We recently bought a new Toyota Camry, and compared to our last two cars, a 2004 Audi and a 2006 Lexus, it seems to have every feature and more, despite not being the luxury model. What does a modern Lexus sedan or whatever have that our Camry doesn’t, aside from (presumably) a better and smoother engine and leather seats? I’m talking in general, so no need to get into specific model features - I mean that it’s hard to think of more luxury gear than we’ve already got. Heated seats, backup camera, radar for parking, great sound system with USB, etc… we’ve got it already. What else is there?
Part of it is brand appeal. A Lexus says Luxury. It can be a bit of an ego stroke for some people.
I think you’ll find the Lexus has more deluxe seats. 14 adjustments for the driver and memory of positions. 10 for the passenger.
Other than that you would really need to just compare features right down the line.
Looking at the web page for the current Audi A4 sedan, it features a “virtual cockpit” (including a 3D-style map display integrated into the driver’s display), and a bunch of “driver assistance” features (collision sensors, parking assist, adaptive cruise control, overhead camera view).
Some high end cars parallel park for you.
One feature that my wife’s Corvette has is the ability to remember several different settings for the driver’s seat (height, tilt, recline, etc.) for several different drivers. This means that, if you have several different people who drive the car, each one can have their own personalized seat set-up, and the car will adjust back to your preferred settings at the push of a button.
Seat memory sounds like a good feature. Thanks.
At some point, many of the luxury features trickle down to family sedans and even to the inexpensive compact cars. I think that’s especially true now that many of these features are basically software on a computer chip (like collision avoidance and lane departure warning). Once the software has been designed, what’s the incremental cost of adding it to another million cars?
The overall interior design is a big one. Not just leather seats, but leather with visible stitching. Speaker grilles made from laser-cut aluminum instead of plastic. In general, leather/wood/metal instead of plastic.
You’ll have no spare tire when you buy this luxury auto but it comes with a conveniently located umbrella slot!
It was a great scene in the new comedy Hacks starringJean Smart. Very funny!! Her car gets a flat in the desert. No spare but she pulls out an umbrella then calls for a pick up. Must watch!
Surprisingly there are many automobiles that have no spare!
One word, validation. The luxury cars have much more stringent validation requirements. That means they ride smoother and last longer. They also get the newest technology’s first. Everything about a luxury brand should be at least one step above the top level standard brand. Entire teams of high level executives exist to make sure this happens. Brand line up is a huge concern to succesfull automotive companies.
My 2012 Mustang has no spare tire. Under the floor of the trunk is a can of fix-a-flat and an electric air pump.
Not just seat memory and personal driving settings, the new Corvettes also remember road settings. If you are out on the open road you might like the car lower to the ground. But getting off the main road and the side street could have speed bumps, or flaws in the road heading into your driveway.
You can program these problem areas in the memory and the car will automatically adjust the ride height before you get to the bump.
Aside from electronic features, luxury brands will usually have upgraded interior materials. Better grades of leather, leather dashboard covering instead of plastic (or a better quality of plastic), better quality carpeting, etc.
They may also have more sound isolation material, and better switchgear, giving it that ‘premium’ feel. The paint may be upgraded as well.
But when we are talking Lexus vs Toyota, or Cadillac va Chevy, or Infiniti vs Nissan, the prime reqson for the luxury brand is to enable price discrimination - ie extracting more money from wealthier people for not much more benefit. A Lexus might cost $1000 more to build than the equivalent Toyota model, but they’ll sell it for $10,000 more. If they could figure out a way to charge rich people more for identical cars, they’d do that instead.
Ventilated seats in Lexus though the top Camry may offer them. More soundproofing. The requirement to use premium instead of regular gas though the V6 in top lines are the same. Free car washes - Lexus - plus the dealer may do certain inspection or maintenance items for less (or more! - check carefully). Better coffee and or snacks in the waiting room. Better loaner cars for unexpected maintenance/repair.
IMHO the Camry hybrid would be my car over the Avalon Hybrid or the Lexus 300h in the sedan area. Same with the Highlander Hybrid over the Lexus 450h in the SUV world. The RAV4 Prime is a world beater in the small (actually mid) CUV market.
I just bought a new Toyota Rav4 LE (the base model with no options) and was surprised at the stuff it comes with. Emergency braking to avoid collisions. Adaptive cruise control. Lane assist. Eco, standard and sport modes. Auto headlight dimming. Bluetooth connection to your cell phone so Google maps shows up in the large flat screen display without having to subscribe to a nav system.
The lane assist is quite interesting. If you are driving without the cruise control it beeps as you get close to the edge of a lane and gently turns the wheel back. It is easy to override and turns off when the turn signals are on. If the cruise control is on it gets much more aggressive. It keeps you within a few inches of the center of a lane. It turns the wheel to follow curves. It is strong enough that I turn off this feature (a button press) if the lanes are narrow as it feels like the wind is buffeting the car.
