It’s fairly easy to spot a luxury vehicle by name (or logo) alone. We know that Maserati, Lexus, and Porsche are luxury car brands…but why? What actually defines a luxury car?
What makes a Tesla different from a Toyota? The answer is pretty straightforward: these cars (and companies) are consistently nice to look at and be in. They’re somewhat, well, luxurious. The government has tried in the past to define luxury cars by their price, but the lines are becoming so blurred now that price isn’t necessarily an indicator of luxury status.
Luxury cars will often feature leather upholstery that can be heated and are rigged out with technology that makes them adjustable, supportive, and comfy to sit in. They often have a large amount of legroom and cargo space; you’re not going to feel squished in when you’re riding in one. They usually ride well and without much noise–they’ve got a great muffler system on them. Luxury cars are often built for speed, so they use cutting-edge technology and physics to create force and move the car forward.
Luxury cars will also include some of the flashiest new technology, such as rearview cameras or a GPS in the dash. They also want to play up the luxury aspect. Mercedes-Benz will give you champagne flutes, scent systems, and granite trim. BMW has technology called the “gentleman function,” which allows the driver to adjust his or her passenger seat. Porsche offers leather air vents. Rolls-Royce has a “starlight window,” in which you can customize fiber optic lights to look like the night sky. Luxury vehicles may offer other luxury brands within them. For instance, the Bentley Bentayga features a Mulliner Tourbillon by Breitling mechanical clock on the dash. And, of course, these cars sport a sleek and aesthetically-pleasing interior and exterior design. This is part of what makes them specifically luxury.
You’ll often see that a luxury brand has one “flagship” vehicle that sort of stands for the whole brand. The stronger the brand’s flagship car is, the higher the level of luxury the brand as a whole will seem to carry. Even the cheaper cars within a luxury brand will share some parts with the more expensive cars, which is appealing to consumers.
While the list of luxury brands doesn’t really change from country to country, the popularity of the brands in that list does vary. A lot of this depends on price and heritage: people do love to go with prestige.
Of course, it isn’t impossible for a non-luxury car brand to build a luxury line. If a car offers amenities beyond the basics, it may well fall into the category of luxury vehicle. This definition means that most cars sold in the US today are technically luxury cars; however, we still only consider a small percentage of cars to actually be luxury. While a non-luxury brand may produce a make that is considered a luxury car, you won’t have the flashy name brand attached.