By on August 27, 2018

There’s a growing assumption that automobiles have become so universally satisfactory, there’s nothing to gripe about anymore. We’re inclined to disagree. There will always be models that fail to meet our expectations and industry trends we’re not particularly fond of. However, we will happily acknowledge that low-tier automobiles have become decidedly less terrible when thrown together into a pool.

A weird side effect of this has been mainstream brands moving upmarket and offering a bevy of luxury options while extravagant nameplates do the inverse. For example, the Kia Cadenza can easily be outfitted to surpass the base Cadillac ATS in terms of luxury features and overall price. It doesn’t have the prestige, but you’re still buying a larger automobile with a focus on lavishness that can deliver on an exceptionally quiet and comfortable ride.

On the flip side of things, Cadillac is busy prepping its new small crossover for the general market. Priced for a mainstream budget, the XT4 should be a win for General Motors. But it further showcases the amount of overlap happening within the industry right now. Value manufacturers are becoming increasingly willing to move upmarket while luxury brands are trying to burn the money candle at both ends. 

Understanding why is easy. GMC’s Denali has proven a golden goose for General Motors. It’s making them a fortune and other manufacturers want to at least have the option to give mainstream buyers the opportunity to purchase trim levels with a higher profit margin. Meanwhile, luxury brands want to open themselves up to new customers without losing their status as a premium automaker.

Automotive News further examined the trend, with help from Kelley Blue Book and Cox Automotive. In a recent survey, the duo found that roughly one-third of “luxury intenders” said they would absolutely consider a non-luxury vehicle if it had the upscale features they wanted. And, with so many value brands going upmarket in their options, they can probably find almost everything they’d desire in a Hyundai Elantra.

“Luxury is being redefined by consumers and automakers,” Cox Automotive analyst Michelle Krebs told Automotive News. “Consumers who are interested in premium or the upper levels of non-luxury, they want luxury-type features, but they want it at a perceived value price with this idea of increased practicality. Clearly, the automakers want to make more money by offering them, but consumers are already thinking of luxury a bit differently.”

Luxury icon Mercedes-Benz moved decidedly downmarket in recent years, expanding its lineup to include more small vehicles that utilize a front-drive architecture. It also began selling them in more places. Just think about the CLA and new A-Class. M-B isn’t alone, either — most premium brands have added a new bottom rung to their ladders of luxury. However, they’re frequently offsetting that by doing the same at the top of the market — consider BMW’s relatively recent addition of the 2 Series and forthcoming 8 Series. While both follow a similar basic recipe and can be had with all manner of niceties, the former starts around $35,000 while the latter will be well into the six-figure range.

This is mimicked by the mainstream brands, though. Using the Kia example once again, we can see that it still offers the Rio at a highly competitive price (about $14,000) with a bevy of desirable options. But it also has the K900, which is starts around $50,000 and has enough kit to give some premium nameplates a serious run for their money.

We suppose the takeaway from the Cox study is that it still pays to shop around, which isn’t exactly groundbreaking news. But, with even basic models offering things like heated seats and advanced driving aids as an option, it makes more sense than ever to look twice at mainstream brands — regardless of what you’re in the market for.

It’ll also be interesting to see how far this trend takes us. We’ve heard stirrings that several luxury brands are still looking at moving further downmarket with their SUV offerings, while mainstream marques are overtly doing the opposite with the option lists and trim lines of their most expensive vehicles. Maybe we’ll soon reach a point where nameplates are meaningless and the only deciding factor is what tech you can afford… or maybe it always feels this way as cars evolve to become universally better.

[Image: Kia]

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78 Comments on “All Things Being Equal: The Changing Face of Luxury...”


  • avatar
    VW4motion

    Great pictures of the K900.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I also hear that the new K900 (yes they’re bring us a 2nd generation) will be Twin Turbo 3.3 V6 only – which is actually OK by me. 8 is great but if the TT V6 means no more of the weak sauce natural aspirated V6 in that car I’m all for it.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Just too bad the sheetmetal doesn’t match the interior (which is quite nice).