I just learned a new feature today. I knew the car reads speed limit signs and displays the current speed limit in the display. But today I had the cruise at 64 in a 60mph zone and when I approached a police car who had a driver pulled over the car slowed me down to the legal speed limit and when we had passed the cop it sped back to 64. I have no idea how it knew to do that. And like i mentioned, this is their cheapest model
In a lot of ways you’re paying for the brand name, as the top trim of cheaper cars is often the same as a luxury brand. Leather seats and electronic seats are very easy to get in standard brands, as well as audio upgrades. The most expensive Lexus is basically identical to the most expensive Toyota, minus some trim differences, and the sticker prices are pretty much the same.
But yeah, the main expensive features these day are 360 degree sensors, extra computer assists, etc.
The key thing to be aware is that the luxury features of yesterday are the standard features of today. So I would not be at all shocked that you find your 2021 Toyota to be the same as, or better than, luxury cars of 15+ years ago.
In terms of luxury cars now, I recently had a drive with my friend in his $90k electric SUV.
Stuff I noticed:
- Siri-like AI thing. You can tell it everything from playing music to winding down a window and it can also drive (though the maker legally does not claim full self drive).
- HUD: stuff like speed projected on to glass
- Whole roof was glass
- Crazy acceleration for such a big car
There’s probably lots of stuff but that’s all I noticed
Highly unlikely. It will have an engine coming off the same production line as engines for other non-luxury badges from the same manufacturer.
There are only generally three reasons to buy a luxury badged car. The first is to cause people to know you can afford the extra. The second is to get overpriced new price differentiation features that will become standard features shortly. The third is to get overpriced standard price differentiation features like leather and wood trim.
With Lexus you can do a clear comparison on some models. Compare a Lexus ES with a Toyota Avalon. Same platform.
They overlap in price. Many of the features and options are common. But you can spec a Lexus up significantly higher. In general the interior starts at a significantly higher level with nicer design and better materials. So there is a basic difference before comparing features. Also luxury drive and feeling. Sound insulation, suspension and the like. The overall feeling of luxury is there, and the value is arguably not much different to the Toyota, to the point where a fully spec’ed Avalon might be much the same price. Lexus are big on customer experience, and customer support, so that comes into it as well. Different manufacturers have very different reputations about how they treat customers once the deal is done. Some luxury manufacturers and dealers have terrible reputations. Caveat emptor. The thing that sets Lexus apart from other luxury brands is that you get Toyota build quality. Something that puts all the luxury brands to shame.
Not all Lexus models are shared Toyota platforms. The IS, LS, LC for a start.
Companies like Audi also share a lot of the platforms with VW. Especially the SUVs. Heck a Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus are just warmed over Audis. Ok very significantly different engine and drivetrain. But they make the 8 series themselves. The R8 they share with Lamborghini.
Companies like Mercedes Benz and BMW don’t share with others (well MB supply drivetrain to Aston Martin, but that is not quite the same.)
Jaguar use Ford platforms for the cheaper cars but are in-house for others. Land Rover’s Range Rovers are in house. Reliability is legendary, but not in a good way.
Options on a car are where there is a lot of fat. Margins are much greater than on the base car.
Once you get to silly price luxury cars it all gets a bit difficult. A Bentley or Roller is impossible to sensibility compare. Utterly ridiculous levels of performance and interior fit out, individually custom spec’d, ear bleeding prices and eye watering rates of depreciation. The latter tells you the intrinsic value relative to the price premium for the brand name.
Mid range slightly luxury sedans clearly overlap with similar sized cars from luxury brands. In some cases they share platforms and the price premium comes down to higher spec. Once you get to the proper luxury sedan there is no overlap. MB S-series, Audi 8, BMW 7 series, Lexus LS, Jaguar XJ, or any of the sports models. But the big market segment is SUVs and here those that can share platforms again.
A Lexus LX is a Toyota Land Cruiser but you can’t get the Toyota in anything like the same spec.
I thought that this was going to be a discussion of the difference how luxury cars are used versus family cars. After a visit to the local ice-cream shop, a family car might need interior that can be hosed out. A family sedan might have a tie downs for a stroller. A family sedan might have DVD players built into the rear of the front headrest, to keep the kids quiet. For the classic luxury - consider the trope(?) of the busy executive eating from a fold-down table of his Rolls-Royce while being driven to the next meeting.
Then: Look not only at the car, but at the entire owner experience. How are you going to be treated at the dealership when you purchase the car, or have to bring it back in for service or to have something repaired? Or - do you even have to bring the car in? Will someone do that for you?
One luxury brand used to send gifts (umbrella, etc.) to the owner after the purchase.
MANY years ago there was an urban legend (but reported in one of the Detroit newspapers) that it cost GM only $500 more to build a Cadillac versus a top of the line Chevrolet - the price difference was both profit and making sure the owner was happy.