Buy/Drive/Burn: The $40,000 Luxury Sedan Answer for 2018

buy drive burn the 40 000 luxury sedan answer for 2018

Perusing the responses to Matthew Guy’s QOTD post about the ideal $40,000 vehicle, three sedans kept surfacing in the comments. All three were compact, all of them had engines of identical displacement, and all of them were restrained by a price ceiling — meaning no optional extras.

Today we’ll narrow the $40,000 field to these three, and see which one you’d buy with your own bank’s money.

We end up with very different sedan offerings today, due to methodology: The trim selected is the closest possible to $40,000.

Cadillac ATS

Built atop GM’s Alpha platform with the CTS, the ATS was a new compact sedan venture for Cadillac — its first compact model since the ill-fated Cimarron. Sales since its 2013 debut haven’t been as strong as General Motors prefered, leading to an announcement earlier this year that 2018 would indeed be the final year for the sedan version of the ATS. The coupe lives on — for now. Our strict budget of $40,000 allows us only the base, all-wheel drive ATS. Equipped with the boosted 2.0-liter Ecotec, the ATS distributes 272 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic. $37,495.

Jaguar XE

Jaguar’s XE compact sedan debuted for the 2016 model year. Jaguar waded once more into a sedan segment it abandoned a few years before, repressing memories of the shockingly bad Mondeo Leather Edition (also known as the X-Type). The XE shares Jaguar’s iQ platform with the F-Pace CUV and its larger sedan brother, the XF. Jaguar offers a stunning 34 trim levels of the XE, which is surely a modern record for sedan variation. Today we can afford the 6th trim from the bottom of the barrel, which is known as the 20d Premium. That d stands for diesel, so the 2.0-liter engine here makes 180 horsepower, but 318 lb-ft of torque. All that torque goes to the rear wheels via the eight-speed automatic. $39,825.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class

The C-Class is nothing new for the three-pointed star, which has produced the 190E’s successor since the early 1990s. The model’s fourth generation debuted for the 2015 model year, adding a cabriolet offering to the sedan and coupe lineup in North America. Other markets still have the option of a C-Class wagon. It’s the most expensive car of our trio, which means the absolute cheapest C300 is our specification today. The turbocharged 2.0-liter delivers 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, sent to the rear wheels via the 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic. $40,250.

Three Aces of Bases of luxury; which one’s a Buy?

[Images: GM, Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz]

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2 of 78 comments
  • DEVILLE88 DEVILLE88 on Oct 10, 2018

    Buy the Caddy,burn the Benz, drive the Jag!

  • GenesisCoupe380GT GenesisCoupe380GT on Apr 07, 2020

    Buy the Caddy(from personal experience oil changes with this car are surprisingly cheap and the top-spec V6 engine sounds like a G35 coupe under acceleration, plus it requires only 87 octane) Drive the Benz(leasing a Mercedes may be cheaper but servicing it sure as hell won't be) Burn the Jag(British cars may have a hard life in this country but they certainly don't make it easy on themselves. And where I live there's only three Jaguar/ Land Rover dealers in the whole state)

  • Tane94 are both eligible for federal tax credits? That's the big $7,500 question.
  • Jkross22 Toenail says what?
  • MaintenanceCosts This sounds like old-school GM drama!
  • SCE to AUX It's not really a total re-badge since some of the body parts are unique, and the interiors are quite different.As I mentioned the other day, the Tonale has a terrible name and a dim future.As for the Alfa team - guess what, this is how corporate ownership works. You are part of Stellantis partly because you're not viable as a standalone business, and then your overlords decide what's shared among the products.By the way: That Uconnect infotainment system found in Alfas was originally a Chrysler product... you're welcome.
  • Kurkosdr Someone should tell the Alfa Romeo people that they are a badge owned by a French company now.The main reason PSA bought FiatChrysler is that PSA has the technology to enter the luxury market but customers don't want a French luxury car for psychological/mindshare reasons. FiatChrysler has the opposite problem: they have lots of still-respected brands but not always the technology to make good cars. Not to say that if FCA has a good platform, it won't be used in a PSA car.In other words, if those Alfa Romeo buds think that they will remain a silo with their own bespoke platforms and exclusive sheet metal, they are in for a shock. This is just the start.