Global car sales continue to climb, with just over 79 million cars sold across the planet in 2017. The numbers for 2018 have a forecast that is expected to exceed 81 million. This is vastly due to the growing needs of the Asian market, with China specifically seeing unprecedented increases. China quadrupled their numbers last year to nearly 29 million cars sold. While SUVs account for a majority of global sales, luxury cars continue to gain popularity and have been virtually unfazed by changing economic conditions. The players influencing great sales numbers are the usual suspects, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. They represent 80% of the share in global luxury car sales.
As a segment, luxury cars represent over six percent of the overall proverbial pie and those numbers continue to climb. Take China again, they grew by a whopping 77% earlier this decade, with Statista citing that BMW alone sold the China population nearly 550 million cars last year. This shouldn’t come as a surprise given the number of millionaires in that country grew by double-digit percent between 2015 and 2016. Elsewhere car makers are opting for luxury variants at the lower end of the scale, in an attempt to entice newcomers to the segment. Cars like the Audi A1, BMW 1-Series and Mercedes-Benz CLA have garnered huge interest, especially in Europe where luxury car sales have been slower than elsewhere.
Despite luxury cars slowly becoming within the reach of more and more people globally, it is still a far-reaching goal for the overwhelming majority of people. However, with a little bit of financial help, a driver should be able to get into a luxury brand from yesteryear. So here’s a list of 30 older luxury cars almost anyone can afford in 2018.
30 1991 Bentley Turbo R: $15,950
Under the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit platform, the Bentley Turbo R is a luxury sport sedan produced from 1985 through 1997. Only 252 of the RT-variant were produced however from 1995 to 1997, in the city of Crewed, England.
Powered by a 6.75L turbocharged V8 and paired to a 4-speed, the Turbo R had significantly different underpinnings than Bentley rides of the past and as a result, Motor Trend hailed the car as the first Bentley in decades that deserved the famous name. It was introduced in the United States in 1989. Priced at $195,000 in 1985, with inflation that would make the Turbo R valued at $460,000 in today’s economy.
29 1989 Rolls-Royce Silver Spur: $10,900
Nothing says you’ve made it in life like owning a Rolls-Royce, even one that dates back to the 1990’s. The Silver Spur was basically the longer wheelbase version of the Silver Spirit, which was an already lengthy full-size luxury sedan.
Measuring 4 inches long, the Spur’s 125-inch wheelbase provided ample space to be shuttled around in for the backseat passengers.
The second generation dubbed Mark II saw just under 3,000 produced and saw fine-tuning to the suspension with an automatic ride control system fitted into the chassis. ABS brakes and fuel-injection were also introduced as standard features with this generation.
28 2009 BMW 7-Series: $16,000
The BMW 7-Series full-size luxury sedan was priced at $9,000 less than class-leading Mercedes-Benz S-Class but still over $15,000 more than the very capable Lexus LS. Like other BMW rides, the 7-Series handled like a smaller sports sedan and was extremely quick off-the-line. There were several options for driving dynamics from sublime comfort to extreme sportiness and coupled with a user-friendly cabin and plenty of technology make this an excellent choice.
The 7-Series’ cabin is also slightly smaller than the S-Class with a 4-inch difference for the second-row seats which some may consider significant. Unlike the S-Class, though it's got nearly 20 additional horses under the hood, and thanks to the twin-turbocharged V8 it has plenty of torque too. Perhaps the only drawback is the complete lack of an all-wheel-drive option, which is disappointing for the class.
27 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class: $16,200
The Mercedes-Benz CLS was introduced in 2008 as a sleek-looking sedan, almost considered as a luxury four-door sports-back. While the exterior styling is polarizing, there is little argument about how luxurious and well-crafted the interior is. The ride is also very smooth, handling is well-balanced and both driver and front passenger seating are spacious.
Available in two trims, the CLS550 is powered by a 5.5L V8 making 382 hp and the AMG-spec CLS63 has a 6.3L V8 producing 507 hp. The CLS’ closest competitors are BMW’s 6-Series and Audi’s A7, the latter which was introduced later. Between the CLS-Class and 6-Series, the Mercedes-Benz stands out with a substantially larger cabin, more powerful drivetrain, and a base price that is $6,000 less.
