Entry-Level Luxury-Brand Vehicles
When car shoppers move upmarket for a new luxury vehicle, often the brand carries as much significance as the car itself. And as buyers seek the amenities and refinements required of a luxurious ride, many subconsciously evaluate and appreciate the status of owning a prestigious marque. With any car purchase, eventually the consideration turns to ultimate value and sticker price. That said, even the most exclusive marques have a least expensive offering for consideration — an easier entry into the brand. Everything is relative, of course — the entry-level Rolls-Royce may be beyond the means of most shoppers, but it is still several hundred thousand dollars less than higher-level models, so let’s look at the entry-level luxury-brand vehicles available in America today.
2020 Acura ILX
Base MSRP: $25,900
The lowest priced model offered by Acura, the ILX anchors a lineup that reaches as high as $62,000 for the flagship RLX Sport Hybrid, or even a healthy $157,500 for the exotic NSX. The small sedan received a major redesign for the 2019 model year, and for 2020 the price remains unchanged. Sporting the Acura signature Diamond Pentagon grille with 7-element jewel-eye LED headlights, the ILX has an upscale look that aligns it with the rest of the Acura lineup. Inside, a unique dual screen display features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The ILX also comes standard with the Acura Watch suite of advanced safety tech that includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist.
2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia
Base MSRP: $39,400
The Alfa Romeo brand expanded to three models with the introduction of the Stelvio crossover a few years ago, but Giulia remains the least expensive route into the Alfa lineup. A proper sport sedan, the Giulia is available with rear- or all-wheel drive and can sprint to 60 mph in around 5 seconds, thanks to its standard 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine producing 280 horsepower and 306 lb-ft of torque, teamed with a quick-shifting 8-speed automatic gearbox. Even the base-level Giulia comes well equipped, featuring standard leather seats, a 6-way power front seat, dual-zone climate control and an 8-speaker audio system featuring HD Radio and Bluetooth streaming. The Giulia adds an 8.8-inch touchscreen display for 2020 as well as a number of interior enhancements. Also included are 17-inch aluminum wheels, run-flat all-season high-performance tires, Brembo 4-wheel disc brakes, bi-xenon headlights and LED running lights and taillights to give the Giulia a premium look.
2020 Audi A3
Base MSRP: $33,300
Audi’s entry-level luxury car originally arrived in the U.S. as a 2006 model in 4-door hatchback configuration only, but in 2015 Audi changed the A3 lineup to include a sedan and cabriolet. The A3 carries the styling cues of higher-end Audi models, and is available with the brand’s signature quattro all-wheel-drive system. Premium standard features on the A3 include a panoramic sunroof, xenon headlights, a 12-way power driver’s seat, leather trim, dual-zone climate control and a high-end audio system. Audi also offers the A3 with the brand’s the innovative virtual cockpit, as well as a suite of advance driver-assist technology.
2020 Bentley Bentayga
Base MSRP: $160,000
A few years ago, the thought of a Bentley SUV seemed rather farfetched, but in 2017 the famed British brand introduced the powerful Bentayga — it’s first SUV. And now in another first for the company, the Bentayga is available as a plug-in hybrid. The Bentayga Hybrid is the “most accessible” Bentley, but it still deserves to display this luxury marque’s logo. This luxurious SUV comes well equipped with soft leather-trimmed seats, handcrafted wood trim, a high-resolution touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a 60 GB hard drive, voice control and navigation. Bentleys are known for performance as much as luxury, and this Bentayga Hybrid certainly performs thanks to the 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine teamed with an electric motor to deliver a combined 443 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. With a full charge the Bentayga Hybrid can travel almost 25 miles on electric power alone.
2020 BMW X1
Base MSRP: $35,200
As SUVs continue to gain popularity and gobble market share, it’s not that surprising that the first rung of the BMW ladder would be a crossover. In fact, this entry-level model is BMW’s best-selling crossover worldwide. For 2020 the X1 gets a major update with revised exterior styling, a wider stance, new LED headlights, electronic gear shifting and a new 8.8-inch display screen. Powering the X1 is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine producing 228-horsepower, teamed with an 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard — xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive adds $2,000 to the base price.
