Mercedes-Benz unseated Cadillac as the leader in sales of "true luxury" vehicles in the first six months of this year, and Lexus also moved ahead of the General Motors flagship. Cadillac led from 2002 through 2005.
What is the definition of a true luxury vehicle? In this compilation, it is a car or light truck with a sticker price of $42,000 or more.
Why $42,000? It is based on the $40,000 threshold for the federal luxury tax on motor vehicles, which died at the end of 2002. We've boosted the threshold to reflect a step up in prices since then. Admittedly, it's an arbitrary figure. Others may tag true luxury at $38,000 or $46,000 or $50,000.
There's no question about the best-selling luxury brands. Starting at the top, they are Lexus, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac. All four topped 100,000 sales in the first half. No other brand came close to that figure.
But every luxury brand except Porsche sells a lot of nonluxury vehicles. Lexus has its ES, IS and some RX crossovers; BMW relies on its 3 series; Mercedes counts on its C class; and Cadillac's CTS is its best-seller.
As noted, Porsche is the only major make with all its cars and trucks in the true luxury segment. If you want a Porsche, be prepared to shell out at least $43,015. Hummer and Jaguar used to share that rung of the ladder with Porsche, but both now offer cheapie models in the $30,000 range.
In the first half of this year, Mercedes-Benz led the pack with an estimated 92,843 sales in the true luxury category. That was 80.7 percent of its total sales. Lexus was second with 75,221, followed by Cadillac, 72,760; and BMW, with 66,973.