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$50,000 Cars No One In Their Right Mind Should Be Buying

Aspiration. That’s the mindset of someone with a $50,000 automobile budget. But as it turns out, 50 Gs is an awkward price point for a lot of drivers. Trucks come well equipped for that much money, but not a lot of commuters want to sit in rugged luxury while watching their gas gauge fall. Fifty Ks also puts car nerds in range of some fairly sought-after vehicles: Lincoln Continentals, Volvo S90s, Kia Stinger GT2s, Amphicars, etc.

Those are solid choices but not necessarily aspirational. $50K gets a nice new car, but it also opens up the possibility of really nice, slightly used cars. Maseratis, BMW M-series, those SUVs advertised as appropriate transportation to the opera for some reason, a fleet of ten 2009 Toyota Yarises—you get it...

Here’s a story: after I finished high school, my grandmother gave me 400 big ones as a graduation present. Instead of putting it in the bank I made a dumb decision: I quit my job a month early, then blew all the cash on “hilarious” t-shirts and a pair of Heelys. I ended up getting discharged from the Army a few months later, broken and broke. I had to sell the funny shirts for gas money. I kept the Heelys.

What I’m getting at is just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. You can get what seems to be some amazing cars for the price of two regular cars. Heck, you could probably just buy two regular cars, and for a little bit more, have them welded together like some sort of Bad Idea Frankenstein. But don’t do that.

Here are $50,000 cars no one should be buying.

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20 Nissan Titan XD

via www.carscoops.com

The Nissan Titan XD sure looks tough, doesn’t it? It has a Cummins turbo-diesel and a big, honkin’ front grille, and well, that’s about it.

Not sure what the “XD” is supposed to stand for, and I don’t think Nissan knows either. Since I’m from Texas, where Trucks were birthed from the loins of Chuck Norris, I’m going to assume it stands for “Drunken Laughing Emoticon.” It’s a signal. Don’t drive one around the parts where people who drive trucks drive. In the eternal words of Adam Sandler, “They’re all gonna laugh at you!”

Seriously, don’t buy this truck if you have “pretty nice mobile home” money to spend on a vehicle. It has the payload of one of those wagons your grandma uses for her gardening tools.

Other cars to consider:

  • Ram 2500
  • Ford Super Duty
  • Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD

19 Cadillac Escalade Premium

via www.autotrendcar.com

Like I said earlier, $50K is an awkward price point. It’s the pimply teen of automobile budgets. With it, you can find yourself a CPO Cadillac Escalade. You’ll get some good stuff: It’s got a V-8 that punches up to 420 horsepower and a substantial tow package. It’s a good combination of Cadillac and GM truck pedigree.

And that’s the thing—the Escalade is essentially a spruced-up truck, and it rides like one. And has the fuel economy of one.

Other cars to consider:

  • Volvo QC60
  • Lincoln Navigator
  • Audi Q7

18 Jeep Grand Cherokee High Altitude

via www.diannaauton.com

You’re in an interesting predicament when it comes to wanting a Jeep in this price range; you’re not quite dedicated enough to go full Wrangler Rubicon (I mean, you should, but then I wouldn’t have a reason to write this article, so…), and there’s something intimidating about the Trailhawk that you can’t put your finger on.

So, Cherokee High Altitude it is. You can comfortably commute to the job that afforded you this stepchild of a model trim, but you can also store plenty of Clif bars in the console for when you really let loose and hike the trails that are safely inside the city limits.

Other cars to consider:

  • Toyota 4Runner
  • RAM 1500
  • Subaru Forester

17 Land Rover Range Rover HSE

via www.youtube.com (Saabkyle04)

I get the appeal of owning a Land Rover; it’s pretty swanky. There’s most likely leather in some surprising locations, and definitely some A/C ventilation in places you wouldn’t expect. But also, it’s rugged when it needs to be. Also, maybe you forgot it was British? It’s the Christian Bale of luxury SUVs.

But much like the throatiest Batman, the Range Rover HSE can be a little more than temperamental. And asks for a lot of money for what it does. It’s a little like wearing an evening gown when you need to go to the lumber yard.

Other cars to consider:

  • Lincoln Navigator
  • Toyota Land Cruiser
  • Mercedes-Benz GLS

16 Alfa Romeo 4c Spider

via www.forbes.com

Okay, you can’t get a new 4c Spider for $50,000, but if you’ve got that kind of scratch to throw at a car, you can afford to be a bit aspirational. You’re not quite in the realm of a Lotus Evora 400, but you want to step up and step out from the Miata mob.

Don’t get me wrong: this Italian mid-engine drop-top is beautiful and athletic, but with a cramped interior, a rough ride, and road noise reminiscent of a wind tunnel, it’s hard to justify making the leap.

Other cars to consider:

  • Porsche Boxster
  • Jaguar F-Type S
  • TWO Fiat 124 Spiders

15 Toyota Sequoia

via www.caranddriver.com

“We’re Toyota. We arguably make one of the best sedans in modern history. We’re pretty good at making fast cars. We’ve spearheaded the movement toward hybrid and all-electric vehicles. We also actually make some pretty solid pickup trucks. Know what we’re not great at? Huge, lumbering (pun intended) SUVs!”

That’s the pitch meeting for the Sequoia. I can’t be convinced otherwise. Yeah, it seats a metric family reunion of people; yeah, it’s got a pretty solid, torque-happy V-8; and yes, it’s named after a big frickin’ tree. But it gets terrible gas mileage, has outdated infotainment features, and handles like, well, like a sequoia.

Other cars to consider:

  • Toyota Land Cruiser
  • Mercedes-Benz GLS
  • Toyota Highlander

14 Maserati Quattroporte

via www.caranddriver.com

Okay, you’re not getting a brand-new Maserati Quattroporte for $50K. Maybe they’ll ship you half of one and you can mind meld the rest of it with your powers of wishful thinking, but you can absolutely nab a 2014 model at that price point.

And don’t get me wrong—you’ll get a fast Italian whip. The Quattroporte is available with a twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-8 that cranks 523 cavallos and pushes 524 lb-ft of torque.

But like your favorite place to get a plate of pasta, the product is good, but the box you take it home in is a little cheesy. For one, “Quattroporte” is just Italian for “Four-door.” “What kind of car is that?” “Oh, this? It’s a Maserati Four-door.” And finally, if we’re being honest, the body is basically a gussied up Chrysler 300.

Other cars to consider:

  • Audi S8
  • BMW M6 Gran Coupe
  • Mercedes-Benz S-Class

13 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 Base

via www.cargurus.com

Look, it’s fine. The car’s fine. It’s fine. You can get one with a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four that gets you to 241 horsepower and shave $10K off your budget. Or, if you’re willing to flex that budget up to 55, you can get the AMG model with a V-6 (also twin-turbo, bro) that’ll get you 362 pferde (that’s “German horses” for those of you who don’t wanna google).

But look at it. It’s so... It’s the plain bagel with plain cream cheese of capable German autos. If it stole my wallet, I wouldn’t be able to identify it in a lineup. It’s the flip-flops/jeans combo at a Dave Matthews concert of cars.

Other cars to consider:

  • Lincoln MKX
  • Jaguar E-PACE
  • Lexus NX 300h

12 Nissan Armada Platinum

via www.cnet.com

Not everyone in the $50K price range is looking to scoot. Some buyers have a genuine need to lug lots of cargo, human or otherwise.

Nissan Armada fits that role. It’s got 390 horsepower to pull 8,500 pounds and haul 8 humans.

But this is 2018. People at the helm of commuter tanks like this want a little more, and even though the Armada is perfectly named for something called a commuter tank, it gets a pitiful 19 mpg and lacks modern infotainment features like Apple Carplay. These downsides just don’t hold up to the scrutiny of someone in the market for a family flotilla.

Other cars to consider:

  • Toyota 4Runner
  • Chevrolet Tahoe
  • Ford Expedition

11 Maserati Ghibli

via www.carmagazine.co.uk

You’re stepping out and spending two-semesters-at-Harvard amounts of money on a car. You want something stylish; something fast, of course; something Italian, maybe? You’ve probably heard Ty Dolla $ign brag about driving a Maserati.

You price a new one, but a brand-new one pushed by 404 Italian horses is about $25K out of your price range. But you’re savvy, you know you don’t need a brand new car, especially if you’re spending that kind of money.

So, you shop around and find a CPO that’s only a couple years old and has less than 10K miles on it. You schedule a test drive, and you find out that the seats give you flashbacks of the wooden desks you had to sit in during detention, and it rides like the back seat of the school bus. You don’t want your whip to remind you of middle school.

Other cars to consider:

  • Audi S6
  • Genesis G80
  • Mercedes-Benz E 300

10 Land Rover Discovery Sport

via www.trucktrend.com

This Land Rover is good offroad, it’s got a new 2.0-liter four with a turbo, it’s substantially plush on the inside, it’s not too rugged a ride, it pulled a train in Switzerland, yadda yadda yadda...

Okay, sure, that’s fine and good. But does it handle well? No. How’s that turbo/four engine combo deal with gas mileage? Not well? Hmm... Does it grip curves like a panther or some other animal you’d imagine would be good at turning? Nah. Does it shift smoothly? Nuh uh. How’s that infotainment system performance? Spotty at best, you say?

Other cars to consider:

  • Volvo QC60
  • Lincoln Navigator
  • Audi Q7

9 Maserati GranTurismo Sport

via www.motortrend.com

I’ve given Maserati a lot of flack in this article. But it’s like my dad always said, “I wouldn’t pick on ya if I liked ya…”

The bad news: like many of the cars on this list, you’re not getting a new one. The good news: Maserati hasn’t made very many updates to the GranTurismo in ten years, so when your friend Rude Rodney asks how much you paid for it, you can say, “Eh... you know…”

Okay, this one is actually pretty great, but I had to drag on something. The interior looks like a linen suit, which I’m sure is refreshing to wear, but if you see a dude out in the wild wearing one, you’re like, “What?”

I guess if you’re into being that dude, then fine.

Other cars to consider:

  • Aston Martin V8 Vantage
  • BMW i8
  • Lotus Evora 2+2

8 Kia K900

via www.autoweek.com

The K900 doesn’t get a lot of love from the Kia marketing team because unless you spend too much time looking at cars you’re never going to buy, you’ve probably never heard of it.

But hey! It’s a new car we can get at this awkward price point. Well, you can, but as of publication, there are maybe two dozen new ones available. And by new, I mean a 2017 model.

See, the K900 took a gap year because they ride like Fred Flintstone’s car. But if you hold tight, you can get a new and improved 2019! It has the same engine as the Stinger! Hmm... The Stinger is available right now and doesn’t look like you’re going to drive it to a funeral. Maybe just get a Stinger?

Other cars to consider:

  • Kia Stinger GT2
  • Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 45
  • Lexus GS 350

7 Infiniti QX80

via www.thedrive.com

This is another selection you’re going to have to go CPO for to keep in your price range. The Infiniti QX80 has room to spare and options to opt into, but also, paradoxically, does not.

The QX80 is the Nissan Armada’s gilded twin and suffers from the same shortcomings: poor mpg, an antediluvian infotainment system, and somehow, not a lot of room in the third row.

Even though you can hedge your bets on luxury depreciation, you’re still getting more SUV for your money if you go with just about anything else in this segment. (Even a Nissan Armada).

Other cars to consider:

  • Volvo QC60
  • Lincoln Navigator
  • Audi Q7

6 Infiniti Q70: Big-Boy Haircut

via www.caranddriver.com

You can get your Q70 with 416 horses, it comes standard with rear-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive, and it’s got nice paint options and a nice interior. Holy wow I’m putting myself to sleep...

Oh, don’t try to get too limber with the steering because it’s about as acrobatic as being at the helm of a tugboat. And all the safety features? C’mon, man... just let me drive my car...

And that’s the problem with the Q70. It does everything you want a car at that price to do, but also, could you be a little more interesting? Could you scare me a little bit? Its name is "Daniel" and it has a non-threatening big-boy haircut. It’s the Nice Young Man of sports sedans.

