Advantages of pricey cars?

I’m inclined toward basic econobox designs, but while reading an article about the older Mercedes SEC’s, got to wondering what are the main advantages of pricier cars like this the owner’s like so much that it makes it worth the extra price?

  • Paint job better, & stays newer looking longer?
  • Interior detailing? Wood paneling, cloth, leather rather than plastic surfaces?
  • Better quality seats, bigger, more comfy?
  • Heated seats & steering wheel?
  • HVAC system produces more comfortable heating and cooling for the passengers?
  • Engine & trans are more robust & reliable?
  • Suspension system removes the bumps in the road better?
  • Brakes are more robust, stopping feels safer?

My other curiosity about Mercedes is: Why do some models incorporate the airplane-prop logo as part of the front grill, but for other models, the logo is a hood ornament? Is there a reason for that difference? Or is it just the flip of a coin during the car’s design phase?

Luxurious interiors, more power, sometimes better handling and/or better ride. No evidence that engines/transmissions are any more reliable. All options that would have only been in a 1980 Mercedes are now available on a Camry.

Maybe it is just that everything is a little better? Better grade of leather for the seats, better grade of carpeting, a little bigger, etc.

I bought a '96 Lexus es300 for just that reason - take a top of the line Camry, already a good car, and make most things better. Same engine/transmission, but nicer seats and interior, better features, better suspension and tires.

Here’s a comparison test of the time, the es300 came in second to the BMW 3 series.
From the Archive: 1992 Comparison Test of Luxury/Sport Sedans (

I could have bought a Rav-4 Prime plug-in, but after doing a comparison test drive with the mechanically-identical Lexus 450h+, I opted for the more expensive Lexus iteration. The extra cash gave me leather instead of vinyl, wood trim instead of plastic simulated wood, significantly better seat comfort, a better sound system, better paint quality, a lot more “bells and whistles”, much better sound-proofting, longer warranties, and much better handling as a result of the Lexus version’s more sophisticated rear suspension. If you doubt my opinion, here is a video from an engineer who claims to own two Rav-4 Primes, and one Lexus 450h+.

Better quality of everything that the owner interacts with and feels.

Cars built to a price point will sacrifice a lot of things to meet that. Added money gets you better everything and features not on the lower cost cars. Electronic shocks and/or air springs, adaptive cruise control, better stereos, memory 12 way power seats, heated seats, and more.

Test drive a 7 series BMW, Audi A8, any Bentley, top line Lexus, Infinity as a comparison with your current ride. Compare a Chevy Suburban with a GMC Denali… same company, same vehicle, not the same features and not the same price!

Can’t say I have a lot of experience but just with the Acura and old Lincoln. I don’t think the power trains were/are much different at all, but interiors yeah. Parts were certainly more expensive for the Lincoln unless you could fit standard ford parts. The acura ride is anything but smooth with a Toyota beating it hands down. Same thing as far as the paint goes. I color sanded and polished the sides to remove the orange peal on a brand new car, twice.

One thing though is I am treated better at the dealership, which is nice. I don’t ask or complain but they just provide it as a mater of course.

When I was growing up right after WW II, here were some features of pricey cars:

  1. A passenger side sun visor as opposed to just one sun visor for the driver’s side.
  2. Turning signals. I think turning signals may have been standard on Buicks beginning in 1940, but were an option on lesser makes.
  3. Back up.lights.
  4. Windshield washer
  5. Interior lights that came on when the doors were opened.
  6. A horn ring as opposed to a button in the center of the steering wheel
  7. A heater that brought in fresh air from the outside as opposed to a box under the dashboard that just recirculated the air.
    As a kid in elementary school, these were what I thought were luxury features.

Now that adds some context. I remember all those except for the interior light switch. Never heard of that one.

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My first car was a 1954 Dodge Meadowbrook that came loaded, even with the Red Ram V8 Hemi. But what really surprised me was that the Directionals, the Radio, the Heater, and the Defroster were all options and you could have order the car with any one, two, three, or all four as options The Heater and the defroster each had their own controls and their own core. The car could be ordered with just a heater or just the defroster…

I can almost imagine someone who only ordered only the defroster and trying to warm their hands over the defroster vent on a cold winter day…

@bing I owned a bottom of the line 1965 Rambler Classic 550. It did not have door switches to turn on the dome light. It didn’t have back up lights or a windshield washer.

