Entry-level luxury cars are getting cheaper

Photo: BMW

Kelley Blue Book finds 10 winners under $35,000

Millennials appear content to wait for a lot of things – like getting married. An analysis of Census Bureau data by the Pew Research Center found the percentage of U.S. adults who had never married at an all-time high.

But one thing Millennials don't appear to be waiting for is a nice set of wheels. Carmakers have targeted their luxury brands at the younger generation and in doing so, have dropped entry level prices.

Kelley Blue Book (KBB) has noticed the trend and, as a result, has dropped the price point for its annual list of the best, most affordable luxury cars. Instead of capping the list at $40,000 as in years past, KBB has lowered the price ceiling to $35,000.

It notes that more than half the entries on this year's list are all-new or redesigned for 2015. In fact, 4 of the 5 SUVs on the list didn’t exist in 2014.

Top 10

At number 10 on the list is the 2015 BMW 2 Series. KBB calls this car not only affordable but among the most fun to drive. The highway fuel economy tops out at 36 mpg and has available features like a parking assistant, Track Handling Package and BMW Apps. KBB estimates the price at between $31,000 and $32,000.

The 2015 Acura RDX comes in at number 9. It's a 2-row SUV with a crisp, modern cabin with luxury amenities. Both fuel-efficient and practical, the RDX boasts the most standard equipment in its segment. It sells for between $33,000 and $35,000.

Coming in at number 8 on the list is the 2015 Audi Q3, another new SUV. It gets up to 29 mpg on the highway and wins praise for its comfortable ride. It sells for between $31,000 to $33,000.

At 7 is the 2015 Lincoln MKZ. KBB says it might be the best looking vehicle in the line up. It says the small SUV combines attracting styling and impressive tech amenities. Plus, it's fun to drive. It sells for $31,000 to $33,000.

In sixth place is the 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA Class. For the driver who aspires to the more expensive CLS-Class, the CLA-Class is a satisfying substitute. It can be had in most markets for $30,000 to $33,000.

Replacement for 2 models

Photo credit: GM

The 2015 Acura TLX, the second Acura on the list, comes in at number 5. This model replaces 2 models – the TL and TSX. It comes with All-Wheel Drive, 4-wheel steering and an 8- or 9-speed automatic transmission. It can be purchased in most areas for $30,000 to $32,000.

The second Mercedes to make the list – the 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA Class – makes the appears at number 4. The new small SUV seats 5 and is said to handle more like a car than a sports utility vehicle. It sells in most areas from $30,000 to $32,000.

At number 3 is only the second American nameplate to make the list, the 2015 Cadillac ATS. It comes in sedan or coupe and wins high marks for both styling and handling. It sells from $32,000 to $34,000.

Second on the list is the 2015 Audi A3. KBB calls this small sedan “well equipped, peppy and comfortable.” Options include a diesel engine and convertible top. It's also one of the less expensive luxury cars on the list, starting at $28,000 to $29,000.

Winning the top spot as the best luxury car under $35,000 is the 2015 Lexus NX. It's a small SUV available with either gasoline or hybrid powertrain and has aggressive styling that sets it apart from previous Lexus models. It sells for $33,000 to $35,000.

No doubt carmakers are making a concerted effort to attract buyers to its luxury models with for affordable prices. But with 8 of the 10 luxury cars on the list imports, the current strong U.S. dollar also gives consumers a little more purchasing power.

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