26 1997 Aston Martin DB7 Volante: $26,000
Produced from 1994 to 2004, the Aston Martin DB7 is a grand tourer manufactured in the United Kingdom. Available in coupe and convertible formats, the latter was branded as the Volante. Due to its retractable roof and associated equipment, it weighed over 150 lbs more than the coupe.
The DB7 Volante featured a 3.2L V6 that made 335 hp and 361 lb-ft of torque, racing to 60 mph in about six seconds and to a maximum speed of 155 mph.
The more powerful V8 and V12 variants are harder to find in the pre-owned market and cost considerably more, but the six-cylinder still gets the job done and retains the same signature Aston Martin looks of its more powerful siblings. All in all, you will have few complaints when you get inside this limited-series production sports car.
25 2009 Infiniti G37: $15,200
Replacing the newly redesigned G35 in 2008 was the rebadged Infiniti G37 for 2009. This mid-cycle change included the much-needed option of all-wheel drive, symbolized by the letter “X” following the nameplate.
The G37 offers very athletic handling, a powerful V6 engine, and a much-refined and luxurious interior. It also included a more efficient 7-speed automatic transmission which improved the overall fuel economy to 26 mpg on the highway with the rear-wheel drive option. The 3.7L V6 produces 328 horsepower offering livelier acceleration than the base BMW 3-Series. You would need to step up to the more powerful, and expensive BMW 335i to stand a chance.
24 2008 Jaguar S-Type: $8,200
In a segment dominated by the BMW 5-Series, Audi A6, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Jaguar’s S-Type offered customers something different. Introduced in 2000, the S-Type was to be a revival of the 1960’s namesake. The car saw some great successes in Europe, with the European Automotive Press hailing its 2.7L V6 twin-turbodiesel engine as “a paragon of refinement, quietness, and fuel economy.”
State-side also earned it high praise for its elegant interior, powertrain options and adaptive suspension on the sportier R-trim. The 3.0L V6 base engine packed enough power to move the S-Type through its paces, however, the optional 4.2L V8 is where it’s at, with 300 horses to spare yet still earning a respectable 24 mpg on the highway.
23 2008 Audi A5: $12,050
The 2008 Audi A5 was part of the first-generation of Audi’s Sportback and quite frankly it looks nearly identical to the redesigned and current second-generation. This would be Audi’s re-entry into the entry-level luxury coupe ever since the Audi 80, which was produced from 1966 to 1996.
While the Audi A5’s performance isn’t as impressive as say the Infiniti G37 or the BMW 3-Series, the 265 hp V6 engine was chirpy enough to get the job done. If you have a bit more in the bank, you can opt for the more powerful S5 powered by a V8 that makes 349 hp or even better the RS5 that makes 444 hp.
22 2005 Maserati Coupe: $18,500
Maserati’s Coupe was released for the 2002 model year but lasted only until 2007 when it was retired to make way for the GranTurismo. The Coupe is truly a four-seater luxury sports sedan, fitted with Ferrari’s excellent F136 engine family, featuring a 4.2L V8 that makes 385 hp and 333 lb-ft of torque.
The Coupe replaces its predecessor, the 3200GT which was fitted with a twin-turbocharged engine and the naturally aspirated intake sure does impress with significant power delivery.
As a result, the Maserati Coupe can sprint from 0-60 mph in about 4.9 seconds, which is about 0.3 seconds quicker than the 3200 GT but about a full second quicker than the 3200 GTA.
21 2002 Mercedes-Benz S-Class: $7,800
The 2002 Mercedes-Benz S-Class fell under the fourth-generation of the infamous nameplate, just two behind the current generation. Introduced in 1998, the W220 model was a total revamp of the outgoing model with the sleeker lines we have become used to in Mercedes-Benz products of today. The S-Class was filled with elegance and style not seen before in Mercedes-Benz products.
The manufacturer introduced their famous 4MATIC all-wheel drive system for the first time, as well as an early iteration of adaptive cruise control, and active cylinder shut-off for increased fuel efficiency. Mercedes-Benz offered 5 engine variants starting with the 3.7L V6 on the S350 all the way up to the 5.5L V12 twin-turbo on the S600. Two AMG variants were also available, with the limited edition S63 making 444 hp via their 6.3L V12.