      The 3.3TT V6 will eventually be replaced by a 3.5TT, so really no need for the Tau V8 in present form.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      leave it to the Koreans to continue the reserved and understated exteriors that Toyota and Lexus used to be known for before they went on their meth trip that resulted in the spindle grilles.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Sloan’s “ladder” began its death spiral in 1965, maybe earlier.

    Mercury, Plymouth, Pontiac, and Oldsmobile all became redundant, leading to their demise.

    Even brand loyalty is on the edge of extinction.

    Brand names are meaningless; nothing is what you think it is.

  • avatar
    bd2

    It’s really not so much mainstream brands moving upmarket or lux brands moving downstream recently as it is the US market finally starting to adopt what other markets have gotten for years.

    In Korea and Japan – Hyundai, Kia, Toyota and Nissan are FULL-line automakers/brands (in the case of Hyundai, was, as Genesis has been split off).

    Kia has the K900 and Stinger and purportedly is thinking of expanding into lux CUVs and Toyota has the Crown Series and the Century, w/ Infinitis still being sold as Nissans in Japan (if not as rebadged Mitsubishis).

    Mercedes has been selling the econobox A Class since 1997 and the B Class since 2005 in Europe and various other markets, along w/ the taxi fleet spec E Class and all the commercial trucks (including sanitation trucks), buses and vans adorned w/ the Tri-star emblem up front.

    Having such a distinct separation btwn “mainstream” and “luxury” was largely an American thing, but the walls btwn the 2 have slowly been crumbling.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Toyota sells Lexus in Japan.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Yes, but started off as Toyotas in Japan.

        The LS was first sold as the Toyota Celsior in Japan and the GS was the US spec version of the Toyota Aristo.

        The US didn’t get the GS until 2 years after the Aristo launched in Japan and Aristo got a V8 and standard AWD for its top trim which wasn’t the case for the GS (so aside from the GS being a rebadged Toyota, the Lexus version didn’t have the power and handling of the Toyota version).

        Toyota didn’t launch the Lexus brand in Japan until 2005 and even then, sold the RX as the Toyota Harrier until 2012.

        Nonetheless (putting that all aside), even w/ the launch of the Lexus brand in Japan, Toyota still sells luxury models ranging from the Mark X to the Century (which is the most luxurious model in the Toyota/Lexus fleet).

        Plus, Toyota sells far more of the Crown series (over 5k) in Japan than Lexus does any of its RWD sedans (none of them breaking 500/month in sales).

        The only Lexus models which break 500/month in sales are the NX and CT from time to time.

        Also, the Crown Majesta used to share underpinnings w/ the GS.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Honda really blurred that separation leaving Acura to the wolves this decade.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I’ve noticed that GMC is making the DENALI badge more and more prominent and the nameplate harder and harder to find.

    Case in point the new Sierra Denali has the “DENALI” lettering prominently below the GMC and the Sierra relegated to the corner of the tailgate. Soon they’ll probably ask each dealer to dedicate a corner of the lot to “Denali”.

    “Would Sir prefer a Denali truck, Denali two row CUV, Denali 3 row CUV, Denali SUV, or Denali extended SUV.”

  • avatar
    dwford

    It’s one thing to say a luxury intender could just get a loaded Optima and be perfectly happy, but questionable to say that it makes any sort of sense to get a Cadenza or K900 instead of an actual luxury branded vehicle. The Kias both have pretty steep depreciation, and would be cars you’d constantly have to defend purchasing to your friends (not something luxury buyers want to do).

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      @dwford: if you think the Kias have steep depreciation, check out a BMW or M-B.

      At least the Kias have a chance of serving their drivers without breaking the bank.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        There are some epic BMW videos out there of people documenting their issues with buying CPO BMWs. Not a car you want to own out of warranty.

