A silver 2017 Buick LaCrosse is shown driving on a winding city street.

Aesthetically Pleasing and Affordable: Four Cars That Have the Look for Less

With the arrival of a brand new year, many look at 2023 through rose-colored glasses of rejuvenation and optimism. Many people take advantage of this time of the year and consider purchasing a new vehicle. While some contend with purchasing something brand-new or stylish, others are more concerned with practicality and being mindful of cost. Today, we’ll be looking at a subject matter that combines both these schools of thought. While many consumers tend to look for used cars for sale because of the lower insurance premiums and paying less outright, there’s no reason why you have to sacrifice style and aesthetics to do so. The cheapest nice-looking cars come from a broad range of sedans and luxury vehicles. Finding a vehicle that makes an excellent first impression and won’t break the bank in terms of cost is a very real possibility. Come with us now as we shine a light on this topic.

The 2020 Audi A3

For many years, Audi has been the cost-effective option when it comes to the higher end of the European luxury sedan. While the year 2020 might be a sore subject to some regarding some of the events that occurred on the world stage, it was an exceptional year for the Audi A3, which took all of the attributes that one might expect from a fine-tuned piece of German engineering and made it accessible in an affordable package.

At first glance, one sees the similarities in body style with its contemporaries like BMW or Mercedes-Benz. After all, a first impression can make all the difference in the world. Luckily, the exceptional quality that Audi packs into their A3 extends far beyond the exterior. Powered by two turbocharged four-cylinder engines, both 2.0L and offering horsepower amounts of 184 and 228 hp, the A3 has refined and sophisticated handling while also possessing the ability to go from 0 to 60 mph in a mere 5.5 seconds.

As one might expect, the vehicle’s interior is just as stylish and eloquent as the vehicle’s exterior design and powertrain. The interior of the A3 is anchored by an infotainment system that sits atop the dashboard rather than being embedded within it. Style is found below in the form of circular air vents and an eye-catching shift lever. Inside and out, the 2020 Audi A3 has everything you could ask for at an agreeable Price.

The 2017 Kia Cadenza

It might seem peculiar to see an offering from Kia on a list of vehicles that started with Audi, but if you didn’t see the nameplate on the front end, you might confuse this South Korean import as being from across the Atlantic. While production of the Cadenza ceased following the 2020 model year, there are still plenty of chances to scoop up a used model for a reasonable price. And, as we’ll soon find out, the Cadenza had quite a bit to offer in terms of luxury.

2017 was a year that saw the vehicle get a fresh makeover, one that put its style on par with similar offerings from its European counterparts. A smooth aerodynamic body with multi-spoked wheels is enough to catch the attention of anyone keen on style, and looking underneath the hood was just as impressive. Kia equipped their luxury offering with a 3.3L V6 that not only offered drivers 290 hp but a fine-tuned and refined ride that was assisted by the presence of an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Sitting behind the wheel had its advantages as well. Spacious seating with a sloping windshield made for a comfortable experience with more visibility. If you’re able to track down one of the Cadenza’s from an upper trim, a twelve-speaker stereo system, and an eight-inch infotainment screen is the proverbial icing on the cake.

The 2019 Buick LaCrosse

Similar to the Kia Cadenza, which was also included on our list, the Buick Lacrosse was discontinued a few years ago. As with many domestic manufacturers, more emphasis has been placed in recent years on the production of SUVs. With all that said, Buick’s long-standing reputation for producing luxury offerings at a lower-than-average price has long been synonymous with the GM-owned brand. And with 2019 being the Lacrosse’s final ride into the sunset, it went out in unsurpassed style.

Unlike some of the other luxury offerings from across the industry, the LaCrosse offered two powertrain options that catered to both those who favor performance and those who are keen on saving money at the pump. For those who enjoyed some kick underneath the hood, a beefy V6 equipped with a nine-speed automatic transmission was available. And, in a move that attested to GM’s commitment to providing more ecologically friendly vehicles, a 2.5L four-cylinder with an electric motor offered some economic incentives. A combined fuel economy of 29 MPG allowed luxury aficionados to go farther for less.

In an age where the SUV has become the ideal vehicle, the LaCrosse carried the torch for the full-sized sedan, which has gradually become an item of the past, held in high regard by nostalgia buffs. The LaCrosse makes a lasting impression, and a used version can be found for a decent price.

The 2020 BMW 2-Series Gran Coupe

As we conclude our examination of vehicles with that special look for less, we travel across the Atlantic Ocean to one of the most recognized names in German engineering, BMW. The 2-Series Gran Coupe is the perfect example of one of the top-tier brands offering more for a lower cost. For 2020, BMW put an emphasis on a sporty style that took the concept of the four-door sedan and propelled it into a new level of luxury. Its elevated rear end hinted at the brand’s knack for performance, of which there was plenty.

Looking to gain an edge over similar competitors, BMW made AWD and an eight-speed automatic transmission standard, allowing drivers to choose between two distinctive engines depending on which trim level they went with. Both were turbocharged four-cylinders; the standard offered up to 228 hp, the alternative offering 301, with the ability to travel from 0 to 60 mph in a mere 4.2 seconds.

If the specs underneath the hood were enough to pique your interest, sitting behind the wheel is enough to generate excitement in just about anyone. As with many European designs, the 8.8-inch infotainment screen was placed atop the dash. Navigation came standard, as did compatibility with both Apple and Android platforms. However, it was the design of the interior that allowed BMW to flex their muscle in terms of luxury. The contrast of brown upholstery and black trimmings harken back to some of the older designs from decades past and makes the 2-Series stand out as a prize to be sought after.

Experiencing Luxury for Less

You might be curious as to why we didn’t list any prices during our examination of luxury vehicles. The truth of their matter is that between depreciation and the various items that affect resale value, it’s difficult to present this information linearly. The vehicles we’ve listed here are proof that any driver can achieve high levels of luxury and performance and doesn’t have to pay exorbitant sums of money to do so. Now that you know what some of these offerings are like, you can make this year one to remember with a sharp-looking vehicle that will fit your budget.