Luxury cars have always played a marginal role in the market compared to more affordable family cars, yet there’s a luxury vehicle in almost every segment conceivable. Despite the fact luxury cars range from compact to flagship these days, they only make up about 6% of the U.S. car market as a whole. Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, and BMW lead the sales in the U.S. among luxury car brands with more than 300,000 units pushed per year, while Audi comes in fourth with north of 200,000 models sold. Demand for small luxury cars has dropped together with demand for luxury SUVs and flagship full-size cars. At the same time, it has increased for mid-size cars, all remaining crossovers and SUVs (especially mid-size ones), and premium sports cars. But what is the best luxury vehicle 2018 has to offer?
To each his own would probably be the most diplomatic of answers. Then again, diplomacy isn’t really our forte. That’s why we’ve consulted a number of prominent auto industry-related sources in order to compile this list of 10 luxury vehicles we deem the best. While finalizing the scores, I’ve decided to limit the list to one model per manufacturer. Otherwise, it would be heavily populated by Germans and I would be forced to use words like beschleunigung, allradantrieb or Auspuffkrümmer. And I hate using words like beschleunigung, allradantrieb and Auspuffkrümmer. Joking aside, the 10 following vehicles are some of the best luxury cars in the world right now.
If you’re looking for newer rides we’ve now released the Best 2020 Luxury Cars.
Which 2018 Luxury Cars Live Up To The Hype?
10. Tesla Model S
The 2018 Tesla Model S isn’t just the EV automaker’s premium model in terms of refinement. It’s also their premium model range-wise. Four different battery packs and even more models are currently available. 60 kWh, 75 kWh, 90 kWh, and 100 kWh batteries deliver between 218 and 315 miles of range (89 to 104 MPGe) which is certainly class-leading at this point. Especially considering the network of rapid chargers that grows bigger by the day. And, with the Tesla Model S, they’re free to use. Moreover, the Tesla Model S also delivers unparalleled performance to boot. The P100D with Ludicrous Mode accelerates to 60 mph from standstill in less than 3 seconds. It also costs $134,500 before the incentives, though, whereas entry-level models start from the $68,000 mark.
The 2018 Tesla Model S might not be the most exquisite of luxury cars when it comes to interior refinement. That’s only due to its minimalist nature, though. It might be somewhat bland on the inside, but its tech savviness doesn’t come in question. The huge 17-inch infotainment screen which you’ll have a hard time getting to know is a proof of that statement. And I don’t even have to mention the expensive Tesla Autopilot. Nor the abundance of high-tech safety gear which, to be fair, is mostly optional. Love it or hate it, Tesla’s premium sedan easily offers much more than most of its luxurious competitors. And often for less money as well. But often doesn’t have to mean always.
9. BMW 7 Series
The largest of the BMWs is, naturally, the most expensive, but also offers the highest level of refinement. Not only that, its wide range of powertrains covers everything from four to twelve cylinders. The 2.0L turbo four can only be found in hybrid 740e models, though, where it makes 322 horsepower with help from electric motors and a 9.2 kWh battery pack. The base gasoline 740i models get the 3.0L turbocharged straight-six with 320 ponies. A 4.4L twin-turbo unit from 750i models is responsible for that unmistakable V8 grunt, while top-of-the-line performance belongs to the M760i and its 6.6L V12. V8 and V12 yield 445 and 601 horsepower, respectively. Even that’s not the end, though, as the Alpina B7 units also squeeze out 600 ponies, albeit from the smaller 4.4L twin-turbo V8.
Of course, the BMW 7 Series’ prices aren’t exactly their most popular aspect. The Alpina B7 models cost at least $139,000, while an entry-level 740i unit starts at around $83,000. Problem is, even the most affordable of BMW 7 Series sedans will quickly become extremely expensive thanks to numerous overpriced options. Options like driving assistance aids, four-wheel steering, and even Apple CarPlay, which really should be included from the get-go considering the 7 Series’ hefty price tag. Not only is the BMW 7 Series stylish, plushy, tech-savvy and powerful, it also handles extremely well for a car of its size. Then again, who would have expected a different outcome from the Bavarian automaker’s flagship model?!
8. Bentley Bentayga
The fact the Bentayga is Bentley’s very first SUV doesn’t hinder it from also being one of luxury automaker’s best vehicles overall. The 2018 Bentley Bentayga offers extremely fine control, an entirely new feel of the interior and impeccable performance that only a W12 engine can offer. The 6.0L twin-turbo unit generates a whopping 600 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. Of course, all that power makes it extremely thirsty as well. 15 mpg combined is all you’re going to get from it. Then again, I don’t think that people who are ready to drop more than $200,000 on one will be troubled by that too much. And if they are, Bentley is planning on introducing a plug-in hybrid version of the SUV somewhere down the line.