        At least for the budget buyer a CPO Hyundai/Kia would actually be a decent option.

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        True. I think they depreciate for different reasons. The German cars depreciate because no sane person wants to own one out of warranty. The Kias depreciate because no one in the used car market (where status often trumps sanity) wants to be seen in a fake luxury vehicle.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          The (current) K900 depreciates b/c it’s an old/outdated model and had steep discounts to begin with.

          The Cadenza isn’t really “luxury” and falls btwn the space of the Avalon and ES.

          The new K900 is heck of a bargain. Has an interior that can compete with that of the LS 500 (before adding the pricey upgrade) and will not only undercut the LS, but the G90 as well.

          Just too bad the sheetmetal is kinda drab.

          Think the used prices for the Stinger will hold up a good bit better, esp. for the V6.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          And putting aside who cares what others think (as Art has stated), are the Toyota Crown (series) and Toyota Century “fake luxury”?

          Are the Nissan Fuqa and Cima “fake luxury” (which were also sold as the Mitsubishi Proudia and Dignity) just b/c they aren’t badged as an Infinitis (the Q70 and Q70L) in Japan?

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Why would I care what my friends think of my purchase? Mostly they could care less outside of occasional gearhead discussions (we aren’t brand snobs so…) Or someone wanting to use my truck.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Kia’s biggest issue with this car (besides losing the aspirational V8 for a pedestrian V6) is that it doesn’t have the right badge. Almost all ‘luxury’ marques have moved downmarket to get people that just want the perception of having money into their cars. Cheap cars that are best by normal vehicles with lesser badges for vapid individuals looking to impress. Actual luxury doesn’t matter, just the right badge on the nose.

    Today’s news has been very frustrating to me, I think I’m going to try to make at least 10 positive posts now, it shadnt be easy.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    In 1998 or so I drove a Passat wagon. I remember thinking this had EVERYTHING I would ever want–power windows/lock/mirrors, air conditioning, and a CD player with a decent sound system.

    And today, really, nothing has changed. Oh, I do love my Kessy keyless entry/start. And Bluetooth. Other than that….I bring my own Garmin nav to the dash, thank you very much.

    Face it, we reached peak car long ago–just like peak phone. And just like Apple, the luxury car players are doing their damnedest to remain what they were to the market 30 years ago. But it’s not happening.

    Now the only thing the luxury players bring are stupid stuff and a nameplate.

    I remember driving a used 5 series a couple of years ago, just a plain Jane model. What a lame car. People buy these things instead of Accords? Those people are truly messed up in the head, demanding the nameplate even when it means that much loser of a car.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      peak car equipment came for me when the aux-in was finally popularized. after that everything has been diminishing returns or outright unnecessary.

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        “peak car equipment came for me when the aux-in was finally popularized. after that everything has been diminishing returns or outright unnecessary.”

        100% this.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Except we didn’t. You can get horsepower that 15-20 years ago came only in purpose built quarter mile warriors that couldn’t run on the street. My freaking Fiesta will run with an OG 5.0

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        in 2018, a 5.0 liter normally aspirated V8 makes 480 horsepower, idles (nearly) smooth as silk, and has near-immediate throttle response.

        in 1968 a 5.0 liter normally aspirated V8 making 480 horsepower wouldn’t even idle.

        • 0 avatar
          jack4x

          Not only that, but today’s 5.0 gets 25 mpg on 87 octane unleaded, while the 60s engine would be lucky to see 8 mpg on 100 octane race gas.

          Not that the older cars didn’t have their good points, but peak car is today.

          • 0 avatar
            jalop1991

            We hit peak car years ago, frankly.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            While not 480 HP, 1987-93 5 liter/5-speed Mustang coupes with just 300 torques, 3035 lbs, 3.08 gear set, aren’t exactly slow, and wake up dramatically with simple mods.

