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Top 10 Luxury Cars You Can Own For Less Than $45,000

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What price luxury? You can pay astronomical amounts, or you can buy a fine car for less than $45,000 and get many of the same features, though not the same exclusivity. Here are ten luxury cars that can almost be described as "affordable." Comments from the editors at Edmunds.com.

1. BMW 3-Series

Settle into the supportive driver seat of any of these cars and a world-class suspension, steering and brakes will provide hours of entertainment on twisty two-lane highways. Beyond simply feeling rock-solid when hustled around turns, this car communicates with the driver in a manner that is alien to most cars. And you don't have to give up a comfortable ride to get this kind of athleticism.

2. Audi A4

Whether you're considering the relatively inexpensive base model or you're looking to go all out with the ultrahigh-performance, V8-powered S4 model, all A4s feature exquisite interiors, sharp handling and a clean exterior style with few faults.

3. BMW 5-Series

A unique new steering system and a few hand-me-down parts from the top-line 7 Series further hone the 5's exemplary ride and handling while the continued use of BMW's world-renown straight sixes, along with an even more powerful V8, assures more than adequate straight performance. Even the addition of the cumbersome iDrive system hasn't dampened our enthusiasm for this top-notch sport sedan as it's not only easier to use, it allowed the designers to clean up the interior a bit.

4. Audi A6

A nearly flawless interior, amicable handling and a wide array of drivetrain options make it hard to find fault with the 2004 A6 sedan and wagon. It offers performance on par with many of its peers, a distinctive style inside and out and all the features you would expect from a sedan of its caliber. From the base front-wheel-drive six-cylinder all the way up to the all-wheel-drive V8 model, the A6 lineup is packed to the brim with enticing options.

5. Infiniti G35 Coupe

Often overshadowed by its prominent Z-car cousin, the G35 is a fast, stylish coupe with more than enough personality to stand on its own. Its overachieving V6 engine not only assures lightning-quick acceleration, it purrs with a distinctive exhaust note that turns heads almost as much as the sleek sheet metal. All the latest technology is available in the cabin, but unlike the 350Z the G35 looks the part of an upscale coupe — and it has small, yet functional rear seats to boot.

6. Mercedes-Benz CLK Class

With its swanky body style and numerous luxury and safety features, the recently revamped CLK makes for a cost-effective alternative to Mercedes' luscious CL500 coupe. At roughly half the price of the bigger Benz, the CLK offers a lot more than 50 percent of the senior coupe's goodness.

7. BMW Z4

We're not enamored with its bizarre styling, noisy highway ride or higher pricing, but in every other respect, this is a truly inspired driving machine. Handling is razor-sharp, and the Z4's communicative suspension, steering and brakes make it a delight on curvy roads. Meanwhile, a sophisticated stability control system makes it easy to balance fun with safety.

8. Saab 9-5 Wagon

Carrying on the legacy of Swedish safety, Saab equips the wagon with orthopedic front seats, dynamic head restraints, stability control, a menu of airbags and an IIHS nomination of 'Best Pick' for its performance in frontal offset crash testing. Unlike its Swedish automotive brethren, this wagon has sleek, even sexy styling.

9. Volkswagen Touareg

We can't get over the versatility Volkswagen has packed into its first modern-day utility vehicle. Comfortable interior with high-quality furnishings? Check. Smooth, stable ride quality? Check. Easy to maneuver around town? Check. Low-range gearing, two locking differentials and a level of off-road ability befitting a Jeep? Check. What's the catch? Well, the backseat's average in size, and neither the V6 nor the V8 gets a gold star for fuel economy.

10. Infiniti FX45

Looking for a vehicle that really puts the "sport" in sport-utility vehicle? The FX is it. With sedanlike handling and a sweet-sounding V8, the FX45 offers a near perfect blend of luxury SUV presence and sports car performance. Infiniti's new crossover won't take you too far off-road, or tow your cabin cruiser over a mountain, but if you want to pester people in sport sedans while still enjoying a commanding view of the road from one of the trendiest cockpits on the market, the FX45 can oblige.

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