Best luxury cars for 2020
By Daljinder Nagra
Article 14 of 16
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.
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.
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The best new luxury cars
Luxury shouldn't come at the expense of reliability or fuel economy. Our rigorous tests ensure you get a luxury car without something to hide.
Best new luxury large cars
Successfully dispelling the notion once and for all that hybrids can't be fun to drive, this enormous hatchback is a serious luxury car proposition. With both exhilarating performance and the potential for very low running costs, as well as superbly finished cabin, it's the car for every occasion.
This luxury car is made all the better for the addition of plug-in hybrid technology. Not only is it more economical overall than the diesel version, but cabin refinement is improved thanks to the whisper-quiet electric motor and battery which also offers reasonable emissions-free driving range. It's an expensive purchase, but you won't be in the least bit disappointed.
This is a performance powerhouse - a saloon car with the performance to embarrass sports car drivers without breaking a sweat. It keeps the huge five-seat interior of the entry-level model and is no less comfortable on long distances. If you're brave enough, this could be all the car you ever need.
Best new luxury large estates
Best new luxury medium and large SUVs
If you’re looking for an extremely well-made luxury hybrid SUV, this model is our highest scoring new hybrid overall. It’s not much of a mud-plugger, but it’s spacious, comfortable and incredibly refined. Tested fuel economy isn't bad for an SUV, especially around town. Factor in excellent reliability, based on our in-depth survey of owners, and it’s a cracking hybrid car.
The epitome of the sports SUV, it's a dynamic masterclass and a very desirable SUV indeed. It drives, stops and corners with an agility difficult to fathom in a fairly large 4x4. It’s also reasonably practical, despite only adequate rear passenger space. If you want an SUV that offers a downright enjoyable driving experience, look no further.
PHEV technology has only improved the already superb cabin refinement and tranquility of this large luxury SUV. It will take five passengers and their luggage in absolute comfort and it's quite fun to drive, too. The potential for very low running costs - not something you can usually say of a full-fat off roader - seals the deal as a Best Buy model.
An impressive luxury SUV, this model successfully presents the best of the brand's well known large saloon cars in a hugely practical SUV body. Aside from some fidget on larger alloy wheels, the ride is smooth, while the cabin is quiet and cossetting. It packs an impressive array of driver assistance and active safety systems, too.
The best used luxury cars
There are plenty of luxury options when buying used, and our experts have selected the very best models on the market.
Best used luxury large cars
This brand has great experience with hybrid technology, and this old generation limousine shows it off to great effect. It’s supremely quiet and refined and returned acceptable fuel economy in our tests, despite the hybrid system being mated to a very large petrol engine. It’s also superbly well-made and backed up by the brand’s bomb-proof reliability record.
Owners of this particular brand are amongst the happiest on the road, with it consistently scoring highly in our annual car survey. This generation of its large luxury saloon is a particularly fine example of the breed; combining sumptuous build quality with an understated and silky-smooth driving experience. It’s so good that it’s beaten far newer and more expensive luxury saloons for overall driver satisfaction.
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.
Its styling certainly divided opinion, but in all other respects this was the best iteration of the model we’d yet seen, upon its launch in 2008. It’s supremely comfy and spacious and handles quite well for such a large car. Petrol engines are thirsty.
Best used luxury large estates
This model gives you the practicality and superb luxury of the regular estate version, enhanced with some mild off-road ability. It won't climb every mountain, but four-wheel drive and a useful increase in ride height means it can go where most normal estates can't.
Best used luxury medium and large SUVs
Plenty of space inside and solid build quality mark this large SUV as a true premium player. Clean design and lots of technology further boost appeal. The comfortable interior means long journeys are never a chore. For a big SUV, it's very easy to drive, if a little dull, and the engines are very capable.
This large SUV drives fantastically well while providing a good level of ride comfort. It has a range of powerful engines, it's extremely spacious for five occupants, and even has a seven-seat option. It's an outstanding example of the luxury large SUV done well, and is a deserved Which? Best Buy.
One of the best on-road 4x4s, with very sure-footed handling, although the ride can get a bit jittery on bad road surfaces. The diesel engines are sweet, refined and powerful, and the six-speed automatic gearbox shifts smoothly. It’s also comfortable and roomy, making it a good choice if you’re buying a family car. It’s got an attractive interior, too.
Its styling may have been controversial but there was no doubting the substance under the metalwork. This model introduced us to the idea of a coupe SUV, and backed its sporty styling with an engaging driving experience, a comfortable ride and refined cabin.
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
This handsome saloon sits at the premium end of the large car market and is excellent to drive. It’s not so excellent for anyone riding in the back, though – the rear of the cabin is cramped, and the boot is too. It’s also performs poorly for reliability. This car isn’t a Don’t Buy, but it isn’t better than the cars it’s aiming to beat either.
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Every car we review is subjected to more than 100 individual tests in a lab, on a test track, and on real roads – and we really clock up the miles, driving around 500 miles in every car we test.
Testing in controlled lab conditions means the results we collect are directly comparable between cars, helping us determine exactly which models are better and why, and helping you find the perfect car for your needs.
And so you know which cars are likely to prove reliable for years to come, we also gather feedback from thousands of UK car owners through the Which? Car Survey, using it to generate detailed reliability ratings for the cars we test.
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