Land yachting on a budget: Luxury cars for dimes on the dollar

True luxury sedans are out of the reach of many of us.  With price tags that get perilously close to, and sometimes exceed, six figures and maintenance that can empty a bank account, it just doesn’t make much sense unless you’ve got money burning a hole in your pocket.  However, there are some used cars out there that have become relatively affordable relative to what they once cost so here is a list of some cars that might satisfy your need to be coddled in leather without forcing you to take out a second mortgage:

 *Disclaimer: Maintaining these vehicles gets expensive, so keep that in mind.

 1)      VW Phaeton:  This was a very limited run Volkswagen that was built to compete with the likes of Bentley (it was even called the ½ price Bentley by some).  The fit and finish are impeccable and it was available with a wonderfully excessive W12 engine with enough torque to get the behemoth moving to 60 mph in under 7 seconds.  To give you a sense of purpose behind this stealth-wealth beast, the Phaeton actually shared a platform with the Bentley Continental GT and the Flying spur!  Maintenance is going to cost you dearly, but this is one heck of a car that can often be found at under $30K used, a bargain considering how well these things hold up.


2)      Lexus LS: Now if you don’t need all of the bells and whistles associated with today’s modern cars, but still want to feel like you are the king of the road, a used Lexus LS is pretty hard to beat.  While they won’t have all of the fancy gadgetry that we have these days, a LS has one of, if not the, smoothest ride in the luxury world.  And as if that wasn’t enough, it is still a Toyota at heart so maintenance won’t cost you and arm and a leg.  Find a mid-2000’s model with low-ish mileage and the V8 and it shouldn’t cost you more than $17-$18k


3)       Mercedes S Class:  Some call this the king of luxury cars and they aren’t too far off.  The Mercedes Benz S-Class has been synonymous with luxury for decades and now you can find one for around $20K.  The fit and finish with these is still spot on even over a decade later, and while like most other higher mileage German-built sedans, it will cost more than average to own, that cost will still be a fraction of what it would cost to purchase a new one. 


4)      Hyundai Equus:  If your budget allows for some newer vehicles but you don’t like the price tag of the newer German offerings, check into the Korean automakers.  Hyundai’s Equus has been their flagship that has most everything the Germans offer at half the price. Right now there’s a 2014 listed on for about $37k with under 40K miles on it, a lot of car for the money.  Reliability will be better than average, and maintenance will be cheaper than most, we call that a win-win.


5)      Kia K900:  Another Korean automaker making big moves in the luxury segment.  Much the same can be said of this car as can be said of the Hyunday above.  All of the modern bells and whistles but with a price tag much lower than one would expect.  Additionally, these are generally much easier on the wallet when it comes time to service, so keep that in mind next time you look at upgrading the garage.


6)      Audi A8:  This is the four-ringed auto manufacturer’s flagship sedan representing the best in all-weather luxury transportation.  With the legendary Quattro all-wheel-drive, this is one of the few luxury sedans that would be just as comfortable in a snow storm as it is storming the autobahn.  Expect to pay in the mid $20k range for a mid/late-2000’s model with some miles on it.  This is one of the more engaging large sedans to drive with more driver-tuned suspension than most of the vehicles in the segment with a price tag of around $70K when it was new.


7)      Acura RL:  While not many know of this mid-large size vehicle coming out of Acura, it is worth considering on price alone.  In 2005, these were $50,000 cars but can be had for under 15k now without a problem.  While you won’t find big V8 grunt under the hood, the smooth V6 with 300hp and Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive does plenty to get this Japanese behemoth moving.  As with any Honda/Acura product, maintenance will be relatively easy and cheap on these compared to its competitors.  This is definitely worth a look if you don’t need any of the XL offerings listed above.      

3 thoughts on “Land yachting on a budget: Luxury cars for dimes on the dollar”

  1. I agree that the lexus ride is pretty hard to beat in terms of comfort and buttery feel on the road. The power of the A8, however, is amazing. And the sound, don’t forget the sound.

    1. Sound does have a lot to do with the appeal of a car, however I think that this is less-so with the buyers of high-end luxury vehicles that simply want to be transported in a cocoon of leathery, wood-grain silence.

      But I wouldn’t say not to an S8!

      1. Used to race my friend’s W12 against the 93 turbo. The saab did not win too many of those runs, especially a race to the gas station.

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