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.

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Choices, Choices: Jaguar SUV, Porsche Macan or Used Cayenne?

Jaguar C-X17 SUV

It’s finally happened. After years of rumors and rendered speculation, Jaguar has unveiled what will likely become a production SUV.

To some, it’s unthinkable. To others, it makes perfect sense.

In one sense, Jaguar is a luxury and sports car maker that creates sleek and powerful vehicles that devour the open road. On the other hand, the carmaker needs to make business sense for itself and sell as many vehicles as possible.

The truth is, to be a mass-market automaker, a crossover/SUV has to be on showroom floors. Porsche knows all about this, thanks to the massive success of the Cayenne and the almost certain success of the new, smaller Macan.

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Ready or Not, Here Comes the New Escalade

2013 Cadillac Escalade

There will be chrome.

The Cadillac Escalade is a vehicle that shouldn’t exist. It goes against all current rationale of what a car should be. It’s big, heavy, extravagant and laden in what the kids today call “bling.” The Escalade is expensive and gets horrid fuel economy. People who buy a new one are telling the world that they don’t care about money, the environment or a little thing called subtlety.

The Escalade might be the most in-your-face mass-produced vehicle on the market today. Common sense would say that it shouldn’t exist any longer.

Since General Motors has never been one to succumb to the pressures of common sense, not only will the Escalade live on, it’ll be re-imagined and introduced all over again in October.

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Three Land Barges: Infiniti QX56, Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator

Infiniti QX56

The price of gas is rising to $5.00 and beyond, yet sales of large SUVs are up in the double digits.

In terms of increase, the Infiniti QX56 (above) has been leading the pack, with year-to-date sales up 29.6 percent! How do you figure that? It is easily the ugliest new car on the road; it’s a “dressed-up truck…ultimately assembled from Nissan’s mainline parts bin”; it handles like a pig and costs $75,000 as tested. The new Toyota Land Cruiser starts at $78,000.

The continued popularity of luxury SUVs never ceases to amaze. Sales of big trucks and SUVs were up about 15 percent in February, so the rising cost of gas doesn’t seem to be a factor.

The major reason, in my opinion: “The wealthiest 20% of Americans account for the major share of new vehicle spending, and are less affected by gas prices.” There is not only pent-up demand for these big cars; they are part of the American dream. They symbolize power and wealth. $5.00 gas may end the party for these cars, but don’t bet on it.

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