A family member of mine was shopping for a new (used) car recently. A car for going to and from work and occasional outings on the town. The requirements were simple; Leather, heated seats, heated steering wheel, back-up camera, and a sharp design that doesn't look like a Fiat Multipla.
As a car guy obsessed with the sports and super car world, it’s kind of tough shopping and doing research on these cars. My personal philosophy is if the daily car isn't a fun car, it should be as economical as possible. Hence my daily being absolute a bare bones civic. No luxuries. This is important to note if you use any of this for your own personal car searches; I bias towards a mostly functional and economical daily driver.
After scavenging each manufacturer's site for cars that fit the role of an economy “luxury” car, I started searching the used market. Always try and look for cars 1-5 years old when buying used and locate the point at which a majority of the depreciation has been already been eaten. The sweet spot.
2015 Kia Cadenza
2014 Honda Accord Touring
2015 Mazda6 Mazda Grand Touring
2015 Hyundai Sonata Limited
My personal favorite and final recommendation was a 2015 Mazda6. It has all the amenities on the list, with a very clean exterior and interior design, and being a Mazda means it probably has a sportier driving feel than your standard Hyundai. Alas, in the eyes of the buyer, the Mazda6 fell short. The final purchase ended up being a Hyundai Genesis. Coming in at $20,000 more than the cars I thought to be the best fit - there wasn’t much of a fight put up by the contenders.
Although none of my suggestions “won”, there was an important lesson in all of this. I find it pretty incredible that around $15,000, will get you a modern design, leather seats, heated seats, heated steering wheeling, backup cameras and more. If you tried to get all these features a decade ago you would be spending significantly more money. We should all be appreciative of these cars, and what they can offer for such a relatively low cost.