Buying a new car is generally the safe, sensible option, but what if you're not safe and sensible? What if instead of buying a base Toyota Corolla for $18,600 you decide to go for a bit of luxury? If you look to the used market, there are tons of great cars that might not be headache-free (don't say we didn't warn you), but offer comfort and style for a song. Here are some of the best, according to you.
The S80 was the top-spec Volvo luxury sedan, but the subtle four-door has depreciated massively. Even V8-powered Executive trim variants can be purchased in the mid-teens. Just make sure you know a good Volvo specialist mechanic.
If you're willing to throw reliability completely out the window, you can't do much better than an old British luxury car. And if we're talking about British luxury, there's nothing better than a Rolls-Royce. Silver Shadows routinely sell for under $20,000. You just have to be willing to deal with the risk of inevitable repairs.
Like most other big German luxury cars, the 7-Series is very good at depreciating quickly. What was once a $100,000 executive car can now —if you're willing to deal with the maintenance, that is.
Buying an old Jaguar is risky, but if you're willing to accept that, you could end up with a great car. The XJR mated subtle good looks with a supercharged 4.0-liter V8 that cranked out 375 horsepower. There's one for sale on eBay right now .
The first-generation Porsche Cayenne Turbo attracted the ire of purists, but it still drove much better than its competition and was luxurious too. You can find tons of examples within our budget, like
The first-generation Lexus LS400 was the car that put German luxury brands on notice, forcing everyone else to lower their prices and up their game. It's not the most exciting car on the planet by any stretch, but it's effortlessly comfortable, and very nearly indestructible. This falls well under budget at just $4885.
Many think the BMW 5-Series peaked with the E39-generation, and they're not wrong. This was built in an era where BMW was the king of understated style and superior driving dynamics, and it's aged quite well. Plus, you can have your pick of Michael McDonald-smooth straight-sixes or punchy V8s depending on how much you want to spend. A little under $9000 will get you , but there are plenty of bargains to be had elsewhere.
You could be fooled into thinking this generation of Audi A6 was still being made today–its design is simply that good. With a V10 under the hood, the S6 is an interesting, if risky, bet, so we recommend trying to find one with . You'll come in even further under budget if you opt for a less powerful engine.
The W124-chassis E-Class is remembered as one of the greatest Mercedes-Benzes of all time. It came from an era when Mercedes engineered and built cars better than almost any of its competitors, and as a result, even the oldest W124s can be found in excellent condition today. You can't go wrong with , and there's also a host of diesels on the market. The V8-powered, Porsche-built 500E might be a challenge to find for under $20,000, though.
The Buick Roadmaster Estate offers a very different sort of luxury than the other cars on this list, but it's luxury all the same. This was the last great, huge, rear-drive, V8-powered American wagon, and it makes for one hell of a cruiser. Here's a , but cheaper examples are abundant. Plus, this is the only car on this list with wood panelling, and surely that's got to count for something.
If reliability isn't a concern whatsoever and you want something deeply British, the second-generation Range Rover is the ideal choice. It's as comfortable on road as it is off, and it just looks classy. We found a , though you'll want to budget some extra cash for maintenance. It is a British car, after all.
Allow me to let you in on a little secret: The Volkswagen Phaeton is basically a Bentley Flying Spur/Audi A8L in disguise. Okay, so maybe you knew that, but in any case, the Phaeton is a total bargain because of its VW badge. A V8-powered Phaeton , and while maintenance might be an issue, you'll have one of the greatest luxury cars of its era.
If you want used luxury without the reliability woes, the Acura TL is a great choice. It might not be rear-drive like the others, and its badge might not be the fanciest, but don't let that sway you. It's fun to drive, comfortable, and you can even have it .
This might not be the deranged second-generation car with 550 horsepower, but the first-gen CTS-V still knows how to party. It came with either an LS2 or LS6 V8 depending on the year, with both engines sending 400 horsepower to the rear wheels. Finding one in budget is a challenge, but .
For those with safety as the number one priority, it's hard to do better than the first-generation Volvo XC90. As a result of Volvo's past financial difficulties, it was in production for a long time without major updates, but that just means there's more choice for you. XC90s powered by V8 engines .