Not only are premium features working their way down from luxury cars into mainstream models, but comfort and refinement are, too.
Kelley Blue Books' KBB.com car-shopping and industry tracking site says, "Today's mainstream money can buy some of the quietest cabins on the road, along with many of the comfort-oriented features that debuted upmarket just a few years ago."
The site selected 10 more-or-less mainstream models priced less than $30,000 that it judges to be extraordinarily comfortable. "Mainstream" in this case includes two brands generally considered premium, if not outright luxury — Volvo and Buick — but all hew to the $30,000 cap.
"For many car shoppers, comfort is among the top factors in their choice of a new vehicle, especially with so many Americans spending countless hours commuting," said Jack Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley's KBB.com. "Totally redesigned for 2014, our No. 1 pick on this list — the Chevrolet Impala — proves that the big, comfortable, affordable American sedan is alive and well, and now it is stylish and modern, too."
While big cars top the list, midsize and compact models also show up.
Here's the KBB.com list of most comfortable mainstream models that have real-world prices less than $30,000, according to KBB.com's survey of actual transactions and real-world discounts.
1. 2014 Chevrolet Impala, KBB.com price $26,605
2. 2014 Volvo S60, KBB.com price $29,529
3. 2014 Chrysler 300, KBB.com price $29,923
4. 2014 Buick Regal, KBB.com price $27,602
5. 2014 Toyota Avalon, KBB.com price $29,320
6. 2014 Nissan Altima, KBB.com $21,020
7. 2014 Honda Accord, KBB.com price $20,434
8. 2014 Volkswagen Passat, KBB.com price $19,325
9. 2014 Buick Verano, KBB.com $23,507
10. 2015 Volkswagen Golf, base sticker price, $18,815 including shipping. Newly on sale, insufficient data to calculate real-world pricing.
—By James R. Healey and Fred Meier, USA Today