A luxury vehicle is a vehicle which provides a great abundance of ease and comfort. Although there can be a great range of "vehicles" that offer luxurious settings, a true luxury car will be a car (sedan, coupé, hatchback, station wagon, roadster, etc.), a light truck (light pickup trucks), or a sport utility vehicle. Luxury vehicles place more emphasis on comfort, appearance, and amenities than on performance, economy, or utility. Furthermore, they usually offer more modern technology, higher quality materials, and are often built in smaller numbers than more affordable mass-market vehicles.
- General definition (American market)
- Non-luxury prestige vehicles
- Luxury market segments (for American cars)
- European definition
- Luxury car manufacturers
- See also
While a luxury car is difficult to define as it is somewhat subjective, there are certain guidelines by which the luxury cars are defined. These guidelines include price, design, comfort, and prestige. Although this definition is based on a rough estimate and subjectivity, it will serve the purpose of this article.
Perhaps the least subjective of these criteria is the issue of price. The price criterion used in this article was derived by using the Kelly Blue Book (KBB) in the following fashion. The cheapest luxury car made by a non luxury car manufacturer listed on KBB is roughly $36,000, therefore it is reasonable to define a luxury car manufacturer as one with an Mean Selling Price (MSP) in excess of $36,000 USD. A luxury car, on the other hand, is either one made by a luxury car maker, or if its base MSP is more than $36,000.
In addition to being relatively expensive, luxury cars also offer a higher degree of comfort than their mainstream counterparts as well as a highly sumptuous interior with a strong emphasis on design and beauty. Features such as interior leather and woodgrain are common amenities. This again is subjective, but there is a reasonable ability for people to make this determination.
In addition to featuring a high base price and high levels of comfort luxury, cars typically carry prestige. Although this cannot be measured in finite quantities, "prestige" usually refers to the allure which the car carries. From prestige, people get the idea of "paying for the emblem". For example, because of its prestige, the Audi A4 might cost more than the same car if it was sold under a non-luxury marque. Also, it is important to note, that in no way are all prestige cars actually luxury cars (e.g. the Dodge Viper is certainly not a luxury car).
In the car market of the new millennium, it has become rather difficult to determine whether a vehicle is indeed a luxury car or not. Many vehicles such as the GMC Yukon or the Chevrolet Suburban fit the price criteria to be considered luxury vehicles, yet they do not have many of the amenities of other luxury vehicles.
There are quite a few vehicles who have luxury car-like prestige and/or pricing but do not offer the degree of comfort required for them to actually be considered luxury vehicles; these vehicles include the Hummer H1, the Chevrolet Corvette and the Dodge Viper. All three vehicles have base MSRPs of above $36,000 and the Hummer H1 is made by a company whose entire lineup, with exception of the Hummer H3, features base MSPs in excess of $50,000. Yet all three lack the comfort needed to make them luxury vehicles. Furthermore, many non-luxury high priced prestige vehicles, such as the Porsche 911, Alfa Romeo GTV, most Ferrari and many Lamborghini are often mistaken as luxury vehicles, however in comparison to the other luxury cars (even in the mid-luxury segment) they are not luxury vehicles.
Other vehicles, such as the Mercury Grand Marquis, are not considered to be luxury vehicles due to their relatively low MSPs, despite their high degree of comfort.
Note that the following classifications of cars does not include certain packages that come with the car that might raise the car into a higher level. For example, the average BMW 3 Series sells in the "entry level" category. But the M3 is certainly part of the mid-level category. Also, vehicles such as the Lincoln Town Car or Cadillac DTS feature interiors as plush and luxurious as those of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class or BMW 7 Series, yet are classified as mid-luxury due to their relatively low MSPs.
|Luxury Car Segments, according to MSRP|
|Price||$10k - $20k||$20k - $28k||$28k - $38k||$38k - $50k||$50k - $60k||$60k - $70k||$70k - $80k||$80k - $90k||$90k - $100k||$100k or more|
|Luxury Car Manufacturers||Entry-level||Mid-level||High-end||Ultra|
|Non-Luxury Car Manufacturers||Entry-level||Mid-level||High-end||Ultra|
The entry-level luxury forms the beginning classification of the luxury vehicles; competition in this segment is typically fierce. It features vehicles with an MSP approximately between $29,000 and $36,000, a relatively high degree of comfort and is manufactured by luxury brand. If the vehicle is manufactured by a non-luxury marque its base MSP should exceed approximately $36k and it must place an emphasis on comfort. The equivalent classification in the United Kingdom is compact executive car.
This segment mostly includes the bottom vehicles in the line-up of luxury brands as well as the top-of-the-line models of some non-luxury brands. Vehicles in this segment include the Alfa Romeo 156, Cadillac CTS, Lincoln Zephyr, BMW 3 Series, Buick Lucerne CXL, Buick LaCrosse CXS, Lexus IS, Lexus ES, Audi A4, Mercedes C-class, Infiniti G35, Hyundai Azera, Acura TL,Volvo S60 and the Jaguar X-Type. It should, however, be considered that some of entry-level luxury vehicles have upgrades which put them into the class above them. For example, while the Lincoln LS V6 is an entry-level luxury vehicle, the LS V8 is due to its pricing a mid-level luxury vehicle.
