Are Luxury Cars Worth the Expense?

The average purchase price for both non-luxury and luxury cars is rising, and car ownership costs are higher than in years past. You might be wondering if a luxury car is worth the expense.

A lot of the focus on luxury cars is on the brand name, but this is a shortsighted approach. Luxury cars often offer safety and security features that non-luxury cars do not have. Let’s talk about some of the reasons people choose luxury cars and some things you will want to keep in mind when considering your next purchase.

The Price of Safety

Luxury car brands have been at the forefront of safety innovation for many decades. Mercedes-Benz introduced the anti-lock brake system (ABS) that comes standard now even in non-luxury cars. Nowadays, luxury cars come equipped with safety features such as lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control. These cars also often have rear-view cameras, emergency braking, and blind-spot monitoring.

Even standard features get an upgrade in luxury cars. Many come with far more airbags than their non-luxury counterparts. Other things like headlights get upgrades. Adaptive technology increases visibility for both the driver and other drivers around them. Some luxury brands like Volvo even include rain-sensing windshield wipers. All these features factor into luxury pricing. While car owners could certainly drive without them, many enjoy the peace of mind these advanced safety features bring.

This is not to say that non-luxury vehicles are not safe. Many brands that produce non-luxury cars have very high safety ratings. But much of the technology has not filtered down to non-luxury cars yet. Toyota and Honda have introduced advanced driver assisted systems (ADAS)—but only in their luxury car lines. The Toyota Mirai, which starts at $49,500, will see an ADAS upgrade for the 2022 model. Less expensive models like the Toyota Camry come equipped with Standard Toyota Safety Sense, a pared-down version.

A Smooth Ride

From state-of-the-art temperature controls down to premium tires, luxury cars offer a smoother ride. The interior of a luxury car is quieter even at high speeds. This can give the impression of a faster, smoother ride. Car owners also select luxury vehicles for superior suspension. A finely tuned luxury car suspension can make bumps and ruts in the road disappear. Rides become more comfortable—especially the long ones.

A luxury car often pairs a smooth suspension with responsive power in the pedal. The combination can be exhilarating. What often takes the driving experience to the next level for car owners is how the car handles turns and quick stops. Luxury cars do tend to be heavier on average than their non-luxury counterparts. This heaviness contributes to overall safety in an accident. It also means car manufacturers had to design features to give drivers the handling and responsiveness they have expected from luxury, which ultimately affects pricing.

With Luxury Comes Exclusive Perks

Luxury car owners expect value for the luxury pricing they pay. Car companies offer some exclusive perks that come with the purchase. These perks can include special pricing on flights or movie tickets. Some luxury brands provide priority parking or exclusive areas at auto shows and other events. And owners can often take advantage of access to fine dining and specialty restaurants.

Some of the other perks that come with luxury cars are safety-related. For instance, many luxury brands offer 24/7 roadside assistance to owners. The advantage of using roadside assistance through the luxury brand is that owners do not have to pay for a separate service, such as through AAA. Also, the roadside assistance offered through the luxury brand has experience with those cars. Some brands will also provide hotel assistance if the car needs repairs.

Speaking of Repairs…

Not only do luxury car owners often get superior roadside assistance, but they also can get help with car repairs. Tesla will send a technician to the owner’s home or business to perform maintenance or repairs. Other luxury brands like Genesis or Lincoln will pick up the car and take it to the nearest repair facility or authorized mechanic. Many luxury brands have assistance available if owners need help setting up the tech in their cars. Cars like the Toyota Camry are reliable and safe. But the concierge-level service that luxury cars provide can make all the difference.

One of the most significant contributors to the cost of car ownership over time is maintenance. Luxury cars can cost a lot to maintain. To prevent voiding the manufacturer’s warranty, owners are better off getting maintenance done by a dealership or authorized mechanic. An oil change for a Mercedes-Benz can cost well over $150 each time. Regularly scheduled maintenance can cost hundreds of dollars each time, and manufacturers recommend this maintenance every 10,000 miles.

Are Luxury Parts Worth It?

