Best luxury cars

MoneySense’s top five outstanding luxury cars based on cost, cachet, reliability and driving experience



From the Summer 2013 issue of the magazine.


Panamera 4S
Nothing says you’ve arrived like arriving in style. And when you really want to make a statement, nothing quite shouts “I’ve made it!” like a finely engineered automobile that can zoom you from zero to hero while immersing you in rich leather and more technology than the International Space Station.

But when you’re about to pay up to six figures for something that spends most of its time in a parking lot or your driveway, you’re entitled to make sure you’re getting the most cachet for your hard-earned cash. That’s why we’ve enlisted some of Canada’s top auto writers and consumer experts to come up with a list of five outstanding luxury cars. One of their more affordable picks will definitely surprise you. Our panel based its rankings on performance, driving experience and, of course, prestige; then it factored in cost of ownership and reliability. Safety was a given in this group because every car north of $50,000 always comes jammed with every possible airbag protection and accident mitigation feature.

Jaguar XJ | $89,000 – $128,000

Though still designed and manufactured in England, Jaguar has changed hands a number of times in recent memory and is currently owned by India’s Tata Motors. For some, it may be hard to reconcile a partnership with the makers of the Tata Nano, the world’s cheapest car. But there’s no denying this big cat still commands double takes when it prowls down city streets. “‘Grace, Space, Pace’ was Jaguar’s motto years ago and is certainly evident here,” says Iny. “The car draws you to stare at it and can’t be confused with anything else.” Wood and chrome abound in the elegant interior and the addition of all-wheel drive makes this Jaguar sure-footed in all seasons. But, Gentile says, reliability is a sore spot for owners, making Jaguar a small player in the Canadian luxury segment. 5th place

AUDI A8 | $89,900 – $172,000

Audi has already surpassed Mercedes in global sales and continues to nip at the heels of BMW. The A8 flagship sedan certainly has the muscle to make a run for the top of our list and buyers seem to think it has prestige in abundance. “The owners I talk to are very happy,” says Bouchama. “It drives better than the BMW and for my money it’s the No. 1 choice.” It’s packed with technological wonders like a touchscreen that lets you enter information by simply drawing the characters with your index finger. The A8 is also a powerhouse of performance with its racing heritage and choice of six-, eight- or 12-cylinder engine. “The styling is blasé but the A8’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 and the incredible Bang & Olufsen stereo are sweet indeed,” says Booth. 4th place

Hyundai Genesis | $39,990 – $53,499

We know what you’re thinking: How on earth did Hyundai, maker of the self-destructing Pony and the (less than) Stellar, make it onto our list of premium prestige cars? Well, it’s all about bang for your buck. “The Genesis is great value for your money,” confirms Gentile. “You’ll find a lot of the same features in its German counterparts for a fraction of the price and the interior is refined, upscale, spacious and comfortable.” However, the Genesis lacks one thing (besides sticker shock) that its competitors possess: cachet. “The car is good, but Hyundai has failed to generate any excitement about its luxury cars,” says Booth. Additionally, Bouchama notes the Genesis is available only in rear-wheel drive, which means plenty of slipping and sliding during our winters. 3rd place

BMW 7 Series | $106,600 – $140,200

Long considered the consummate yuppie car, BMWs are renowned for their performance and handling. “It’s not a driving experience, but a driving adventure,” says Rolczewski. Booth calls the 7 Series “dynamically the best of the bunch.” Still, both experts lament the overly complicated iDrive infotainment system, which Rolczewski calls “WEdrive since you need an engineer in the passenger seat to help explain how it works.” The 7 Series also lost a few points on its cabin and overall looks. “The interior is a tad too Spartan for hedonists and the styling a little ugly,” notes Booth. For value though, he says driving enthusiasts can save some of their nest egg by opting for the six-cylinder, 740Li xDrive, which he declares the best of the lot despite being lowest in price. 2nd place


Porsche Panamera $89,500 – $184,100

This sedan from Porsche packs a triple threat of prestige, power and performance. It may have four doors, but under the hood, the Panamera has what it takes to rocket you down the road like its sports car siblings. “After driving the GTS version I needed a moment alone to recover,” swoons Rolczewski. “The performance and luxury meshed on a level that was cerebral and emotional.” Gentile agrees: “Ride and handling are excellent. It’s an incredibly fun car to drive with instant acceleration.” Iny likes the versatility of the hatchback design and remarked on the ample cabin space and seating for four adults. In terms of styling, the Panamera’s Porsche badge is sure to cause a stir when you pull up. For some, like Iny, the look might be a bit too dramatic, but for Rolczewski it grew on her quickly. 1st place

How we came up with the numbers

Vehicle price range reflects the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (without options or destination charges), from the least expensive to the highest-priced version. Cost of ownership data comes from, converted to Canadian dollars. Remaining scores are based out of 10; the higher the number, the better the value. Reliability data comes from J.D. Power and Associates. Cachet and driving experience are the average scores provided by our expert panel. To obtain an overall value out of 100, 20% reflects cost, 20% reliability, 10% cachet and 50% driving experience.

Expert Panel

Petrina Gentile producer of CTV and BNN’s Car/Business

David Booth automotive columnist for the National Post

George Iny president of the Automobile Protection Association

Mohamed Bouchama executive director of Car Help Canada

Nika Rolczewski automotive columnist for the Toronto Star

3 comments on “Best luxury cars

  1. Having owned an Audi A8L, I can attest to its fantastic build quality and overall enjoyment. From a "Canadian" practicality standpoint, it is perfect for our winters being standard AWD and aluminum (will not rust). However, I am not sure of the point of this article as it appears they just took expensive cars and said these were good choices. The cars in this list are not the most expensive, nor most reliable, nor are they the best value, nor best driver experience. So why these?


  2. You missed the new C7 2014 Corvette! The new Corvette Stingray Coupe will have a suggested retail price of $52,745 and the Corvette Stingray Convertible will start at $58,245 Canadian!!!! Top end with the supersonic engine will be around the $100K mark.


  3. How you can say the Panamara is best value is beyond me. The base price of $89,500 barely covers body, wheels and motor. Porsche is renowned for having a long list of "Options" each one being at an extraordinarily high price. Have there any Panamaras been sold at anywhere near this base price? I doubt it.. What is more it is Plug ugly.
    As far as I am aware Jaguar sorted out its reliability problems back in the early 2000's. I have a 2006 Jaguar S Type R which has been absolutely reliable from the time I took delivery, the only routine replacements being brakes and tyres, probably more as a result of several drives on a race track than from ordinary road use! And now that the XJ and the XF have 4 wheel drive available these are All Year driving cars – important in Canada.
    As you correctly state, the BMW is way too complicated – a sure sign of poor design,
    As for "Value", all these cars depreciate by huge amounts, one has only to review the "Used Car" adverts, even those on the Original Manufacturer's dealers lots, but my next buy will surely be another Jaguar, but I may have to wait a few years before my current Jaguar needs replacing.


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