20 2008 Lexus ES: $12,450
The Lexus ES luxury sedan was first introduced in 1989 with the first five generations built on the Toyota Camry platform. That changed in 2012 with the ES sharing a closer bond to the Toyota Avalon, using its 2,800 mm wheelbase. That would make the 2008 model part of the final generation sharing underpinnings of the Camry.
The Lexus ES features the well-known 3.5L V6 with intake and exhaust variable valve timing technology that Toyota rides have become famous for. The design, while somewhat muted for today was far sleeker than its predecessor and was a great stepping stone to what Lexus has gone on to do. It features a high-quality cabin, very comfortable seats and a silky smooth drive.
19 2009 Acura RL: $12,995
The Acura RL follows the Acura Legend, which had a successful run from 1985 through 1995. It sold on average 60,000 units in the United States for its first six years before numbers tapered off in its final years. By comparison, the RL was averaging a paltry 12,500 units per year before dropping below the 5,000 average mark for the second generation.
The public did not take too kindly to the Acura RL although the second generation was not necessarily as bad a car as its sales depicted.
It offered several standard features such as push-button start, a sunroof, a 10-speaker sound system, a nice infotainment unit, and comfortable leather seats. Extras included adaptive cruise control, navigation, and ventilated front seats. Powering the RL was a more than capable V6 making 300 hp.
18 2009 Acura TL: $14,300
The exceedingly more popular Acura TL is a fan-favorite, comfortably outselling any other Acura product. In its prime, the TL was averaging over 65,000 units per year between 1999 and 2007. Completed redesigned for 2009, the fourth and final generation TL was the perfect balance of sportiness, comfort, luxury, and high-end technology. It was also highly rated by IIHS and NHTSA with stellar safety scores.
Powering the Acura TL was either a 3.5L front-wheel or 3.7L V6 with all-wheel drive. The drivetrain options produced between 280 and 305 hp and were both paired to smooth-shifting 5-speed automatic transmission. The interior is often credited for being highly modern and futuristic while the suspension and drive dynamics are brilliant on the all-wheel-drive model.
17 2009 Audi A6: $10,450
An able competitor to the excellent BMW 5-Series, Lexus ES, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Acura TL, and Cadillac CTS is the excellent Audi A6. While not as luxurious and well-rounded as the E-Class or as performance-oriented as the 5-Series it sits comfortably between the two.
The front-wheel-drive 3.2L V6 may be a rather weak drivetrain for some, considering this is a heavy car, but 255-hp is fairly adequate in my opinion for a luxury mid-size sedan. Like other Audi types, you have options if you have extra pennies in the bank. You can opt for the turbocharged 3.0L or 4.2L models that can take you up to 350-hp.
16 2007 Audi A8: $12,495
Continuing to move up the Audi pole is the full-size luxury A8, competing directly with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Lexus LS. While the S-Class has a slightly more opulent interior, the A8 boasts the larger cabin that is luxurious and features plenty of technology for both driver and passengers alike.
The ride is also very comfortable but still possesses great handling when pushed thanks to the Quattro all-wheel-drive system.
Powering the A8 is the 4.2L V8 base engine, making 350 horsepower and in typical Audi fashion, there are other options with the W12 on the extended long-wheelbase and of course the S8.
15 2008 BMW 3-Series: $9,800
The BMW 3-Series features world-class performance as one the best-driving cars in the segment. So unparalleled is the 3-Series that it has been repeatedly featured 17 times on Car & Driver’s best cars. The 2009 model was part of redesign three years prior and features several trims and engine options.
While it may not be as high-end as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class or the Lexus IS, it offers slightly better highway mileage at 28 mpg, is the lightest of the pack and boasts the largest passenger volume of the three. When comparing base engine trims, it’s also the quickest of the lot.
14 2010 BMW 5-Series: $13,945
Like the 3-Series, the BMW 5-Series offers best in class acceleration and overall handling, which is unsurprising given what BMW rides are known for. The interior is comfortable and fuel economy is actually very good at 26 mpg on the highway, matching the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
It has the smaller trunk size of its competitors but exceeds the others with more passenger volume and matching them for passenger leg room. The BMW 535i offers a turbocharged inline-six that makes 300 hp, which is 35 more than both the E-Class and A6. It is also the only car in the segment that still offered a manual transmission.
