10 Cars With The Most Luxurious Interiors Under $40k

The phrase "affordable luxury" is, in most cases, a marketing gimmick designed to give an otherwise unremarkable product a sense of exclusivity. However, one of the key markets where it's arguably the most applicable is the entry-level luxury car sector. The best of these cars feature materials and technology that, not too long ago, would only have been found on vehicles costing twice as much, and yet many of them can be picked up for less than the price of the average new car.

A key reason the sector has improved so much over the years is the continued fierce competition within it. Alongside the usual raft of German and American luxury brands, upstart rivals from South Korea have forced the big players to improve their cabins in order to stay competitive. That's great news for buyers: It means that, for those who know where to look, it's possible to get more luxury features than ever — without breaking the bank. There are lots of luxurious cars on the market for less than $50,000, but even with a budget of $40,000, an upscale interior is still within reach.

Kia Stinger

Although it's facing the chopping block after 2024, the Kia Stinger is a great premium alternative to the market-leading German sedans while it's still around. It's also quite a bit cheaper than many of its rivals, with the GT-Line trim starting at $36,690. Most buyers will be primarily enticed by its performance — the base model gets a 300-horsepower four-cylinder engine — but its cabin is also a cut above most other sedans at this price point. It was most recently refreshed in 2022, and comes with heated leather seats and a 10.25-inch touchscreen as standard, even in base trim.

Various packages are also available, including one which adds a power sliding sunroof and premium Harman Kardon speaker system. However, even a modest number of options can push the Stinger's asking price north of the $40,000 mark, so those on a strict budget will mostly have to do without them. That's no hardship, though — even without the extras, the base Stinger's cabin is a great place to spend time.

Buick Encore GX

Fresh for the 2024 model year, Buick's smallest model gets a new, more luxurious trim, and it's available for well within the $40,000 budget. The Encore GX Avenir starts at $33,195, and includes features like the Buick Virtual Cockpit, an all-new infotainment system with a combined screen size of 19 inches. There are also "Avenir" logos embossed in various places around the cabin, including the front seat headrests. Those seats are both heated and leather-trimmed (although, it should be noted, not fully leather), and feature a unique stitching pattern. There's eight-way power control for the driver, and two-way control for lumbar support.

Niceties like a heated steering wheel are also included as standard, as well as various exterior touches to make the Avenir stand out from the standard Encore GX. It's safe to say that Buick has its work cut out for it making the car stand out from its competitors: We drove the previous generation car in 2021 and thought it was overall a bit forgettable. Hopefully, the driving dynamics of the new generation are just as much improved as its freshly launched top-spec interior.

Lexus UX

The smallest and most affordable Lexus in the lineup starts at $36,690 in front-wheel drive form, but it's no less premium inside than the brand's pricier models. The interior was refreshed for the 2023 model year, so no further changes have been made for 2024. Chief among those upgrades is an 8.0-inch standard touchscreen display, complete with infotainment voice control and a wi-fi hotspot. Disappointingly for those on a strict $40,000 budget, many of the best features — like the sunroof, heated front seats, and heads-up display — are options, and they can quickly add up.

Nonetheless, the standard features are still competitive for the price bracket, and still come with the same high build quality buyers expect from a Lexus. SlashGear tested the current generation car in 2021 and found its driving dynamics to be average, with the engine on our tester sounding surprisingly strained when pushed. So, it might not be the best small SUV to drive, then — but at least it's one of the best on the inside.

BMW 230i

Starting at $38,800 for 2024, the BMW 230i is the cheapest option in the 2 Series lineup. The current generation car debuted in 2022 and has remained mostly unchanged since. First and foremost, it's worth pointing out that this is a driver's car, with luxury a lesser priority than the chassis and handling. However, it's still as well appointed as BMW buyers have come to expect. There are four seats, but like most coupes, adults probably won't want to spend too much time in the back.

It's worth noting that BMW's options list can quickly turn a $40,000 car into a $50,000 car. Our tester had over $11,000 worth of options, and adding every available option can push the total even higher than that. However, it's safe to say that, even without all the extras, the 230i's cabin is among the best at this price point. That makes what's already a great, affordable driver's car even better.

Mercedes-Benz GLA

The smallest crossover from Mercedes-Benz is the GLA, which starts at $37,500 for 2023. The German automaker has gained a hard-earned reputation for consistently impressive interiors, and the GLA doesn't disappoint. Like many of the entry-level cars here, the most luxurious features are available as optional extras, and even adding just a few of them will require a budget closer to $50,000 than $40,000. That said, the base-spec GLA is still well equipped, with dual-zone automatic climate control, power adjustable front seats, and twin 7.0-inch infotainment screens.

