5 sweet luxury cars under $35,000

Luxury without the hefty price tag

Luxury without the hefty price tag

Luxury needn’t cost a lot when it comes to buying a new car. Sure, you can spend $50,000 or $60,000 for that high-end model that you have always wanted. But there are new cars out there costing much less that offer plenty of luxury, comfort and high-tech gadgetry.

Here are five of Bankrate’s favorite new cars, none from a luxury brand, that can make you feel like a million bucks for thousands less than those “luxury” sedans. All prices are before delivery charges.

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2011 Buick LaCrosse CXS

2011 Buick LaCrosse CXS

Price: $33,265

Totally redesigned for 2010, the LaCrosse not only offers better handling and more performance than the previous version, it also is much more upscale. Its new 280-horsepower, 3.6-liter, V-6 engine is powerful and fuel-efficient.

Designed in General Motors’ Chinese design studio, the cabin screams “luxury car.” Most striking is the nighttime soft ambient blue lighting. The leather interior with wood-grain accents also features full-power accessories, heated and ventilated front seats, rear parking sensors, auto-dimming heated outboard mirrors, six air bags, and a wood-grain steering wheel with audio controls. It also offers keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, power rear-window shade, OnStar security, Bluetooth connectivity, USB port and auxiliary input, and an 11-speaker Harmon/Kardon surround-sound audio system with satellite radio. It rolls on 18-inch alloy wheels and has electronic stability control.

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2011 Ford Taurus Limited

2011 Ford Taurus Limited

Price: $31,770

Re-establishing the Taurus nameplate, Ford redesigned this large sedan for 2010. Its distinctive exterior wraps around a roomy, comfortable and quiet cabin. A 263-horsepower, 3.5-liter, V-6 funnels output through a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting capability. By EPA estimates, fuel economy is a healthy 18 mpg city/28 mpg highway.

A generous rear-seat area provides plenty of room to stretch out in this luxury car. The trunk is positively huge. In addition to leather seating, the interior provides 10-way power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, full-power accessories, auto-dimming rearview mirror, tilt-telescoping steering wheel with paddle shifters and audio controls, and a seven-speaker audio system with a six-disc, in-dash CD player, satellite radio, auxiliary input and MP3 integration. Also standard is Ford’s intuitive Sync electronics interface offering voice command of system controls, Bluetooth cell phones and MP3 players.

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2010 Hyundai Genesis 3.8

2010 Hyundai Genesis 3.8

Price: $33,000

The most negative thing you can say about the Genesis is that Hyundai historically hasn’t been associated with luxury. However, this sedan represents Hyundai’s best effort at a luxury car. Although Genesis doesn’t offer the cachet of a luxury brand, its high level of civility, amenities and performance challenge models from more established near-luxury cars.

A 290-horsepower, 3.8-liter, V-6 drives the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting capability. Its roomy cabin is furnished for five with leather seating. Other standard features include full power accessories, keyless entry and ignition, heated power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls and eight air bags. It also offers a seven-speaker audio system with CD player, satellite radio, USB port, auxiliary audio input and MP3 integration.

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2010 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV

2010 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV

Price: $33,410

Arguably the sportiest of this short list, the Nissan Maxima combines athletic performance with a healthy dollop of luxury. The passenger experience is top-notch, yet drivers appreciate its sports car-like handling and aggressive acceleration. A continuously variable transmission, or CVT, hustles output from the 290-horsepower, 3.5-liter engine to the front wheels. It will reach 60 mph from a standstill in just over six seconds.

Fuel economy is on par with peers on this luxury car list. Five adults can comfortably fit in the leather-appointed interior. An impressive standard features list includes dual-zone automatic climate control, full power accessories, keyless entry and ignition, power-adjustable front seats, a trip computer, tilt-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, power sunroof and auto-dimming rearview mirror. It also offers Bluetooth connectivity, a nine-speaker, Bose-infused audio system with an in-dash, six-disc CD player, satellite radio and auxiliary audio input.

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2011 Toyota Avalon

2011 Toyota Avalon

Price: $32,245

Toyota freshened the Avalon for 2011 with new front- and rear-end tweaks. What it didn’t change is this sedan’s cavernous cabin that can seat five adults in total comfort. Despite its size, it earned an EPA-estimate of 20 mpg city/29 mpg highway. This is achieved by a 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter, V-6, pushing its production through a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting capability to turn the front wheels.

Passengers are treated to a smooth, quiet ride in this luxury car. In addition to the cabin’s gobs of space, other highlights include leather seating, a redesigned dashboard, six air bags, reclining rear seats, full power accessories, dual-zone automatic climate control, tilt-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, and an electrochromic rearview mirror that cuts down on glare. It also offers Bluetooth connectivity, a nine-speaker audio system with CD player, satellite radio, USB port, auxiliary audio input and MP3 integration.

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