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Best Cars

Best Luxury Cars for 2017

By Martin Pratt

Article 13 of 14

The best luxury cars will whisk you from A to B in style, while also delivering reliability, and offering the refinement and comfort you deserve. 

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For a car to be truly luxurious it needs to be effortless to drive, with a buttery-smooth ride and fantastic interior comfort. But to become a Which? Best Buy, it must also offer reliability and reasonable running costs.

Rather than Rolls-Royces or Bentleys, we focus on more attainable luxury models such as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and S-Class, the BMW 5 series and 7 Series, and the Audi A6, A7 and A8. And then there are the homegrown Jaguar XF and XJ, and the groundbreaking electric Tesla Model S. 

Considering most of these extravagant cars cost over £40,000, you'd expect them to be universally excellent. Sadly, that's not the case. 

Awful fuel economy, poor handling and sub-standard boot space are just a few of the problems that separate the best luxury cars from the worst. We've included three models that exhibit these traits and more, so you know which to avoid.

Want to know which luxury car you should buy? Below are the best luxury cars, both new and used. Scroll down further to find the ones that aren't.

Which? members can log in to see the luxury cars we recommend. If you're not already a member, take out a £1 trial to unlock this table and all our online reviews - including our expert car reviews.

Best new luxury cars

BMW 7 Series (2015-)
Typical price £61,315
Brand score 83%
Reviewed May 2015
Best Buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
5 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

A beautifully crafted limousine that will appeal to owner-drivers as well as those lucky enough to be in one of the back seats. It's high-performing, safe and ultra-comfortable, with all the equipment you could wish for.

BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe (2012-)
Typical price £57,209
Brand score 81%
Reviewed Jun 2012
Best Buy
Driving stability:
5 out of 5
Ride quality:
5 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

Impressively quick, with sharp-yet-safe handling and refined, too. This sleek four-door gets it right on almost every level and is a deserved Best Buy. It's really only a four-seater, but it's spacious for four adults and has very well designed seats.

Audi A7 (2010-)
Typical price £42,758
Brand score 79%
Reviewed Nov 2010
Best Buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
5 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This stunning five-door luxury coupé is packed with technology and offers one of the smoothest rides we've ever experienced in a car.

Best used luxury cars

Lexus LS (2007-2012)
Typical price £10,958
Brand score 82%
Reviewed Jan 2007
Best Buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
5 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

If you want a car that's like a home away from home, this could be ideal. An executive cruiser that is spacious and opulent, with an impressive amount of standard equipment.

BMW 5 Series (2010-2017)
Typical price £11,550
Brand score 79%
Reviewed Mar 2010
Best Buy
Driving stability:
5 out of 5
Ride quality:
5 out of 5
Model reliability 3-8 years:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This popular luxury saloon is very good to drive, whether you opt for a petrol or diesel engine. The diesels are frugal but not quite as inspiring as the petrol versions. The handling and steering are top-drawer. The only real gripes concern visibility and an interior that can be daunting to get used to.

Lexus GS (2005-2011)
Typical price £4,685
Brand score 78%
Reviewed Apr 2005
Best Buy
Driving stability:
5 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

Quiet, refined and solidly built, this remarkable car has a fantastic reliability record, making it an ideal used car.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class (2006-2013)
Typical price £10,631
Brand score 77%
Reviewed Mar 2006
Best Buy
Driving stability:
5 out of 5
Ride quality:
5 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This outstanding car is one of the most recognisable luxury drives on the road. Stunning looks, a spacious cabin and a wealth of technology mark it out as one of the best cars available.

BMW 5 Series (2003-2010)
Typical price £3,760
Brand score 76%
Reviewed Apr 2002
Best Buy
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
5 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This is a Which? Best Buy thanks to its impressive array of talents. It drives in a very agile manner, thanks to suspension that's well balanced: both cushioning and sporty. The refined, powerful engines and smooth gearboxes work seamlessly, too. Inside, everything is well laid out.

Mercedes-Benz CL (2007-2014)
Typical price £18,266
Brand score 75%
Reviewed Mar 2007
Best Buy
Driving stability:
5 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive

This model's ride/handling balance is superb, offering a near-perfect blend of comfort, precision and safety. Refinement is also excellent - this is an exemplary Best Buy luxury car. There's plenty of space for two people and their luggage but rear passengers will find things tight.

Not seen the car for you? Browse all our luxury car reviews

And here are the luxury cars to avoid

Luxury cars should be without compromise; flawless and desirable with comfortable, lavish interiors overflowing with the latest technology. All those frills and high-quality materials don’t come cheap, which means many luxury cars will normally cost over £40,000. So you want to make sure you’re spending your money wisely.

No aspect of a luxury car should be overlooked and, when done right, they should be nigh on perfect.

Despite costing a small fortune, some luxury cars don’t fit the mould. Luxury equals space and most models will be comparable to large cars in size. But we’ve found cars with small boots you won’t have a hope of squeezing your golf clubs into.

It’s not just the look and feel of the car that should be luxurious - it needs to be effortless to drive, too. Unresponsive steering that means you need to make many small adjustments to keep the car straight is far from effortless and no fun either. Driving a luxury car should be a pleasure, but some models we’ve tested make it feel like a chore and that’s not what you pay a premium for.

Some luxury cars manage over 50 miles to the gallon. Others can't get over 25.

After spending so much money, long-term fuel costs might not be a huge concern, but you can have your cake and eat it. If you choose the right model, you can have excellent performance and fuel economy. Some luxury cars manage more than 50 miles to the gallon - others can’t get over 25.

These are the cars that didn’t come close to meeting our expectations of what a luxury car should be.

Luxury cars to avoid

Volvo S80 (2001-2016)
Typical price £1,114
Brand score 63%
Reviewed Jun 2006
Driving stability:
5 out of 5
Performance:
5 out of 5
Seat comfort:
5 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
Seat space:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

This long-lived luxury car isn’t as smooth to drive rivals, thanks to a gearbox that lets you know it’s working hard when you’re moving up through the gears. It’s not especially attractive either – somewhat dull when put next to the competition.

Jaguar XF (2016-)
Typical price £30,204
Brand score 58%
Reviewed Oct 2016
Driving stability:
4 out of 5
Performance:
4 out of 5
Seat comfort:
4 out of 5
Ride quality:
4 out of 5
Seat space:
3 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

This car isn’t a Don’t Buy, but when it comes to luxury models, expectations are understandably high and this executive saloon didn’t impress us as much as some rivals. Several niggles hold it back, including unsupportive rear seats, poor rear visibility and pricey options. Owners have reported a number of reliability issues, too.

Volkswagen Phaeton (2003-2015)
Typical price £4,692
Brand score 57%
Reviewed Jun 2003
Driving stability:
5 out of 5
Performance:
5 out of 5
Seat comfort:
5 out of 5
Ride quality:
5 out of 5
Seat space:
4 out of 5
On sale date:
Member exclusive
Boot space with seats up (litres):
Member exclusive
Combined mpg (best measured):
Member exclusive
CO2 emissions (best measured):
Member exclusive

This manufacturer isn’t known for its luxury cars, but this car was an admirable attempt at making an upmarket model that cost less than its premium rivals. Luxury cars should be smooth motorway cruisers, but this one is a bit too bumpy and its huge size means it’s expensive to run too.

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