Premium cars priced below $30,000 are coming back. Last year Buick introduced the Verano, a smallish sedan that's based off the Chevrolet Cruze and starts under $23,000. Acura followed with the ILX, which shares underpinnings with the Honda Civic and will start "well below $30,000" when it hits dealerships this spring. Mercedes is still on track to roll out a family of compact cars stateside.
Toyota's Lexus division wants none of it. Lexus has just one car below the $30,000 mark, the pint-sized CT 200h hybrid, and it sells well enough. But the automaker wants none of the near-luxury pie, said Brian Smith, marketing vice president.
"I don't think [entry-luxury] is a focus of ours right now," Smith said. "Other manufacturers have a reason for going there. Some might be customer demand; some might be government regulation" — a reference to the federal government's corporate average fuel economy program. Lexus has Toyota and Scion to balance the lower mileage of its luxury cars; BMW and Mercedes, on the other hand, lack mass-market U.S. divisions.