You’re going to have routine maintenance with any used car. No one choice is a bulletproof plan—okay, Honda Civics maybe. If you’re going the luxury route, however, you might be under the assumption that keeping the car on the road will cost your sanity and your bank account. But that’s not necessarily true. After buying the correct model by doing your due diligence into maintenance, recalls and accident records, there are some great luxury cars out there to be had. These have stellar reputations on the road for not only seat-of-the-pants driving and magnificent cruising, but keeping some money in your pockets over a new car.
Though almost 20 years have passed since the E39 BMW 5 Series was launched, and luxury has certainly evolved, the greatest feat of this BMW has been its predisposition towards sportiness and character, which is why it was named to Car and Drivers 10 Best List multiple years during its production. To be upfront, the E39 can get expensive to fix if preventative maintenance weren’t performed in the first place. Depending on service records—make sure you are satisfied with what’s provided—you’re looking at around $1,500-$2,000 of up fronts costs to change everything from fluids to tires. Tack on about $1,000 in yearly scheduled maintenance for the reminder of the car’s lifespan, but don’t feel threatened and overwhelmed.
What you’re saving on upfront costs versus a new car is instantly proven. And if you’re handy, you can get away with doing most of the maintenance yourself and saving on labor costs. With numerous threads and forums devoted to the E39 5 Series, you can make sure to get ahead of any costly issues that may come in the future. For sheer driving pleasure, plus the hot-rodded version of the M5—where you get to see Madonna get tossed around like a rag doll while Clive Owen becomes a wheelman in the early days of internet viral videos—you’re getting a mix of seriously fun character and one of the most pleasurable drives in BMW’s history.
Steer clear of the 2004 models, as they seem to have the most problems of all the D3 models. Owners have complained that because it’s the first year to market, issues weren’t sorted out prior to production but were fixed in concluding years. Some of the biggest issues we’ve seen have been electrical gremlins—something that can’t be seen or prevented, unfortunately—and the air ride suspension which gives the A8 it’s proper cornering ability but also incredibly silky highway driving. When seeing the Audi in person, make sure to go through all the MMI (Multi-Media Interface) screens to check on the air suspension and proper functionality in the ‘CAR’ menus. You should be able to raise, lower and watch the adaptive suspension work (or not work), which can be an obvious sign it has faults or not. While test driving be sure to check the system again to make sure ride changes with varying modes. When operating the MMI, check that it operates smoothly going in and out of its mechanized dock. Check that the parking sensors work, because if they don’t, it might mean the car’s been in an accident no matter how minor. If it seems like an undertaking to really go through it with a fine-tooth comb, get a proper Audi mechanic in there to check the car, because it could save you some headaches in the future.
American’s luxury brand really got into its stride with the 2nd gen Cadillac CTS. Mature, sporty, handsome and a great bargain, the CTS exhibits much of what makes German cars so pleasurable to drive without paying higher prices associated with the imports. Most of the issues surrounding the CTS are oil consumption in the 2008 models, which equates to about a quart less every 1k-3k miles so keep an eye out. Another thing to keep an eye out for is sunroof and trunk water leakage. Be sure to check the seals, look for water damage and possible rust. The rear seats might be a bit tight for taller passengers compared with something like the Audi A8, but it’s also available in wagon, coupe and sedan variants with either auto or manual 6-speeds, so there’s something for everyone. Overall, the CTS might lack the polish of the Europeans, but with great initial reviews when launched, an overall extremely positive owner experience, and few reliability issues this Cadillac deserves a spot at the top of your list.
Introduced to the world as a 2008 model, the Genesis marked a decidedly upward trend for Hyundai to reach the broader world markets. No longer was the Korean brand going strictly for value, it was headed towards luxury with value. While the Genesis is a bit too new for examining long-term maintenance issues, the car does have some faults with inadequate tires from the factory, electrical issues and some engine troubles, but none are from an overwhelming majority; instead it’s a few outliers. A huge bonus with new Hyundais is their exceptional 10-year/100,000-mile warranty, which won’t transfer over to used car sales, but will give you piece of mind that if something occurred before your purchase, it was most likely taken care of professionally. Another perk of the Hyundai is the availability of two stout motors: one a V6, and the other a honkin’ V8 with plenty of power. Shock yourself and your neighbors with something out of the ordinary.
Revisions have happened for the 13 years the fourth generation Lexus LS has been in production, but the major underpinnings have stayed mostly the same, offering a unique and comfortable luxury ride. The interior functionality on the LS (and Lexus in general) is in the eye of the beholder with some interesting ergonomic designs going on. However, the leather is plush, the materials are top notch and the cabin library quiet. This isn’t just a rebadged Toyota either. The LS has many active and passive safety and performance systems, which must be looked over to make sure each one works properly. Some models can have a lot, so make sure you look them all over. There have been issues with the electronic parking brake becoming stuck due to water damage from the trunk, but this is very minimal. Suspension components have been known to become less and less effective over 80k miles, so look into if owner had replaced or serviced. Otherwise, it’s known that the LS series are almost bulletproof—2008 models seem to have more issues than others—cars known to exceed 100,000 miles easily.
Currently the full-time Editorial Director and Content Manager for RxSpeed.com, & contributing writer for Scout.com. He also loves photography, videography, his Shiba Inu Mia and driving sports cars.