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Buying a Luxury Car: What Features Will Still Cost Extra?

If you’re interested in buying a luxury car, you might think that choosing an expensive vehicle or one with a high-end brand name ensures just about every feature you could want will be included as standard equipment, but that isn’t the case, as most luxury cars don’t come with as many standard features as you probably expect. To explain what we mean, we’re listing a few of the features that will likely cost extra on your next luxury car.

Leather Upholstery

Believe it or not, many of today’s most popular models from many high-end luxury brands, like BMW, Mercedes and Audi, don’t come standard with leather upholstery. Instead, they use a seating surface called leatherette, which is often a synthetic material designed to resemble leather. To most drivers, it isn’t perfect, but it’s close. However, if you want full leather upholstery in your luxury model, you will almost certainly have to upgrade to a higher trim level or add an extra option group that includes leather seating.

Navigation System

Although luxury cars can often cost thousands of dollars more than regular models, don’t expect the difference to be made up by gadgets like a navigation system. Although navigation systems have become increasingly more popular in modern cars (both luxury cars and mainstream models alike), the feature is still not standard in the majority of high-end vehicles, especially the most popular lower-level models, like the Audi A4, Mercedes CLA, Lexus IS and BMW 3 Series.

Safety Technology

These days, the latest safety gadgets, including lane-departure warning, forward-collision braking, rear cross-traffic alert and a blind spot monitoring system, are all the rage, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be automatically included in modern luxury vehicles. In fact, the majority of high-end new models still offer these features as options, if they offer them at all. It might surprise you to learn that a few luxury cars don’t even come standard with a backup camera, which is sometimes included as standard equipment on vehicles with much lower price tags.

Heated Seats

Yes, it’s true: Heated seats don’t usually come standard on luxury cars. The main reason is some buyers, like those in the southern half of the United States, don’t really need heated seats, so luxury automakers leave the feature to the options list. Consequently, drivers in the northern half of the country have to pay more for a feature that’s becoming commonplace in even run-of-the-mill mainstream models. Sadly, it’s a reality you’ll have to face if you want the extra warmth of a heated seat.

Our Take

Although your next car might come from a luxury brand, its list of standard equipment may not make it feel like a luxury car. Our advice: Don’t expect to receive many more features when buying a luxury car than you’d expect to have when buying a mainstream model. Instead, remember that you’re paying for a brand name, an improved driving experience and better service, not necessarily more equipment. As a result, we suggest you shouldn’t consider the base price of a new luxury car any more realistically than you might consider the base price of a normal model, since even a luxury car will likely feature at least a few price-boosting options.

Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More

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