When it comes to cars, it’s not all about horsepower, but try telling that to the guy revving his engine next to you at the stoplight. Pure muscle will never go out of style as long as cars are on the road, and automakers still deliver for consumers who want the power without spending more than $30,000. Here are eight cars that deliver the most punch under $30K, building toward the top model.
When on the hunt for a sporty car under $30K, Mazda (MZDAF.PK) has numerous options to consider. On the muscle end, the Speed3 Touring “sport compact car” has a 2.3 DISI turbocharged engine that delivers 263 horsepower on 280 pounds-feet of torque. Between the MX-5 Miata and the Speed3, Mazda has fun rides that are affordable on most car budgets.
There is more muscle than meets the eye in the Nissan (NSANY.PK) Altima, especially when opting for the 3.5-liter models that are capable of generating 270 horsepower. This popular line is one of the bestselling vehicles in the United States. Choosing the 3.5 S trim actually costs less than the 2.5 SL trim, which is only capable of generating 172 hp. The investment in horses is negligible.
There is plenty to love about the 2014 Dodge (FIATY.PK) line, including the Charger that delivers plenty of power and torque. The base Charger SE can deliver 292 hp with its 3.7 -liter Pentastar V6 engine. It’s not the lethal Hemi available in other Dodge models, but it supplies enough power to disinguish it from most other cars on the road.
Now one of the signature new models from General Motors (NYSE:GM), the 2014 Chevy Impala is a Consumer Reports favorite while packing more power than your average family sedan. The Impala 1LT, for example, features a 3.6-liter V6 engine capable of generating 305 hp.
It’s difficult to have a horsepower discussion without mentioning the Ford (NYSE:F) Mustang, and the base V6 is capable of generating 305 horsepower while starting below $23,000. Those specs advertise themselves, but opting for the Mustang GT breaks the $30,000 mark as well as another power zone, where 420 hp courtesy of a 5.0-liter V8 awaits.
A muscle-bound companion to the Charger sedan, the Dodge Challenger coupe looks like a car Steve McQueen would be driving on the way to a scuffle. Packing the same 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine as the Charger but capable of generating 305 horsepower, the Challenger is more for the driver that thrives on adrenaline. Upgrading to the 5.7-liter Hemi enters the land of 375 hp.
Like the Mustang, the Chevy Camaro is synonymous with muscle and is one of the cars that will always be seen tearing down Main Street when the young and the reckless are at odds. The base Camaro delivers 323 horsepower at the entry level to the segment. Though the allure of a 6.2-liter, 426 hp Camaro sits north of the $30,000 mark, drivers can get plenty of power out of the base model.
8. 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 R-Spec ($28,750)
Hyundai (HYMLF.PK) isn’t the first automaker that comes to mind when thinking about power, but this Genesis Coupe with manual transmission tops the list under $30K with a heart-thumping 3.8-liter V6 capable of generating 348 horsepower. That figure bests the American bruisers in the price range, though the heavy-hitting Camaro and Mustang models are right on the other side of $30K.
There is no need to spend a fortune to find a powerful car with a vocal engine. These eight rides prove that muscle and style are both available in the lower end of the spectrum.