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Published: Apr 26, 2023 8 min read
Illustration of a car in the spotlight
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Luxury doesn’t have to come with a premium price tag or an elite British nameplate. We’ve concluded that buying a plush ride with decadent trappings is actually possible for as little as $50,000 or so. That’s only a little more than the average new-car price tag these days — and well below the current $65,000 average for a luxury car.

Naturally, our price limit won’t buy you the likes of a Rolls Royce or Bentley, and the prestige and the unequaled materials and workmanship that comes with those brands. But a more-than-comfortable Mercedes and Audi are in the mix, along with well-appointed entries from relatively new names in luxury wheels – notably, Kia and Genesis.

Our picks can, of course, set you back by more than $50,000 — as in, thousands of dollars more than that sum – if you add such upgrades and optional features as bigger engines and even-fancier interiors. Resist those temptations, though, and you can still enjoy a vehicle that offers pampering and fine performance for not much more than you'd pay for some regular large cars.

We actually began our research with vehicles that cost as much as $75,000. But as we scrutinized the choices through the lens of value – as well as safety, performance, and more – we concluded that cars that cost thousands less than that can offer much or all of what’s available for our maximum figure, including a luxurious experience.

Here, then, are the five best luxury vehicles you can buy for no more than about $50,000, with explanations on how each stands out from the pack. The specs listed below each review are for the trim level we assessed, which was the one we judged offered the best value for the money.

Our Picks for Best Luxury Cars

Genesis G70 — Best Overall and Best Value
Kia Stinger — Best for Handling
Genesis G80 — Best for Features
Audi A5 — Best for Safety
Mercedes-Benz C300 — Best for Technology

Best Luxury Cars Reviews

Best Overall and Best Value: Genesis G70

Courtesy of Genesis
  • Low in price and cost of ownership
  • Excellent build quality
  • Limited rear-seat passenger space

Pricing for the Genesis G70 starts just below $40,000, but don’t let the affordable price tag fool you about the car's quality. The Korean car is designed by the same engineers who worked on BMW’s 3 Series, and this import boasts solid performance and an exquisitely designed interior replete with high-end materials such as smooth leatherette upholstery.

The G70 delivers a confident ride with its 252-horsepower engine. The G70 accelerates briskly, darting from 0 to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds; that’s faster than the Audi A5 but not as quick as the Kia Stinger on this list. All models come with heated front seats, a 10.25-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a long list of safety features.

Best for Handling: Kia Stinger

Courtesy of Kia
  • Quick acceleration, even for a luxury car
  • Handles especially well
  • The least fuel-efficient of this group

Costing just above $50,000, the 300-horsepower step-up GT2 trim of the Kia Stinger provides speed and athletic handling comparable to cars twice its price. In its rear-wheel version, the GT2 trim delivers track-ready performance with an impressive 368 horsepower and blistering acceleration, zipping from 0 to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds.

The GT2 boasts heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and Nappa leather trim, as well as a surround-view monitor and front park distance warning, among a long list of standard safety equipment. It comes with a 10.25-inch touch screen and wireless phone charging.

Despite its modern design and luxury features, though, the Stinger cabin doesn’t exude the same elegance as rival luxury sedans. It’s a car to buy more for its performance than a plush driving experience.

Best for Features: Genesis G80

Courtesy of Genesis
  • Luxury at an affordable price
  • Large touch screen
  • Ride lacks sportiness

The Genesis G80 mid-size sedan features a massive 14.5-inch touch screen – far larger than any car in the class – as well as heated front seats and a comfortable cabin trimmed with leatherette upholstery and piano black gloss. The long list of safety equipment includes blind-spot collision avoidance assist, intelligent speed limit assist and smart cruise control with stop-and-go.

With the push of a button, the G80 intelligently parks itself through available remote smart parking assist. To tailor your driving experience, the G80 uses cloud-based technology to remember seating, comfort, and navigation. These settings are automatically implemented when you enter the car.

The G80’s 300-horsepower engine launches it from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds. The car feels agile around curves but feels less sporty than rival luxury sedans such as the Kia Stinger.

Best for Safety: Audi A5

Courtesy of Audi
  • Strong safety ratings
  • Rich in safety equipment
  • Limited cargo space

The Audi A5 offers both safety and performance credentials. Recognized by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) as a Top Safety Pick+, the sports car also landed high marks for its headlights, which is critical to nighttime visibility. Starting just below $45,000, even the base Premium trim of this sporty sedan comes with lane departure warning, a top-view camera system, and adaptive cruise control.

The A5 interior lacks the plush design and high-end features you’d expect from a luxury vehicle, like heated seats, but it also has niceties like leather upholstery and heated front seats. The car seats four or five people depending upon the configuration. The cabin is roomy enough for most passengers but trails the competition in trunk space.

Best for Technology: Mercedes-Benz C300

Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz
  • Ample tech features
  • Fine fuel economy
  • Many driver assistance features are optional

Starting just below $45,000, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class C300 blends classic luxury with cutting-edge technology. All models, including the base, come with an iPad-like 11.9-inch touch screen and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

In-car Wi-Fi, wireless device charging, and online music streaming are optional. The C300 has an intuitive voice assistant that continuously learns from voice commands to enhance user experience and utility. The car’s technology lets you customize your experience with hundreds of preferences, such as seat positions and playlists, that can be set in-car or by phone. Just touch the fingerprint scanner on the dash to call these up.

While the C300 has an extensive list of optional safety equipment such as a surround view system and active speed limit assist, many of these features come standard in rival luxury sedans.

Jaclyn Trop is an award-winning journalist who road-tests and reviews vehicles and covers automotive news. Her byline has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Fortune, Consumer Reports and U.S. News & World Report, among other publications.