            What’s a better bang for your buck?

  • avatar
    Carrera

    I saw a beautiful Kia Stinger the other night. It could have been the paint, or just the way the setting sun was hitting it but the car looked gorgeous. It was a Stinger GT. It really looked like some sort of sexy Italian Maserati. Just like the Genesis, you have to do a double-triple take to realize it isn’t a premium brand. Would I buy a new one? Probably not, but not because it is a Kia…but because just like BMW and Mercedes, their value drops precipitously after 2-3 years.

  • avatar
    riggodeezil

    “There’s a growing assumption that automobiles have become so universally satisfactory, there’s nothing to gripe about anymore.” Said no one who has ever spent more than 10 minutes in a Nissan Versa.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      I test drove one yeara ago. When the salesman and I got back to the dealer I looked at hime and said “nope, let’s try something different.”

      It reminded me so much of my 95 Escort, a vehicle which, while decent and perfectly setviceable while I had it, only cost me $400 to buy. I don’t think I could have tolerated that thing for too long.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      For the purpose for which the Versa was built, there’s nothing to gripe about.

      You sound like those wackos who think every job in the world is obligated to support a family of 4 sending their kids to college. The Versa is intended to be a cheap commuter car, nothing more. That you can buy such a car, new, with warranty, for $10K is astounding. And FOR THOSE WHOSE NEEDS END AT A CHEAP COMMUTER CAR, it’s a gorgeous piece.

      That it doesn’t solve YOUR problem is immaterial. There’s plenty of room in the world for part time Wal Mart jobs for people who just want a little extra cash in the household, and there’s plenty of room for the Versa in the world for people who don’t need an Audi Q8.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        That’s what always gets me with people who call the Trabant the worst car ever built. It was meant to be extremely cheap and simple. It was a the equivalent of the Tata Nano except cheaper. It wasn’t meant to compete with a Rolls Royce.

        • 0 avatar
          jalop1991

          “It was meant to be extremely cheap and simple. It was a the equivalent of the Tata Nano except cheaper. It wasn’t meant to compete with a Rolls Royce.”

          Go on the cell phone forums and watch these idiots respond to every Android phone out there. Understand that 99% of the Android phone population is a cheap to mid range phone. But every time someone releases a new Android phone, the forums are full of idiots saying, “That ain’t no iPhone! What’s the point?”

      • 0 avatar
        riggodeezil

        So get a used Corolla to commute to your part time gig at Wal Mart. If you still just gotta have the “Versa experience”, have someone punch you in the kidneys for 20 minutes or so once you get there. Even within its parameters of intended use, the Versa stinks…on ice.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          The versa is the cheapest way to get a new 40mpg car that can fit a midsize car’s trunk full of stuff and easily a rear facing car seat or tall rear passengers. It rides fairly well over bad roads as well. People shopping this class of car don’t care one whit about dynamics, or at least deprioritize them at the very bottom of what’s important. It’s a much more substantial vehicle compared to a Mirage, and much roomier and more practical than a Spark or Fiesta or Sonic or Yaris.

  • avatar
    Fred

    My 2007 Audi A3 still had a cassette deck, when lesser cars had bluetooth. Still I tought of the little Audi as a luxury car. My point is, that “gadgets” do not make a luxury car feeling.

    • 0 avatar
      Whatnext

      Yes, “feel” is the true test of luxury now. I remember feeling such disappointment sitting in a new Chrysler 300 Platinum C Hemi, after admiring the indigo and navy quilted leather seats which yelled “luxury”, and touching the cheapo plasticky rotary shift knob! Ugh, a total disconnect from what the car promised. They shoulda spent an extra $5 bucks and spec’ed a metal knob.

      Doors that “thunk” closed, door pulls that don’t feel like a kids plastic toy, all things that make a luxury car.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I have never considered the lower end (anthing below an S, 7, or A8) to be luxury cars in the first place. They are just nice, properly engineered and built cars. I think “Premium” is a much better description.

