New car buyers are going premium, with an increased selection of affordable entry-level luxury cars snagging sales from top-of-the-line offerings from Honda, Toyota, Ford, and Nissan. For the price of an optioned-out Accord, you can have the latest offering from Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Cadillac, among many others.
To ease the search for your next new car, we’ve compiled a list of 12 cars from luxury manufacturers that have a base price of under $35,000, so that you can roll in style without rolling in excessive bills.
Honda’s luxury marque has long provided upper-class amenities for middle-class reliability and prices, and their current lineup is no different. The entry-level 2014 ILX starts at just $26,900 (before destination charges), and even the top-tier technology package can be had for a very reasonable $31,600. This makes the ILX an excellent deal compared to the hot-selling Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA 250.
If you’re looking for something a bit larger, however, the brand-new TLX starts at just $30,995. We just had the chance to drive one, and it surprised us with its quietness and fuel efficiency. Be sure to cross-shop the TLX with a similarly-equipped BMW 3-Series. You may just get more for your dollar.
Audi’s all-new 2015 A3 has been a sales smash so far, and with a base price of just $29,900 it’s really no surprise. The base trim Premium with a 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder and front-wheel-drive can be had for under $30,000, but customers looking for the security and stability of all-wheel-drive can have a Quattro-equipped model with the versatile 2.0-liter TFSI 4-cylinder for just $32,900. We were very impressed with the A3’s ability to trick us into thinking it was a much larger luxury sedan, and we reckon you will be, too.
If handling bliss on a budget is your endgame, look no further than the 2014 BMW 228i. With the replacement of the 1-series coupe, BMW has returned to its roots of small, fun-to-drive luxury coupes, and with an extra dose of fuel economy and luxury to boot. We found the 228i to be excellent value as BMW’s cheapest model, and if you can live without 4 doors, it’s definitely the Bavarian to have.
If four doors are a must, however, the 2014 320i can be had in rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel drive for $32,750 and $34,750, respectively. A sub-$35K base price and uncompromising driving dynamics keep BMW ahead of the curve again in the luxury sports sedan segment.
The 2014 Buick Verano is the ultimate American luxury bargain, starting at only $23,700. All Verano trim levels can be had for under $30,000, and while it’s more of a stepping-stone than a true luxury contender, the Verano’s excellent crash scores and quiet, comfortable interior make it a true bargain.
But if a larger Buick is more your speed the 2014 Regal is an enticingly-priced option. With a strong, turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and available all-wheel-drive, the Regal’s base price of $29,690 makes it much more affordable than several of its luxury sport sedan counterparts. While it may not be able to match up to BMW or Audi in the “sportiness” category, the Regal is still a true American value proposition.
Cadillac has made a major resurgence in recent years, and with the 2014 ATS, they’ve proven that they can hold their own in a market of long-time favorites from Germany. With excellent handling capabilities and a cutting-edge interior design, the ATS’s base price of $33,065 makes it a very attractive luxury competitor. If you prefer to buy American, the 2014 ATS is certainly at the top of the heap.
With a hatchback body style and a hybrid powertrain, the 2015 Lexus CT 200h is the outlier from this list, but it’s still excellent value at only $32,050. Sharing hybrid components with its corporate cousin the Toyota Prius, the CT 200h is a strong option for luxury buyers looking for the practicality of a hatchback and the efficiency of a hybrid, not to mention Lexus’s long-standing reputation for reliability and value.
While many say it’s just a Ford Fusion playing a luxury car, there’s no question that the 2015 Lincoln MKZ is one of the most elegant and distinctive designs in the segment. And while it may share many components with its middle-class sibling, the Fusion is still one of the best midsize sedans for sale today. At a base price of just $34,190 the MKZ is a very attractive option for the design-conscious luxury buyer.
Mercedes made waves in the entry-level luxury market with its CLA250 sedan upon its introduction, and sales have been strong in the months since. At a base price of just $29,900, the 2014 CLA250 is a very wallet-friendly ticket into the world of Mercedes-Benz ownership. We drove one last year, and found the baby Benz to be a statement of a vehicle that lives up to the pedigree of its much larger and more expensive siblings.
Last but not least, the Swedes have thrown their hat into the entry level ring as well. The aging-but-impressive 2015 Volvo S60 in T5 Drive-E trim starts at only $33,750 and boasts impressive fuel economy with 25 city and 37 highway miles per gallon. While we found it to be a work in progress of positive things to come for Volvo, the S60 is still an efficient, safe, and elegant bargain in a highly competitive segment.