2020 Cadillac CT4
Base MSRP: $32,995
An all new model in the Cadillac lineup, the 2020 CT4 replacing the ATS sport sedan. The CT4 adopts the brand’s latest design cues with expressive LED headlights flush with the grille, as well as horizontal running lights at the corners in a look similar to the new Escalade and CT5. Available in a range of trims from the base-level Luxury to the high-performance V-Series, the CT4 is available with rear- or all-wheel drive. Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine producing 237 horsepower, teamed with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The CT4 Luxury is well equipped with power front seats, an 8-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth connectivity, voice control and a rearview camera.
2020 Genesis G70
Base MSRP: $35,450
Genesis spun off as an entirely new brand for the 2017 model year, launched by parent company Hyundai to move its clientele upscale. The luxury brand offers three sedans with the G70 introduced last year. It may be the entry-level model in the Genesis lineup, but the G70 comes very well equipped with features such as power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, pushbutton start, an 8-inch color touchscreen display, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, an HD radio, 18-inch wheels and a rearview camera. Genesis also offers the G70 with the latest advanced safety tech as standard equipment across the board. This includes forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot collision warning, rear cross-traffic alert, high-beam headlight assist and driver attention warning.
2020 Infiniti Q50
Base MSRP: $36,400
When Infiniti began 30 years ago, the idea of a premium SUV or crossover was completely out of realm. Now the Q50 is the only 4-door sedan left in the Infiniti lineup. For the 2020 model year, the Q50 drops the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine; all Q50 trims are powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 engine producing 300 horsepower except for the Red Sport, which gets a bump to 400 horsepower. The updated Q50 is also equipped with the new InTouch dual-screen infotainment system, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a Wi-Fi hotpot for up to seven devices, as well as two additional lighted USB ports — one Type A, one Type C.
2020 Jaguar XE
Base MSRP: $39,900
Jaguar updated its entry-level XE sedan for the 2020 model year with new front and rear bumpers, a redesigned grille and slim full-LED headlights to give the vehicle a sharper, more aggressive appearance. The cabin has also been updated with more premium materials, and the well-equipped XE comes with features such as power leather seats, LED headlights, taillights with new graphics, front and rear parking aids, a rearview camera, lane-keeping assist and 18-inch wheels. The S is the base-level trim of the XE with a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that produces 247 horsepower.
2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport
Base MSRP: $37,800
The Land Rover Discovery was available in America until 2004 when it was rebadged as the LR3. No matter its name, the SUV was boxy and although very capable still felt a bit old school. A few years ago, the Discovery name came back — this time on a thoroughly modern SUV with styling that aligns with the rest of the Land Rover lineup, and capability deserving of the Discovery name. Discovery Sport has seating for seven occupants and carries many premium features such as an 8-inch touchscreen and head-up display. As expected, the Discovery Sport has impressive off-road capabilities — more than 8 inches of ground clearance, class-leading approach and departure angles, the ability to wade through almost 2 feet of water and climb a 45-degree incline.
2020 Lexus UX
Base MSRP: $32,300
Lexus joined the growing compact luxury crossover market last year with the introduction of the all-new UX. The UX is the first Lexus vehicle to use the brand’s Global Architecture — Compact platform, providing the small crossover with a rigid structure and low center of gravity designed to deliver both agile handling and improved ride comfort. The exterior styling is similar to the larger NX and RX models but more aggressive, with a large spindle grille that dominates the front view. The UX is offered with a choice of two powertrains: a 169-horsepower 2.0-liter engine sending power to the front wheels, or a fourth-generation hybrid drive system with total system output of 181 horsepower. The hybrid uses the Lexus E-Four all-wheel drive system that adds an additional electric motor at the rear axle.