      I would take the basest of base 3/C/A4 over the most loaded CamCordima every day of the week. It’s just not about the toys and tinsel.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        “Properly engineered and built” = needs rebuilding or replacement of many basic components and sub-systems by 100k miles.

        I get what you’re saying, but for most American consumers who see cars as appliances to get A-B, owning such “properly engineered cars” that require such extra outlays is indeed seen as a luxury.

        • 0 avatar
          a5ehren

          Yeah…I can get a car that will require at least one 4-digit repair by 120k, along with more expensive routine maintenance…or I can buy a loaded Accord/Mazda 6 that feels 95% as nice for 80% of the cost.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        The 320i is so low rent it’s pathetic. The 1.5t Accord is shockingly better and for substantially less.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Would say the “mid-sizers” (E Class, 5 Series and A6) are luxury, albeit not as opulent as the flagships.

        But the compact/entry level offerings aren’t “luxury” – just too much of a compromise in space and until the current C Class, none had an interior anywhere close to being luxury.

        That being said, many buyers these days are purchasing “luxury” pick-ups; not that they are really luxury (I’d say more premium), but they are paying luxury-like prices.

    • 0 avatar
      BrentinWA

      That makes me feel sad for you.

  • avatar
    Zotz

    For many years, a solid indication of a premium automobile had been superior engineering, materials, and workmanship. Today, with high-precision automated manufacturing occurring throughout the industry, most customers rarely have an interest in looking beyond slashy styling, eye-catching colors, and interiors loaded with technical content. Who cares about expensive high-strength alloys, forged suspension components, and related high-performance high-durability parts? It doesn’t matter to them.

    Did it ever, really?

    They can no longer assume the fundamental architecture and engineering of a ‘premium’ automobile today is as superior as what they see and feel on the surface.

  • avatar
    aquaticko

    It’s so funny. Especially in relation to the upscale Koreans and all the luxury brands, people always mention depreciation. That begs a bunch questions in my mind.
    I know it’s the enthusiast cliche to say “always buy used”, but has depreciation become so much worse these last couples years that entire market segments of new cars become a no-go? Is the depreciation supposed to be reflective of, effectively, a mark-up of saleability over what a car is actually worth, or public perception thereof?

    • 0 avatar
      altandmain

      Then there’s the other side of steep depreciation – that you can get a deal if you buy it used.

      The only issue is to avoid the cars that have been poorly maintained, in an accident, and of course, cars known to be money pits out of warranty.

      A lot of it comes down to, do your research. Some vehicles are worse than perception and some are better than perception.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      1st question: yes
      2nd question: msrp appears to be a mfg wet dream. For those uncomfortable with negotiating, they’re helping to pay for all those snacks in the service dept waiting area.

      For everyone else who insists on new, there’s always renting/leasing.

  • avatar
    Dan R

    In no shape or form is this a luxury car.

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    Cadillac, prestige? How old do you need to be to associate those two terms?

  • avatar
    ErictheW

    The ownership experience is also about the dealerships, not just the car. The local Lexus dealers provide a vastly different experience via their service departments and showrooms than the nearby Toyota store. The Lexus buyer (or any other luxury brand) wants to be treated a little differently than what they would expect from, say, a Kia dealership. Call it snob appeal, but the $75k car buyer doesn’t want to rub shoulders with the lunch bucket guy who owns a $17K stripper special. I question how far a lux brand can dip down into lower priced offerings before their more well heeled customers will bail out for more exclusive brands.

  • avatar
    fn2drive

    The residual issue is less about brand per se than price. At 50000 or so always lease to lock in your residual ie trade in value so you are not exposed to market. Because so few German vehicles are purchased true residuals are hard to get a grip on as the manufacturers essentially control the market price. Lease subsidies in the form of residuals further complicate matters.

