Luxury cars often come with sticker shock, not just from the initial purchase price but also from ongoing maintenance and repairs.
However, some models manage to combine upscale amenities with surprisingly affordable long-term costs.
Based on a deep analysis of maintenance schedules, repair data, expert views, and owner experiences, here are the luxury vehicles with the lowest maintenance costs over the first 5-10 years of ownership.
But before that -
How Are Maintenance Costs Calculated?
Maintenance costs include scheduled servicing as recommended by the manufacturer, normal wear and tear items like brake pads and tires, and expected repair costs based on reliability data.
These costs are estimated over the first 5-10 years of ownership. Costs covered under warranty are generally excluded.
Factors like how well the car is maintained and driven, climate and regional labor rates can impact actual costs. But the estimates give a good indication of typical maintenance expenses.
What Impacts Maintenance Costs?
Several important variables determine how much you'll spend maintaining a luxury vehicle over time:
● Powertrain - Conventional gasoline engines have more maintenance needs than electric drivetrains or even hybrid systems.
● Reliability/longevity - Brands and models with reputations for durability have lower repair frequencies and costs.
● Age and mileage - As vehicles get older and pile on the miles, expenses inevitably rise.
● Technological Complexity - Advanced technology and bespoke engineering lead to higher parts/labor charges.
● Parts pricing: Luxury and imported brand parts tend to be more expensive.
● Factory maintenance schedule - Rigorously following recommendations prevent premature failures.
● Regular servicing - Skipping oil changes and inspections allows problems to multiply.
● Repair costs: Brands with higher labor rates and parts prices have higher repair bills.
● Warranty coverage - While under a comprehensive warranty, most repairs will be covered at no charge.
● Individual driving style - Aggressive acceleration and braking wear components faster.
● Accident history - Previous crash damage can require ongoing repairs.
● Location - Maintenance and repair costs are higher in some regions.
While buying a luxury vehicle inevitably leads to higher maintenance bills compared to a mainstream car, making smart choices can help keep you from drowning in bills for repairs.
Best Luxury Car Brands For Low Costs
As an electric vehicle maker, Tesla's models incur lower maintenance costs compared to gasoline-powered rivals. Minimal moving parts, regenerative braking, and lower electricity costs vs gas all help keep their costs low.
With their reputation for rock-solid reliability and cheaper regular maintenance, Lexus vehicles consistently have lower-than-average costs in the luxury segment.
The luxury division of Honda provides value-focused luxury cars. With extensive use of parent company Honda's technology, their models offer affordability and lower costs.
Infiniti sedans like the Q50 offer competitive maintenance costs compared to German rivals in the compact sport sedan space.
We’ll go into more depth of these reasons in the next sections.
Top 10 Least Expensive Luxury Cars to Maintain (At a Glance)
Here are the top luxury cars across segments with the lowest estimated 5-year and 10-year maintenance costs:
Rank Powertrain Model 5-Year Cost 10-Year Cost 1 Electric Tesla Model 3 $1,115 $3,587 2 Electric Tesla Model Y $1,449 $4,732 3 Gasoline Lexus ES 350 $1,556 $5,488 4 Electric Tesla Model S $1,605 $4,566 5 Hybrid Lexus ES 300h $1,643 $5,662 6 Gasoline Lexus IS 350 $1,652 $5,680 7 Hybrid Lexus GS 350 $1,673 $5,721 8 Hybrid Acura ILX $1,889 $7,104 9 Electric Tesla Model X $1,945 $5,723 10 Hybrid Lexus NX 300 $1,962 $7,136
As we can see, Tesla and Lexus models clearly dominate the top positions proving the most budget-friendly luxury cars to maintain. Prioritizing electric and hybrid vehicles yields the biggest savings in the luxury category.
Now, let's look at the lowest-cost models by brand in more detail.
Tesla - Low-Maintenance Electric Luxury
Electric vehicles (EVs) dominate the list of low-maintenance luxury cars, with Tesla models taking four of the top five spots.
The Tesla Model 3 has the lowest estimated 5-year maintenance cost at just $1,115. The higher-end Tesla Model S, Model Y crossover, and Model X SUV round out the top five with estimated 5-year costs ranging from $1,449 to $1,945.
Here are the top Tesla models ranked by 5-year maintenance costs:
Model Powertrain 5-Year Cost Tesla Model 3 Electric $1,115 Tesla Model Y Electric $1,449 Tesla Model S Electric $1,605 Tesla Model X Electric $1,945
Several factors contribute to the low maintenance costs for Tesla EVs:
● Electric drivetrains - Without internal combustion engines, EVs avoid expenses like oil changes, belt/hose replacements, tune-ups, and associated engine repairs. Brake pad replacements are also less frequent due to regenerative braking.
● Advanced technology - Tesla vehicles have extensive self-diagnostic capabilities and can receive over-the-air (OTA) software updates to fix bugs and optimize performance. This reduces trips to the service center.
● Fewer moving parts - The simplicity of electric drivetrains compared to complex gas engines equates to less wear and tear over time.