Mercedes' MBUX interface makes navigating the car's features a straightforward task, and we were impressed with the built-in "Hey Mercedes" voice control when we reviewed the car in 2021. Like all good premium cars, the GLA also supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. While it's a shame that extras like leather upholstery and wood trim aren't included as standard, the cheapest Mercedes still manages to feel like a Mercedes inside, and for that, it earns a spot on this list.

Audi A3

While it won't pack the punch of the S3 we recently reviewed, Audi's base spec A3 still punches above its weight when it comes to its interior. The current generation was launched for the 2022 model year, and brought with it some welcome changes to both the tech and materials inside Audi's most affordable sedan. For 2024, it sports a starting MSRP of $35,400. The base trim gets a 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen and a 10.3-inch gauge screen, along with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

It should be no surprise to find out that many of the most upmarket features are available only through the options list, including some of the safety tech, which seems like an odd choice. Common premium features like parking sensors and blind-spot monitoring aren't available as standard, although on the plus side, some would argue that drivers who prefer a less tech-assisted experience won't be wasting money paying for features they don't use. That cash instead gets spent on premium materials and a high build quality, making the A3 into one of the most refined choices in its class.

Lincoln Corsair

While the 2024 Lincoln Corsair only just squeezes in under budget with a starting MSRP of $38,730, it offers an impressive range of standard features that make it well worth considering. The cabin features aluminum finishes and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, although leather seats are only available on trims above the $40,000 budget. The 13.2-inch standard central touchscreen is larger than many of its rivals, and features Ford's SYNC 4 infotainment system.

Three years of built-in navigation is also included, but after that, it's only available through a subscription. The heated front seats feature adjustable lumbar support for better comfort on longer drives, while heated rear seats are an optional extra. To maximize cargo space, the second row can slide up to six inches forward, or slide backward to give rear passengers extra legroom. The Corsair also features one of the lowest starting prices in its segment, giving buyers room for the whole family to ride in comfort without breaking the bank.

Genesis G70

Hyundai's luxury arm offers a range of compellingly luxurious alternatives to the German and American market leaders, but the only model available for under budget is the G70 sedan. It starts at $39,400 for 2023, and for that, buyers get access to a range of interior niceties that rival some sedans costing five figures more. The car was refreshed for 2022 with upgraded technology, including a 10.25-inch touchscreen that runs a Genesis-specific interface, rather than sharing with Hyundai as previous model years did.

Build quality around the cabin is consistently high, and the overall design is arguably one of the most upmarket in this price point across any segment. Unfortunately, like most of the cars here, there are some compromises: only higher (read: out of budget) trims get full leather upholstery, the sunroof, or the upgraded audio system. However, even a base spec G70 is still very well equipped for the money, more so in fact than many of its base German rivals.


With its starting price of $39,100, the BMW X1 is another entry-level luxury competitor that just about creeps in within budget. Our review of the 2023 model found that the car does exactly what you might expect of a budget-conscious BMW: It offers a slimmed-down version of the brand's excellent cabin, but keeps all the key elements present and correct. That includes the faux leather seats, made from what BMW calls "SensaTec 2.0," and the 10.7-inch touchscreen that controls the infotainment.

Comfort is the order of the day with the X1, although its four-cylinder engine can't quite provide the refinement that beefier mills can. Our reviewer also found the driving assists to be annoying when driving around town, especially the auto start-stop, which was sluggish to restart. However, on cabin alone, the X1 more than holds its own against the competition, even if other BMW models offer a slightly more compelling everyday driving experience.

Buick Envista

While it's mostly out of the question to get a new car with an interior approaching anywhere near luxury for less than $30,000, there's one newcomer that promises exactly that: the 2024 Buick Envista crossover. It shares its underpinnings with the 2024 Chevy Trax, and isn't going to be competing with the rest of the cars here on performance nor overall finish, but the Avenir trim's $29,695 starting price undercuts them all by a significant margin.

There's still an annoying amount of piano black plastic dotted around the cabin, but generally, this Buick does a decent job of living up to its premium promise, given its low price. The perforated leather seats offer both breathability and comfort, and the 11.0-inch touchscreen is both intuitive and simple to use. There are some places where the car's Chevrolet roots show through in the cabin, but that's to be expected at this price point. However, the exterior is certainly not going to be mistaken for a Chevy — with styling taken from the 2022 Wildcat concept, this is arguably one of the best-looking production Buicks for years. Whether it can revitalize the brand's fortunes in the U.S., and appeal to younger customers as Buick is hoping, remains to be seen.