Are Luxury Brands Worth the Extra Money?


“What kind of car do you drive?”

The question comes up more often than we’d think. The answer can either be a source of pride or a quick excuse to change the subject.

Automakers know this. That simple question could be the justification for the existence of the luxury car market. Nobody really needs a lavish Lexus when a practical Honda also has four tires and a steering wheel. There’s just something about answering that question with a confident “I drive an Audi” that doesn’t compare with the slightly more embarrassing “Oh, I have a Hyundai.”

Maybe, though, we should change our thinking and be proud when we can answer that we drive a car that is known for being high quality and economical.

Some luxury cars can cost at least $10,000 more than a comparable lower-end vehicle, but sometimes the less expensive car comes with far more goodies.

BMW X3 sDrive28i vs. Hyundai Tucson Limited

There’s a certain swagger that comes with owning a BMW. It conveys that you’re successful and hold performance and luxury in high regard.

The BMW X3 sDrive28i is the base model in the X3 Series. It starts at about $40K and comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that makes 240-hp. The base price does not include heated seats, leather upholstery, or a backup camera.

A loaded Hyundai Tucson Limited lands at about $32K and includes a 1.6-liter 175-horsepower engine and some top-level options. Heated seats, leather seats, 19-inch wheels, a rear-view camera, and a 7-speed dual clutch transmission all are included with the Limited model.

To get all of that in the BMW you’ll spend close to $50,000. Granted, in the Bimmer, you get substantially more power. How much money is that extra power and swagger worth when the Tucson makes a convincing case for itself?

Here’s the CarGurus review of the Tucson:

Audi A3 vs. Mazda3

The base A3 is the Premium 1.8 model and comes in at $30,900. That’s almost equal to the fully loaded  $31,000 Mazda3. So which is the better buy?

Audi loads up its base models pretty well. You’ll get those famous Audi LED running lights, Bluetooth connectivity, leather seats, rain-sensing wipers, panoramic sunroof, dual exhaust, heated windshield washer nozzles, and more.

Tick even one option box, though, and the price exceeds that of the Mazda. Want metallic paint? How about 18-inch wheels and tires? Heated seats? All of that comes at a premium. A loaded A3 with the 2.0-liter engine and sport package can jump past $45K.

That makes the $31,000 Mazda look pretty attractive, doesn’t it?

Check out our review of the Mazda3:

What’s more important to you: Saving money and getting high-end features, or driving a premium brand but sacrificing some of the options?


Find Certified Pre-Owned Cars and Used Cars in your area at CarGurus.

Used Hyundai Tucson
Used Mazda3


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