Has the Meaning of “Luxury” Automobiles Changed?

Has the Meaning of “Luxury” Automobiles Changed?

Some key figures in the automotive industry say that the definition of a luxury vehicle has changed. But it’s all about your perspective.

Luxury cars carry prestige associated with their brands, but what happens when modern automakers match those features and install them into everyday automobiles?

Let’s dive into these similarities and differences, discussing what makes a luxury automobile luxurious in this day and age.


What's a Luxury Car


Unconventional Luxury

What makes a luxury car luxurious? Is it the price, the size of the engine, elegant features, new tech, sleek exteriors or a combination of all of these factors?

Back in the 60s, Robert Lutz, former vice chairman at General Motors, observed that a luxury vehicle was defined by its interiors, such as cushy seats, fine wood panels and the latest in driving technology.

These features are commonplace today and wouldn’t be considered a luxury. Many average vehicles today also have cruise control, climate control air conditioning and electronically powered windows. Surely these features can’t be associated with luxury.

However, Lutz also pointed out that luxury goes beyond just car features — such as high-tech navigation, assistance tech, voice control, premium sound systems and a powerful engine. He says that these premium cars provide unconventional luxury, giving customers more than what they perceive to need in any conventional vehicle. This distinction can apply to any era in automotive history.


Features of Luxury Vehicles

The features of luxury cars are quite distinct from regular automobiles. Your daily commuter may have a few similar car design features, but the build quality is where luxury brands stand out.

1. Luxury, Image and Prestige

Luxury cars look fabulous, and the brands they carry are often considered status symbols.

Modern automakers in the luxury line have made a name for themselves, distinguishing their brand from regular, “everyday” cars, such as Honda, Ford, Toyota and Chevrolet. However, some brands like Cadillac from General Motors and Chrysler from FCA are the luxury lines of their respective automotive brands.

You don’t usually see these top 8 luxury brands on the road, which is what makes your head turn when you do spot them:

∙ Mercedes-Benz
∙ Ferrari
∙ Land Rover
∙ Rolls-Royce
∙ Bugatti
∙ Aston Martin

Automobiles from these brands can reflect status or class that you don’t always get with daily drivers.

Sometimes brands even offer rebuilds of classic cars to “re-imagine” the classics. These vehicles can also be included into a luxury or high-grade car category.

2. Technology and Accessories

Now, when it comes to tech features, this is where all car brands virtually come together; the lines that distinguish luxury brands and other cars tend to get blurred. As a result, you can say that these features can no longer be used as the factors that set a luxury vehicle apart from its low-priced counterparts.

There are vehicle models that level the playing field when you check under the hood. For example, you can find a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine in a VW Passat, the same class of engine you can find, surprisingly, under the hood of an Audi A4.

Some engines are specifically associated with luxury car brands. For instance, a V8 engine is uncommon among crossover SUVs and regular passenger cars. V12s and V6 engines are also considered a luxury.

Understanding the mechanics of combustion engines will help you figure out why luxury cars stand out and why specialty cleaners are highly recommended for them. A V8 engine offers more power and speed. This feature allows you to say that it is one of the unique engine-builds for many luxury models.

You’ll find the V8 design under the hood of premiere cars like:

  • Bentley Flying Spur
  • Mercedes-AMG C63
  • BMW M5
  • Audi RS6 Avant
  • Jaguar F-Type

Unfortunately, luxury vehicle models with V6 or V8 engines have been discontinued, such as the Jaguar XF, which used to have a 3-liter V6.

Due to the engine’s high torque and horsepower, you can find some full-size SUVs, pickup trucks and performance cars with a V8 engine. You’ll see them under the hoods of the Toyota Sequoia, Nissan Armada, Dodge Durango R/T and Jeep Grand Cherokee. Nevertheless, this engine is installed in these vehicles more for function than form.

You can say that these SUVs deliver luxury (without the premium price), but they usually cost several thousand dollars more than your average daily commuter. Nevertheless, they add a certain degree of luxury that people can enjoy.

3. Advanced Safety Systems

Government-mandated safety features such as anti-lock brakes, airbags and seatbelts are found in every vehicle. However, advanced safety systems, like the ones recommended by Consumer Reports, are typically considered optional.

It’s known that these safety features are more common in luxury vehicles than everyday cars:

  • Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
  • Lane-Centering Assist (LCA)
  • Rear Automatic Emergency Braking (Rear AEB)
  • Rear Cross Traffic Warning (RCTW)
  • Blind Spot Warning (BSW)
  • Lane Keeping Assistance (LKA)
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
  • Pedestrian Detection (PD)
  • High-Speed Automatic Emergency Braking (HAEB)
  • City Automatic Emergency Braking (CAEB)
  • Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)


Modern automakers have included assistance tech and other similar features in their car design, but when these advanced safety features have been added, you can be sure that the price of the said commuter vehicle will go up.

4. Premium Interiors

Top-of-the-line leather seats and other fine interiors have become somewhat commonplace. However, the materials you’ll find in regular vehicles are usually factory stitched, while those found in luxury vehicles are often hand-stitched.

Luxurious interiors exude an aura of sophistication you won’t find in commuter cars.

5. The Price

The average price of new cars is estimated at $50,000, while used vehicles are at $33,000, on average. Luxury cars, on the other hand, can command prices starting at about $73,000.

Luxury Care Without the Premium Price

The meaning of automotive luxury can change as technology and other features become more available to the general public. And we can expect developments in luxury car design — such as better assistance tech — to become differentiators that set these vehicles apart from the rest.

Nevertheless, each car on the road represents a significant investment, luxury or not. Each requires the utmost care, as well, if it’s going to last!

At Berryman Products, we recommend using the best in automotive care for proper upkeep and maintenance. From de-greasing your engine to repairing and cleaning your precision components and electronics for longer equipment life, our product line has you covered.

Contact the Berryman team today for specific luxury car care insights! Our specialists will be more than happy to discuss your concerns and address your car needs.


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