit. It shares a lot of the mechanicals and running gear with the Bentley's of the time, including the 6.75 liter V8, but with the luxury knob cranked up to 11.
The cost up front will make your wallet smile, too. We found a used one for $21,000! Just be warned, upkeep can get pricey. If you can afford the maintenance, you might be mistaken for a titan of industry.
BMW 5-Series - Often Imitated, Never Duplicated
Since 1972, the BMW 5-Series has been the de facto full-size luxury sports sedan. While the M5, which is based on the 5-Series may get all the press, the standard M5 is a great car. And affordable on the used market, too!
Available in a vast array of configurations from sedan to wagon and from inline six-cylinder engines to meaty V8s, there is an option to suit everyone. You can even find them with a 6-speed manual transmission. With all those features can you believe they can be found for $21,000 on the secondary market?
Mercedes-Benz E-Class - Priced For Easy Business
When people decide to become bankers, it's believable that they are immediately issued a Mercedes-Benz E-Class. While it may be a cliche to drive the E-Class if you're into finance or trading commodities, it's not cliche to enjoy the luxury experience the E-Class delivers.
Older models, which were produced in excessive numbers, can be found for under $10,000 used. They do tend to require significant maintenance, but so will most luxury cars from that era. All models, regardless of trim, will bathe you in top-quality German luxury.
Audi A6/S6 - A Smaller, Feistier, A8
For a long time, all Audis shared the same design language. This meant that the only way to distinguish models was to read the badge or to measure the length. The A6 and the S6 performance variant slot in between the smaller A4 and the larger A8.
The A6, in its own right, is a fantastic sedan with all-wheel drive, loads of tech goodies and deviously powerful engine. Look for older models to find the best prices under $20,000, and be ready to have fun driving!.
Lexus LS460 - The Perfect Family Sedan For The Price!
It won't win any beauty contests and it will never be described as "sporty," but this big Lexus will take care of you and your family. The Japanese car-maker has a knack for developing competent, world-class luxury cars that feel beautifully modest.
If that sounds like a match for you, and you're interested in driving a car for a million miles, the LS460 is a great choice. It's supremely comfortable, reliable, and around $10,000 in good condition when found used on the secondary market.
Land Rover LR4 - Conquer Mountains And The School Run In The Same Car
The Land Rover LR4 is a tough as nails mountain climber in an expensive suit. The basic and beefed-up drivetrain of the LR4 is less prone to the typical reliability issues of its larger siblings, but it definitely doesn't compromise on comfort.
If Jeep had a luxury division and was going to develop a six-figure Wrangler, they'd end up with an LR4. It's boxy and handsome and unlike the LR3 and Series II Discovery that preceded it, can be found used for as low as $20,000.
Mercedes-Benz SL - The Perfectly Priced Convertible
The Mercedes SL is an icon. A plush, well appointed 2-seat convertible that is just as comfortable on the Pacific Coast Highway as it is in rush hour traffic. The SL is more of a cruiser than an all-out sports car, so it wonderfully walks the fine line between being entertaining and extremely comfortable.
The styling has aged well and there are plenty to choose from in varying years and trims. We even found one from 1995 being sold for less than $5,000!
Volkswagen Phaeton - It Looks Like A Bentley For Half The Price
Originally conceived as Volkswagen's entry into the luxury car market, the Phaeton is stuffed full of features. The automaker went all out to impress, including 4-zone climate control, heated, ventilated AND massaging rear seats, hidden air vents that pop out from behind real wood panels all designed to work flawlessly at 180+ mph.
And here's the best part... you can get the Phaeton with a W12 engine, yes, a "W" not a "V" 12 cylinder engine. Very cool. Older models today can be found for under $15,000.
Cadillac CTS - A Real Alternative To German Engineering
The Cadillac CTS is a great car that has a fatal flaw... it's constantly being compared to its German rivals from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. It was certainly not helped by Cadillac's own marketing team who constantly drew references to the 5-Series and E-Class.
When you stop comparing and start looking at the CTS as a car in its own right, it is genuinely fantastic! Great handling, loads of creature comforts and the 2nd and 3rd generation cars still look handsome today. Newer used models are even inching towards $20,000, with older models available well below.
Lexus RX350 - Easy On The Eyes And The Wallet
The Lexus' RX350 is a comfortable, well-equipped, reliable, and safe built car with typical Lexus quality. It's totally forgettable as an SUV despite having a luxury-to-value rating that's off the charts. This is not a knock on the RX, in fact, it's probably its biggest asset.
You're not constantly taking it in for repairs, dealing with temperamental, high-strung drivetrains or waiting for everything to explode and leave you stranded on the side of a deserted highway. There's something comforting about that; luxury without having to stress about it. All for a great used price of under $15,000!
Land Rover Range Rover - Remarkably Reliable And Remarkably Cheap
It has become quite popular to rag on Land Rover, and British cars in general, about reliability issues. The Range Rover is the poster child for this, and ownership woes are well documented, however, if you do it right, you can live your best life in the big Land Rover with an extended warranty.
This is not to say that your Range Rover will be a constant source of pain and agony. If this is your dream car, you can get a used one for $20,000 after a thorough search. These are legitimately remarkable trucks, too, capable of traversing some of the harshest terrains.
Toyota Land Cruiser - The Big Car That Will Always Get You Home
The tough as nails Toyota Land Cruiser has been around since 1951, making it one of the most affordable cars on this list. The vehicle of choice for safaris, treks, and adventures in unexplored lands, the Land Cruiser has evolved from being basic to downright luxurious. That hasn't hurt their price, though, as they can be found for as low as $11,000 on the used market!
The newer the model year, the more luxurious the Land Cruiser is. Despite the leather, the infotainment system and the "black tie" looks, they are just as reliable and robust in the Serengeti as they are in the mall parking lot.
Audi A8/S8 - Exciting To Drive And Stress Free To Buy
The Audi A8/S8 is part of the German "Big Three" of luxury sedans, and when you share company with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the BMW 7-Series, you really need to up your game. The A8 is the luxury sedan for people who want to stand out without breaking the bank.
The 2011 model can be found on the used market for under $20,000, which feels like an absolute steal. Did we mention the A8 features Audi's fantastic Quattro all-wheel-drive system and stylish good looks?