13 2008 Cadillac STS: $10,200
The Cadillac STS offers a good alternative to the competition. Probably the closest US competitor would be the Lincoln MKS, which is priced about $8,000 less but offers a similarly-equipped V6 engine.
The STS, however, offers 30 additional horsepower yet is two mpg more efficient on the highway.
It also drives and handles better than the MKS but perhaps isn’t as luxurious on the inside, with Cadillac using many cheap-looking materials in the cabin. Passenger legroom and cargo size is also nothing to write home about. If you are looking for a well-priced luxury sedan that packs plenty of power, matching the mid-tier 5-Series’ turbocharged inline-six for horsepower.
12 2004 Cadillac Seville: $5,300
The Cadillac Seville, which also goes by the nameplate SLS is a smaller-size luxury sedan that was manufactured from 1975 to 2004. In spite of its diminutive size, the Seville was actually priced quite high and was eventually replaced by the Cadillac STS in 2005, which was covered in the earlier entry of this list.
The fifth and final generation of the Seville was also the first to be introduced in Europe, starting with the United Kingdom before making its way to Germany, France, and Italy among others. Virtually unchanged from the third-generation, the only key differences were a considerably improved suspension system but it retained the very powerful 4.6L Northstar V8 engine making 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.
11 2007 Lexus LS: $16,100
With a $63,000 base price that is considerably lower than the competition, the Lexus LS is an excellent option for a full-size luxury car. It offers better reliability and long-term ownership scores than the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7-Series. It still offers executive-class seating, a cavernous cabin that significantly reduces road noise and a fair amount of technology.
The base Lexus LS offers a 4.6L V8 that makes 380 hp, at par with the S-Class’ although the Lexus offers three mpg better in mileage. While it doesn’t offer the S-Class’ standard active suspension system, the ride is soft, often too soft however bumps are well-dampened. All in all, Lexus’ flagship sedan impresses and is an admirable foe to the German competition.
10 2011 Chrysler 300: $12,500
Completely redesigned for 2011, the Chrysler 300 finally sees a more competitive base engine, with the 3.6L V6 that makes 292 hp. That puts it well above the Toyota Avalon, Ford Taurus, and Chevrolet Impala.
Its truest competitor from a performance perspective became Nissan’s Maxima, which offers overall better handling than the Chrysler.
Both the Maxima and 300 have excellent, first-rate interiors, safety scores, and fuel economy but the 300 edges the sedan from Japan when it comes to overall passenger and cargo volume as well as seat comfort. Considering the 300 is priced $4,000 less than the Maxima, it’s a great alternative to consider.
9 2010 Hyundai Genesis: $12,100
The 2010 Hyundai Genesis is a less-popular but equally-capable large sedan that offers a luxurious cabin, plenty of technology and a couple of drivetrain options to satisfy most. It competes against the Chrysler 300 and perhaps to some extent the Lexus ES and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
The Genesis is quick and offers a smooth ride with good handling for a luxury cruiser. Like the ES and E-Class, the V6 base engine produces 20 additional horsepower but retains a competitive mpg-rating. The Genesis has a larger cabin and many standard features that competitors charge for. This generation of Genesis sedans has truly paved the way for the South Koreans to mount a challenge for the German competitors, and this is further exemplified by the newer G60 and G70 series of sedans.
8 2006 Infiniti Q45: $8,600
Produced from 1989 to 2006 was Infiniti’s Q45 full-size luxury sedan. Despite just over 1,100 being sold in the United States for its final production year, you can still find several in the used car market for about $8,000.
It was surprising to see the Q45 perform poorly with low sales considering this was actually a pretty decent luxury sedan. All Q45 rides come standard with high-quality leather, a sunroof, 8-way power front seats, rain-sensing wipers, an 8-speaker Bose audio system, and GPS navigation. It may sound obvious but this was one of the first vehicles to offer voice-activated infotainment system controls.
7 2006 Jaguar XJ: $11,600
The Jaguar XJ series had a good run of success, ever since its inception in 1968. Even in the United States, the XJ continues to see a steady stream of sales, averaging over 14,000 units per year in the last decade. The 2006 model falls in the X350 series, as Jaguar calls it or simply the XJ8, as we know it.
The XJ8 had an all-aluminum body, which pranced with ease thanks to the powerful V8 engine.