As you can imagine, the Bentayga doesn’t lay all of its cards on performance. 4 seconds to 60 mph is impressive indeed, but far from enough to justify the $200,000 plus price tag. Instead, the Brits (or should I say Germans) have put a major emphasis on interior luxury as well. Not only is the Bentley Bentayga furbished with the finest materials in the industry, it also offers the latest tech features galore. Wood trim, premium leather, a panoramic sunroof, 8-inch touchscreen – they’re all standard. Of course, even the Bentley manages to reserve some of the well-known optional equipment space which makes it even more expensive. Optional packages are aptly named City, Touring, Event, All-Terrain, Activity, and Sunshine. Even the pickiest of drivers should be able to configure the Bentley to their liking with a little help. As for the $450,000 plus Mulliner edition Bentayga, let’s just not even talk about it.
7. Audi R8
Audi’s sumptuous sports car is both an exotic and a luxury car. While most Audis strive to offer a well-balanced amalgam consisting of performance and luxury bits, the R8 definitely favors the former. Yet, the 2018 Audi R8 is still more than a comfortable daily driver despite being performance-oriented. And that’s quite a feat considering it develops as much as 610 horsepower of pure, linear power in its most opulent V10 Plus form. Base V10 models, on the other hand, make do with “only” 540 ponies thanks to the same 5.2L V10 mill with dual injection. They’ll take you on a trip from 0 to 60 mph in between 3 and 3.5 seconds, respectively. What’s best about it, though, is the fact that the R8 is benevolent and forgiving. It won’t try and kill you even if you take the corner on with more momentum than you’re supposed to.
Sadly, every Audi R8 comes with a 7-speed dual clutch automatic with no manual transmission in sight. As far as the available tech goes, though, the R8 doesn’t look bad at all. Despite being a lightweight sports car, the R8 still sports numerous comfort and tech goodies like 18-way power-adjusted and heated sports seats, a 550-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system with 13 speakers, and even optional diamond-stitched leather upholstery and carbon fiber accents. It might lack the premium extras of larger cars, but it wasn’t built with them in mind anyway. Performer through and through, the 2018 Audi R8 costs $165,000 in its base variant and $194,500 in Plus form. That’s the coupe, anyway. The Spyder convertible is also available, and it costs $177,000. However, the Spyder doesn’t come with the stronger powertrain setup.
6. Genesis G80
Hyundai might have withdrawn the Genesis from their lineup a while ago, but only in order for it to ascend to new heights by elevating it to a brand of its own status. The Korean luxury car goes under the names of G80 and G90 these days with the former being an intermediate and the latter serving as the brand’s flagship. Although they’re quite similar in design and the list of features they offer, the smaller of the two has a starting price almost $30,000 lower. In fact, for just shy of $42,000, the Genesis G80 is the most affordable intermediate luxury car on the market. And, its list of standard features is more than impressive. The G80 enjoys an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation and Apple/Android connectivity, heated front seats, and a rearview camera – all included from the get-go. So does forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, and rear cross-traffic alerts.
The G80’s performance isn’t as stellar as its list of features, but it’s very good nonetheless. The 3.3L twin-turbo V6 with 365 horsepower is smooth and powerful. It’s also quite expensive since it raises the price tag by almost $15,000. The base 3.8L V6 makes do with 311 ponies – it’s not particularly sporty, but it does the job admirably. Finally, there’s also a strong 5.0L V8 in the mix which generates 420 horses. All are tied to 8-speed automatics. The 2018 Genesis G80 is smooth and comfy regardless of engine choice, but it’ll never be fun to drive. It handles like a drunk heavyweight. Still, the G80’s positives greatly overshadow the negatives. The Koreans throw a 5-year/60,000-mile limited warranty and fantastic 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty into the mix as well.
5. Jaguar F-Type
The F-Type is another sports car with the pretension of being the best luxury vehicle 2018 has to offer. As we’ve become accustomed to seeing from Jaguar, the F-Type is stylish, refined, and lots of fun. It offers a smooth ride, handles like a charm, and doesn’t fall behind in the performance category either. In fact, the trio of engines available with it ranges from good to great. New for 2018, a 2.0L turbo four starts off with 290 horsepower. It does sound a bit odd at times, but no one can deny its kick. The 3.0L supercharged V6 can be tuned to a trio of different songs. The new car delivers either 340, 380, or 400 horsepower and lower outputs can even be had with a 6-speed manual. Finally, the top-of-the-line is reserved for the F-Type R and SVR models and their 5.0L supercharged V8 powerplant – an engine that delivers 550 or 575 horsepower respectively.
While entry-level F-Types start from $60,000 for the coupe and $63,000 for the convertible, the ultimate F-Type SVR costs $125,000. There’s very little going wrong with the British luxury sports car aside from its high price tag; even its fuel economy is fine. At least with the turbo four, which returns 26 mpg combined. The list of available comfort and tech features is long enough, and safety gear is rich as well. Forward collision warnings, lane departure warnings, automatic emergency braking, and active lane control are all standard. The F-Type truly deserves to sit atop the British automaker’s lineup in our book.
