Living Large On A Budget

Key Takeaways

  • Here are some luxury cars you can buy for under $30,000:
  • Jaguar XF: The XF is a stylish and comfortable sports sedan with a 2.0L turbocharged I4 engine. It offers a great driving experience, but its infotainment system can be frustrating, and it doesn’t have the best reliability ratings.
  • Cadillac CTS: The third-generation CTS is a turning point for American cars, offering a high-quality interior and impressive handling. It comes with a variety of engines, including a 2.0L turbocharged I4 and a 3.6L V6.


New luxury cars aren’t known for being affordable, even if you go for a base model with a base engine and the most basic front-wheel-drive setup. A new car in this segment usually retails for six figures, but they tend to lose their value quite rapidly, as Forbes reports. That’s why we went out in search of used luxury cars under $30k – with mid-size and full-size models being considered – of which there are many. Why are there so many used luxury cars available in this price bracket? It’s quite simple, actually. People who have enough money to buy a luxury car tend to have enough money to get a new one every few years, just as the warranty runs out. And driving a luxury car without any sort of warranty is bad news. Let’s just say that the car’s worth and the cost of repairing it don’t drop at the same rate. The cost of maintaining a used large luxury sedan is often also significantly more than a brand-new mid-spec Camry.


This article was originally published in August 2023, but has been updated with relevant information and is correct as of July 2024.

This point is perfectly illustrated when you look at the price of tires. A set of tires for a 2023 Camry with a V6 engine is roughly $1,000 if you stick with the OEM-recommended rubber. To replace the tires on a 2015 Mercedes-AMG S63 sedan costs $1,600. And you will be replacing the rear wheels more often because AMG V8s are known for punishing tires. The rear tires alone are $450 per tire.

Even so, everyone should own a used luxury car at least once, if only to get it out of their system. It also helps if you go into this endeavor knowing what to expect, so you won’t be surprised when Merc hits you with a $900 bill for a basic oil and oil filter service. Fortunately, there are also used luxury cars with decent reliability scores. They might not be as prestigious as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but they certainly live up to any expectations you might have regarding luxury vehicles.


With that in mind, here’s a list of the 12 best used luxury cars under $30k.


Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Mercedes-Benz

We might as well get the most obvious luxury sedan out of the way first. For roughly $30,000, you can get a 2015 S550 4Matic with nearly 100,000 miles on the clock. Unfortunately, AMG models are a little bit out of range, but you still get a 4.7-liter twin-turbocharged V8 and all-wheel drive. It’s no slouch off the line, as the 450-horsepower engine provides strong acceleration. S-Class models have always been known for strong safety scores, but the best thing about the S is the high-tech features. Mercedes-Benz has always used its top-tier sedan to debut nifty interior and safety features that eventually filter down to the rest of the range.


The W222 didn’t receive the best reliability ratings, so it’s important to check that all recall work has been done to the car. A full service history is also a must.

Finally, keep an eye out for scratches on the wheels. S-Class models usually have a complex suspension setup, resulting in the smoothest ride in the industry. The last thing you want to do is buy a car from someone who couldn’t park or drive properly, in which case the suspension might not be top-notch anymore.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W222)

Model years

2014 – 2020

Base MSRP when new

$94,400 (2015 model)

Engines*

3.0L twin-turbo V6

3.0L V6 plug-in hybrid

4.0L twin-turbo V8

4.7L twin turbo V8

6.0L twin-turbo V12

*AMG versions of the sixth-gen S-Class were also available, but these are very unlikely to be available for under $30k


BMW 7 Series

BMW 7 Series
BMW

The S-Class and 7 Series have been in an ongoing battle for decades. BMW is currently in the lead, but only because Mercedes-Benz seemingly forgot the definition of luxury. Like the S, the 7 Series is equipped with every conceivable luxury and safety item available at the time. Deciding between them is a matter of personal preference, but we recommend going for the 7 if satisfying handling is your thing. The 7 Series is a Limo GTI, which tends to shrink around you.


The 7 Series also tends to lose value quicker than the S-Class, so you can be creative with the budget. You can get a 2019 740i with the silky-smooth turbocharged inline-six or a 2016 750i with 56,000 miles on the clock this this price range. Both engines are still in use, and reports indicate that the sixth-gen 7 Series is relatively trouble-free. However, we’d still want a full service history for added peace of mind.

BMW 7 Series (G11)

Model years

2016 – 2022

Base MSRP when new

$81,300 (2016 model)

Engines

3.0L turbocharged I6

3.0L turbocharged I6 plug-in hybrid

4.4L twin-turbo V8

6.6L twin-turbo V12


Lexus LS

Lexus LS
Lexus

The variety of LS models available for less than $30,000 is staggering. You can get an OG first-generation in pristine condition for as little as $12,000. The average price for a third-gen model is roughly $15,000, while a facelifted fourth-generation model is between $20,000-$25,000. The best thing about the LS is that it’s bulletproof, no matter which generation you choose. It also does the same job as the S-Class and 7 Series, so you get one of the best luxury cars ever made.

