What Makes a Luxury Car? Market Definitions Are Changing
It used to be that you could count the manufacturers of luxury cars on one hand; now it appears most auto makers offer models that either qualify or are being marketed as such. Take your pick – whatever your budget, from Kia to Mercedes, it appears that there is a luxury car for just about everyone, and even luxury cars are making the crossover into the mainstream. Time was that one of the most defining characteristics of a luxury car was its size, but now currently the largest growth in the ‘luxury car’ market is in downsized models.
Traditionally known as luxury brands, Mercedes and Kia have had to contend with Japanese entries to the market in the form of the Acura and Lexus. Even the more middle-class maker Hyudai has luxury market aspirations with the introduction of its new premium auto, the Equus. Ford, Chevrolet, and others routinely offer their mid-range autos with such luxury touches as leather and high-tech audio and infotainment systems.
Larger sedans such as the S-class cars continue to have their appeal, but their share of the luxury car market is slipping. Exploding technologies as well as economies of scale in manufacturing are driving down the cost of production, but at the same time economic pressures from the buying public on auto makers are forcing the cost of once-premium option packages and even entire model lines downward. Discerning buyers are seeking out more luxurious touches even when car shopping on a tight budget, and auto makers are scrambling to get on board with the trend. Hence the appeal of the ‘luxury’ Kia and Ford’s promise of a democratic ‘luxury-for-the-masses’ philosophy.
It appears that what makes a car a luxury model is a state of mind, apparently that of the owner. Though certain touches such as leather and Bose speakers help, when it comes right down to it, luxury is in the eye of the beholder.
Whether you’re driving a leather-trimmed Kia or a BMW around Minneapolis area roads, make sure you preserve its luxurious good looks with protective products such as clear auto bra, windshield treatment, and Scotchgard interior stain protectants.
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