Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A grey 2022 BMW X3 is shown parked in a lot after viewing pre-owned luxury car sales.

Buying a Luxury Car? Shop Used, and You’ll Save Big

Are you the type of car buyer who prioritizes luxury, but your wallet is more Target than Neiman Marcus? Pre-owned luxury car sales represent a perfect opportunity to get everything you want without ending up paying a bundle. By sacrificing that new car smell, you’re gaining even more buying power, unlocking opportunities to travel higher up the trim range and end up with everything you want.

Since buying a pre-owned luxury car ticks the practicality and affordability boxes, the next question is deciding what type of vehicle you want. Luxury cars are no longer just sedans; you can also choose a crossover, a full-size SUV, and even a two-door sports coupe. Depending on the body style, you could end up with dozens of options or as few as one or two. Choosing boils down to preference, mostly, followed by availability.

As you embark on your search, consider factors like your lifestyle to truly dial in a model that works for you. Are you commuting? Hauling a boat to the lake? Your answers to these questions help refine search parameters, which will save you time and energy. Here are a few standouts in each body style and size category that might be a great first step in your pre-owned luxury vehicle hunt.

A silver 2022 Volvo XC60 is shown from the side in front of a quarry wall.

Crossovers and SUVs to Check Out

One of the most revered automotive brands is BMW, and when it comes to upscale SUVs, the German automaker offers plenty. The range of BMW SUVs includes models in multiple size ranges. Consider the compact X3: it’s one of BMW’s most popular models for its smaller dimensions and feature-rich trim range. Buyers can select from fuel-efficient versions or go for the high-performance X3 M. Regardless of the trim you select, it’s good to know that Car and Driver has never given the X3 less than an 8/10 rating.

Luxury SUV buyers might also want to turn their search to U.S. manufacturers for a handful of great options. The Cadillac Escalade is one such option. It’s a premium full-size SUV that leads the category in popularity, with class-leading horsepower and interior passenger volume. Cadillac is generous with standard interior appointments, so expect to find leather seating, heated and cooled front seats, and adjustable pedals among the many upscale cabin goodies.

Safety-oriented manufacturer Volvo’s family of crossovers is worth a look if you’re seeking luxury and practicality in one package. The Volvo lineup consists of the XC40, XC60, and XC90. The midsize XC60 is Volvo’s best-selling model, but all three offer excellent safety ratings along with multiple powertrains and trims. Depending on the model year, the XC60 is available in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and buyers can even opt for a high-powered 455-horsepower hybrid powertrain.

Standout Sports Sedans

It’s rare for any vehicle to receive unanimous praise from automotive journalists, let alone a sedan, but that’s exactly what happened when the 2019 Genesis G70 hit dealerships. The G70 is a hidden gem in a category of stalwart contenders like the BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes C Class. First off, it’s more affordable. Even better, it’s unique. This sports sedan is ideal for luxury buyers seeking a performance edge, especially when you select the 3.3T trim, which outfits the G70 with a 365-horsepower twin-turbo V6.

If you prefer to stick to the German luxury sedan subset, consider the Audi S8. It’s a full-size sedan that’s designed for refinement and comfort, but under the hood lies a beastly V8 that makes upwards of 500 ponies. Car and Driver clocked the 2017 S8’s zero-to-sixty time at just 3.3 seconds, so expect a thrilling driving experience to go along with the metal-accented minimalist cabin aesthetic we’ve come to expect from Audi.

It’s also worth checking out the Cadillac CT5, a sedan that competes against its German counterparts by embracing a sporty vibe while staying true to Cadillac’s indulgent luxury-leaning cabin environment. The CT5 replaced the CTS in 2020, so finding a pre-owned version is a little trickier, but even the CTS is worth a look. The 2019 CTS V-Sport features a twin-turbo V6 that pumps out 420-horsepower.

If you still seek more performance and speed, consider the CTS-V, a Caddy with supercharged energy that tears it up with a 640-hp V8, a rear-wheel drive setup, and a set of Brembo brakes for some extra reassurance. Car and Driver bestowed a perfect 10/10 rating on the 2019 Cadillac CTS-V, calling it a “brute” and clocking it at a zero-to-sixty time of just 3.6 seconds.

A blue 2022 Chevy Corvette Stingray is shown from the front parked on a desert road.

Elite High-End Performance Coupes

Though the pool of entrants is waning, there are still a handful of insanely powerful two-door coupes for discerning buyers who appreciate this slowly dying breed. At the epicenter of coupe enlightenment sits BMW, with multiple offerings at various price points and output levels. From the affordable 2 Series to the lightning-quick M4, there’s no shortage of choices. Still, some buyers prefer a different coupe ownership experience.

Venture to a Chevy dealer and feast your eyes on the Corvette Stingray. It’s nothing short of a renaissance, as the bowtie brand has infused the Corvette with renewed energy, futuristic exterior design, and unbelievable performance capability. The ‘Vette will give six-figure Italian sports cars a run for their money, at a fraction of the price, with more heart and grit than any other car on the road today. Grab a used ZR1 version and enjoy 755-horsepower and a tight, track-ready suspension.

The Mercedes-AMG GT allows you to go with an old-school brand restyled with modern luxury car energy. Also available as a convertible, this gem hit the scene in 2019, earning amazing reviews and appealing to buyers on the lookout for a two-seater with throwback style and modern performance abilities. A throaty 4.0-liter V8 sits under the hood, offering up to 740 ponies and a zero-to-sixty time of as little as 3.2 seconds.

Few would argue that the most iconic and aspirational two-door sports coupe is the venerable Porsche 911. Since the 1960s, this German favorite has filled the dreams of automotive aficionados, with good reason. The 911 is one of the most advanced sports coupes ever, with fine-tuned engineering that’s evident in its driving characteristics. Tight, precise steering and blistering acceleration make this fan-favorite a must-see for used luxury performance coupe buyers.

Shopping Pre-Owned Opens Windows of Opportunity

When you turn your attention to the pre-owned luxury vehicle market, wonderful things happen. First, you can avail yourself of trims and configurations that would be out of reach if you purchased new. Second, buying pre-owned model means you have access to amazing discontinued models like the Cadillac CTS-V or Corvette ZR1. It’s a wonder luxury buyers go any other route.

Whether you’re seeking a nice, upscale luxury crossover for the family or a beastly two-seater with performance to spare, you’ll be paying less as a pre-owned shopper. Not only that, but so many of these high-end vehicles received top ratings from experienced automotive review sites. Luxury buyers tend to baby their cars, so finding a gently used off-lease model will be more the norm than the exception. It’s practical yet nets you all the luxury and performance you desire.

It’s a great time to wade into the pre-owned luxury car market. With so many diverse body styles available, each decked out with the bells-and-whistles luxury buyers demand, the most difficult part of your search will be settling on a single model. Simply dial in the specific features you want, along with the body style and size, and you’ll find your options are limitless.