In order to be considered part of the middle-luxury segment, a vehicle should feature a base MSP between approximately $36k and $60k, have a very high degree of comfort, and should have the latest or near latest technological and safety innovations. Customers in this segment also yield some priority to performance. Therefore, many car manufacturers produce these cars with V8s and some highly sophisticated 6-cylinder engines. In the United Kingdom, these models are commonly referred to as executive cars.
Vehicles in this segment include the mid-range models of several luxury car manufacturers such as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5 Series, Audi A6, Buick Lucerne CXS, Lexus GS430 and Jaguar S-Type. There are also some flagship sedans in this segment. The Lincoln Town Car, Citroën C6, Alfa Romeo 166, Cadillac DTS and Acura RL are all considered to be part of the mid-luxury segment due to their relatively low base MSPs despite their rank as a "flagship sedan" and high-end like interiors.
This market is operated under western nameplates with some Japanese representation. It is mainly controlled by Germans (47%), Americans (30%) and Japanese (23%).
High-end luxury segment
This category includes many flagship vehicles of luxury brands such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Currently, all vehicles priced between the range of $60k and $100k are a part of this exclusive club.<ref name="high" /> The vehicles in this segment offer extremely high levels of quality and latest technological developments, as well as degrees of comfort at least equal to those found in mid-level luxury vehicles. There is no precise term in the United Kingdom; such a car would be simply called a luxury car.
Vehicles in this category include some of the models from the flagship lines of luxury car brands. Vehicles in this segment include the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7 Series, Audi A8, Jaguar XJ, and Lexus LS. The Volkswagen Phaeton is the only high-end luxury vehicle that is not sold under a luxury nameplate.
This segment is operated under various German, British and Japanese nameplates. It is mainly controlled by Germans (60%), Americans (30%) and Japanese (8%).
Currently, all cars in the ultra-luxury segment are priced at approximately $100k or higher. They may or may not be better in quality and refinement than some of the more affordable luxury cars, but due to their high MSP, they guarantee exclusivity and help to get their owners noticed. This segment includes the entire lineup of Rolls Royce, Bentley, Maserati, and Maybach. Many "flagship sedans" from car companies whose average car sells in a lower class are actually in this category. For example, anything more upgraded than the Mercedes-Benz S500, BMW 750, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, or the Audi A8 can be included in this category. The Volkswagen Phaeton W12 (not V8), Hyundai Equus only in Korea and the Toyota Century (only in Japan) are the only ultra luxury vehicles not manufactured by a luxury car manufacturer. Most of the vehicles in this category offer 12-cylinder engines, though some such as Maserati offer only V8s.
This category is operated mostly by European nameplates and controlled mainly by Germans (70%), Americans (20%) and Italians (5%). Some critics have speculated that Asian manufacturers do not have any presence because they fear no one will accept their products in this category.
A luxury SUV much like a luxury car is a relatively expensive vehicle that features a higher emphasis on comfort and quality than its mainstream counterparts. Even though luxury SUVs do not necessarily feature more comfort or a higher quality than sedans, they tend to be more expensive than luxury sedans. The top-of-the-line SUVs of American and Japanese luxury car makers out price their flagship sedans. The flagship SUV Cadillac Escalade, for example, has a base MSP of approximately $57,280, versus $41,991 for the flagship DTS. This scenario, however, does not hold true for European automakers, where the flagship sedans are still priced above the top-of-the-line SUV.
Luxury SUV can be classified into similar segment as luxury cars.
- Entry-level luxury SUVs must feature a base MSP of approximately over $38k and offer a high degree of comfort. A vehicle may however still be considered a luxury SUV if its base MSP lies in excess of approximately $29K and it is manufactured by a luxury car manufacturer. Vehicles in this category include the Acura MDX and BMW X3.
- Mid-level luxury SUVs feature base MSPs ranging approximately between $40K to $60K. Vehicles in this category include the Lexus GX, Mercedes-Benz M-Class, Volvo XC90,Toyota Land Cruiser, Land Rover LR3, Lincoln Navigator, Cadillac Escalade, and the Infiniti QX56.
- High-end luxury SUVs feature base MSPs from approximately $60k to $100k. Vehicles in this category include the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, Lexus LX, BMW X5, Cadillac Escalade ESV, Lincoln Navigator L, and Land Rover Range Rover.
Luxury crossover SUVs
Crossover luxury vehicles are between 60-70 inches in height and generally more affordable than traditional luxury SUVs (70 inches and over in height) and feature a base MSP from approximately $30k to $42k. Since they are crossover vehicles, they tend to be smaller than SUVs and feature sedan-like design features. Vehicles in this category include the Lexus RX, Audi Q7, Lincoln MKX, Infiniti FX45, and the Mercedes-Benz R-Class.
