Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

Friends are shown hanging out in a 2022 BMW 3 Series listening to music.

Luxury and Performance That Won’t Break the Bank: BMW Models Under $50K

From unsurpassed luxury to performance that rivals the best vehicles on the road, BMW has an unblemished reputation when it comes to quality and pedigree. While a high-end BMW model can cost well into the six figures, visiting a BMW dealer will reveal plenty of higher-performance luxury models for under 50K. From the classic 3 Series sports sedan to the popular X1 compact SUV, BMW has an option for virtually any driver––even one seeking luxury on a budget. And whichever model you choose, you will receive the same German engineering and untouchable driving experience.

BMW 4 Series: Affordable Luxury

Choosing the ideal luxury car is akin to purchasing a vintage bottle of wine. While some are seasoned connoisseurs who know just what to look for, others are drawn to affordability and convenience. Either approach is fine, as what one gravitates towards is a matter of subjective taste. For those who are somewhat familiar with the advantages of luxury but are unsure of where to start, then the BMW 4 Series is an ideal starting point. Existing upon the cusp between availability and high-class, it’s a quintessential taste of both worlds.

This concept of duality is exemplified in the 4 Series’ various offerings. First, trim levels are separated by the choice of a hardtop or a convertible. If you’re someone whose luxurious side takes a more conservative approach, the two-door coupe or four-door gran coupe may be ideal. However, the convertible exists for those who have the need to let their hair down and feel the wind as they drive. Furthermore, the high-octane performance that is synonymous with the BMW name is present in both available engine offerings.

The standard 2.0L 4-cylinder is capable of generating 255 horsepower, while the optional inline-six boasts 382 horsepower with the help of a 48-volt hybrid system. Both engines are available on all three versions of the 4 Series, as is an 8-speed transmission that makes for a ride that’s smooth as silk. With a starting MSRP of $45,800, the 4 Series is relatively attainable and contains all the luxury one could ever hope for.

A close up of the front of a blue 2022 BMW X1 is shown.

BMW X1: When Luxury Met the SUV

While the SUV has become the ideal family vehicle and now comes in a variety of options, let’s be honest, few are truly exciting. However, just because you have children and responsibilities doesn’t mean your existence has to be boring. To this end, BMW offers the X1, a vehicle that places the brand’s renowned penchant for luxury and makes it available to today’s modern family.

Of course, you receive all the hallmarks that make the SUV convenient, such as an available 58.7 cubic feet of storage space, all-wheel drive, and a fuel economy of 27 MPG combined. However, this isn’t your typical SUV. A sporty, refined interior that places comfort at the forefront greets anyone who has the luxury to climb inside.

Like other SUV options from the competition, BMW forgoes larger engines in favor of an offering that’s small yet effective. The X1 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder engine. Capable of generating 228 horsepower, the ride is smoothed out with a standard 8-speed transmission. And because any family trip requires a few pleasant distractions, a 7-speaker stereo system comes standard and a high-end Harman-Kardon 12 speaker upgrade is available. All of this comes with a starting MSRP of $35,400. That’s a bargain if we’ve ever seen one.

BMW 3 Series: All for One, and All for You!

The more practical relative of the 4 Series, the 3 Series is just as efficient, just as powerful, and spares nothing in terms of luxury. The only real difference is that it has four doors in a traditional sedan shape. Polished and refined, the 3 Series is the perfect vehicle for ordinary and everyday use with the extraordinary feeling that BMW consistently gives its drivers. While you’re going about your everyday activities engulfed in luxury, you’ll be doing so with three performance-oriented powertrains to get things done in style.

A 2.0L four-cylinder generates an impressive 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. For those who crave a little more metal in their pedal, a 3.0L six-cylinder leaves expectations far behind in the dust with the ability to dish out 382 horsepower and 368 lb-ft of torque. The final option is a plug-in hybrid––but with 288 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, this is one hybrid that has no problem getting where it’s going. Like many of BMW’s powertrains, all three options are paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission that provides acceleration that’s just as smooth as it is fast.

Like its predecessors, the interior of the current 3 Series leaves nothing out in the way of providing sophistication for anyone behind the wheel. From the leather of the steering wheel to the chrome feel of the gear shifter, there’s nothing that lacks expert craftsmanship and nothing that feels mass-produced. And because BMW always goes farther than the competition does, the car’s 17 cubic feet of trunk space surpasses the average. While the 8.8″ infotainment center is more or less the industry standard, one thing that isn’t is BMW’s impressive gesture control technology, allowing commands to be given with hand movements. The future is now and looks and feels exquisite. And with a starting MSRP of $41,450, it’s more affordable than you might have thought.

A purple 2022 BMW M240i xdrive Coupe is shown from a high angle after visiting a BMW dealer.

BMW 2 Series: “Introductory, My Dear Watson”

For many years, the BMW 2 Series has been the entry-level vehicle in BMW’s arsenal and, not coincidentally, one of its most affordable. A starting MSRP of $36,350 is cost-effective, and the luxury and performance presented by BMW to anyone who decides to purchase one is quite extraordinary. A chrome shifter, metal gear pedals, and a dashboard that’s sleek and refined from the 8.8″ infotainment screen to the 8.5″ digital instrument cluster make this entry-level vehicle just as high-end as every other BMW.

Speaking of which, it wouldn’t be a BMW without performance that caters to the dashing hero in all of us. The standard turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder generates a solid 255 horsepower, and as is par for the course, the optional 3.0L turbocharged inline-six generates 382 horsepower. Like most of the fleet, BMW equips the 2 Series with an 8-speed automatic transmission, merging luxury and performance and placing them both upon the same playing field. A key feature that will have some perking their ears up and taking a closer look is the 2 Series’ impressive fuel economy of 29 MPG combined. Which, considering the performance involved, is rather impressive, to say the least.

Buying a BMW is Easier Than You Might Think

The next time you feel like spoiling yourself and purchasing a luxury automobile, don’t think for a moment that it’s an unattainable goal. Far from it, as we’ve seen today, your nearest BMW dealer has choices in store from SUVs to coupes that won’t shatter your bank account. Superior performance and high-end luxury are affordable and easier to obtain than you thought possible, letting you live an upscale life in the fast lane.