February 2013 Top 15 Best-Selling Luxury Vehicles In America

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class

It’s no surprise that when American new car buyers begin their search for high-end vehicles, German manufacturers are at the top of the must-drive list. Not only did Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche combine to own 46% of the premium brand market in February 2013, they also account for two-thirds of the vehicles on this list of the best-selling $45K+ vehicles in America.

There are inherent issues with classifying luxury vehicles based on a specific price bracket, and those problems are mentioned at the bottom of this post. But there’s also no reason to deny that Lexus – the only company capable of outselling Mercedes-Benz and BMW – relied on two models priced from $36,100 and $39,660 to find 68% of its U.S. volume. We’re not suggesting Lexus isn’t a luxury brand, by no means. Nor are we suggesting that the ES, which sold 4817 times in February, or the RX, which sold on 6938 occasions, aren’t luxury vehicles. 

The only claim being made here is that big spenders are generally after something European. 16.5% of the Lexus vehicles (2869 units) sold in February in the United States had base prices above $45,000. Compare that with 48.3% of BMW’s volume, 10,288 vehicles in all, and 54.3% of non-Sprinter Mercedes-Benz volume, 11,962 vehicles.

U.S. luxury auto brand market share chart February 2013
Click Market Share Chart For Larger View

We don’t have access to specific transaction prices. But unlike General Motors, which celebrated its $4000 deficit in pickup truck transaction prices as compared with Ford’s F-Series, luxury automakers do like to sell expensive vehicles. Even if Mercedes-Benz is happy to advertise a $29,900 price for the new CLA.

Historical monthly and yearly sales figures for all these vehicles can be found by selecting a make and model at GCBC’s Sales Stats page, or for non-mobile users, near the top right of this page. For a more comprehensive look at America’s best-selling vehicles, check out the list published earlier this morning. Below, vehicles with a base price above $45,000 are ranked by February volume.

March 2013’s Top 15 X2 – January 2013’s Top 15February 2012’s Top 30

Luxury Vehicle 
(Min. Base 
Price $45,000)
February 2013
To Date
% Change
BMW 5-Series
4248 + 5.1% 6833 – 5.9%
4211 + 0.1% 9680 + 16.6%
3931 + 21.9% 8015 + 37.4%
2800 + 77.8% 4815 + 51.2%
2733 – 19.8% 5661 – 23.6%
Cadillac Escalade
1619 – 12.5% 3166 – 8.9%
Audi A6
1370 + 40.9% 2629 + 25.1%
Land Rover 
Range Rover Sport
1261 + 15.6% 2512 + 13.2%
Porsche Cayenne
1173 + 78.5% 2673 + 62.0%
Lexus GS
1108 – 53.8% 2207 – 11.4%
Infiniti QX56
1059 – 8.9% 2227 + 2.1%
Chevrolet Corvette
980 + 5.7% 1888 + 21.3%
923 + 16.4% 1861 + 17.9%
Audi Q7
920 + 147% 1809 + 46.0%
Porsche 911
855 – 0.3% 1732 + 12.5%

Source: Manufacturers & ANDC
Red font indicates year-over-year declining sales 
$45,000 USD (before delivery) is an arbitrary borderline, but if GCBC was to follow this new system of designating only expensive vehicles as luxury vehicles, adding approximately $15,000 to the average new car transaction price seemed like a fitting place to begin. Plenty of less expensive vehicles with specific models feature prices above $45,000 – M, RS, and AMG models come to mind, specifically – but in the case of this list, we know that none of the registrations were of cars priced at $32,550, as would be the case with the new BMW 320i, which costs less than a Honda Accord V6 Touring. The list has been cut from 30 to 15 – 30 “best sellers” would have made up a large portion of the 50-odd vehicles on sale in America with base prices above $45,000 and would have therefore diluted the “best-selling” message. The biggest problem with a $45,000 minimum price of entry? Cars like the Cadillac XTS, which starts at $44,075, and SUVs like the $44,655 GMC Yukon XL.

Top 15 Best-Selling Luxury Vehicles In America – February 2014
Top 15 Best-Selling Luxury Vehicles In America – March 2013
Top 15 Best-Selling Expensive Vehicles In America – January 2013
Top 30 Best-Selling Luxury Vehicles In America – February 2012
U.S. Auto Sales Brand Rankings – February 2013
Top 30 Best-Selling Vehicles In America – February 2013

  1. u r absolutely right if someone is looking for a car above $50000 german brands are his first choice while lexus acura or infiniti are the choices for 40k spending buyers who want a luxury experience similar to german brands.

  2. Read what I said again. I said the sales are incorrect. It says that BMW was the best selling luxury brand in Feb and that isn't correct, Mercedes was. Why would you include sprinter? Its a cargo van, and your link doesn't work either.


  3. An arbitrary number is just that, arbitrary! To not included the XTS in your story leaves the story meaningless as to it's title. Then you include the Chevrolet Corvette as a"luxury vehicle"! It is a Sports Car! Cheap interior and all! it goes fast and does so on the cheap! Upon reflection it is in this same line of logic that excludes the Buick LaCrosse from appearing as a luxury car in your charts. Buick offers a baseline model that sells in very low numbers and because of this all else is excluded. We the reading public then get a distorted view of the true market conditions. The reasoning behind your entire web page is abandoned…..(but then again I can't wait to tune in every month)

  4. Peter, four things, well maybe five. There are hundreds of XTS sedans on dealer lots in the United States for less than $45,000. They make up the minority, but there are many all across the U.S. according to Cars.com. Second, we've been very clear about why the $45,000 barrier was chosen and just as open about its limitations, limitations which would apply equally to another vehicle if we chose another pricing bracket of say, $50,000. you're right: arbitrary is arbitrary. (Is arbitrary ever not arbitrary?) If automakers released sales figures by model we could break down sales data in greater detail, but they don't, and they won't. We formerly used a "general understanding" of what "luxury" and "premium" was to form this list, but the issues with that were far more meaningful. Third, the Buick LaCrosse is listed in the luxury car sales charts (https://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2013/02/usa-january-2013-luxury-car-sales-figures.html), the Chevrolet Corvette is listed with sports cars (https://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2013/02/usa-sports-car-sales-figures-january-2013.html), and the Cadillac XTS is displayed with rivals both more expensive (https://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2013/03/usa-february-2013-large-luxury-car-sales-figures.html) and less expensive (see first link) if you want to see how it compares.

    Fourth, how we define luxury, how Europeans define luxury, how you define luxury… will never be the same. It's a vague term. Because of an extensive amount of disagreement in the emails and comments we received before making the change, we opted for an inarguable minimum base price. There are limitations, and it's annoying, but it is just ONE way of displaying sales data. Because of its limitations, GCBC displays sales data in countless other ways. And sales figures are most easily compared, as I always say, in the All Vehicle Rankings. Which leave no room for segmentation or arguments. (https://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2013/03/february-2013-usa-vehicle-sales-rankings-by-model.html)

    Fifth, why is it such a bad thing to be inexpensive? There are more than 400 LaCrosses currently in inventory priced below $30,000, more than 5000 priced under $35,000, the price at which the Acura TL starts. No one stands up more for inexpensive premium and semi-premium cars to be treated right, to be given proper status, than a GM fan.

    We could go on forever, couldn't we? And that's the whole point. There is no final way of reaching a perfect conclusion as to how cars fit in specific segments.

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