There was a time when car buyers would be hard pressed to find non-luxury automotive brands that offered creature comfort features in their vehicles such as navigation, heated and cooled seats, cell phone integration, and the list goes on. Nowadays, your run-of-the-mill manufacturers have caught up and currently sell models that can compete with the big boys, implementing everything from quilted leather interior surfaces, to limousine-like ride quality. Below are three vehicles that provide the most luxurious experience, minus the luxury pedigree.
The Explorer has in many ways helped define the modern SUV segment since initially launching in 1990. Starting out as a rugged do-it-all type of utility vehicle, it has become better appointed with each successive generation, reaching a new high last year when the Platinum edition was released.
The special treatment starts with small details like a brushed aluminum oval Ford logo on the steering wheel instead of the standard plastic blue, to more significant upgrades like a 12-speaker, 500-watt Sony stereo that contains a setting to mimic sitting inside a concert hall. The Platinum also receives upgraded sound deadening, thicker glass, and better door seals that isolates the listener and provides the double benefit of a whisper quiet drive on the road.
Korean automakers were once considered a notch lower on the quality scale than their competitors, but that is no longer the case. The tide really started to turn when Kia brought designer Peter Schreyer of Audi fame (he helped design the Audi TT) on-board in 2006. He created the “Tiger Nose” grille that can be found across the Kia lineup, including the range-topping Kia K900.
The full-size luxury executive sedan started production in 2013 and comes with features not commonly found at the K900’s reasonable price point, such as an optional 5.0-litre V8 engine, radar cruise control, powered trunk, self-closing doors, 360-degree camera monitoring and a head-up display (HUD). The HUD shows speed, navigation directions, blind-spot detection, and other vital information projected right onto the windshield in the driver’s line of sight.
Traditionally, trucks were considered to be working class machines, prioritizing power and towing capability over everything else. The Toyota Tundra is among a few full-size examples that have certainly bucked that trend, rolling right off the assembly line chock full of modern niceties. There is an available four-door configuration and ample seating for up to six adults (Double Cab/CrewMax), a 7-inch display audio infotainment system capable of recognizing voice commands, XM satellite radio, bucket seats, and chrome accents on the door handles, side-step bars, mirrors, and exhaust tip.
Unique trim levels like the TRD Pro have additional goodies bundled: black leather seats with contrast red stitching, backup sensors and camera, remote tire pressure monitoring, and much more. The fancy add-ons extend to performance parts as well — TRD Remote Reservoir Suspension is equipped, meaning the shock absorbers will almost never overheat thanks to an attached auxiliary fluid tank, continuing to provide buttery smooth dampening even over rough terrain.