    Kia and Hyundai’s brand issues are more about their coverage at the low end of the market and concentration of credit buyers and the related dealership experience. Selling a Stinger or K900 in that environment requires a truly committed buyer. Genesis is wise decision in order to create a better aligned purchase experience. But their higher end cars are damn good.

    The broad point of this article is spot on and will likely become even more true as brand loyalty mostly erodes. Kia vs Cadillac. It’s really hard to say there is brand cache with Cadillac except in a near terminal demographic. What is clear is some people will always chase status, others will chase value.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I’d rather a Stinger than a lower-tier Mercedes. One company is striving, while the other is slumming. In reality I’d buy a used Lexus, preferably a V8 model. Far better made and more durable than either.

  • avatar
    dantes_inferno

    They can keep these new technology-laden appliances that any idiot can drive. I decided to go the restomod route and active safety (solid defensive driving skills) over the passive safety nanny car route.

    My favorite post I read a while ago (can’t take credit for this one):

    All technology is great.. until it fail$, or break$.. e$pecially in car$.

  • avatar
    readallover

    Rip Kia all you want, but I see a lot more of these than a CT6 or a Continental.

  • avatar
    ThomasSchiffer

    I don’t believe that smaller luxury cars are ‘going downmarket’. Rather it is a reaction to consumer demand in countries where roads are narrower and garages or parking spaces are small.

    Why should such people be denied the enjoyment of a smaller luxury car from a premium manufacturer?

    Not everyone wants to drive a small dull car from Toyota or Nissan, especially since those cars to me feel terrible and built to a price and not a standard.

    • 0 avatar
      a5ehren

      A 320i is not “built to standard”, but ok.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The original A and B Classes werent’t anything remotely close to “luxury” in a small package – they were econoboxes.

      Even today, the CLA is bested by something like the Mazda3 or i30 when it comes to ride and NVH.

      The A3 is a proper small lux car, the CLA is not.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I don’t think many of us are truly immune from badge snobbery. Even truck buyers are Keen to have a giant trim badge to differentiate theirs from the proletariat base offerings. This applies to so many models that offer garish visual bling to justify the price increase and let your neighbor know you spring for a little more.

    I think the reality is, when it comes to performance and luxury, it’s a game of diminishing returns. Take something like a Toyota Avalon. It is literally everything you might want in a luxury sedan save for the badge. But, a better badge on a similarly lavish car will cost you $20k more.

    It’s true, there are premium features to differentiate the two. One has nappa leather, one has even more plush baby seal leather. Similarly with performance. The Avalon already had more power and ability than 95% of us would ever need. But to get that extra second in the quarter mile and tenth of a G on the skidpad, the price goes up substantially.

    Personally, I’ll always take a lowly badge and 95% of the “premium” offering that is 65% of the price because I like money and don’t really care for the people who would thumb their noses at anything less than “premium”.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    As a recent luxury brand expat I’ve had some time to chew on this.

    My Optima is, on paper/in content at least, every bit as luxurious as my G37S was. Actually, I might even say the Optima has a higher quality interior- has definitely held up better over more miles. Some more features too (love the ventilated seats and panoramic roof).

    But it’s the things you don’t see. The door close on the G, along with their general heft, just felt luxurious. The suspension on the G is state of the art- multilink aluminum porn at all 4 corners, with big 4/2 piston calipers grabbing 14″ dinner plates. Optima’s suspension is all stamped steel econo crap with brakes I’d call cute.

    You know what though? At the end of the day, tooling along to work, get groceries, pick up/drop off my spawn, the Optima gets the job done. The kind of driving the G’s hardware shined at was not appropriate on public roads. I now see why the Lexus ES is such a smash hit- it doubles down on the stuff that matters for luxury (refinement, materials, space) and cheaps out on the stuff that doesn’t, while passing the savings to the customer.

    It does sting a little bit to tell people what I drive now… but that’s honestly probably for the better.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Why do you care what other people think of your car? My family gives me crap about driving an 11 year old wagon.