A Lexus LS is also the perfect large sedan if you want to blend in. You get the same sort of spacious cabin, quality leather seats, generous rear-seat legroom, and a host of standard features, but wrapped up in a less flashy package. If you want the most luxurious car under $30k you can get, you can do far worse than the LS.


Lexus LS (Fourth Generation)

Model years

2007 – 2017

Base MSRP when new

$72,520 (2017 model)

Engines

4.6L V8

5.0L V8 hybrid

Lexus ES

Lexus ES rear
Lexus


Want Lexus LS-like luxury but with excellent fuel economy? Then, the Lexus ES is the answer you’re looking for. There are several 2019 and 2020 low mileage models available, all powered by Toyota’s well-known 3.5-liter V6, paired with a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission. Because these vehicles are only three to four years old, you get most modern safety and comfort features as standard, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio, and good safety ratings across the model range. And because this is basically a Camry in business attire, it’s going to last a lifetime.

Lexus ES (Seventh Generation)

Model years

2019 – present

Base MSRP when new

$39,750 (2019 model)

Engines

2.5L I4 hybrid

3.5L V6

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Jaguar XE

Jaguar XE
Jaguar


America did not respond well to the Jaguar XE, and it’s not difficult to see why. It costs much more than the equivalent BMW 3 Series or Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The turbocharged four-cylinder gas and diesel engines were mediocre, and you had to pay $50,000 if you wanted a supercharged V6 under the hood. Because of Jag’s poor judgment, the XE was only on sale for four years, and used prices have dropped dramatically.

You can get a 2018 V6 with all the toys included as standard for $30,000. This is one of the best cars available on the used market. The XE is hugely exciting, borrowing an engine and front suspension from the magnificent F-Type. People tend to think of the 3 Series as the best handling compact executive express, but the XE is on another level entirely. Not only is this one of the best luxury cars under $30k, but it’s also one of the best sports saloons ever made. Unfortunately, you’ll have to deal with Jag’s dimwitted infotainment system, and like most British cars, it doesn’t have the best reliability ratings. But when it works, it works beautifully.


Jaguar XE

Model years

2017 – 2020

Base MSRP when new

$39,900 (2020 model)

Engines

2.0L I4 turbodiesel

2.0L turbocharged I4

3.0L supercharged V6

Cadillac CTS

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The third-generation Cadillac CTS was not just a turning point for the Caddy but American cars in general. It changed the perception that all American cars had low-quality interiors and could do nothing more than drive fast in a straight line. The CTS and the various body styles it spawned were good enough to go up against cars like the Acura TLX, BMW 5 Series, and Jaguar XF. It was a $45,000-$60,000 car when it was new, but thanks to depreciation, there are hundreds of CTS models available. Even top-spec 2019 models with 30,000 miles on the clock are selling for less than $30,000.

Every model comes standard with automatic start/stop, driver-selectable driving modes, a premium Bose sound system, wireless phone charging, and a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot. But the best thing about the CTS is the amount of money Caddy spent making it handle even better than its European rivals. It’s a sensational car to drive, whether you go for the 265-hp turbocharged four-pot or the 335-hp 3.6-liter V6. The one you really want is the 420-hp twin-turbo V6, but you might have to shop around and negotiate a bit to get one for $30,000.


Cadillac CTS (Third Generation)

Model years

2014 – 2019

Base MSRP when new

$46,995 (2019 model)

Engines

2.0L turbocharged I4

3.6L V6

6.2L supercharged V8

Porsche Panamera

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We have good and bad news. The good news is that you can buy a Porsche Panamera with a V8 engine and between 60k-80k miles on the clock for roughly $30,000.


The bad news is that it will be a first-generation car, widely regarded as one of the ugliest cars ever made. Luckily, if you’re behind the steering wheel, you don’t need to look at it. The BMW M5 set the standard in the go-faster executive express segment for many years, but the Panamera blew it out of the water.

We wouldn’t bother with the top-spec Turbo. The S and 4S are equipped with a naturally aspirated 4.8-liter V8, which is powerful enough. Rear-wheel-drive is a must unless you live in a cold-weather state and require all-wheel drive. If you shop around carefully, you might even find a used car equipped with loads of optional extras included. The Panamera was available with entertainment for the rear seats, and the standard touchscreen infotainment system in the front is still decent. First-gen models are pretty robust, making it one of the best used cars available, and Porsche servicing prices aren’t as ridiculous as you might expect.


