Car Buying

Luxury Cars: Are They Worth the Extra Money?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro August 2013

For shoppers interested in a new vehicle, it can be hard to choose between a luxury car and a more mainstream model. Luxury cars boast the draw of upscale brands, high-end features and other niceties -- but are they worth the extra money? We've listed some of the reasons shoppers pay more for luxury vehicles, and we've included a few points for you to consider as you narrow down the search for your next car.

Brand Name

One major reason shoppers choose luxury vehicles over more mainstream models is the brand name. For many people, it's important to own cars and other items from luxury brands. Such high-end brands include Acura, Lexus, BMW, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz or Jaguar -- all of which have an upscale association.

For shoppers who don't find a luxury brand important, it's hard to recommend a luxury car. Many luxury models are even available at lower prices if shoppers are willing to consider a mainstream brand. Consider, for example, the Cadillac Escalade, which shares many mechanical components with the Chevrolet Tahoe.

Material Quality

Many drivers don't prefer luxury cars for the brand name but for a vastly different reason: quality. To many shoppers, luxury cars offer better quality than mainstream models, whether it's the interior surfaces or the materials they put in the doors and body.

In many cases, that's a valid argument. Many luxury cars offer improved surfaces, such as high-end leather upholstery and soft-touch plastics. And some are constructed better, providing increased safety in case of an accident. As a shopper, you'll have to decide whether the improved quality in luxury cars is worth paying a premium for such models.

Handling

For enthusiasts, there's yet another reason to choose luxury vehicles: drivability. Many drivers find that luxury models offer improved ride and handling in comparison to mainstream cars -- especially when you consider sport-themed brands such as BMW, Audi and Porsche. If you don't get excited about taking the twisty road home, ride and handling may not be important -- but if you do, a luxury brand might be worth a look.

Ride

Another major reason shoppers consider luxury cars is that most high-end models offer a supple ride -- or at least a better ride than many mainstream cars. For some shoppers, especially those with back problems or similar health issues, this alone makes the luxury-car price premium worth it.

But we have a few words of caution: not all luxury models improve the ride. In fact, some models are designed to improve handling, which can actually make the ride worse. As a result, we suggest a thorough test drive before choosing any luxury model.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Luxury Cars: Are They Worth the Extra Money? - Autotrader