On a gorgeous summer day, there is nothing quite like hitting the open road with the windows down and seeing just how fast and far you can go. And while you may think the best way to enjoy the breeze is with an iconic speedster, the truth is there are plenty of modern cars that can get the job done. Marketed as family or commuter cars, these everyday vehicles offer surprising power for the price. These are the modern cars you want to look for when a classic speed demon is out of the budget!
2020 Subaru WRX – 268 Horsepower
Designed to drive like a rally car on the open road, the Subaru WRX received a U.S. News performance score of 7.7 out of 10. With a starting price of $27,495, the WRX won’t break the bank, either.
Coming standard with 268 horsepower, this beast can be upgraded to really shred its tires. The Boxer engine is seated low in the car to help balance its center of gravity, too. What’s it all mean? The WRX is one of the fastest consumer-ready cars you can buy right now.
2020 Hyundai Veloster Turbo R-Spec – 201 Horsepower
The Hyundai Veloster is a relatively new entry into the compact performance car category. To make sure it stood out, the automaker designed it as a hatchback with only three doors. U.S. News was so impressed with the Veloster, it was given a performance score of 8.1 out of 10.
The Turbo R-Spec has an engine capable of displacing 1.6 liters reaching 195 pound-feet of torque and 201 horsepower. Add in performance tires and sport-tuned steering, and this car proves to be well worth the $23,350 sticker price.
2020 Kia Stinger – 255 Horsepower
There is a lot for consumers to digest when it comes to the Kia Stinger. A luxury offering from the value-based automaker, the Stinger defies convention in its quest to provide one of the fastest rides on the road.
Coming off the lot with 255 horsepower, the Stinger really shows you what it offers when you get behind the wheel. U.S. News rated the sporty performance an 8.5 out of 10, noting how its paddle shifter, drive mode button, and flat-bottomed steering wheel are the perfect tools to maximize the performance of the turbocharged engine.
2020 Mini Cooper S – 189 Horsepower
Affordable, small, and an all-around fun drive, the Mini Cooper S is no slouch when you hit the gas. U.S. News gave the compact car a performance score of 7.3 out o10, highlighting its $27,400 starting price.
Coming standard with a turbocharged/inter-cooled 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, the car is capable of 189 horsepower and 201 pound-feet of torque. Off the lot, you can also get this perfect summer ride with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.
2020 Honda Civic Type R – 306 Horsepower
The Civic is one of Honda’s signature vehicles. A recent overhaul made the flagship car sportier than ever. And when you buy the Type R Civic, you’re getting a true road demon. With a performance score of 8.7 out of 10, there is nothing not to like with this car.
Thanks to its turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the Type R can get up to 306 horsepower with 295 pound-feet of torque. The front wheels come with a limited-slip differential that helps increase power, too.
2020 Volkswagon GTI – 228 Horsepower
Based on the Volkswagon Golf, the GTI received a performance score of 8.6 out of 10 from U.S. News. Described as “nimble and versatile,” the car also provides a welcoming 17.4 cubic feet of cargo space.
The GTI is powered by a four-cylinder turbocharged engine, resulting in 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Available in a variety of transmission options, the starting price of $28,595 makes this one of the best cars for the value on the market.
2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata
While the 181 horsepower Mazda MX-5 Miata might not sound fast at first, we must remember how the car was designed. As one of the lightest cars on the road, the Miata doesn’t need an extreme amount of power to get some good kick.
The Miata is defined by its agility, and the 2020 model is no different. While there can sometimes be a learning curve associated with this car, the time spent mastering it behind the wheel is well worth the investment.
2020 Nissan 370Z – 332 Horsepower
The 370Z is Nissan’s consumer sports car and it packs a punch. With a starting price of $30,090, you probably wouldn’t expect the car to be capable of 332 horsepower. It is, thanks to its V6 engine that routes power to the rear wheels.
When designing the 2020 model, Nissan put the driving experience first. The instrument panel is attached to the steering column, for instance, so the driver can adjust everything at once. There is also a downshift assist feature that helps make entering corners a breeze.
2020 Ford Mustang GT – 460 Horsepower
Let’s clear one thing up from the start – we know the Mustang is an iconic speedster. But trust us, the 2020 model is nothing like the classic. Since helping to define the world of muscle cars in the ’60s and ’70s with the Mustang, Ford has worked in more recent years to make that muscle more affordable.
The 2020 Mustang GT starts at just $35,630, making it one of the most wallet-friendly cars in its class. Add in its 9.1 performance score and 460 horsepower, and you have a modern car that re-defines an icon.
2020 Subaru BRZ – 205 Horsepower
When designing the 2020 BRZ, Subaru focused on the driving experience. The automaker kept the engine low, creating a better center of gravity. The flat-four Boxer engine helps provide 205 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque.