4. Porsche Panamera
If there’s a luxury car with more trims to choose from than you can imagine, it has to be the Porsche Panamera. The German automaker’s oddball comes in two different body styles, has three different petrol engines (two of which have their own hybrid iterations), and a total of 16 trim levels. The base Panamera and Panamera 4 models are powered by a 3.0L turbocharged V6 that’s good enough for 330 horsepower. Next in line are the 4S models with their 440-hp 2.9L twin-turbo V6s. Finally, Panamera Turbo units sport a 4.0L V8 that develops 550 ponies. The last two engines, as mentioned above, have their own hybrid spin-offs worthy of 462 hp and 680 hp respectively. Regardless of the chosen model and powertrain, an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic PDK transmission can’t be avoided.
Apart from the ultimate performance, the Panamera also offers the ultimate refinement, of course. Lavish and comfortable inside, Porsche’s oddball sedan also costs more than most common vehicles out there. Base models start from $85,000, whereas the top E-Hybrid Turbo model cost as much as $195,000 – and those are prices without any options. As you’d expect, the Germans always find a way to make their cars even more expensive. Aside from that, there’s hardly anything wrong with the 2018 Porsche Panamera. At least as far as major flaws go.
3. Rolls Royce Ghost
No list of luxury vehicles would be complete without a Rolls Royce in it. The British brand is the only true luxury automaker that has survived the great depression and somehow lived to tell its tale. It’s been telling it for decades now without showing any signs of stopping. The 2018 Rolls Royce Ghost is instrumental in that story. This opulent luxury car is a part of Rolls Royce’s new strategy. It’s aimed at a new generation of luxury car buyers that tend to actually drive their cars instead of sipping drinks on the rear seat. Given how comfortable and powerful the Ghost is, that doesn’t really come as a surprise.
Rolls Royce’s full-size sedan is powered by BMW’s 6.6L twin-turbo V12 mill that easily develops as much as 563 horsepower and 575 pound-feet of torque. The Ghost might be a 5,500-pounder, but its acceleration is smooth and effortless thanks such a powerful motor. Mentioning all the details its owners will encounter inside would simply take too much time. Compared to the rest of the list, the Rolls Royce Ghost is simply in a league of its own when it comes to interior refinement. The German-owned British company especially prides itself on the Bespoke Audio System which they dub the finest audio system in automotive history. All that comes at a price, however. A price that starts north of $300,000.
2. Land Rover Range Rover
The Range Rover sits atop the illustrious Land Rover lineup as brand’s most luxurious SUV. It’s available in two wheelbase lengths with entry-level models ranging from $87,000 to $177,000 and long wheelbase models costing between $109,000 and $208,00. As you can imagine, The 2018 Land Rover Range Rover offers a luxurious interior bolstered by quite a large set of features for that kind of money. What’s more, thanks to its advanced variable-ratio electric power steering, independent suspension and adaptive air dampers, the most expensive of Landys offers a truly imposing ride and handling both on and off-road. After all, Land Rovers have always had that particular reputation of being some of the best off-road vehicles around.
The powertrain lineup is fitting of a luxury SUV. The base engine already develops 340 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. If this base 3.0L supercharged V6 doesn’t cut it for you, options include a corresponding displacement turbodiesel V6 with 245 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque, and a 5.0L supercharged V8. The V8 makes 510 ponies in Supercharged and Autobiography trims, and 557 ponies in the SV Autobiography models. Needless to say, safety is also superlative with surround-view cameras and automatic emergency braking being standard from the get-go. Apart from exorbitant price tags of Range Rover’s top models, one of the biggest British automotive exports doesn’t really have too many downsides.
Like it was the case with the Rolls Royce, no list of best luxury vehicles is complete without the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. An epitome of luxury, invention and performance, the S-Class stands out as arguably the most important Mercedes-Benz of all. Whether a sedan or a coupe, the S-Class is extravagantly expensive. Sedans do come slightly cheaper, starting from just shy of $90,000. The S560 adds $10,000 to S450’s price and comes with a 463-hp 4.0L twin-turbo V8 instead of a 362-hp 3.0L twin turbo V6. Finally, the AMG S63 and the AMG S65 deliver the ultimate expression of the German automaker’s force. They’re powered by a 603-hp 4.0L twin-turbo V8 and a 621-hp 6.0L twin-turbo V12, and they cost $147,500 and $229,500 respectively. As far as coupes are concerned, only the AMG S65 shares the same engine with a comparable sedan while adding almost $7,000 to the price tag. The S550 coupe gets a 449-hp 4.7L twin-turbo V8, while the AMG S63 coupe packs 577 ponies thanks to a 5.5L twin-turbo V8.
A colorful selection of powerful engines is only one of S-Class’ strong suites. The best available natural wood accents and premium leather upholstery are another. Then, there’s a prolonged list of standard and optional equipment. Goodies like standard Harman Kardon and optional Burmester 3-D surround sound systems, for example. No need to mention the industry’s finest advanced electronic safety gear bundle. Nor silky smooth air suspension and dream-like ride quality. All in all, the Mercedes-Benz S Class is a rightful contender for the best luxury vehicle 2018 award. It’s always been among the top contenders and it likely always will be.