As if driving a fancy car or sport utility weren't enough, luxury vehicle buyers enjoy perks beyond the ones that buyers of mainstream cars and trucks receive.
The list of perks grows longer as luxury vehicle makers look for ways to steal customers from competitors.
Lincoln became the first domestic brand to provide routine scheduled maintenance free to buyers of its vehicles this fall. The free maintenance is offered on all 2001 model. Lincolns and covers all routine maintenance, from oil changes to windshield wipers to shock absorbers, for the first three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.
'Being a top-tier luxury brand means ensuring absolute customer satisfaction and a carefree ownership experience,' said Jim O'Sullivan, Lincoln group brand manager.
'Our complimentary maintenance program is only one step toward reaching that point, and will help build long-term brand loyalty among Lincoln owners, not to mention improved residual and resale values.'
Cadillac does not provide free scheduled maintenance.
Still, Lincoln joins a number of import automakers that have been offering free scheduled maintenance.
Jaguar, another Ford brand, began providing it this model year. BMW offers it for three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first, on all its cars and sport-utilities. On its top-of-the-line 750iL models, the coverage extends to four years or 50,000 miles. Saab started offering the coverage on certain models in the middle of the 2000 model year and continues it in the 2001 model year.
Virtually all luxury car manufacturers provide free 24-hour roadside assistance. Mercedes-Benz was the first, offering on-road technical assistance nearly 20 years ago and providing free roadside assistance since 1981. It was expanded to around-the-clock service in 1988 and is available to every Mercedes owner, regardless of the car's age or whether the owner bought it new or used.
Other luxury brands are upping the ante with even more perks. Audi, for instance, recently launched an owner-loyalty program that includes trips to Europe for repeat customers and special events for first-time buyers. Audi invited 25 buyers and their guests on all-expense-paid trips to Germany and Italy to attend World Cup Ski Races. Most of those who attended had bought at least three Audis. The trip included elaborate dinners with entertainment and spending money.
First-time buyers were invited to a driving school at Pike's Peak International Raceway in Colorado in June. Using their own vehicles, they received driving instruction from professionals.
Similarly, Porsche offers a two-day race-driving school for its new owners.
Porsche, Mercedes and BMW offer European delivery programs. A buyer can fly to Europe, pick up a new Porsche, Mercedes or BMW, drive it around Europe and then have the automaker ship it back to the United States.