Is buying a luxury car worth it during these economic downtimes Yes, if you're looking for a car that's possibly safer, has the latest gadgets and, in some cases, is customizable. Here are 10 reasons why buying a luxury car can be worth the extra expense.
They aren't always safer (lightweight, superfast convertibles, being the obvious exception), but luxury cars tend to offer more safety features than their non-deluxe counterparts, which translates into better crash-test results. According to Consumer Reports, 71% of 2009 vehicles with standard stability control, traction control, anti-lock braking systems, side-front airbags and curtain airbags cost at least $30,000. Forty-four percent of the vehicles chosen as top safety picks by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have an estimated base price of more than $30,000.
Each year, Kelley Blue Book rates the cars with the best resale values for their class. For 2009, eight out of 15 segment winners came from a luxury brand or cost more than $30,000. Standouts include the distinctive and quick-selling Mini Cooper, which starts at $18,700 but is one of the most expensive options in the compact class and is made by luxury automaker BMW. Other winners were the high-performance $76,840 Nissan GT-R and $40,240 Cadillac CTS sedan.
Or queen, as the case may be. From straight-grained East Indian rosewood trim in the Rolls-Royce Phantom tungsten to thick lambswool rugs in the Bentley Continental GT, luxury cars take opulence to the next level. Even if the silver champagne flutes in the $451,250 Maybach 62 S are out of your range, $1,200 will get you a semi-aniline leather-trimmed interior with African bubinga wood interior trim in the 2009 Lexus LX SUV.
Historically, luxury cars have offered the latest and greatest safety features (anti-lock brakes, review cameras) and entertainment technology (in-headrest TV screens, Bluetooth) before these options trickle down to the masses. In this year's 2009 luxury models, you can get everything from remote starters, electronic parking aids and rain-sensing windshield wipers to a fully integrated iPod music interface.
When it comes to sheer power, luxury cars come with plenty--without even having to upgrade the engine. Out of 353 2009 models evaluated by Consumer Reports, only six of them had at least 300 horsepower and cost under $30,000. Fifty-two had at least 300 horses under their belt and cost more than $30,000. Leading them are BMW's M-line, with models that bring 400 to 500 horsepower.
I am a Manhattan-based writer covering luxury travel and luxury residential real estate. I was a contributing writer at Barron's Penta magazine where I penned the Trendspotting column and also covered luxury real estate, pursuits, collecting and other topics. I am co-editor of Pursuitist, the luxury lifestyle site and served as co-editor of Luxist, the luxury lifestyle and travel website at AOL where I oversaw the Luxist Awards, a program that honored the very best in fine living. For 13 years I was a staff writer at Forbes magazine, where I covered real estate, insurance and personal finance, among other areas. I am also the author of six books, including \\\"The Closet Entrepreneur\\\" and \\\"The Business of America is Business.\\\" Follow me on Twitter at @carriecoolidge and Instagram at @carrie.coolidge1 59ce067264