Best luxury cars 2024 – tested, rated and the ones to avoid

A luxury car should have sumptuous materials, ride comfort worthy of a magic carpet, and a super-smooth engine. Here's our run-down of the top 10, and the one we'd avoid...

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by
Claire Evans
Published17 March 2024

The choice of luxury cars available is as big as the budget you'll need to buy one – ranging from smooth-as-silk executive cruisers to some of the most capable SUVs on the road.

One key thing they all tend to have in common is superb comfort and refinement. On top of this, many offer beautifully finished interiors with high-tech entertainment systems and loads of space for rear-seat passengers. Luxury saloons and SUVs are often run as company cars, so CO2 emissions and fuel consumption are also key considerations.

Luxury cars are laden with all the latest high-tech gadgetry, and our road testers have assessed all this, as well as judging the handling, performance and refinement of each model. They’ve also scoured their plush interiors to ensure they offer the rarefied experience buyers expect. After much deliberation they have decided that the BMW X7 is the best luxury car you can buy. 

Best luxury cars Range Rover Sport BMW X5

To find out why, read on through our run-down of the 10 best luxury cars. You can learn more about each model listed by clicking the link to our full review, or check the latest prices by searching our luxury car deals pages.

Our pick: xDrive40d MHT M Sport 5dr Step Auto

0-62mph: 5.9 sec
MPG/range: 36.2mpg
CO2 emissions: 205g/km
Seats: 7
Boot: 750 litres
Insurance group: 50E
Driving
Interior
Practicality
Buying & Owning

Strengths

  • Supremely quiet and comfortable
  • Incredibly spacious and practical
  • Great infotainment system

Weaknesses

  • There are cheaper alternatives
  • Looks won’t be to all tastes
  • No plug-in hybrid or electric option

You might not be expecting to see the BMW X7 at the top of this chart, but it has more to offer than the lavish accoutrements expected of a prestigious saloon. As well as a plush interior with limo-like space and every new electronic gadget you can think of, the X7 has a commanding driving position and enough room to seat seven people in comfort; these are two things that saloon alternatives, such as the BMW 7 Series or BMW i7, can’t provide. 

Decked out in soft-touch materials and fitted with a massive digital dash and infotainment system, the X7 really has a wow factor. If you go for the optional Ultimate Pack, you’ll also get massaging front seats and four heated seats. 

The xDrive40d's diesel engine remains hushed in most situations, and the Ultimate Pack adds upgraded air suspension and active roll bars, which give the X7 a glassier ride than a Range Rover. It also comes with a four-wheel steering system that makes the BMW easier to manoeuvre around town. 

All these attributes combine to provide the perfect blend of luxury and versatility, making the X7 our reigning Luxury Car of the Year. 

“The BMW X7's Ultimate Pack brings all the necessary kit to make the car a home away from home when I’m behind the wheel.” – Dan Jones, Reviewer

Read our BMW X7 review

Our pick: 3.0 D300 Dynamic SE 5dr Auto

0-62mph: 6.1 sec
MPG/range: 38.9mpg
CO2 emissions: 191g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 647 litres
Insurance group: 48E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Offers lots of Range Rover qualities for a lower price
  • Incredible ability off-road
  • Fantastic range on the PHEV model

Weaknesses

  • Cheaper than a Range Rover, but still very expensive
  • Rivals are sharper to drive
  • Land Rover’s reliability record is a concern

The Range Rover Sport shows that the best luxury car isn't necessarily the most expensive. It offers a lot of what we like about the full-size Range Rover, but at a much more affordable price. That means you get a commanding view of the road, a luxurious interior, a cosseting ride and impressive off-road ability. 

It also handles better than its larger sibling, although it’s not quite as sporty as a BMW X5 or Porsche Cayenne

Our favourite model, the D300, is the more affordable of the two diesel options on offer, but it has plenty of power. Its 3.0-litre six-cylinder V6 engine will haul it up to 62mph in 6.6esc.

And we'd go for Dynamic SE trim, which adds some attractive styling touches to the comprehensive entry-level SE version, which comes with keyless entry, two-zone climate control, a plush leather interior and adaptive cruise control.