It also boasted far greater passenger and cargo volume than its predecessor. Thanks to Ford selling the Jaguar brand to India’s Tata Motors, Jaguar’s flagship sedan offers great value into its seventh-generation, with an entry price point of only $63,000 at the time.
6 2010 Lexus GS: $14,500
Lexus introduced the GS mid-size luxury sedan back in the early 1990s and it gained instant popularity among automobile enthusiasts around the world. In fact, Motor Trend awarded the GS the famed Import Car of the Year award in 1998, during its second-generation run.
The 2010 model was at the tail-end of the third-generation and was arguably the best-looking GS-series generation. It was Lexus’ first model to adopt the L-finesse design language, featuring a fastback profile. Powering the GS was an all-new 3.5L V6 engine making nearly 300 hp, and enabling this sportier sedan to glide off the line. The cabin is highly luxurious and offers a comfortable ride that requires few trips to pump, thanks to a terrific 29 mpg of highway driving.
5 2010 Lincoln MKZ: $11,900
The 2010 Lincoln MKZ has a bad reputation, but for reasons we fail to understand. What’s not to like? Is it the extremely comfortable ride, the high-quality and spacious interior, or perhaps it’s the near-perfect safety scores by the IIHS and NHTSA? We’re not too sure but for some reason, Lincoln’s just don’t seem to be performing well.
Sure, it may not be as agile as its competitors but it still packs enough power with its 3.5L V6, making 263 hp and is available in both front and all-wheel drive options. Even from a practicality perspective, the cabin is spacious and the trunk enormous. All in all, the MKZ is a more than capable luxury car to consider.
4 2003 Lincoln Town Car: $7,000
Typically used as an airport shuttle or cab, this fleet-based Lincoln Town Car has been around since 1980 and was eventually retired in 2011. Sales were very strong in its formative years with numbers in the high 90,000 range consistently before 2004 and eventually going into non-existence.
The 2003 model falls within the third and final generations of the Town Car.
The exterior essentially grew up from over 30 years of squared-off lines to a sleeker look and feel. Powering the Town Car is a powerful 4.6L V8 which was re-tuned to provide an additional output that rose to 239 hp.
3 2009 Mercedes-Benz E-Class: $11,300
The terrific Mercedes-Benz E-Class saw plenty of success with the third-generation, which ran from 2003 to 2009. Dubbed the W211 by enthusiasts, the E-Class had a sublimely luxurious interior and very handsome elegant exterior styling to boot. For this generation, the E-Class may not be the true alternative to the 5-Series.
Where the 5-Series E-Class thrived was the powertrain and handling, the E-Class stood tall with poise and panache. Fuel economy was a cut above the segment with 24 mpg on the highway, thanks to the quiet and efficient V6 engine on the E350 trim. There were other powertrains to consider also, with the V8-powered E550 and an AMG-tuned E63.
2 2011 Volkswagen Phaeton: $16,500
Volkswagen’s Phaeton was produced from 2003 to 2016 but received mixed reviews. Only about 84,000 of VW’s premium-class vehicles were ever produced, making this a significantly rare breed of car for its class, which includes the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7-Series.
The 2011 model carries the final face-lift that was made in 2010, and included LED daytime running lights, bi-Xenon headlights, and LED fog lights on the rear. The interior also saw a significant technology upgrade with four-zone climate control, adaptive cruise, forward collision avoidance, traffic sign recognition, and a Google Earth-fitted navigation. A fresh six-speed transmission was also paired to base 3.6L V6 and 4.2L V8 engines. The 6.0L W12 retained the five-speed.
1 2010 Volvo S80: $13,100
Volvo’s have always been known for holding excellent safety scores and general practicality. While newer cars have started to show design language that challenges virtually every other car maker, the 2010 model Volvo S80 offered a subdued exterior yet still let others know you wanted to stand out from the crowd.
Front seats in the S80 were comfortable, just as plush as the Acura RL or Lexus GS. The interior is well-appointed and while it lacks the bells and whistles, many have praised its overall simplicity. The 3.2L I6 base drivetrain may be underpowered so if you can get your hands on the 3.0L turbocharged variant that’s the one you will want, with a respectable 281 hp.
Sources - Car & Driver, Motor Trend & Zero to Sixty Times