Whether or not it’s worth buying that luxury car you’ve been eyeing is a deeply personal choice. To help you make a well-informed decision, we’ve rounded up some of the major advantages and disadvantages of buying a luxury car.
It’s worth mentioning here that the line between luxury cars and mainstream ones is, arguably, fuzzier than ever. A full-size American pickup truck stuffed with optional extras like stitched-leather trim and massaging seats can easily cost $80,000 or even $100,000. Meanwhile, some of the big German luxury brands have come downmarket into the sub-compact vehicle arena, with little hatchbacks and SUVs starting around $40,000. For this guide, let’s assume luxury cars are cars from luxury brands.
Advantages of buying a luxury car
Plush ride: Most drivers would certainly welcome not getting jostled around so much over bad roads. Some luxury cars have air suspension or adaptive dampers that let the driver select a softer, or firmer, ride as needed. Other high-end vehicles have active suspension systems linked to road-scanning cameras, radar and/or GPS navigation. That way, when the car senses a sharp turn or a speed bump coming up, the suspension automatically primes itself to keep the car level or absorb the impact.
Calm cabins: The most luxurious cars money can buy have cabins so silent it feels like somebody put the world on mute. It can make for an extremely calm, relaxing ride, even at the peak of rush-hour chaos.
First class details: Who wouldn’t like to be surrounded by natural open-pore wood, carbon-fibre, buttery-soft fabric, or real metal trim? We can all probably agree it’s nicer than the sea of black plastic you’ll often find inside economy cars.
Cool gadgets: As with smartphones and TVs, high-tech features in cars usually trickle down from expensive models to cheaper ones. In the newest luxury cars you’ll find heated armrests, or widescreen theatre displays that drop from the roof to entertain rear-seat passengers, or doors that open and close at the merest wave of your hand. (Yes, really.)
Driver assists: Hands-free driving assistants are a high-end feature more commonly found in luxury vehicles. While this technology doesn’t replace a driver – far from it – they can, in theory, make the physical job of driving easier by allowing you to take your hands off the steering wheel and your feet off the pedals under certain circumstances.
Disadvantages of buying a luxury car
Buying the badge: Nice as they are, luxury cars still just get you from A to B. To some extent, buyers are paying for the prestige (real or perceived) of having a particular shiny badge on the hood of their car. So, it should come as no surprise luxury car makers often post the highest profit margins in the automotive industry.
Filling up: Under the fuel-filler cap on luxury cars you’ll commonly find a sticker recommending 91 octane premium gasoline. (Note, some luxury cars merely “recommend” premium while others “require” it.) The costs of this type of fuel can really add up.
Repairs and maintenance: There’s a direct link between the cost of a car and its maintenance costs, a Consumer Reports survey found. The cars and SUVs with the highest repair costs for common fixes were, unsurprisingly, high-performance luxury machines, mainly from German brands, according to the survey. No luxury brand made Consumer Reports’ list of the least-expensive 10-year old cars to maintain, either. That said, non-luxury cars can leave you with shocking repair bills too, so be sure to do your homework.
Insurance: Be ready to pay more for insurance if you buy a luxury car. When determining your premium, insurers consider how much a claim would cost if something happens to a vehicle, among other things. High-tech features, fancy paintwork and advanced technologies often (but not exclusively) found on luxury vehicles can make any repairs more costly, potentially driving up premiums. Just saying, you won’t find any luxury brands on our list of the top 5 vehicles for cheap insurance in Toronto.
Depreciation: With very few exceptions, all vehicles lose value as they get older. (We’ll ignore the fact some used cars actually appreciated during the pandemic, due to supply shortages, because that seems to be an anomaly.) On average, new cars lose 49.6 per cent of their value over the first five years, according to a massive study of 7.7 million vehicles by car search engine iSeeCars. Since luxury cars are usually much more expensive to begin with, losing half their value can easily amount to a loss of $20,000 or much, much more. Is it worth it? That’s up to you.