4. Mercedes CLA and BMW 320i
mercedes cls bmw 320i

Having largely filled all the white space in the premium luxury segment by pushing the tops of their model ranges well up into six-figure territory, Mercedes-Benz and BMW are heading down the price scale to entry-luxe country. Benz calls the CLA (top) "a style rebel" and is aiming at younger buyers with prices starting at $30,000. The more conservative four-cylinder BMW 320i (bottom) will start at $33,445. Moving downscale means the two German automakers risk sacrificing some of their exclusivity, but at the same time they will also be putting the squeeze on aspirants to luxury-car status (Acura, Lincoln, Volvo, Buick) as well as range-topping models (Avalon, Taurus) from mass marketers.

  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated January 18 2013 09:50 AM ET
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