2020 Lincoln Corsair
Base MSRP: $35,945
Lincoln has been quickly revamping its entire SUV lineup, and one of the newest to join the group is the 5-passenger Corsair. Replacing the MKC, the new Corsair will be easily recognizable as a Lincoln thanks to styling cues borrowed from the larger Nautilus and Aviator models — specifically a similar grille and headlight treatment. However, the Corsair does have an overall style of its own with deep contouring along the side panels, which adds depth to the overall design. The Corsair may be an entry-level model in the Lincoln lineup, but inside it features upscale materials to create a premium feeling within the cabin. Corsair also features Active Noise Control, and sounds that occupants do hear are chimes recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. A range of new technology can be found in this small crossover; for example, owners will be able to use their smartphones as keys to the Corsair.
2020 Maserati Ghibli
Base MSRP: $75,500
Maserati added a second sedan below the flagship Quattroporte in 2016 with the introduction of the new Ghibli. Smaller, lighter, and more dynamic than the Quattroporte, the Ghibli’s exterior styling clearly ties in with the rest of the Maserati lineup, while interior appointments include leather sport seats, high-gloss trim, a high-end audio system and — of course — the traditional Maserati clock with blue face. Power options range from a twin-turbo 345-horsepower V6 engine to the Ghibli S Q4 with its 424-horsepower engine and all-wheel drive.
2020 Mercedes-Benz A-Class
Base MSRP: $32,800
Mercedes has one of the widest-ranges of luxury vehicles on the market. At the upper levels reign the ultra-luxurious and powerful AMG models exceeding $200,000, and now at the other end of the scale resides the all-new A-Class. The diminutive 4-door sedan has a sporty stance with short front and rear overhangs, and is easily recognizable as a Mercedes-Benz with the familiar grille and center-mounted large central star logo. It may be an entry-level sedan, but the A-Class comes well equipped with power front seats, dual-zone climate control, a panorama roof, LED interior lighting, and dual 7-inch displays. The A-Class also features MBUX, the brand’s new natural-language voice control system.
2020 Porsche Macan
Base MSRP: $50,900
Although it exist within the crowded compact luxury SUV segment, the Macan certainly stands out from that crowd. The second crossover in the Porsche lineup, Macan is the brand’s best-selling model. Styled after the larger Cayenne, Macan still embodies all qualities expected from the iconic German sports car brand. Macan draws power from a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine producing 248 horsepower and comes standard with full-time all-wheel drive. The Macan has a long list of standard equipment, including a new 10.9-inch integrated touchscreen display.
2020 Rolls-Royce Ghost
Base MSRP: $311,900
From the “everything is relative” department, the entry-level model in the Rolls-Royce lineup starts right around $300,000. Compared to the $530,000 long-wheelbase Phantom, the Ghost is quite a bargain. Rolls-Royce has long been the benchmark for luxury automobiles, and this still holds true for the Ghost. The hand-built sedan is swathed in five coats of paint that take seven days to apply, with an additional five hours of hand polishing. Inside, wood veneers match perfectly and the leather seats are hand stitched. The twin-turbo 6.6-liter V12 engine provides more than adequate power and the intelligent air suspension delivers an impressively smooth, quiet ride. The 2020 Ghost is the last of the current generation — look for an all-new Ghost to debut later this year.
2020 Tesla Model 3
Base MSRP: $39,900
The third model in American automaker Tesla’s lineup following the Model S and Model X, the Model 3 sedan is smaller and more affordable than the flagship Model S. With a bold level of standard equipment and sleek styling that complements the rest of the Tesla line, the more economical Model 3 was designed for high-volume sales. One of the most fuel-efficient vehicles in America, the standard-range Model 3 delivers 131 MPGe with a range of 220 miles between charges. Standard features include a 15-inch touchscreen display, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, LED exterior lighting, a backup camera and a suite of advanced safety technology with collision avoidance and automatic emergency braking.
2020 Volvo XC40
Base MSRP: $33,700
Last year Volvo bolstered its premium crossover lineup with the all-new XC40. Styling is similar to its larger siblings, most notably the signature “Thor’s Hammer” headlights. Even the base XC40 Momentum comes with leather seat trim, an 8-way power driver’s seat, automatic climate control, a rearview camera, a power tailgate and 18-inch alloy wheels. A 9-inch vertical touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 250-watt AM / FM / HD audio system with eight speakers and Bluetooth streaming are also standard on all XC40s.