So why is maintenance so expensive? Aren’t luxury parts better? The answer is that luxury brands design their cars to perform at a higher level and handle better than non-luxury cars. Often the parts that mechanics need for repairs and maintenance are precision-made, and off-brand parts just do not fit as well.

In addition, car owners should consider that with maintenance and repairs at these authorized repair shops, they are paying for the training and expertise of the mechanics. The more features a luxury car has, the more moving and working parts a mechanic needs to know and understand.

Protecting That Luxury

Luxury car owners often enjoy manufacturer’s warranties that last longer and cover more than warranties that come with traditional cars. But for owners to maintain these warranties, they often must service their luxury car for maintenance at an approved facility. If owners do not perform the maintenance, they can void the warranty.

Owners do need to consider whether they can afford the regular maintenance costs in addition to the monthly car payments. If they can, the plus side is they will probably save on repairs while the manufacturer’s warranty exists. Some luxury brands offer prepaid maintenance plans that can reward owners who keep up on maintenance by saving them a percentage of the costs.

Even luxury cars do not come with forever warranties however. So, what can owners do once the manufacturer’s warranty ends? Often owners see a sharp increase in the cost of repairs after owning their car for several years. One way to avoid a shockingly high repair bill is to buy an extended car warranty. Luxury car owners can put an extended car warranty in place before the manufacturer’s warranty ends for seamless coverage and peace of mind.

White-glove Service

Luxury car brands elevate the driving experience from a humdrum chore to something uplifting. Many brands invite owners to get involved with their new car before it even leaves the factory. BMW invites owners to meet their car at the factory. This way, the owner can be the first to drive it. Jaguar offers its signature Handover Encore. An employee will deliver the brand-new Jaguar to the car owner’s home and explain all the car’s details.

Luxury dealerships are usually the interface between the manufacturer and the customer and often receive the highest customer rankings in surveys on customer satisfaction.

Dealerships also usually have a service or parts department. Many luxury dealerships will send a valet service to the owner. They not only retrieve the car needing repairs, but they leave a courtesy vehicle for the owner to use until their car is ready. Of course, what luxury owners appreciate the most is that the vehicle rarely needs that level of repair. But paying for luxury means knowing that convenience is there if the owner needs it.

What’s in a Name

There is no question that at least a small part of owning a luxury car is the brand name itself. Owning a luxury car has a social cache. When people see a Porsche or a Maserati, they know that the car is expensive. Many owners feel it is important that their cars say something about them and their social standing or financial status. The social power of the branding is an extra perk on top of all the safety and luxury features the car offers.

In a Material World

From fine-grained leathers to natural wood veneers, luxury cars come with exquisite but expensive interiors. Luxury car owners can often customize their car interiors, including materials and inlays. In more extreme cases, owners can select from Napa leather and even alligator or ostrich skin. Some limited-edition luxury cars sport collaborations with top designers.

It is not only the interior of the luxury car that uses expensive materials. High-performance parts in the engine may use titanium or rhodium. Carbon fiber reduces the weight of the car but increases the cost. And then there are the not-so-obvious uses of precious metals. Luxury cars need many computer chips to run all of the electric features, and those chips all have bits of gold and other rarer metals. A few luxury brands use silver in the car emblems simply because they can.

Needs, Wants, and Value

When it comes to luxury cars, do you get what you pay for?

Well, that all depends on who you ask. Everyone has different standards for what they consider essential or non-essential. When it comes to car purchases, this still applies. The reasons why people purchase luxury cars vary.

Many luxury cars indeed have the highest safety ratings. They also offer perks and comforts not available in standard cars. Ultimately when considering a luxury car, the customer should think about it as an investment, whether they plan to own it for a short time or longer. When thinking about the cost, car owners should consider how important the features are and whether paying for those features will improve their experience or quality of life.

Cedric Jackson is a contributing writer.  His writing draws on his rich life experiences, time spent traveling, and years working with the written word. He is passionate about internet marketing, automotive, travel, and the entertainment world. When not busy writing, he spends his time traveling, reading, and keeping up with world events. Visit his blog here:

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