5 Cars To Avoid for the Upper Middle Class

Guenter Schmied / BMW

Guenter Schmied / BMW

When you finally achieve the financial freedom of an upper-middle-class income, car shopping becomes much more enjoyable. But when you start to approach the upper echelons of the automotive market, you’ve got to spend your money wisely because you’re spending a whole lot more of it than you were when you were stuck choosing between sensible economy models.

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“Even with a budget that allows for entry-level luxury vehicles, it’s crucial for upper-middle-class Americans to steer clear of certain models due to various drawbacks,” said Geoff Cudd, consumer advocate and owner of FindTheBestCarPrice.com. “These models exemplify how some entry-level luxury cars may not provide the best value or ownership experience despite their initial allure. It’s imperative for consumers to conduct thorough research and consider long-term satisfaction before making such significant investments.”

You might want to pass on the following models even if you can afford them.


Cudd warned that the BMW X1 is “a model to approach with caution.”

“Despite its appealing branding and aesthetics,” he said, “the X1 has been noted for its cramped interior space and underwhelming driving dynamics compared to other vehicles in the same price range.”

Then there’s the issue of long-term ownership costs. The German luxury SUV starts at $40,500, but you’ll have to dig deep year after year to keep it on the road.

According to RepairPal, “The average annual repair cost is $915, which means it has poor ownership costs.”

The average is $859 for luxury compact SUVs like the X1 and $652 for all vehicles.

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Armando Babani/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock / Armando Babani/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Armando Babani/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock / Armando Babani/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Jaguar XF

The Jaguar XF starts at just shy of $50,000, and it’s a full-fledged luxury car that’s undeniably sleek, sophisticated and stylish. But, with such a steep price tag, even upper-middle-class buyers could soon become buried under its hefty long-term costs.

“While it boasts a luxurious interior and a prestigious badge,” Cudd said, “the XF is often criticized for its reliability issues and depreciation rate, making it a less-than-ideal purchase for value-conscious buyers.”

According to RepairPal, “The average annual repair cost is $1,066, which means it has poor ownership costs.”

For context, the average is $739 for midsize luxury cars and $652 for all vehicles.

Furthermore, the XF is nearing the end of its production run, and many industry analysts feel it’s beginning to look dated and show its age.

According to Car and Driver, “Rivals such as the BMW 5-series, the Genesis G80, and the Mercedes-Benz E-class all sit closer to the cutting edge.”

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Mercedes-Benz / Wieck

Mercedes-Benz / Wieck

Mercedes-Benz CLA

The Mercedes-Benz CLA coupe starts at $43,200, and it is a sleek, curvy and powerful machine. However, upper-middle-class buyers have so many options to choose from that it’s hard to argue this is their best bet in such a crowded and competitive price range.

“While enticing with its attractive exterior design and brand reputation,” Cudd said, “the CLA has faced criticism for its cramped rear seating and the quality of its interior materials, which do not always align with expectations for a vehicle of its caliber.”

As part of a lukewarm review of the CLA, Edmunds recommended competitors such as the Audi A3, BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, Lexus IS 300 and Volvo S60.

©Stellantis Media

©Stellantis Media

Jeep Wrangler

The 2024 Jeep Wrangler starts at $31,995 — but only for the two-door Sport model. Graduating to four doors takes the starting MSRP up to nearly $37,000. The Sport S, Willy and Sahara models start at between $40,000 and $50,000, and the higher-end Rubicon models start in the $50,000s and can run into the six figures.

Even on the lower end, new Jeeps are upper-middle-class vehicles. On the higher end, they’re toys for rich people. But are the beloved and iconic off-road warriors worth the cost? Many think not.

“Known for its off-road capabilities, the Wrangler falls short in terms of on-road comfort and has been reported to have issues with steering, suspension and in-car electronics,” said full-time RVer Amanda Benson, owner of the Dusty Trail RV.

Another problem is long-term ownership costs.

According to research from CarEdge, Jeep is the second most expensive brand to own among all automakers, behind only Ram, with an average 10-year ownership cost of $11,476. When you remove luxury vehicles, trucks and vans, Jeeps account for six of the seven most expensive vehicles to own over 10 years out of 164 models.



Lincoln Corsair

Benson’s RV lifestyle draws heavily from the upper middle class, whose members can afford to invest the money and time needed to do it comfortably. Along the way, she has heard complaints about one vehicle in their price range time and again: the Lincoln Corsair SUV.

“While it boasts a spacious interior and attractive design,” Benson said, “the Corsair’s reliability has been questioned, with Consumer Reports giving it a low rating due to engine stalling and seizing rear drive units.”

It starts at $38,830, which is an attractive MSRP for buyers with incomes beyond the middle of the pack. But, at that price range, there are comparable alternatives that make a better argument for the money.

In a tepid review that gave it 6.5 out of 10 stars, Car and Driver wrote, “Much like Lincoln’s other SUVs, the Corsair delivers comfort and style, but it lacks the driving verve of European competitors.”

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 5 Cars To Avoid for the Upper Middle Class

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