Luxury pickup trucks
In the early 2000s, the two main American luxury manufacturers, Lincoln and Cadillac, started the luxury pickup truck segment. The first luxury pickup to enter the scene was the Lincoln Blackwood, first announced in 1999 and put into production in 2002. Less than 4,000 Lincoln Blackwoods were sold, and even those that were sold were sold mainly with the help of heavy incentives. As of 2006, the only two luxury pickup trucks on the market are the Lincoln Mark LT and Cadillac Escalade EXT.
In the European Union, different classifications are sometimes used than in the United States. While most luxury cars are considered luxury cars in both Europe and the US, the entry-level segment is not. Classification within "luxury cars" is more precise when considering the vehicle's size.
The definition of a luxury car is a little bit different from the United States, as the income in European Union is less than the Household income in the United States, and even between European countries.This happens due to the diversity of average income, taxation and tastes.For example, while an average German may spend 23000 € on a car, this figure may not be applicable to most Europeans. As a result of these differences, the guidelines for what a luxury vehicles is vary across national borders within Europe. Besides, a car sold in the Netherlands or Greece may be 30% more expensive than the same model sold in Belgium.
Manufacturers are classified in many groups, but they do not have specific names. Car fans argue on whether a certain brand can be compared with another one or not, even in the same country or region.
Mainstream Japanese manufacturers such as Honda, Nissan and Toyota have slightly more expensive prices than European manufacturers like Ford, Opel, Peugeot and Renault, but are considered to be in the same category as them. Automobile makers like Lancia, Saab and Volvo would fall into the near-luxury manufacturer category , as these brands build cars with better qualities than usual.
Jaguar and BMW and Mercedes-Benz are the traditional luxury manufacturers, Audi is now considered by many to fall into this category and there are some new competitors like Lexus. In the end of the spectrum, Bentley, Maybach and Rolls Royce are above all the previous brands. Sports car manufacturers are usually considederd apart (and distinguished by their exclusivity, mainly by their production numbers), although some of them produce luxury sports cars (mainly grand tourers), like Aston Martin,Alfa Romeo and Maserati. Land Rover created the luxury 4x4 off-roader category with the Land Rover Range Rover
Current compact executive cars (Mittelklasse in German) are cars between 4.50 and 4.65 m long, and equivalent of entry-level luxury cars in the United States. Generally speaking, the lower price range is approximately € 25000 up to € 40000. This includes vehicles such as the Alfa Romeo 159, Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Cadillac BLS, Jaguar X-Type, Lexus IS, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Volvo S60 and Saab 9-3. 4x4s related to compact executve cars are the BMW X3, Nissan Murano and Land Rover Freelander. In Germany, these are not considered proper luxury cars, since they are extremely popular and some of them are overall best-sellers.
Executive cars (German: Obere Mittelklasse) are usually between 4.75 and 4.90 m long, with prices between € 35000 and € 50000. They are similar to the mid-level luxury cars in the United States; examples are the Alfa Romeo 166, Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Cadillac CTS, Citroën C6, Jaguar S-Type, Lancia Thesis, Lexus GS, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Saab 9-5 and Volvo S80. Some 4x4s which would fit this category are the Land Rover Discovery (also known as Land Rover LR3), BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz M-Class, Audi Q7, Lexus RX, Volvo XC90 and Volkswagen Touareg.
Cars above 5.00 m are simply called luxury cars in the United Kingdom, or "Oberklasse" in Germany, and have a price above starting in the € 40000 range as well as a length commonly exceeding five meters. Luxury cars include the Audi A8, Bentley Continental Flying Spur, BMW 7 Series, Cadillac STS, Jaguar XJ, Maserati Quattroporte, Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Lexus LS. Similarly prized 4x4s are the Land Rover Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Porsche Cayenne. In the US the Lincoln Town Car, Cadillac DTS, Infiniti Q45 and SUVs such as the Cadillac Escalade as well as the Lincoln Navigator are also included in this category.
Using the same American definition outlined above, if a car manufacturer's average MSP of all vehicles sold is greater than $36,000, then it is a luxury car manufacturer. While this definition is based on American market MSPs, it can be used globally to identify luxury marques.
Current luxury car manufacturers
These are luxury car manufacturers whose models are currently on the market. One does, however, need to consider that exclusiveness varies with brand. Some marques such as Cadillac, Jaguar and Lincoln are considerably more upscale than others such as Volvo or Saab. Maybach and Bentley in turn are quite a bit more prestigous than Mercedes-Benz or Cadillac. All of the following marques may, however, be referred to as luxury brands:
- Alfa Romeo
- Aston Martin
- Goy Advanced Automobile
- Jaguar (includes Daimler)
- Land Rover (Discovery and Range Rover)
- Volvo Cars
- Volkswagon (Phaeton Series)
Past luxury car manufacturers
These are luxury car brands that used to exist but have since been either bought up or disappeared from the market due to bankruptcy.
- Business Week Luxury Car Sales
- Luxury car sales
- Kbb index of luxury cars
- Forbes\' 10 best selling luxury cars
- European luxury cars
- MSN list of mid and high-end luxury vehicles
- Luxury Car Reviews
- European luxury cars
- Luxury Car Information
- Luxury Cars List
- Best Entry level luxury cars
- MSN Entry-Level luxury cars