“A standout feature of the Sport is the way it lets you look HGV drivers in the eye and see over the top of pretty much any other type of vehicle on the road.” – Steve Huntingford, Editor

Read our Range Rover Sport review

Our pick: 400kW xDrive60 M Sport 105.7kWh 4dr Auto

0-62mph: 4.7 sec
CO2 emissions: 0g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 500 litres
Insurance group: 50E
Driving
Interior
Practicality
Buying & Owning

Strengths

  • Stunning interior
  • Impressive optional 8K cinema screen
  • Extremely comfy for all occupants

Weaknesses

  • Battery range isn’t spectacular
  • Desirable options are very expensive
  • Looks won’t appeal to everyone

Electric cars can make excellent luxury cars, and the i7 is one example of the pairing working very well. It has a lavish, tech-filled interior, very hushed driving manners and an impressive official range of up to 387 miles (depending on the spec).

For those who are being driven, it offers an enormous 31in 8K touchscreen, which lowers from the headlining at the touch of a button, and two supremely comfortable rear lounge seats that have a massage function.

If you prefer to drive, the i7 is a good proposition, too. It can accelerate from 0-62mph in just 4.7 seconds, which is faster than most versions of the Mercedes EQS – although not as insanely quick as any Tesla Model S. Its real-world range of around 300 miles is a little lower than those rivals, though.

“The i7 is the kind of limo that lends itself to being chauffeur driven, and that ’s why much of its enormous, 5.4-metrelong body has gone into providing VIPs in the back with acres of real estate.” – Will Nightingale, Reviews Editor

Read our BMW i7 review

Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Smooth and powerful engines
  • Pillowy ride in Sport and S line trims
  • Superb interior quality

Weaknesses

  • Touchscreen infotainment system
  • Third-row space is better in the BMW X7
  • Entry-level Sport trim misses some important kit

The Q7 has been one of our favourite luxury SUVs since the original version went on sale in 2006. Instead of resting on its laurels, the latest Q7 is a great all-rounder, offering a supremely comfortable ride and excellent agility for such an enormous SUV.

Air suspension comes as standard on all versions of the Q7, so ride quality is good across the board, but if you want to waft along with the most relaxing ride opt for a Sport or S Line version. Indeed, it's the latter which we recommend.

The Q7’s interior is one of the roomiest and plushest of any luxury car, and there is plenty of space for adults to stretch out. It has slightly more leg room than a BMW X5 or Land Rover Discovery and virtually matches that of the Volvo XC90. All Q7s also come with seven seats as standard, but the ones in the BMW X7 are a little more comfy – especially for third-row passengers.

“Even with the leather-wrapped dashboard, flat-bottomed steering wheel and Alcantara roof lining that comes with range-topping Vorsprung spec, the Q7 still looks a bit conservative inside.” – Will Nightingale, Reviews Editor

Read our Audi Q7 review

Driving
Interior
Practicality
Buying & Owning

Strengths

  • Outstandingly comfortable ride
  • Fabulous interior
  • Crushing performance

Weaknesses

  • Astronomically expensive to buy
  • Thirsty engine also makes it costly to run

The smallest of Rolls-Royce's luxury saloons is supremely comfortable, with monstrous performance, serene cruising manners and an exquisite interior. 

It’s powered by a stonking great 6.75-litre twin-turbocharged V12 petrol engine, and has four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering as standard. It’s no snarling big cat to drive, though. Instead it wafts its occupants along almost silently, its standard air suspension ironing out virtually all bumps and potholes. Only when you press your foot to the floor is the silence broken by the gravelly sound of the engine. 

Rivals such as the Bentley Flying Spur, the BMW 7 Series and the Mercedes S-Class offer similarly impressive performance, but none can match the Ghost's truly cosseting luxury. You just need to have very deep pockets to both buy and run one, which makes many of the luxury cars here that much more affordable.