● Battery longevity - Tesla battery packs last 300,000+ miles with only 22-23% degradation. Replacement costs are spread out over many years.
● Strong warranties - Tesla's 4-year/50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper and 8-year/100,000-120,000 mile battery/drivetrain warranties cover most maintenance and repairs during the initial ownership period.
In addition to scheduled maintenance like tire rotations and cabin air filter changes, unexpected repair costs for Tesla vehicles mostly involve things like windshield replacements, paint scratches, brake caliper servicing, and occasional electronics issues based on owner forums.
But these costs are relatively minor for luxury vehicles.
Lexus Tops the Charts for Gasoline Luxury
Among traditional gasoline-powered luxury vehicles, Lexus emerges as the brand with the lowest projected maintenance costs over 5-10 years.
The midsize Lexus ES 350 sedan has an estimated 5-year cost of around $1,556. The Lexus ES 300h hybrid comes in even lower at $1,643 for 5 years due to its powertrain efficiencies.
Here are the top Lexus models by 5-year maintenance costs:
Model Powertrain 5-Year Cost Lexus ES 350 Gasoline $1,556 Lexus ES 300h Hybrid $1,643 Lexus IS 350 Gasoline $1,652 Lexus GS 350 Gasoline $1,673 Lexus NX 300 Gasoline $1,962
Two other Lexus models also make the list of low-cost luxury cars:
● Lexus RX 350 - $2,093 5-year cost
● Lexus RX 450h - $2,211 5-year cost
Lexus consistently tops surveys and awards related to predicted reliability and customer satisfaction. This stems from rigorous engineering, high-quality components, and shared parts across models.
Lexus vehicles require less frequent repairs on average, and when fixes are needed, costs are relatively affordable.
Common maintenance tasks like oil changes, tire rotations, and brake jobs involve familiar non-exotic materials and procedures.
Another analysis by Caredge found the Lexus ES 350 had the lowest projected 10-year maintenance and repair costs among all luxury sedan models, averaging around $5,488 for that ownership period.
Acura and Infiniti - More Affordable Japanese Luxury
Like parent company Toyota with its Lexus brand, Honda also offers luxury vehicles under its Acura nameplate at a more accessible price point than European rivals.
The midsize Acura TLX sedan has an estimated 5-year maintenance cost of $2,019, while the compact ILX model comes in at $1,889 for 5 years according to data from CarEdge.
Infiniti, Nissan's luxury division, follows a similar formula.
The Infiniti Q50 sports sedan has a projected 5-year maintenance cost of $2,201 based on analysis by CarEdge. This compares favorably to the $3,825 industry average for luxury vehicles.
Here are the top Acura and Infiniti models by 5-year costs:
Make/Model Powertrain 5-Year Cost Acura ILX Gasoline $1,889 Acura TLX Gasoline $2,019 Infiniti Q50 Gasoline $2,201
Factors that contribute to lower costs for Acura and Infiniti:
● Emphasis on routine maintenance - Following factory recommendations for oil changes, inspections, fluid flushes, etc. prevents bigger issues.
● High-quality components - Parts don't need frequent replacement compared to some rival makes.
● Simple designs - Few complex systems and relatively familiar drivetrains make repairs more straightforward.
● Good value - Materials and workmanship are high-end but avoid costly exotic materials found in top European brands.
Owners who properly maintain their Acura and Infiniti vehicles and avoid excessive wear and tear can expect above-average reliability and lower-than-average maintenance spending, especially during the first 5-10 years.
Surprisingly Affordable European Luxury Models
While German and British luxury cars have a reputation for stratospheric maintenance bills, a few models break the mold with costs closer to mainstream brands.
CarEdge data shows the Audi A5 coupe has a 5-year maintenance cost projection of $2,359, which is on par with many non-luxury vehicles.
The Cadillac CT4, despite its American branding, competes directly with compact European sports sedans and has an estimated 5-year cost of $2,459.
Volvo, known for its safety innovations, keeps maintenance relatively affordable with its S60 sedan model at $2,478 for 5 years.
Lincoln, the luxury arm of Ford, also manages to keep costs down. For example, the midsize Lincoln MKZ sedan has a projected 5-year maintenance total of $2,756.
Here are the top European-style luxury models ranked by 5-year costs:
Make/Model Powertrain 5-Year Cost Audi A5 Gasoline $2,359 Cadillac CT4 Gasoline $2,459 Volvo S60 Gasoline $2,478 Lincoln MKZ Gasoline $2,756
Factors that help these European-flavored luxury vehicles minimize maintenance expenditures:
● Careful driving - These cars appeal to mature drivers who operate them responsibly and avoid excessive wear.
● Preventative maintenance - Following factory maintenance schedules prevents bigger issues down the road.
● Accessible designs - Avoidance of complex bespoke engines and components makes repairs easier.
● Mainstream roots - Brands like Volvo and Lincoln have connections to parent automakers that offer parts/platform sharing.
● Extended warranties - Covering expensive repairs during the initial ownership period reduces out-of-pocket costs.
