Ask anyone who knows cars and purports to understand the rich, and they’ll tell you that the idea of luxury in vehicles has changed a lot in recent years anyhow. Those models with the unmistakable hood ornaments—and the lambswool rugs, exotic leathers, and grain-matched veneers—will probably still get you special up-front spots from the valets, or jealous looks along a few high-class shopping streets, but the real luxury for most Americans is time—safe, quiet time; entertainment time; productive time. And through more in-car technology, some luxury models are helping realign our idea of luxury in that sense.
The all-new Cadillac ATS sport sedan and XTS luxury sedan are both examples of that. Both have upscale interiors, but the star is really GM’s new Cadillac User Experience (CUE) interface, which takes the idea of the in-car interface a step further—with a capacitive touch screen, a high level of configurability, and some of the most advanced voice controls yet.
The 2013 Audi Allroad is also in contention, and it could also perhaps fit into this list; but because its luxury feature set is mostly carried over from the A4 family and its rugged crossover package is what's new and genuinely different in the market, we included it in yesterday's list of crossover nominees.
As we’ve mentioned in our posts earlier this week (surveying the sedan, crossover, and sports car and truck nominees), in order to qualify for The Car Connection’s Best Car To Buy shortlist, a vehicle must carry an Overall Rating, of at least 8 out of 10 in our full reviews (a composite of Styling, Performance, Comfort, Safety, and Features); be all-new (or substantially revised in a way that changes/broadens its appeal); and have a starting price under $50,000.
That still leaves room for plenty of accessible—or affordable—luxury, depending on your own income bracket. Watch our video overview of all the nominees, then click through the following pages for a brief up-close look at each of our luxury-category Best Car To Buy nominees. We pick only one TCC winner on December 10.