Some automakers, such as Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac, are just well-known for making great luxury cars, but not all luxury automakers are on that level. In fact, some luxury automakers confuse shoppers by building luxury cars that aren’t expensive or as loaded with features. As such, many drivers don’t even know those luxury automakers are luxury car brands. Here’s a look at six luxury brands that many drivers don’t know are luxury brands.

1. Buick is supposed to be an affordable luxury brand

luxury cars, luxury suv

2023 Buick Enclave | Buick

Buick is owned by General Motors, and it’s always been positioned as a mid-level luxury automaker. The idea was that GM’s other brands, such as Pontiac and Oldsmobile, would make affordable cars that everybody can buy. Meanwhile, Cadillac, GM’s main luxury brand, would make the high-end luxury cars that everybody would want.

That left Buick to sit between those two extremes as an affordable luxury brand cheaper than a Cadillac but loaded with more luxury features than an Oldsmobile. Nowadays, Buick just builds SUVs such as the Enclave, Encore, Encore GX, and Envision, which are some of the cheaper options that GM offers. 

2. Chrysler used to be more well-known as a luxury automaker

Historically, Chrysler has been a luxury brand for a long time. Yet, throughout the years, Chrysler’s lineup has shrunk. Now, with the discontinuation of the 300 luxury sedan, Chrysler only sells minivans like the Pacifica and the Voyager. That’s helped people forget that Chrysler was a luxury brand in the first place.

3. Fiat is an unpopular and unknown luxury brand in the U.S.

Coincidentally, Fiat is owned by Stellantis, the same corporation that owns Chrysler. Like Chrysler, Fiat is a luxury brand positioned as an affordable luxury option. However, in more recent years, Fiat has focused and specialized on small cars. This has caused the brand to struggle in finding success in the U.S., which is probably why folks don’t know about its luxury chops. That said, Fiat continues to be very popular in Europe.

4. GMC is often overlooked as a luxury automaker

Shoppers often overlook GMC because the brand specializes in trucks and SUVs, and many of those vehicles are very similar to what Chevy offers. However, as MotorTrend wrote, GMC is supposed to be a luxury automaker that offers luxury versions of those Chevy vehicles. Still, since Chevy fans are loyal to the brand, most Chevy shoppers aren’t going to even think about buying a GMC. 

5. Mazda has a similar business approach to Buick

Like Buick and Fiat, Mazda is supposed to be an affordable luxury automaker. However, perhaps due to the price tag of Mazda’s lineup or due to their features, many shoppers don’t think of Mazda as a luxury automaker. For example, the CX-5 is well-regarded as a practical family SUV.

Regardless, Mazda fully intends to make it clear to people that it’s a luxury brand. In fact, Mazda is taking aim at Lexus and trying to establish itself as a Japanese premium car brand, supplanting the place German automakers have in that market.

6. Volvo is another affordable luxury automaker

When drivers think about Volvo, they may think about how safe a Volvo is, or they may think about the fact that Volvo is a Swedish automaker. However, once again, Volvo is also a luxury automaker and positioned itself in the affordable luxury segment. In particular, Volvo’s cars are positioned above other affordable luxury brands like Buick and Mazda but below true luxury brands like Audi or Bentley. 


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