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Edmund's Top 10 Luxury Cars Under $35k
By Steve Siler
Date Posted 02-22-2005

What's the most luxury you can buy for less than $35,000? Below are the 10 luxury-brand cars that give you the best bang for the buck in this price bracket. They also communicate prestige to colleagues and friends. Sure, non-premium nameplates like the Nissan Maxima and Volkswagen Passat provide much the same amenities, but neither says "I've arrived" with the same authority as an Audi or BMW.

1. Acura TL: Sharp handling, a sweet V6, top-grade materials and a 5.1 surround system all in one midsize sedan? The midsize TL is a compelling answer to anyone who's ever questioned the pricey options on the A4 and 3 Series.

2. Acura TSX: The compact TSX offers most of the TL's virtues in a smaller, less expensive package. The fact that it costs less than similarly equipped European sedans and has a larger backseat makes this Acura one of the best value stories on this list.

3. Audi A4: Available as a sedan, wagon or convertible, with either a turbo four or V6 engine and front- or all-wheel drive, the A4 is Audi's jack-of-all-trades. Driving dynamics strike a superb balance between comfort and handling, while the interior continues to set the bar for style and opulence at this price point.

4. BMW 3 Series: Although an all-new model is in the works, the 3 Series is still attractive, and feels as sprightly today as it ever has. With just a few options, its price jumps way ahead of the pack, but all is justified by a scintillating driving experience that has yet to be matched by its competitors.

5. BMW Z4: The charismatic Z4 roadster blends luxury and fun like no other in this group. With just two seats and a small trunk, the Z4 offers no shred of practicality, but it more than makes up for that in sheer thrills and style, style, style.

6. Chrysler 300C: Hemi V8 power, luxurious accommodations and son-of-Bentley looks catapulted this car into stardom in 2005, earning it award after award from the automotive press. But don't let the throwback styling fool you: modern Mercedes-Benz mechanicals ensure the big sedan has the moves to match its mug.

7. Infiniti G35: Whether you choose the intimate coupe or the spacious sedan, the Infiniti G35 is a real blast to drive — not surprising, considering how much it shares under the skin with the Nissan 350Z sports car. Furthermore, the G35 heaps on the luxury without breaking the bank the way its German competitors can.

8. Lexus ES 330: While not the sportiest car in this bunch, the ES 330 is, perhaps, the easiest to drive. Indeed, if your definition of luxury includes a pillowlike ride and complete isolation from the elements, the ES 330 is your car.

9. Volvo S40 and V50: With a base price that is comparatively low for this group, the super-safe and suddenly sexy S40 sedan and its wagon counterpart, the V50, can be loaded with options like a Dolby ProLogic surround sound stereo, slick wheels and even all-wheel drive while keeping the bottom line within reach.

10. Volvo S60 and V70: If you find the sassy new Volvo S40/V50 models a touch too tight, perhaps you'll find the one-size-larger S60 and V70 just right. New head- and taillights and minor interior updates keep them looking sharp for '05, while Volvo's emphasis on providing class-leading safety hasn't changed a bit.
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