And while some have complained that the car can be a little “stiff” to drive, U.S. News still rated it with an 8 out of 10 for performance. A sports car that isn’t priced like one, the BRZ starts at $28,845.
2020 Toyota Camry TRD – 301 Horsepower
The 2020 Toyota Camry TRD is the racing package for the Japanese automaker’s popular car. Looking like a normal Camry to the naked eye, the Toyota Racing Development version is packed with features including a V6 engine capable of 301 horsepower.
The TRD is estimated to reach zero to sixty in 5.8 seconds, providing a ton of power for whoever is behind the wheel. Starting at $31,040, U.S. News gave the TRD an overall rating of 8.5 out of 10
2020 Chevrolet Bolt – 200 Horsepower
Don’t be fooled by the Chevy Bolt. It might be an electric compact car seemingly lacking in horsepower, but it definitely packs a punch. Thanks to the electric engine, the car has instant torque, allowing it to go from zero to sixty in 6.5 seconds.
When U.S. News compared the performance of the Bolt to other speedsters, it came out with one of the highest scores in its group. The car isn’t just fast, though, it’s also lightweight and swift.
2019 Ford Fusion V6 Sport – 325 Horsepower
Like the Bolt, the Ford Fusion probably isn’t the first car you think of when speed comes to mind. Upgrade to the V6 Sport package, however, and you end up with one of the most powerful cars on the road.
With 325 horsepower, the Fusion V6 Sport can go from zero to sixty in 5.1 seconds. The car also comes with an electronic suspension dampening system to allow it to constantly monitor and adjust to road conditions.
2019 Nissan Leaf Plus – 214 Horsepower
To maximize the power potential of the Nissan Leaf, the automaker updated the vehicle in 2019 with the Plus package. The update raised the car’s horsepower from 147 to 214 as well as its pound-feet of torque from 236 to 250.
For those concerned that the increase in power means a decrease in efficiency, fear not. The Nissan Plus Leaf is rated to go 226 miles on a single charge. The non-Plus version is only rated to go 150 miles.
2018 Ford Focus RS – 350 Horsepower
A track-ready version of the Ford Focus, the RS package changed the game when it came out. Thanks to a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, the RS produced 350 horsepower and could go from zero to sixty in 4.6 seconds.
Sadly, the 2018 model was the last year Ford produced the Focus, so you won’t be able to buy one brand new. You should be able to find one well under the original $41,120 price tag on the used market, though.
2019 Dodge Durango R/T – 360 Horsepower
The first midsize SUV to make this list is a really powerful sleeper. Generally, when you think of SUVs you think of off-roading or towing capability. That’s logically where this beast should put its 360 horsepower engine to work.
The Durango isn’t just made for towing, though. It’s also capable of burning rubber. According to reviewers, the Durango can go from zero to sixty in just 6.2 seconds, not only making it one of the fastest SUVs on the market but one of the fastest consumer vehicles available. Period.
2019 Toyota 86 – 205 Horsepower
One look at the Toyota 86 and you might be left thinking, “isn’t that the Subaru BRZ?” The answer is yes. When creating the car, Toyota and Subaru joined forces. While both versions have minor differences, anything we wrote earlier about the BRZ can be repeated here about the 86.
The 86 is available in both automatic and manual transmissions. Anyone looking to maximize their speed will want to go for the manual. Choosing automatic will cost you five horsepower.
2020 Chevrolet Impala Premier – 305 Horsepower
Another sedan that needs an upgrade to reach its full potential is the Chevy Impala. When you choose the premier edition, you’re adding a 3.6-liter V6 engine to the car, making it capable of 305 horsepower.
Thanks to the extra boost, the Impala Premier can blow past the competition, hitting zero to sixty in 6.3 seconds. Did we mention the cost is under $30,000? The Impala Premier starts at a very reasonable $28,595 MSRP.
2020 Hyundai Kona Limited – 175 Horsepower
Another small SUV that deserves your attention is the Hyundai Kona Limited. Loaded with a 1.6-liter engine, this vehicle is not limited by its 175 horsepower. The car routes its power through a seven-speed automatic transmission.
The Kona Limited is capable of going from zero to sixty in six seconds flat, proving that sometimes size doesn’t matter. With a starting price of $27,220, this is a vehicle that is worth every penny, maybe even more!
2020 Fiat Spider – 164 Horsepower
To make the Spider, Italian automaker Fiat used the body of the Miata and made it their own. While the car isn’t as fast as others on this list, limited by its 164 horsepower, it makes up for it with some of the best handling in its class.
The Spider won’t beat an icon on a straight away, but it will gain ground-hugging hairpin turns. It will also jump out of the gate, going zero to sixty in 6.3 seconds.