10 Most Popular Luxury Cars

By Christian Wardlaw, September 24, 2016
  • 2016 Mercedes-Benz C350E photo

    More expensive and exclusive than mainstream models, luxury cars are about wants rather than needs, and about image rather than utility. If you're planning an upgrade to a premium car, this buyer's guide provides details about the 10 most popular* luxury cars in America, including pricing; quality, reliability, and appeal ratings; fuel economy; safety ratings; and cargo volume.

    *Popularity based on calendar-year sales through July 2016

  • 2016 Audi A3 Sedan photo

    10) Audi A3 (19,622 sales)

    Serving as the entry-level car in Audi’s lineup, the A3 is available in convertible, hatchback, and sedan body styles. Depending on the body style, three turbocharged engine offerings are available, combined with front-wheel or all-wheel drive and a dual-clutch automated manual transmission. Hatchbacks are exclusively paired with Audi’s plug-in hybrid powertrain technology, which supplies up to 16 miles of pure-electric driving range and 204 combined horsepower.

    Base Price—$31,825
    Initial Quality—3 PCRs
    Predicted Reliability—Not rated
    Overall Vehicle Appeal—4 PCRs
    Fuel Economy (city/highway mpg)—23/33
    Fuel Economy Rating for Plug-in Hybrid—83 MPGe
    NHTSA Crash Test Rating—5 Stars*
    IIHS Crash Test Rating—“Top Safety Pick”*
    Cargo Volume (A3 Sedan)—12.3 cu. ft.
    Cargo Volume (A3 Cabriolet)—9.9 cu. ft.
    Cargo Volume (A3 Sportback)—13.6 cu. ft.**

    *Rating applies only to sedan; Convertible and hatchback have not been tested
    **Audi does not provide a measurement with the rear seat folded down

  • 2016 Lexus IS 200t F Sport photo

    9) Lexus IS (20,560 sales)

    Aggressively styled, the Lexus IS is designed to be an entry-luxury sport sedan. It is offered with a turbocharged 4-cylinder or a V-6 engine combined with rear-wheel drive, or with a detuned version of the V-6 engine and all-wheel drive. The F Sport option package helps the IS to live up to its sporting potential.

    Base Price—$38,300
    Initial Quality—Not rated
    Predicted Reliability—Not rated
    Overall Vehicle Appeal—Not rated
    Fuel Economy (city/highway mpg)—19/33
    NHTSA Crash Test Rating—5 Stars
    IIHS Crash Test Rating—Testing incomplete
    Cargo Volume—10.8 cu. ft.

  • 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class photo

    8) Mercedes-Benz E-Class (20,995 sales)

    With its E-Class range of mid-level luxury automobiles, Mercedes-Benz supplies a coupe, convertible, sedan, and station wagon equipped with a range of turbocharged 4-cylinder, V-6, and V-8 engines. All-wheel drive is available, and both the sedan and wagon can benefit from available AMG performance tuning. The most affordable and efficient model has a diesel engine.

    Base Price—$53,575
    Initial Quality—Not rated
    Predicted Reliability—Not rated
    Overall Vehicle Appeal—Not rated
    Fuel Economy (city/highway mpg)—15/42
    NHTSA Crash Test Rating—4 Stars*
    IIHS Crash Test Rating—“Top Safety Pick”*
    Cargo Volume (E-Class Sedan)—12.9 cu. ft.
    Cargo Volume (E-Class Coupe)—13.3 cu. ft.
    Cargo Volume (E-Class Convertible)—11.5 cu. ft.
    Cargo Volume (E-Class Wagon)—29.0-57.4 cu. ft.

    *Rating applies only to sedan and wagon; Coupe and convertible were either not tested (NHTSA) or testing is incomplete (IIHS)

  • 2016 BMW M4 GTS photo

    7) BMW 4 Series (21,462 sales)

    When buying a BMW 4 Series, you will choose between a coupe, convertible, and a 5-door hatchback called the Gran Coupe. A turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is standard, with a turbocharged 6-cylinder an optional upgrade. All-wheel drive is available, while BMW’s M performance tuning is available only for the M4 Coupe and M4 Convertible.

    Base Price—$42,945*
    Initial Quality—3 PCRs
    Predicted Reliability—Not rated
    Overall Vehicle Appeal—5 PCRs
    Fuel Economy (city/highway mpg)—17/35
    NHTSA Crash Test Rating—Not rated
    IIHS Crash Test Rating—Not rated
    Cargo Volume (4 Series Coupe)—15.7 cu. ft.
    Cargo Volume (4 Series Convertible)—13.1 cu. ft.
    Cargo Volume (4 Series Gran Coupe)—17.0-45.9 cu. ft.

    *Pricing is for the 2017 models

  • 2016 Acura TLX photo

    6) Acura TLX (22,037 sales)

    In 2015, the Acura TLX sedan debuted as a replacement for both the TL and TSX models. Sized and specified more like the old TSX, but available with Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system like the old TL, the TLX provides a choice between a 4-cylinder and a V-6 engine, and front-wheel or all-wheel drive.

    Base Price—$32,635
    Initial Quality—3 PCRs
    Predicted Reliability—Not rated
    Overall Vehicle Appeal—3 PCRs
    Fuel Economy (city/highway mpg)—21/35 mpg
    NHTSA Crash Test Rating—5 Stars
    IIHS Crash Test Rating—Not a “Top Safety Pick”
    Cargo Volume—14.3 cu. ft.

