The Best Luxury Cars Without the Luxury Badge

When someone buys a luxury car, he or she is not just buying heated rear seats, autonomous driving capability, and an overly complicated infotainment system. The buyer is investing in a little thing called prestige.

Prestige is what you get when you buy a high-end Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Lexus, Jaguar, or the like. Prestige is the thing that makes people look at your car and think, “I wonder what that guy does…”

When non-luxury automakers attempt to build a luxury car, they can fill it with all of the luxury features and goodies they want, but it will never have the prestige of the luxury brands.

If you want all of the luxury that modern vehicles have to offer but could pass on the prestige, check out these cars.  Continue reading >>>

LC 500 Ushers in Change for Lexus

lexus-lc-500

“Lexus is like Neiman Marcus. The quality isn’t that much better than what you’d get at a discount store, yet it’s incredibly expensive.”

Those aren’t my words, mind you. I’ve owned a Lexus and found it exceptionally nice, though certainly not overly thrilling. Those are the words of my lovely wife, who has very engrained perceptions about certain car brands.

She associates Lexus with spiffed-up Toyotas and doesn’t see the added-value proposition of the L logo on the grille.

That’s a sentiment that obviously isn’t widely shared, because Lexus remains one of the best-selling luxury car brands in America. Lexus has, however, suffered from a lack of performance and design credibility, especially when compared with BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz.

Lexus knows it has a problem in those areas and has determined to do something about it.

Continue reading >>>

Are Luxury Brands Worth the Extra Money?

2015_bmw_x3

“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.

Continue reading >>>

Entry-Level Aston Martin? Nope! Buy These Instead

2015 Aston Martin Vanquish front-three-quarter-in-motion-03

If you’ve been hankering for a new Aston Martin that will fit your mid-executive budget, you might want to look at another brand or start making more money.

Aston Martin won’t follow in the footsteps of Porsche and Maserati by adding a lower-priced car. At least not yet. The temptation to chase sales by adding a more attainable model is intense, but Aston intends to stay the course and offer only premium supercars to the world’s wealthiest car buyers.

Rather than increasing sales with a lower-priced car, Aston wants to increase volume by opening more stores.

Continue reading >>>

Super-Lux Is In; Recession Is Out

2012 Bentley Continental GTC

The Frankfurt show reminds us that automobiles, as much as anything else, are symbols of desire and excess.

The fact that the Maserati Kubang is a bloated pig of a car, like the new Bentley Continental GTC (at $212,800, above) is really the whole point. All the nouveaus (and there are plenty) will want one. As someone once said, “Nothing succeeds like excess.”

Despite the massive credit crisis in Europe and a virtual recession here, sales of and interest in super-lux cars are zooming. The Maserati brand may well help FIAT, its parent company, weather a 42 percent drop in company value (per the Stoxx 600 index). Maserati is projecting deliveries of 45,000 cars in 2014, with dealers up 150 percent worldwide.

In an interview, Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo announced that the 4-seat “family Ferrari” FF (at $356,000) will go on sale soon in the U.S. “I’m not worried because we have quality, exclusivity, a strong brand and innovative technology.”

Continue reading >>>