A list of our 9 favorite used luxury cars based on price, drivability, lavishness, and looks. Who doesn’t want to save money and look good doing it?
We’ve all had the dream. You’re riding in opulence and style at high speeds down the road (pick your scenic route, tree lined, along the coast, or amidst mountains, perhaps all three) in a car well outside your price range. Perhaps someone at a stoplight politely, yet dryly, asks you if you have any Grey Poupon mustard, and low and behold, you do! Well, dream no more, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite used luxury cars so you can find a sumptuous ride without breaking the bank. We considered current price, reliability, styling, interior and amenities, and, of course, performance. What follows are some of the best used luxury cars you’ll find on the market.
We had to start out our list with the paragon of American luxury, Cadillac. The ATS has a suite of desirable standard features including a 10-speaker Bose sound system, leatherette seats (upgradeable of course), rearview camera, and Brembo performance brakes to name just a few. All of these as standard features are great, but the real thrill of an ATS starts at the Premium level where you’ll find the ATS-V twin-turbo V6 and its 464 horsepower. This level of power is complimented by excellent steering and suspension dynamics. Because of the sedan version’s cramped backseat and the sporty engine option, we’d recommend the coupe version of the ATS. The base 2.0-liter get 22/31 mpg, the V6 20/30 mpg, and the ATS-V 17/25. But with all that money you saved buying a used car, I’m sure you’ll be able to afford the slight dip in gas mileage of the ATS-V.
Hyundai may have further lowered the profile of its luxury arm when it spun off Genesis into its own thing. But we shouldn’t forget that Genesis has been making seriously high-quality cars for years now. The 2009 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 is an especially attractive used luxury buy. Between the cushy, well-appointed, and roomy cabin and the quiet highway ride, there are few cars at this price range to rival the Genesis when it comes to comfort. Though not as agile as some more performance-oriented competitors, the Genesis does possess good acceleration from its V6 engine (upgradeable to a V8). Gettable at under $10,000, reliable, and super cozy; what’s not to love?
The curvaceous updated exterior is the beginning on the E-Class. Mercedes endowed this sedan with posh styling, a spacious, comfortable interior, and a ride befitting the label luxury. One reason for the great ride in the E-Class is the multiple driving modes on tap. Use the Dynamic Select to toggle between Eco, Comfort, Sport, and if that’s not enough, Sport+, and finally, Individual to fully customize your driving experience. Engines run from the 2.0-liter turbo 4 to a 4.7-liter twin-turbo V8. So, among the seven trim levels, you should be able to find one that strikes your preferred balance of power and fuel economy. Drive Pilot system is available for a host of semi-autonomous features like Lane Keep Assist, Active Break Assist, and whatever “Distance Pilot Distronic” is.
Since this is a BMW you won’t be shocked to hear the 2015 3-Series drives like a dream and handles beautifully. What might come as a surprise is how little you’ll need to pony up for this kind of performance. With many going for around $15,000, there are few better bargains in used luxury/sports sedans. All trims come with turbocharging and range from 180hp to 300hp depending on the configuration. There are also options for a larger 3-Series with the Gran Turismo hatchback or the sport wagon version. Gas mileage is another plus with the 3-Series, as the RWD gets a solid 23/35 mpg and the diesel version an even more impressive 32/45mpg.
Some buyers look toward performance in their used luxury cars. For those folks we might point you back toward the BMW 3-Series or Mercedes E-Class. If, however, reliability is the more important factor, the Lexus ES should be on your short list. This isn’t to say the ES is by any means slow, either. The ES’s V6 can still do 0-60 in under 7 seconds. The cabin is quiet, and the ride as cossetted as any on this list. Calm abides in the ES; even when you’re at the pump. The 3.5-liter V6 gets 21/31mpg, which is in line with the rest of the segment, but the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder hybrid impresses with its 40/39 mpg rating.
Elegant yet understated, the 2010 Audi A6 hits all the right notes when it comes to interior quality and drivability. There are four engines to choose from, but we’d advise tracking down the 3.0-liter turbo V6 as it offers the best balance of acceleration and gas mileage. The V8 only improves the 0-60 time from 5.9 sec. to 5.8 sec. when compared to the V6 while dropping the mpg by 3 gallons. The V10 435hp further plummets the mpg to 14/19 but gets a scorching 4.9 second 0-60 in return. The only downside to the 3.0 T is the occasional lag. The standard Quattro AWD and smooth shifting six-speed (available on the 3.0 T and above) keeps the A6 tightly within the well-handling luxury sedan pack. We’ll add here that the “Avant” wagon option is one of the best-looking wagons out there if that’s your bag. And to top it off, the A6 also get high safety marks, too.
A nod toward current consumer tastes, here’s a luxury crossover worth your consideration. In fact, the RDX may convince you that CUVs aren’t just hum-drum utilitarian vehicles short on actual utility. Instead, the RDX may inspire a re-evaluation with its combination of quality styling and fantastic, sports-car-like handling (yes, in a CUV!). The RDX’s four-cylinder turbo punches well above its weight-class, delivering plenty of power when asked. Acura’s “Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive” (oh, the modesty!) gives a bump in handling as claimed over the front-wheel drive version and helps mightily in creating those “luxury” driving dynamics.
From inside the opulently appointed XC90 you could be forgiven if you forgot you’re driving a vehicle that frequently sells for under $30,000. The list of standard luxury features is long here: power seats with memory settings, 9-inch touchscreen, panoramic sunroof, leatherette upholstery, 10-speaker sound system, and automatic high-beams to name just a few. In addition to the creature comforts, the XC90 has copious cabin space for passengers and cargo alike. The bevy of safety features including automatic emergency breaking, lane-keep assist, low-speed forward collision warning system are complimented by excellent crash test ratings. Just because you’re riding high doesn’t mean a steep step down from the XC90, the optimal air-suspension automatically lowers the vehicle when parked while also further smoothing out the ride. By all accounts the XC90 is as swanky as it gets in SUVs at this price range. Be advised, the plug-in hybrid version under-delivers both on fuel economy and power.
If you were looking for a used car with power and prestige capably combined with awe-inspiring alliteration the Porsche Panamera fits that bill. The handling and horsepower are classically Porsche, but the four-doors and shockingly reasonable price point are a departure. The V6 turbo provides all sorts of oomph, but the V8 is where the real party is at. And in a used Panamera, you’ll be paying considerably less for that upgrade than you would on a new one, so go big or go … hybrid? Sure, the S E-Hybrid delivers good acceleration from its 416hp V6, a 15-mile electric range, and an electric/gas mileage of 50mpg and 25mpg on pure gas. The transition between electric and gas is totally seamless (unlike many hybrids), with no hint of a shudder. To top it all off, the Panamera gets great reliability ratings compared to other luxury cars.
In case you haven’t figured it out by now, we saved the best of the list for last. The Panamera ranks as our favorite used luxury car. It’s got it all, the handling, the power, the prestige, and a totally reasonable price (for a Porsche at least).
Have a favorite oldie but goodie? Let us know your favorite luxury cars in the comments.