      I tell them that I’m happy to drive something else if they’d like to foot the monthly payment and extra insurance.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        The sweetest luxury in life is to reach the point of IDGAF.

        My requirements for my next vehicle center around cargo space, ease of getting kids in and out of the back, engaging to drive, and all weather capability. I could give a flying eff about how other people perceive it, meeting my own needs is far more important.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The thing about the G was that in its original form (the G35), truly had a crappy interior for its segment; which was a shame since the original G35 coupe was the best looking G.

      Along the same lines, the original BMW X3 had a totally budget interior which (I guess) went well w/ its jittery ride (saying this as something who grew up driving BMWs when they were still BMW).

      These days, most Mazdas have near luxury/premium interiors.

      I’d gladly drive a CX-9 over an RX-L or MDX despite being sans lux badge.

      Not only does the CX-9 drive better, but it actually looks more like an elegant luxury CUV than the other 2.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    I wouldn’t say the 2-series was there to offset the 7-series; the bottom rung for BMW is the 320i while the 2’er is what a BMW *should* be.

    Since every car comes with the same feature set, a luxury car only has its interior and exterior design to truly set it apart. Thankfully, Mercedes, Lincoln, and Lexus have all started pumping out some gorgeous interiors that are modern without being cold.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The 320i is basically BMW’s CLA and A3 competitor (more on the basis of pricing) until BMW decided to bring the 1 Series or something else to the US to fill that niche.

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    Luxury back in the olden days meant a lot of options that the plebe cars didn’t have. Today virtually every mid-priced car sold has A/C, power everything, a good sound system, ABS, airbags, backup camera, parking sensors, a sunroof, with a quiet, smooth engine that will do a 1000 mile road trip in comfort.

    So other than showing off to the world the MB/BMW name plate, there really is no need to go “luxury” anymore.

  • avatar
    arach

    I find it interesting that the OP mentions maybe someday nameplates won’t matter.

    Today, I find the primary difference between cars just the nameplates. If you put a Mercedes badge on my Hyundai, I’m sure I’d pay $10-20k more for it?

    I don’t believe “high end” brands are any better than the low end, but you pay for that badge to show off your wealth and coolness. You know someones broke when they drive a Kia, right?

    I wanted to buy my wife a kia but she said she’d rather take a bus than be caught in a kia. I think that is the general take on the market.

    Its all about brand. I think Hyundais are way better than Porsches, but I want to drive a Porsche because they are cool, and Hyundais are dorky…. but I drive a Hyundai because its what makes financial sense. I give up coolness every day in the name of practicality.

    This is the concern I’ve had with the genesis. I think the genesis is by far better than most other luxury makes, but I’ll pay more for a much crappier car just for the brand.

    We’ve already gotten to the point where brand only matters in cool factor and to show off. I don’t think high end brands are ACTUALLY any better than the low end brands.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Drive ’em back to back and have your wife drive ’em.

      Lux brands are relying too much on the past and it shows when you go from a Honda to a high line brand and walk away thinking wtf.

  • avatar
    Magnusmaster

    All D-segment cars and beyond (that is mid-size or bigger in USA terms) are luxury cars. The difference between a third-world car and a first-world car is orders of magnitude larger than the difference between a mainstream first-world car and a luxury car, even when comparing different specs of the same model.


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  • geozinger: Fnck. I’ve lost lots of cars to the tinworm. I had a 97 Cavalier that I ran up to 265000 miles. The...
  • jh26036: Who is paying $55k for a CTR? Plenty are going before the $35k sticker.
  • JimZ: Since that’s not going to happen, why should I waste any time on your nonsensical what-if?
  • JimZ: Funny, Jim Hackett said basically the same thing yesterday and people were flinging crap left and right.
  • JimZ: That and the fact that they could run on gasoline, which was considered a useless waste product back in the...

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