Porsche Panamera (First Generation)

Model years

2010 – 2016

Base MSRP when new

$89,800 (2010 model)

Engines

4.8L V8

4.8L twin-turbo V8

3.6L V6

3.0L turbocharged V6

3.0L supercharged V6 hybrid

4.0L turbocharged V8 plug-in hybrid

Volkswagen Touareg

Volkswagen Toureg
Volkswagen


When it was new, people couldn’t stomach paying $60,000 for a Volkswagen Touareg. Now there are several 2017 (the final year it was on sale in the USA) models available for $30,000. You can even get the limited edition Wolfsburg Edition with 20,000 miles on the clock. The Touareg is one of the most misunderstood SUVs ever. Yes, it was expensive, but it used the same platform as the Cayenne and Audi Q7. The interior quality is exceptional, and VW included loads of luxury features as standard.

After the infamous Dieselgate scandal, the V6 diesel was dropped from the range. This left the 3.6-liter VR6 engine as the only option. The 280-hp output was ample, but that diesel engine was a tower of power. If you can forgive VW for Dieselgate, buy one of those.


Volkswagen Toureg (Second Generation)

Model years

2011 – 2017

Base MSRP when new

$49,495 (2017 model)

Engines

3.0L V6 turbodiesel

3.6L V6

3.0L supercharged V6 hybrid

Bentley Continental GT

Bentley Continental GT Coupe
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Believe it or not, the first model year of the first-generation Continental GT has dipped below $30,000. But remember that it’s now a 20-year-old car powered by a 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12 engine. And while W-shapedd engines are magnificent, they are extremely expensive to run and fix. Bentley boasted about Bluetooth connectivity, heated seats, and navigation at the time, but those items are standard in most $30,000 cars these days. What you won’t get in a modern $30k car is the Bentley’s attention to detail and sense of occasion. This is a good buy if you want people to think you’re rich. But if you have any common sense, stay far away.

Bentley Continental GT (First Generation)

Model years

2004 – 2010

Base MSRP when new

$149,990 (2004 model)

Engines

6.0L twin-turbo W12

Toyota Land Cruiser

Toyota Land Cruiser
Toyota


We needed at least one large, luxurious, and reliable SUV on this list, so the Range Rover is out. While the 2024 Land Cruiser still needs to prove itself, the J200, introduced in 2007, is nearly impossible to kill. Its V8 engine wasn’t the most powerful around (the modern turbocharged four-pot is much better), and the design is bland, but that’s where the criticism stops.

The interior is well-insulated, and the seats are large and comfy. The cabin is outdated, but it has all the necessary luxuries, and you get the idea that it will last for ages. The trunk space is immense, and while it may not have a top safety pick, it will crush anything in its path. And it can go anywhere, thanks to low range and a full-time 4WD system. It basically does the same job as the Range Rover, but reliably.


Toyota Land Cruiser (J200)

Model years

2008 – 2021

Base MSRP when new

$85,665 (2021 model)

Engines

5.7L V8

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Audi A8

Audi A8 L
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Like the Lexus LS, the Audi A8 takes a more discreet approach to luxury motoring than its 7 Series and S-Class rivals. It’s never been the most fun luxury car to drive, but it’s one of the best at isolating occupants from the outside world. Unlike the Lexus, the A8 is prone to extremely high running costs – it’s German, after all. Looking at sales data, a 2013 A8 L with 19,000 miles sold for under $30k in 2024. With its 4.0L turbocharged V8, this was a near-$90,000 car when it was new, demonstrating the effect of depreciation on these German luxury barges. For a car that’s over a decade old, the third-gen A8 is still a handsome sedan if you’re searching for supreme luxury on a budget.


Audi A8 (Third Generation)

Model years

2011 – 2018

Base MSRP when new

$49,495 (2017 model)

Engines

3.0L supercharged V6

3.0L turbodiesel V6

4.2L V8

4.0L turbocharged V8

6.3L W12

Cadillac Escalade

Cadillac Escalade
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One of the most recognizable symbols of American automotive luxury, the third-generation Escalade now regularly dips below $30k on the used market. This version isn’t as refined as the new one, but it still comes with all the leather, space, and V8 power buyers in this segment crave. In 2024, a Platinum model with the 6.2L V8 and only 13,000 miles sold for around the $30k mark. It’s a ton of car for the money, and there should be fewer problems with the naturally aspirated V8 than the turbocharged engines found on many German luxury sedans on this list.

Cadillac Escalade (Third Generation)

Model years

2007 – 2014

Base MSRP when new

$63,745 (2014 model)

Engines

6.2L V8

6.0L V8 hybrid


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