Perusing the responses to Matthew Guy’s QOTD post about the ideal $40,000 vehicle, three sedans kept surfacing in the comments. All three were compact, all of them had engines of identical displacement, and all of them were restrained by a price ceiling â€” meaning no optional extras.
Today we’ll narrow the $40,000 field to these three, and see which one you’d buy with your own bank’s money.
We end up with very different sedan offerings today, due to methodology: The trim selected is the closest possible to $40,000.
Built atop GM’s Alpha platform with the CTS, the ATS was a new compact sedan venture for Cadillac â€” its first compact model since the ill-fated Cimarron. Sales since its 2013 debut haven’t been as strong as General Motors prefered, leading to an announcement earlier this year that 2018 would indeed be the final year for the sedan version of the ATS. The coupe lives on â€” for now. Our strict budget of $40,000 allows us only the base, all-wheel drive ATS. Equipped with the boosted 2.0-liter Ecotec, the ATS distributes 272 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic. $37,495.
Jaguar’s XE compact sedan debuted for the 2016 model year. Jaguar waded once more into a sedan segment it abandoned a few years before, repressing memories of the shockingly bad Mondeo Leather Edition (also known as the X-Type). The XE shares Jaguar’s iQ platform with the F-Pace CUV and its larger sedan brother, the XF. Jaguar offers a stunningÂ 34 trim levels of the XE, which is surely a modern record for sedan variation. Today we can afford the 6th trim from the bottom of the barrel, which is known as the 20d Premium. That d stands for diesel, so the 2.0-liter engine here makes 180 horsepower, but 318 lb-ft of torque. All that torque goes to the rear wheels via the eight-speed automatic. $39,825.
The C-Class is nothing new for the three-pointed star, which has produced the 190E’s successor since the early 1990s. The model’s fourth generation debuted for the 2015 model year, adding a cabriolet offering to the sedan and coupe lineup in North America. Other markets still have the option of a C-Class wagon. It’s the most expensive car of our trio, which means the absolute cheapest C300 is our specification today. The turbocharged 2.0-liter delivers 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, sent to the rear wheels via the 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic. $40,250.
Three Aces of Bases of luxury; which one’s a Buy?
[Images: GM, Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz]