We all feel entitled to a few luxurious moments in our lives. It's human nature to jump at any chance we get to buy something shiny and elegant. Unfortunately for the impulsive buyers, this doesn't always work out in their favor. Carmakers have become smarter about offering luxury vehicles that are affordable to even the average joe. While a $50,000 car isn't necessarily cheap, it's certainly inexpensive compared to what you'd find a celeb driving in Hollywood. That said, there's something that carmakers have gotten totally wrong about their pool of buyers’ wants and needs: quality.
It may not be the general circumstances in all cases, but—for the most part—car owners want to sleep with some peace of mind. Sure, we all love to brag about our flashy toys—but not when it turns into more of a headache than we can take. In other words, quality far exceeds the gaudy appearance that initially captures most buyers. The stunning looks of luxury cars can completely reel a buyer in… until they find out that it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. Sadly, for the car market, people talk, reviews are written, everyone tells their friends what a piece their car is, and no secret is ever kept. There’s no unspoken bond between buyer and car, so why should we keep pretending like these vehicles are worth more than they really are? It’s true that some makes just have a bad model or even just a bad year. But others are just a bad brand altogether. So, enjoy—or read in horror about—some of the most embarrassing $50k rides.
20 Mercedes Benz CLA, 2017
If there's one thing German engineers have done right, it's to successfully capture what an elegant car should be. For many years, Mercedes-Benz has received a solid amount of support from consumers of almost all economic levels. There's one red-headed stepchild in the C-Class family, though: the CLA. Far from what you'd expect during a luxury experience, the CLA has a loud cabin and a relatively stiff suspension. We have to cut the CLA some slack, however, considering that it is the most affordable of the Mercedes-Benz automobiles. Nevertheless, it's disappointing to pay for such a sub-par car at a luxury price, especially considering that the car hesitates before hiccuping a large amount of power. The cramped interior and dismaying base-model options cause buyers to upgrade and spend upwards of $50,000 on a car that's simply just not worth it.
19 Acura RLX, 2016
The Acura RLX is a slick ride, but it comes with a few bugs of its own that could deter buyers from its initial appeal. Constantly scoring below its mid-sized European competitors, the RLX has a bit of a distaste behind its Acura label. It underperforms when compared to other cars of its class, and it has a pretty bland interior. You can't exactly expect to price the RLX at the same range as the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class when these alternatives have arguably more to offer. What comes standard in a 5 Series or an E-Class will cost an RLX owner ten grand more to attain. The RLX isn't a bad car, by any means, but you'd be a chump to buy it at the price that Acura is asking.
18 Hummer H2, 2006 - 2009
The gas-guzzling stud that hardly made it onto the civilian streets may have left on a bad note, but it left a huge fandom behind. The 2009 H2 is the final model that was in production, and while it had few mechanical issues, there are still a few bones to pick. The H2 offers a great ride and comfort on rugged roads, but it's not necessarily the most realistic vehicle for an everyday driver, hence its discontinuation. Aside from the barely 12 mpg fuel economy, the Hummer also has a bit of a bland appearance (both inside and out), which may not be the biggest issue since its competitor, Jeep Wrangler, also has minimal luxuries. (They're off-road vehicles after all.) What the Jeep doesn't have is an MSRP of $58,000. And that only got H2 buyers the basic package. For a more comfortable, realistic ride that truly speaks for itself, don't go H2.
17 Tesla Model 3
It's no secret that Elon Musk's Tesla cars have something unique about them. From their futuristic appearance to their successful captivation of human passion, which is what draws the majority of buyers to these refined cars. But there's really nothing too spectacular about these gas-efficient rides. Using emotion to capture naive buyers may be Tesla's game, but this doesn't last long with Model 3 owners. As much as it pains them, the new owners have reported several instances of huge panel gaps on the car that they can fit their fingers in with ease! Even 1992 Lexus had this figured out. The Model 3 is full of novice mistakes such as misaligned doors, loose hinges, and a hood that doesn't sit flush. These simple (but cringe-worthy) mistakes really take away from the appearance of the car, and it also makes buyers dubious about making a future purchase with Tesla.
16 Nissan 370Z Nismo Tech, 2015 - 2018
The Nissan Z cars have gained a tremendous amount of popularity for their excelsior performance and at an affordable price. Mechanically speaking, the Nissan 370Z is a great car. The 370Z is the king of the Z family, and it does give you a fulfilling sense while behind the wheel. The cabin is another story... Everything in the interior screams early-2000s. We're talking about that funky orange lighting that'd peak from behind each of the buttons and modules on most cars from that era. The Nismo couldn't quite let go of that, along with a dated touch screen and very simplistic—yet not modern-day in the least—tools. It's a bit of a shame that the 370Z lacks so much personality because the car could sell itself otherwise. A great buy if you're a sports car fanatic on a budget—but at the compromise of appearance.
15 Kia K900, 2017
Kia's drove of stylish, affordable vehicles are slowly creeping into the mainframe of popular culture. So, what better way to fully put yourself out there than to come out with your own luxury vehicle? The K900 is just that—well, that's what it's meant to be anyway. The car isn't inherently bad but does come with a few cringe-worthy kinks. For one thing, the handling is extremely inadequate, especially for a luxury vehicle; it'll cause you to have to make constant corrections while rolling down the highway. It does have a comfortable interior—that isn't too harsh on the eyes, might I add—and a powerful engine, but this comes at a great cost (in gas, that is). The steering is unappealing on its own, but the gas mileage offers an extra ding in your wallet that should make you back away from the K900 altogether.
14 Audi Q7, 2015
Audi has an uncanny ability to capture an elegant vibe while offering a more affordable car to its consumers. But if more car shoppers had any idea what's truly under the hood of a Q7, then they may stray away from this service shop beaut. Scarily, the Q7 has a bad history of brake issues along with several instances of problems with the wheels, including misaligned wheels, wheel-bearing malfunctions, and noisy tires. What's worse is the stunning look of the Q7 even has a flaw of its own: the side molding tends to come off. The Q7 has a stunning aesthetic, which may make it an enticing buy, but it's far from worth the cost of all of the trips to service that this piece will necessitate. In spite of its immense fandom, this Audi receives much more hype than it's truly earned.
13 Volvo XC90, 2016
Buyers looking for a more family-oriented luxury experience tend to opt for the Volvo. And it's an attractive vehicle that you can fit every member of your family into, so what's not to like? The system electronics needed a serious update, and unfortunately for Volvo, the 2016 model endured a rough year in the service department. Most consumers found masses of issues with the electronic accessories of the Volvo. There were also a few minor pedal replacements, but otherwise, the issues were limited to electrical sources. Luckily, this didn't hinder the drivability of most customers' vehicles. However, Volvo took a hit for this one. Endless trips to the dreaded service department make for grim business prospects in the future, especially when the staff in the service center are less than hospitable—which was also a common complaint. Thankfully, most of these issues were eliminated in the 2017 model.
12 BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo, 2010 - 2012
With a gracious history of serving consumers with only the best cars, you'd assume that BMW has everything down to a science. But you'll be dismayed to find that this isn't always the case. As far as performance goes, the 5-Series can really knock you off your feet. Customers adore the chic, spacious interior that the 5-Series boasts. But what it's missing is a true luxury feel. It's become so common that car buyers almost feel that they should settle for these hiccups. Among the plethora of reported issues, there are far too many knocking sounds and a loose sunroof, the tires grip badly around sharp turns, a pothole dramatically tilts the entire car, and, worst of all, it burns through oil like it's going out of style. Of course, these can be fixed and are to be expected from an average car. But BMW prides itself on being anything but average. Why spend over $50k on an everyday car?
11 Cadillac CT6, 2016 - 2018
While Cadillac's Escalade is usually the car that's constantly catching flack for its high cost, the CT6 is just as guilty of this very crime. The Cadillac CT6 comes at a lower cost than its SUV cousin, but it's a hefty one when the price tag doesn't ensure reliable (or even desirable) features. The CT6 has had many electric components go completely awry, and the shifting function is a disappointment. One problematic concept that arises with the CT6 is its incapability to be categorized as a full- or a midsize sedan. While it's extremely light, it's not necessarily comparable to other midsize sedans, especially in price. Plus, buyers pay much more than the $53k base price in order to get any of the options that would make it feel like they actually own a luxury vehicle. Essentially, the CT6 comes at a luxury cost without any of the bells and whistles.
10 Mercedes Benz M-Class, 2011
The Mercedes-Benz M-Class had a great run in 2011. The M-Class had strong sales, putting up healthy competition with some of its European rivals. But how many of the trend-chasing car buyers actually did their homework before buying this overpriced ride? The clean exterior of the M-Class Benz is crisp and inviting, but don't be fooled—looks aren't everything. While it's a relatively reliable car on the whole, the M-Class lacks in many areas that a $50k vehicle shouldn't. Minor problems such as a broken air conditioner, transmission fluid leaks, rough shifting, and a vibrating ride are among just a few of the many complaints. M-Class owners have found themselves frustratingly plagued with issues left and right, none of which seem to have any permanent resolutions except to replace the parts entirely. If you're looking to buy a car twice, then this is your gal.
9 Hyundai Genesis, 2016
For something that's only adequate, the Genesis is exactly that and no more. There's nothing $50k about it. For a modern-day sedan—and one on the pricey side at that—you'd expect decent gas mileage. However, you'll be dismayed to find that this isn't a strong point of the Genesis. Not only is this a political issue dear to some, but it's a huge turnoff for anyone wanting to save a few bucks, regardless of their leanings. The sound system is sub-par (you'll notice the base in the car near you before you'll hear your own), it has low power, and it has the Hyundai stigma. Hyundai hasn't yet established its reputation, and this only lessens the value of the Genesis. So, why pay so much for a vehicle that offers so little and doesn't even promise to hold its value for resale? Just don't.
8 Volkswagen Touareg, 2017
The inspiring Volkswagen brand is the largest carmaker in the world (as far as sales go), so that should say a lot about their craftsmanship. The Touareg is definitely not the most popular car that VW has on the lot, but the 2017 model deserves to sit in the back. The materials and interior of the Touareg are high quality and comfortable, the tools are user-friendly, and it has a modest amount of power (although, nothing to get excited about). There are a few things about the Touareg that seem a bit outdated, though. For one, there's no USB port in the car, which is pretty inconvenient for a modern-day family vehicle. Then, there's the fact that everything about the vehicle is extremely stiff. This could be typical for V.W., but it didn't gain very much favorability with new owners who've claimed it's a rough ride. The Touareg just doesn't give much.
7 Cadillac ATS, 2013 - 2016
The ATS is the cheaper of the Cadillac sedans and it shows. The ATS provides a comfortable and elegant ride but doesn't bring much in terms of competition. The 2016 model, for instance, was meant to rival BMW's 3-Series; however, it falls short in terms of performance and overall interior looks. In fact, the ATS is extremely sluggish considering its weight and power. It's like driving a mini-tank with little creativity behind the design. It was also commonly claimed that the ATS has confusing controls and a below-average dependability rating. There have been so many issues with this model that some customers have claimed it's "the worst car" that they'd ever purchased. With so many features holding back this sedan, it's safe to say that it probably isn't worth the price. There's nothing exceptional about the vehicle that should make anyone want to drive it.
6 Lincoln MKS, 2013
The Lincoln carmakers have fallen on hard times ever since the peak of the Lincoln Navigator. Since then, it seems that most young people and the well-off would rather opt for a European luxury vehicle over the predictably drab comfort of the Lincoln. The MKS is an especially sad case given that the majority of the feedback it's received has been mixed at best. Mechanically, the MKS has minimal, run-of-the-mill problems that affect most cars. Aside from quirky air-conditioner handling and a few cases of brake issues, it remains very reliable. The real complaints are with the interior functions and appearance. For what it'll cost buyers, the MKS doesn't deliver. The 2013 model had nothing spectacular to offer its buyers that couldn't be purchased in an upgraded Ford Fusion—which is half the price of a base model MKS.
5 Audi A6, 2014 - 2016
The most devastating part of purchasing a new car is finding out that there's something wrong with it. Audi A6 owners must have become accustomed to this feeling because there are a plethora of issues that have haunted the older generations of the A6. One of the most concerning problems was with the timing chain tensioners, the cost to fix this dilemma is almost as much as a used A6. It's a car that you should be scared to keep in your driveway much more than 80k miles. Along with computer troubles, it has a heavy history of oil leaks, water-pump failure, a finicky start after refueling, a faulty digital display, as well as suspension issues, and much more. The A6 repair list goes on seemingly infinitely. Unfortunately, even if these repairs weren't expensive, they still create a pretty big headache that a $50,000 car shouldn't.
4 Buick Enclave, 2010
There's been a growing distaste for the Buick brand for many years. For one thing, the interior of the Enclave has a much greater allure to the elderly than any other age group, likely because of its accessibility, comfort, and simplistic design and functions. This has caused the Enclave to carry a stigma that doesn't exactly bring more buyers into its lots, but what's worse is the longstanding engine complaints. The 2006-2009 models of the Enclave had a recalled timing belt, which (if replaced) would prevent engine failure. This recall wasn't passed onto the 2010 model, but the problems were. So, many Enclave owners found themselves angrily broken down in the middle of the road when their engines suddenly failed mid-ride. It's agitating for anyone to experience car failure, but it's completely appalling for this to happen to a car that costs a good amount of change.
3 Audi S1 Quattro, 2014
When Audi's flashy S1 body style hit the lots, many were eager to sign away a good chunk of change at their local dealership. But it's quite possibly one of the worst investments one could make. In spite of the fact that the S1 is a fun and somewhat elevating experience to drive, it's a basket case in the car world. S1 owners even claim that they're unsure if their pride and joy will tote them to and from work; each day is a new surprise. Unfortunately, the efficient TFSI engines that were placed in this model, as well as other Audis and VW cars, have a serious issue of oil loss. In the most extreme circumstances, drivers were filling oil each time they bought gas! Audi's solution was to practically rebuild many of these engines at a partial cost to the owners. That's pretty excessive for a brand-new $50,000 ride!
2 Land Rover Discovery, 2015 - 2018
Often applauded for its subtle yet elegant design, the Land Rover Discovery is anything but. Many of the overzealous buyers who'd seen any kind of visual ad for the Discovery become almost instantly enamored. You have to admit that it's a pretty sharp ride. On the contrary, though, these "good looks" come at a good cost. Many owners have reported that after just one year of driving the Discovery, there have been problems with all of the strips and trims coming loose, computer failure, the back door closing awkwardly crooked, and a plethora of electrical issues. This is just the tip of the iceberg, the Discovery even has a history of transmission problems as well as engine leaks and tire misalignment, and it even stalls. The real kicker is that most of these issues were reported after only two weeks of ownership; otherwise, they've most commonly occurred at 1,200 miles!
1 Lexus RX350, 2017
When consumers have the worst experience with a car, it's safe to say that they'll never buy from that brand again. Lexus has failed to recognize this association. The RX350 is one of the worst luxury vehicles ever made. A simple Google search will reveal one horror story after another. The RX350 has a terrible problem with misaligned wheels, which cause it to pull the driver noticeably toward one side of the road (right after purchase). At 20k miles, the brakes usually die for a majority of owners, and the engine will need to be replaced at around 50k. It's not uncommon for unsuspecting owners to take their RX350 into a service shop expecting a few minimal fixes, then be left dumbfounded with a $10,000 ultimatum. You have to choose between fixing this car or taking a loss. The RX350 isn't worth even half of its price.