It's not difficult to find a competitively priced luxury car or an inexpensive vehicle that gets great fuel economy. But it's surprisingly challenging to combine the two and find a luxury car with reasonable pricing and strong fuel efficiency. After searching through today's new cars, we've rounded up several upscale vehicles that are priced under $35,000 for car shoppers who want fuel efficiency without sacrificing luxury-or jacking up the cost.
Acura's latest sedan is a great choice for shoppers looking for a car that combines reasonably priced luxury and miserly fuel economy. Available with a choice of three engines, the ILX-based on the compact Honda Civic-starts at about $27,000 with destination. Named simply the ILX 2.0 for its engine size, the base model offers 150 horsepower and highway fuel economy of up to 35 mpg. Next up in the sedan's lineup is the ILX Hybrid, which boasts a 111-hp engine and nearly 40 mpg in combined driving, for a starting price of under $30,000. Topping the range is the mid-level ILX 2.4, which borrows its 4-cylinder from Acura's larger TSX sedan. That model, which touts a muscular 201 hp and a respectable 31 mpg on the highway, starts at about $31,000 and exclusively features a manual transmission. All trim levels also offer a modern new interior, a myriad of standard equipment and Acura's top-notch customer service.
Audi A3 TDI
Audi's diesel-powered A3 TDI is an easy choice for this list. It clearly fills the bill as a luxury car thanks to its premium badge and a long list of standard equipment that includes leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control and 17-inch alloy wheels. But the A3 TDI also provides exceptional fuel economy thanks to its 140-hp turbo-diesel 4-cylinder engine, which boasts EPA ratings of 30 mpg in city driving and a whopping 42 mpg on the highway. Yes, those numbers are tremendous, but the A3 TDI's biggest selling point is its price: the hatchback starts at just $31,000 after destination.
It may be hard for car shoppers familiar with BMW to believe, the compact 1 Series features reasonable pricing and miserly fuel economy numbers-and that's without sacrificing the brand's signature drivability. With a base price of $32,000 including destination, the 128i easily slips under our price cap of $35,000 - even with a few options on the side. And regardless of whether shoppers choose the standard 6-speed manual or available 6-speed automatic transmission, they will be rewarded with fuel economy figures of nearly 20 miles per gallon in the city and almost 30 mpg on the highway. Those figures are even more surprising considering the small coupe can hit 60 miles per hour from a standing stop in just a shade over six seconds on its way to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.
The latest Buick has slipped under the radar of many luxury-minded car buyers, but we think the Verano sedan deserves serious consideration. From a luxury standpoint, the Verano especially excels with its upscale Leather package. Priced at around $27,000 including destination, the top-level model includes leather upholstery with heated front seats, an upscale Bose sound system and keyless access and starting. It further boasts 18-inch alloy wheels and dual-zone automatic climate control, which are standard on all Verano models. But the best part is the sedan's surprisingly responsive 177-hp 4-cylinder, which touts excellent fuel economy figures as high as 21 mpg in city driving and 32 mpg on the highway.
Although Infiniti recently announced it will shut down production of its base G25 sedan before the 2013 model year, the sedan will still be around in its current form through the end of 2012. That's good news for car shoppers who are interested in a miserly mid-size luxury sedan and don't need the power that comes with the muscular G37. Indeed, while the G25's 2.5-liter V6 produces just 218 hp-a drop of 110 ponies compared with its more powerful G37 stablemate-it also achieves the fuel economy associated with a smaller engine, touting 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg in highway driving with its standard seven-speed automatic transmission. The base-level G sedan also doesn't disappoint in luxury goodies, featuring standard push-button starting, 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control and leather upholstery.
Most car shoppers don't realize it, but Lexus currently offers a hatchback with a base price of about $30,000 that achieves a stunning 41 mpg in combined city and highway driving. Dubbed the CT200h, the hybrid hatchback mates a 98-hp gasoline engine to a 26-hp electric motor to achieve the impressive figure. And while the CT200h is clearly a great choice for drivers looking to save money at the pump, it's also a bona fide luxury car thanks to its upscale nameplate and long list of standard equipment that includes dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, 17-inch alloy wheels and keyless starting.
Although its $34,800 base price barely slips into our price range, the C250 is worth the budgetary stretch thanks to its powerful engine and luxurious interior. Newly available for 2012, the C250 is powered by a 201-hp 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that's paired to a standard seven-speed automatic transmission to achieve more than 20 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. But in addition to being good on gas, the C250 also offers a long list of luxury equipment including the aforementioned automatic transmission, a driver fatigue alert system, a standard power sunroof and rain-sensing wipers. We also applaud the sedan's ride quality, which gives it a luxurious feeling typically associated with vehicles worth far more than the C250's reasonable base price.
What it means to you: Several current models allow car shoppers to combine luxury and fuel efficiency for a reasonable price.