  • 2016 Infiniti Q50 photo

    5) Infiniti Q50 (23,059 sales)

    Updated for 2016, the Infiniti Q50 is larger than a traditional entry-luxury sedan but smaller than a typical mid-luxury model. It comes with a choice between a turbocharged 4-cylinder and a V-6 engine, and a gas-electric hybrid model is also available. No matter the powertrain, Infiniti will swap out the rear-wheel drive for all-wheel drive. Depending on what’s under the hood, the Q50 comes in standard, Premium, Sport, and Red Sport 400 trim levels.

    Base Price—$34,855
    Initial Quality—Not rated
    Predicted Reliability—Not rated
    Overall Vehicle Appeal—Not rated
    Fuel Economy (city/highway mpg)—19/34
    NHTSA Crash Test Rating—Testing incomplete
    IIHS Crash Test Rating—Testing incomplete
    Cargo Volume (Q50)—13.2 cu. ft.
    Cargo Volume (Q50 Hybrid)—9.4 cu. ft.

  • 2016 BMW 535i xDrive photo

    4) BMW 5 Series (23,578 sales)

    BMW’s midsize luxury sport sedan and its odd 5-door hatchback derivative are known as the 5 Series Sedan and the 5 Series Gran Turismo. Turbocharged engines with 4, 6, or 8 cylinders are available, and buyers can swap rear-wheel drive for all-wheel drive. The 5 Series Sedan is also available with a turbodiesel engine, gas-electric hybrid drivetrain, and in performance-massaged M5 format.

    Base Price—$51,195
    Initial Quality—3 PCRs
    Predicted Reliability—3 PCRs
    Overall Vehicle Appeal—4 PCRs
    Fuel Economy (city/highway mpg)—14/38
    NHTSA Crash Test Rating—5 Stars
    IIHS Crash Test Rating—Not a “Top Safety Pick”
    Cargo Volume (5 Series Sedan)—18.4 cu. ft.
    Cargo Volume (5 Series Hybrid)—13.2 cu. ft.
    Cargo Volume (5 Series Gran Turismo)—17.7-60 cu. ft.

  • 2016 Lexus ES 350 photo

    3) Lexus ES (33,390 sales)

    Because it starts at less than $40,000, the Lexus ES is often assumed to be smaller than larger in size. After all, luxury car convention has customers paying more for bigger vehicles. In reality, the ES shares a platform with the full-size Toyota Avalon, giving it a large interior. A V-6 engine is standard, and Lexus offers a gas-electric hybrid powertrain as an option.

    Base Price—$39,075
    Initial Quality—Not rated
    Predicted Reliability—Not rated
    Overall Vehicle Appeal—Not rated
    Fuel Economy (city/highway mpg)—21/39
    NHTSA Crash Test Rating—5 Stars
    IIHS Crash Test Rating—“Top Safety Pick”
    Cargo Volume (ES)—15.2 cu. ft.
    Cargo Volume (ES Hybrid)—12.1 cu. ft.

  • 2016 BMW 3 Series photo

    2) BMW 3 Series (39,775 sales)

    BMW’s iconic 3 Series is offered in sedan, station wagon, and Gran Turismo body styles, the latter a tall-riding 5-door hatchback. Turbocharged 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder engines are available, paired with rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. A turbodiesel engine is offered, as well as an M3 performance variant and a plug-in hybrid version with a claimed 14 miles of pure-electric driving range.

    Base Price—$34,445
    Initial Quality—4 PCRs
    Predicted Reliability—2 PCRs
    Overall Vehicle Appeal—4 PCRs
    Fuel Economy (city/highway mpg)—17/42
    Fuel Economy Rating for Plug-in Hybrid—72 MPGe
    NHTSA Crash Test Rating—5 Stars*
    IIHS Crash Test Rating—Not a “Top Safety Pick”
    Cargo Volume (3 Series Sedan)—17 cu. ft.
    Cargo Volume (3 Series Plug-in Hybrid)—13.0 cu. ft.
    Cargo Volume (3 Series Gran Turismo)—18.4-56.5 cu. ft.
    Cargo Volume (3 Series Wagon)—17.5-53.0 cu. ft.

    *Rating does not apply to 330e Plug-in Hybrid model, which has not been tested

  • 2016 Mercedes-Benz C350E photo

    1) Mercedes-Benz C-Class (43,579 sales)

    For many people, Mercedes-Benz ownership signals success and serves as a reward for a job well done. No wonder then that the C-Class, one of the most affordable Mercedes models, is the best-selling luxury car in America. A range of turbocharged 4-cylinder, 6-cylinder, and 8-cylinder engines are available; the latter are reserved for the AMG performance-tuned versions of the car. All-wheel drive is an option, and a plug-in hybrid variant supplies 20 miles of pure-electric driving range.

    Base Price—$39,875
    Initial Quality—Not rated
    Predicted Reliability—Not rated
    Overall Vehicle Appeal—Not rated
    Fuel Economy (city/highway mpg)—18/34
    Fuel Economy Rating for Plug-in Hybrid—Not yet rated
    NHTSA Crash Test Rating—5 Stars*
    IIHS Crash Test Rating—Testing incomplete
    Cargo Volume (E-Class)—12.6 cu. ft.
    Cargo Volume (E-Class Plug-in Hybrid)—11.8 cu. ft.

    *Rating does not apply to C350e Plug-in Hybrid model, which has not been tested

    Additional Research:

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