“If you’re the sort of person who’s more likely to shop for a superyacht than at a supermarket, the Rolls-Royce Ghost is the car to have waiting for you at the quay.” – Neil Winn, Deputy Reviews Editor

Read our Rolls-Royce Ghost review

Driving
Interior
Practicality
Buying & Owning

Strengths

  • One of the quietest cars we’ve ever tested
  • Spacious and luxurious interior
  • Great infotainment system

Weaknesses

  • Air suspension and rear-wheel steering available only on pricier xDrive50
  • xDrive40 has a disappointing real-world range
  • Teslas have a better charging infrastructure

As soon as you step inside the BMW iX, there's no mistaking it for anything other than a luxury car. Swathes of upmarket materials have been used throughout the interior, including sustainably sourced wood and pleasingly robust-feeling plastics. 

Being electric, it's also incredibly hushed on the move and offers strong performance, although the real-world range of the xDrive40 model is disappointing at 178 miles. The more powerful xDrive50 has a larger battery and real-world range of 284 miles, which is more in line with rivals, such as the Audi Q8 e-tron and the Jaguar I-Pace.

Designed from the ground up to be a pure electric model, the iX is roomy enough to seat five adults in comfort, and it has lots of useful storage solutions. It doesn’t come as a seven-seater, though.

“The fabric seats that come as part of the £450 Interior Design Loft Pack are very comfortable on a long drive.” – Dan Jones, Reviewer

Read our BMW iX review

Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Fantastic plug-in hybrid version
  • Ride is mostly very comfortable
  • Loads of space, especially in the rear of long-wheelbase models

Weaknesses

  • Overly reliant on fiddly touch-sensitive controls
  • Entry-level diesel isn't as smooth as it should be
  • Mercedes's reliability record isn't the best

Not only is the Mercedes S-Class packed to the rafters with technology, but it’s also a comfortable and exceedingly well-appointed luxury saloon, and one of the best for rear seat passengers. 

The standard air suspension makes it ride more gracefully than a BMW 7 Series, although it’s not quite as adept at wiping out the thuds from potholes as an Audi A8

The S-Class’s interior is certain to impress, too. All versions come with a giant portrait-orientated touchscreen infotainment system, heated front and rear seats, four-zone climate control, eight USB-C ports to keep all of your devices topped up, and a removable 7.0in tablet in the rear armrest.

The S580e plug-in hybrid is our favourite S-Class model because it has a substantial real-world electric range of up to 63 miles and it qualifies for low benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax. We'd also go for the stretched L version, which is standard from AMG Line Premium trim upwards, because it gets you a tad more room inside.

“The S-Class makes use of driver profiles to store all your preferences. These are recalled via facial or fingerprint recognition when you get in.” – Doug Revolta, Head of Video

Read our Mercedes S-Class review

Our pick: 3.0 D300 SE 4dr Auto

0-62mph: 6.3 sec
MPG/range: 38.2mpg
CO2 emissions: 194g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 1093 litres
Insurance group: 50E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Fabulous driving position
  • Fantastic off-road ability
  • Useful seven-seat versatility

Weaknesses

  • Very expensive
  • Reliability is a concern
  • More physical controls for the infotainment would be preferable

The Range Rover needs no introduction, and this fifth-generation model takes all the elements from the previous model and enhances them.

As before, it has a road presence few cars can equal, but now it gets an upmarket interior with improved technology and a largely comfortable ride. It's become more versatile too, with two lengths available – standard and long-wheelbase (LWB), which allows you to have seven seats. 

The diesel versions make most sense for private buyers. Although our top choice, the entry-level D300, is the slowest model in the line-up, it dispatches the 0-62mph dash in a respectable 6.9sec. 

The only cause for concern is Land Rover's reliability record, which is historically among the worst of any car brand. That being said, the previous-generation Range Rover was actually the third-most reliable luxury car according to the results of our annual Reliability Survey. The latest version, however, was too new to be featured.

