Luxury cars offer a little more—of what matters to nearly everyone but the most dedicated misers. Whether it's the reputation of the brand and the image it carries; the cabin comforts and interfaces; the innovations behind the wheel; the more refined driving experience; or the extra assurance of advanced safety features; there's added value built into luxury marques.
Factor in a better, more personalized dealership experience, concierge services, and top-tier certified pre-owned (CPO) programs, and it's not just a matter of the vehicle itself; luxury brands can save you valuable time—time that you'd probably rather spend with your family and friends. And as late-model used cars, after they've gone through their two to three years of steepest depreciation, luxury models can be quite the deal.
What separates the best used luxury cars from the rest? In order to consider models for this list, we did of course rule out models from 'mainstream' brands. Then we also ruled out convertibles, roadsters, and any models for which we perceive their primary mission as that of a sports car—like the Porsche 911. They're all covered by other 'best' lists here at The Car Connection.
Our editors review and revisit every model on the market, each model year, and update numerical scores in six different areas: Styling, Performance, Comfort and Quality, Safety, Features, and Fuel Economy. Although we try to assign those scores against competing models, we'll admit that we're a little more generous with luxury cars. Considering the supple leather upholstery, high-end, concert-hall-quality audio systems, and things like massage seats, it's hard to be critical when they offer so much contentment. So we only looked for the crème de la crème here—those vehicles that managed an excellent Overall Score of 8.5 or higher. In short, each model on the Best Used Luxury Car 2013 list scores:
- at least that 8.5 rating on The Car Connection's full reviews from three years ago--in this case, the 2011 model year
- at least four circles on J.D. Power's predicted-dependability rankings, or at least average reliability on Consumer Reports
- no reported score lower than four stars overall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
What we're left with, after applying these parameters, is a solid list of luxury vehicles—coupes, sedans, and utility vehicles. And we'll freely admit that some of the best family-oriented luxury cars are actually crossovers, so we did indeed leave them on the list—even the Cadillac Escalade, which is a sort of diamond in the rough, and a used-vehicle gem we can't ignore.
Unfortunately, there are a number of luxury models that we liked a lot in 2011 yet the lack of reliability or safety data led to their exclusion—the Aston Martin Rapide and the Bentley Continental Flying Spur, for instance.
Keeping in mind that these models span a very wide range of tastes and prices, here are the 2011-model-year used luxury cars that made the list—along with our Bottom Line take from the full reviews:Acura MDX
2011 Audi Q5
2011 BMW 5-Series
2011 BMW 7-Series
2011 Cadillac Escalade ESV
2011 Infiniti M37
2011 Lincoln MKS
2011 Lincoln MKT
2011 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class
2011 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG
2011 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG
2011 Volvo S80