With proper care and regular maintenance, the aura of luxury doesn't have to disappear in a cloud of outrageous repair bills.
Full-Size Luxury Sedans
Bigger luxury sedans provide ample passenger space and technology while keeping costs relatively reasonable compared to alternatives:
● Volvo S90 - 5-year cost approximately $2,500
● Mercedes CLA - 5-year cost around $2,700
● Audi A6 - 5-year cost around $2,800
Compact Luxury SUVs
Compact luxury crossovers deliver style, practicality and low running costs:
● Lexus NX - Around $1,900 for 5 years
● Acura RDX - Approximately $2,500 over 5 years
● Volvo XC40 - $2,600 maintenance for 5 years
● Audi Q3 - Around $2,900 over 5 years
● Lincoln Corsair - Approximately $3,000 for maintenance in 5 years
The RDX and NX prove the most affordable options in the segment.
Midsize Luxury SUVs
Midsize luxury SUVs offer greater passenger and cargo space while keeping costs mostly reasonable:
● Acura MDX - 5-year cost of around $2,500
● Lexus RX - $2,100 to $2,200 over 5 years
● Volvo XC60 - Approximately $3,000 for 5 years
● Audi Q5 - Around $3,200 maintenance cost over 5 years
Again Acura and Lexus have an edge when it comes to lower costs in this category.
Full-Size Luxury SUVs
For max passenger room, full-size luxury SUVs prove more budget-friendly than truck-based rivals:
● Lexus LX - $2,300 maintenance over 5 years
● Lincoln Navigator - Around $3,500 estimated 5-year cost
● Cadillac Escalade - Approximately $3,700 for maintenance in the first 5 years
● Infiniti QX80 - Around $4,100 total 5-year maintenance costs
The Lexus LX proves the most affordable to keep running in this segment.
Luxury sports cars offer thrilling performance with surprisingly affordable maintenance:
● Audi TT - Around $2,800 over 5 years
● Jaguar F-Type - Approximately $3,900 maintenance for 5 years
● Porsche 718 - 5-year costs around $4,100
The TT provides an exciting luxury driving experience without breaking the bank long-term.
Worthwhile Investments: Protecting Your Luxury Car
To help minimize maintenance costs and avoid expensive repairs, there are a few smart investments luxury owners can make:
● Extended warranty - These add additional years of comprehensive repair coverage beyond the initial factory warranty period when problems start to emerge.
● Pre-purchase inspection - Paying for an inspection by an independent mechanic before purchase can identify issues early.
● Regular maintenance - Follow the factory maintenance schedule religiously to prevent premature wear.
● Defensive driving - Don't abuse your luxury vehicle - aggressive acceleration and braking wears components much faster.
● Preventative repairs - If a component is approaching the end of its lifespan, replace it early to avoid catastrophic failure.
● DIY basic maintenance - Things like air filters, wiper blades, and fluid changes can be done yourself.
● Price shopping - Compare quotes between different dealerships and specialized independent shops.
While luxury cars will never be as cheap to own as an economy car, making smart choices can help keep you from drowning in bills for repairs.
Is Buying a Low-Maintenance Luxury Car Worth It?
At the end of the day, luxury vehicles command a higher purchase price that factors in increased maintenance costs over their lifespan. But choosing a model with lower projected maintenance expenses can help maximize your ownership experience.
The advanced engineering and opulent amenities offered by luxury marques like Lexus, Acura, Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, and Cadillac provide an elevated driving experience that goes beyond mere transportation.
For some buyers, access to that experience makes the higher upfront and ongoing costs well worth it. Others are happy with a well-equipped mainstream vehicle that requires fewer trips to the repair shop.
If you are willing to pay a premium for a luxury car, prioritize electric drivetrains and brands/models with strong reliability ratings to help contain maintenance costs and avoid budget-busting repair bills.
Proper preventative maintenance and careful driving habits will also help reduce unnecessary expenses over the years. Approach luxury car ownership as a long-term commitment to take the best care of your investment.
While luxury cars will never be as cheap to own and operate as an average economy car, models like the Tesla Model 3 and Lexus ES remind us that upscale amenities don’t have to come with outrageous maintenance bills. A well-chosen luxury car can offer the best of both worlds if you pick the right make and model for your needs.
If you're on a budget, you'll be pleased to know that there are some excellent options available for under $40,000. Check out our article on affordable luxury cars for some great recommendations.
● Tesla and Lexus models dominate when it comes to low-maintenance luxury cars.
● Acura and Infiniti provide relatively affordable options from non-German brands.
● Factors like age, mileage, and driving style impact individual maintenance costs.
● Follow scheduled maintenance and repairs to maximize reliability and minimize costs.
● Hybrids and electric cars have lower running costs than gasoline models.
So for shoppers prioritizing low long-term costs, the models highlighted here from brands like Tesla, Lexus, and Acura represent smart and budget-friendly picks.
Choosing a reliable luxury car and properly maintaining it goes a long way toward keeping your overall motoring expenses affordable.