Other cars to consider:

  • Lexus GS 350
  • Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 45
  • Audi A6

5 Honda Odyssey Touring

via www.consumerreports.org

Honda has spent a lot of time in Dadville, cooking up the secret dry rub recipe for a minivan that’s funnish to drive. The 280 hp 3.5-liter V-6 gives it a little oomph, and while it’s not a monster on the track, it’s tuned for as much performance as a family hauler can manage.

It comes with some goodies, like a WiFi hotspot and a dang vacuum cleaner.

Other than the slightly uncomfortable ride that comes with the hopped-up tuning, there’s not much to complain about. Oh, wait. Yes, there is. You’re spending $50K on a minivan? Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Other cars to consider:

  • Chrysler Pacifica
  • Toyota Sienna
  • Kia Sedona

4 Cadillac XT5

via www.consumerreports.org

The Cadillac XT5 has nearly everything you want in a Cadillac. If you want something like a CR-V or a Rogue but also have an insatiable need to let everyone know you had money to spend, then the XT5 is a primo choice.

It’s sufficiently midsized, it’s sufficiently be-leathered throughout, it’s sufficiently available in all-wheel drive.

Remember two paragraphs up where I used that operative word nearly? Here’s where I have to let you Caddie heads down: It has a 3.6-liter V-6. That’s only 310 horsepower, folks. That’s only 270 lb-ft of torque. This one isn’t putting up the Cadillac numbers you’d expect when you spend $50K on a Cadillac.

Other cars to consider:

  • Audi Q5
  • Lincoln MKX
  • Jaguar E-PACE

3 BMW M3 Base:

via www.caranddriver.com

It’s pedigree, the BMW. Back when your budget was sub-$30K, you could've gotten a 3- or 5-series that was about five years old, but you heard of people going broke buying a “slightly” used German sports car, only to find out that the repair costs were astronomical.

But you’ve got 50 big ones to throw around this time. You find some M3s in that price range. It’s got 425 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. You find one in Yas Marina Blue Metallic.

The problem? It’s a track-tuned car dressed up like a daily driver. Going to need to make quite a bit more to have a “daily driver” and “not-a-daily-driver.”

Other cars to consider:

  • Kia Stinger GT2
  • Alfa Romeo Giulia
  • Hyundai Equus

2 Buick Enclave Aventir

via www.drivemag.com

Here’s a blind taste test: your $50,000 car has all-wheel drive, a V-6 with 310 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque, a legit infotainment system with WiFi capability, all-leather interior, and a dang woodgrain steering wheel.

You’re not losing your mind, but you’re certainly intrigued. You feel around a little more and realize it has seven seats (they’re leather, but there’s no way they’re gaudy, right?). You can smell floral notes of a sunroof, you get the mouthfeel of paddle shifters. Quick! Do you buy it?

Sure, yeah, why not? You’re only young once, right?

Womp womp. It’s a Buick. You lose.

Other cars to consider:

  • Lincoln MKX
  • Jaguar E-PACE
  • Lexus NX 300h

1 Lexus LS 500

via www.motor1.com

This one is a time capsule. We’ll bury this entry in the backyard and accidentally dig it up in a few years when Rhonda wants us to till that one good spot that gets sun because she wants to grow some tomatoes, but you’re like, “We live two minutes from the grocery store, Rhonda! We don’t need to grow our own tomatoes!” And Rhonda’s like, “We do if you want to buy that Lexus LS 500!”

The LS 500 isn’t there yet. It’s too new to find any on the CPO market, but I have a hunch that wait is coming to an end. It’s elongated and handsome. It has a brash front grille and a twin-turbo V-6 to go with it. But the spindle grille is complicated and strange like it’s wearing chainmail. Why you going into battle, LS 500?

This car is great, but it’s just like the final moments of “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” when Wonka says to Charlie, “But Charlie, don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he always wanted [...] He lived happily ever after…” Remember, they’re in a flying glass elevator, and it’s really cool, but it’s got to come crashing down.

Other cars to consider:

  • Lexus GS 350
  • Mercedes-Benz AMG CLA 45
  • Audi A6

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