Jaguar XE
Source: Jaguar Land Rover North America

Luxury Cars Under $50K That Are Totally Worth Owning

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Jaguar XE
Source: Jaguar Land Rover North America

Entry-Level Awesome

You know Camrys and Accords are reliable, last forever, have good resale value, offer prudent fuel economy, and, of course, are affordable — and that's why they're everywhere. But not too far off is a class of cars that make America's best-sellers invisible on the road. You won't find a Rolls-Royce or Bentley for inside of 50 grand, but you can get real entry-level luxury, complete with sleek and sculpted lines, posh trimmings, dazzling technology, and blazing power and performance. Here's a look at what experts identify as some top luxury cars under $50,000, and some key things to think about as you shop.

ALFA Romeo sedan, dark red from the front IMG_2755
Source: FCA US

Alfa Romeo Giulia Sedan | $38,545

A luxury car should make an impression — and Richard Reina, of CARiD.com, knows one that's sure to: Alfa Romeo's Giulia sedan. "If every driveway on your block has the BMWs, Audis, Acuras, etc., that you'd expect, and you want to stand out in the crowd, this is the choice," Reina said, noting "glowing" road tests for a "gorgeous" Italian sport/luxury vehicle that Motor Trend named Car of the Year in 2018. Even the base model comes with 280 horsepower and can go from zero to 60 in 5.5 seconds, and comes with a suite of tech goodies and standard luxury leather seats. Looking to upgrade? Six of the seven models in the line come in at under $50,000.

Lexus GS300
Source: Lexus

Lexus GS300 | $46,860

You'll need a budget in the mid-$80,000s to drive off with a 467-horsepower GS F, but you can bask in Lexus luxury with an entry-level GS300 for a shade under $47,000. The entire GS line is highly regarded — Kelley Blue Book experts give it 4.4 out of five stars, and its consumer rating is even better at 4.6 stars. It doesn't have the brawn of the GS F, but the GS 300's 240 horses will get you there fast. It gets a solid 32 mpg highway and is packed with premium surround sound, a color head-up display, 12.3-inch multimedia, and Lexus' impressive suite of safety features.

BMW 430i Gran Coupe
Source: BMW of North America

BMW 430i Gran Coupe | $44,750

The 430i Gran Coupe is entry-level in BMW's 4 Series Gran Coupe line, but has earned an Edmunds rating of 4.8 out of five stars thanks to features such as a TwinPower Turbo engine and its nearly perfect 50/50 weight distribution. With 248 horsepower, you can blast off from zero to 60 in 5.6 seconds marveling at the cockpit tech, including a bevy of digital instruments, information projection capabilities, connected services, and wireless features.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan
Source: Mercedes-Benz USA

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan | $41,400

Steering wheel touchpads, all-LED lighting, and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster are just some of the technological wizardry that earned the Mercedes C-Class Sedan a KBB expert rating of 4.7 stars. The 9G-Tronic transmission keeps the twin-scroll turbo engine on point, and that engine cranks out 255 horsepower — enough to take you from zero to 60 in 5.7 seconds. Both sedans in the C-Class line boast MSRPs under $43,500, and if you're feeling sporty, the C-Class coupe line also has two models available for under $50,000.

Infiniti Q60
Source: Infiniti USA

Infiniti Q60 | $40,850

You can get behind the wheel of an entry-level Infinity Q60 for less than $41,000, but an upgrade to either of two Luxe packages still comes in at under $50,000. Either way, you'll get a 3.0-liter, V6 twin-turbo engine that cranks out a full 300 horsepower with Dynamic Digital Suspension that promises instant adaptability on the road. Its interior includes tailored stitching on sport seats and the steering wheel. KBB calls it "sleek, sexy and sophisticated," with a consumer rating of 4.6 stars.

Acura TLX
Source: Acura

Acura TLX | $33,000

Billed as a "performance luxury sedan," the Acura TLX comes with a bargain-basement price tag of $33,000 for 206 horsepower — and even the poshest of the available upgrade packages costs less than $50,000 to roar all the way up to 290 horsepower with a 3.5-liter engine. Super Handling All-Wheel Drive is available, as is Precision All-Wheel Steer, and the cabin is all about sport performance stylings, including contrast stitching, sport seats, and red LED ambient lighting. KBB, which gives the TLX 4.3 stars, warns drivers to "ignore this contender at your financial peril. Nor should anyone underestimate its considerable talents or tally of standard equipment."