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Each of these “luxury” options from decades ago, are now standard. Each decade adds more to the list. A heater tbat was once and option has become standard AC. Optional windshield washers are now delay wipers with a washer.

Leather used to be only an option on the most expensive cars. Now standard on expensive cars and optional down the line.

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@Mustangman At one time, I considered power sliding doors on a minivan a feature that was not necessary. However, my last two Toyota Sienna minivans have this feature and I wouldn’t have a minivan that didn’t have power sliding doors. I frequently transport older musicians with their instruments and it makes it easier to get them in and out of the vehicle.
My 1947 Pontiac and my 1950 Chevrolet pickup truck did have interval windshield wipers. The wipers were run by a vacuum motor and the interval was controlled by letting up on the accelerator.
One other luxury feature that only more expensive cars had was a trip odometer. Now I think most cars have the trip odometer. My Sienna has two trip odometers.


Speaking of sun visors, I really wish that cars nowadays had two sun visors on the driver’s side, the way that my '86 Taurus did. Normally, I would only use one of those visors, but when driving on curving country roads, it was really nice to be able to block the sun on the side window and the windshield simultaneously.


In 2003 we need a new van. Our old one was a Ford and it had engine problems that took Ford off the list. I looked at GM minivans from Chevy, Pontiac and Olds. They were basically the same van but with trim differences. The Olds had a higher MSRP but much more comfortable and quiet and we bought that one. Olds also had announced the end of the line and had big discounts and a 60/60 factory warranty to entice buyers. That helped make the decision too.

Advantages of pricey cars? :thinking:

Have you driven a modern vehicle with features??? If so and still asking this question, then no one on here will be able to help you figure it out… just saying…

I mostly drive a 2009 5 speed manual with crank windows, and my muscle car has crank windows, but it sure is nice to have power windows when going through a drive through when it is pouring down rain or really cold, as the window generally moves faster with a electric power than elbow power…
But I do miss my CC when I had the Corolla, and I am enjoying the 2004 Infinity I35 that was dads, although I reach over and adjust the volume know on the radio much safer and accurately then the steering wheel controls cause I keep hitting the wrong button and changing stations instead of the volume… lol

Also, I have owned and driven multiple trucks that I would haul anything I wanted in the bed with only one having power windows, but when I drove that 2018 truck with sat radio and radio control buttons on the steering wheel and the amazing shocks and the ride on that 4x4 as well as the 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque with 6 speed automatic that got 18 mpg doing 80mph, I get it now, I put over 4700 miles on it in 8 weeks, loved having the 4 doors also when not work related driving, and the Pitties loved the fold up back seat area also… But I would still put whatever I wanted in the bed…


You point out one good advantage of luxury cars. Their goodies are eventually handed down to the mass-market cars; and the profits generated by the luxury car sales allows the mass market to later be sold at a good value. Win/win. Well, almost a win/win. This product development sequence has a downside of tending to force new mass-car buyers to equip their cars with stuff they actually would rather not have. So there’s a compromise.

As far a leather seats, while it looks good when new at least, I dont find leather particularly comfortable to sit on. For example I attended a super-bowl gathering at a friend’s house, sat myself down on his leather couch. Ok at first, but about 45 minutes in, started to feel a little clammy. Cloth seats are more comfortable for cars imho.

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Yes. But to make the decision of whether the feature is worthwhile, I’d have to know how many dollars I am paying for it, and what I’m looking at cost-wise if it needs repair. You say you like the convenince of electric windows, but do you know how much you paid for them? If you had the option of paying $2000 more for electric windows, or no-extra-cost for manual crank windows, which would you choose?

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George and his electric window fixation…

My beef: mandatory ‘options’ that make the car worse for me, specifically the sunroof. I have no use for it, it adds cost, leak potential, and 100 lbs. on the very top of the car, bad for handling. Most negative, it can eat up headroom, limiting my choices in cars.


The number of those, if the car company did their market studies correctly, will be miniscule. If 97.3% of buyers order cruise, AC, power locks and windows, only 2.7% will be disappointed… Until, of course, they too realize what great features these are. Old f@rts lament the fact that there are no basic, option-free cars anymore but they NEVER buy them.

I agree, if the right cloth is used. The cloth seats in my '85 Merkur were the best I have ever found. They were some kind of wool-titanium (joking) blend that was grippy, warm in winter, cool in summer and showed NO wear after 83,000 miles. No car after that one had seats as good.