“Climbing into the driver’s seat after a long day is like slipping into your favourite armchair. It’s supportive, covered in top-quality leather and heats up quickly.” – Darren Moss, Deputy Digital Editor

Read our Range Rover review

Our pick: S8 Quattro Vorsprung 4dr Tiptronic

0-62mph: 3.8 sec
MPG/range: 24.6mpg
CO2 emissions: 261g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 505 litres
Insurance group: 50E
Driving
Interior
Practicality
Buying & Owning

Strengths

  • Extremely comfortable ride
  • Spacious interior and boot
  • Class-leading interior quality

Weaknesses

  • Expensive to run in terms of depreciation
  • Plug-in hybrid has a shorter electric range than the S-Class
  • Dim-witted automatic gearbox

The A8’s blend of performance, comfort and serenity are wedded to a beautifully built, practical and well-equipped interior. In fact, by a whisker, it beats its chief rival the Mercedes S-Class, which shows just how good it is to drive and be driven in.

Like the BMW 7 Series, the S-Class and the Range Rover, the A8 can be had in standard-wheelbase form (ideal if you’re a private buyer looking for the ultimate luxury saloon) or as a stretched, long-wheelbase L model, which provides even more leg room for those sitting in the back. We prefer the A8 L.

Whether you’re sitting in the back or front seats, you can’t fail to notice the sumptuous fit and finish of the A8’s interior. It may not be as flashy or tech-laden as some alternatives here, but it certainly is the most well-heeled.

“Screen-based climate controls look swish but are tricky to use on the move.” – Mark Pearson, Used Cars Editor

Read our Audi A8 review

Our pick: 4.0 V8 S 5dr Auto

0-62mph: 4.5 sec
MPG/range: 21.7mpg
CO2 emissions: 294g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 484 litres
Insurance group: N
Driving
Interior
Practicality
Buying & Owning

Strengths

  • Beautiful hand-finished interior
  • Effortless performance
  • Impressive infotainment system

Weaknesses

  • Gearbox can be laggy around town
  • High running costs
  • Average boot space

Bentley is exceptionally good at producing beautifully built luxury cars that are also great to drive, and with the Bentayga – its first SUV – that continues. It has a great sense of occasion, brilliant refinement and impressive levels of comfort and performance.

You’d be hard-pushed to spot it, but the Bentayga uses the same underpinnings as the Audi Q7, and under the bonnet you'll find that model’s twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine or the tech-laden V6 plug-in hybrid engine. 

That’s where the similarities end, though. The Bentley has a hand-finished interior, and a large infotainment screen that comes loaded with useful features, including wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, real-time navigation and an embedded SIM.

“The Bentley Bentayga S’s freer-flowing sports exhaust does a fantastic job of transforming the character of the V8 engine.” – Neil Winn, Deputy Reviews Editor

Read our Bentley Bentayga review


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And the luxury car to avoid...

Maserati Ghibli

We can understand why you might be drawn to the exotic styling and enticing purr of the V8 and V6-engined Ghibli models, but rivals are a lot better to drive and the plug-in hybrid versions are pricier than rivals for company car tax and running costs. Read our review

FAQs

Which cars are considered luxury models?

Luxury cars were traditionally large saloons that sat at the top of a car brand's range in terms of price and equipment, such as the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class. However, spurred on by the success of the Range Rover, which many view as the first luxury SUV, other brands have followed suit and introduced similarly premium vehicles, including the Audi Q7, BMW X7, and Mercedes G-Class. And there are plenty of pure electric luxury cars around, too, including the Audi Q8 e-tron, and BMW iX.

Which luxury car is most luxurious?

The most luxurious luxury car is the Rolls Royce Cullinan. It has a wonderful mix of traditional and modern design elements, with huge slabs of wood and expertly stitched, soft leather, as well as a BMW-sourced infotainment system that sets the standard for usability. The Bentley Bentayga isn't far behind, clad in the softest leather and wood veneer, with aluminium air vents and delicate stitching around the dashboard.

What are the luxury car brands?

These days, there are many different luxury car brands to choose from, including Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Mercedes and Volvo. There are several brands that are even more luxurious, too, including BentleyPorsche and Rolls-Royce.

What is the most reliable luxury car brand? 

If dependability is at the top of your list of priorities, we'd recommend a Lexus model because this Japanese brand has been the top contender in the What Car? Reliability Survey for seven years running. In the latest survey, Lexus scored 98.3%, putting it way ahead of the next best premium brand, BMW, which gained 93.0%. Mercedes and Audi lag behind a little – they both scored 89.8% and 89.1% respectively.