Jaguar XE
Source: Jaguar Land Rover North America

Jaguar XE | $36,995

A sports sedan dripping with Jaguar luxury, the XE is aerodynamic and powerful — its 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine cranks out 296 horsepower. The cabin is dominated by InControl, a suite of Jaguar-exclusive tech controlled through a 10-inch touchscreen. "The 2019 Jaguar XE isn't the best-selling premium-compact sedan. Nor does it come with the most standard equipment. But it does offer a wonderful driving experience," KBB writes.

Tesla Model 3
Source: Tesla

Tesla Model 3 | $35,000

Referred to by KBB as an "intriguing glimpse of a gasoline-free future," the Tesla Model 3 is already cruising thanks to 14,000 worldwide Tesla Supercharger stations. Just 15 minutes of plug-in time powers 180 miles of driving; on a full charge, you can drive without stopping for 310 miles. Rear, side, and forward-facing cameras cover you across 360 degrees, and forward-facing radar makes distant objects obvious. An all-glass roof extends from front to back, and the touchscreen display measures a full 15 inches. Worried about power and pickup? You can zing from zero to 60 in as little as 3.2 seconds.

Related: 20 Electric Cars Cheaper Than a Tesla

BMW 330i Sedan
Source: BMW of North America

BMW 330i Sedan | $40,750

Sleek, wide, low, and aerodynamic, the 330i Sedan is all BMW, with an insider's sticker price. Even the upgraded 330i xDrive package comes in under $43,000. The luxurious interior is anchored by rich leather and fine wood trim. It's rich in innovative safety features, and the TwinPower Turbo inline engine generates 355 horsepower. "This is the best driver's 3 Series to come along in quite a few years," according to KBB.

Lexus ES 350
Source: Lexus USA

Lexus ES 350 | $39,750

The Lexus ES 350 is grounded in the coupe-like body of the brand's flagship LS, but it's been reimagined to be sleeker, wider, and longer. While the entry-level ES starts under $40,000, the most expensive package in the entire line can be had for well under $50,000. Paddle shifters make driving fun, and dual-zone automatic climate control makes it comfy. The Lexus multimedia system is all part of the package, as are 10-way adjustable power front seats and a range of smart safety features. KBB says it's "more spacious, quieter and more comfortable than the previous ES, and carries on Lexus' solid reputation for quality."

Genesis G80
Source: Hyundai Motor America

Genesis G80 | $42,050

KBB called the Genesis G80 "remarkably well equipped and built to a suitably high level … If there's such a thing as a bargain in this vehicle class, the G80 is it." That just might be an understatement. It's packed with intuitive features like a hands-free smart trunk and luxury amenities such as contrast stitching and aluminum trim in the cabin. In terms of muscle, it boasts best-in-class 311 horsepower in the V6 package, although you can upgrade to a V8 with a whopping 420 horses.

What to Know Before Dabbling in the Luxury Market
Source: Buick

What to Know Before Dabbling in the Luxury Market

Anyone eager to dip their toes into the luxury car market should remember that luxury cars come with luxury-level secondary costs, says Valerie Coleman, a former AutoTrader pro now with the peer-to-peer marketplace 5miles. "A great thing about even entry-level luxury cars is that the latest and greatest features like Bluetooth, navigation, satellite, etc., typically come standard," says Coleman, who insists buyers should also consider the Buick LaCrosse and Mazda CX-5. "However, there still are a few things to pay attention to that otherwise could cost you more on the front or the back end."

Don't Buy More Than You Can Comfortably Afford
martin-dm/istockphoto

Don't Buy More Than You Can Comfortably Afford

Take an honest inventory of whether you can actually afford a luxury car without squeezing out things you need even more. If not, keep saving before taking a test drive. "The generally accepted rule is that you spend no more than 15% of your pretax income on your monthly car note," Coleman says.

Make Sure You Can Handle the Down Payment
Kameleon007/istockphoto

Make Sure You Can Handle the Down Payment

No matter what monthly payments turn out to be, you have to be prepared to walk into the dealership with what may — at least to first-time luxury buyers — be a surprisingly large check. "Be prepared to put upward of $5,000 down on a vehicle that costs $40,000 to $50,000," Coleman says.

Plan For Bigger Bills
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Think About Long-Term Costs
AleksandarNakic/istockphoto

Think About Long-Term Costs

In some ways, shopping for a luxury car is the same as shopping for a regular commuter car. Think beyond the posh trim and smooth curves to consider the features that actually have the biggest impact on day-to-day, year-to-year driving experiences. "Gas mileage, reliability, etc. are not things to be taken lightly," Coleman says. "Yes, no matter how beautiful, or how much you love the car."