8 Hardcore Sedans for Under $50K: Your 2014 Guide

Well-endowed in the horsepower department? Check. Ample room for passengers? Check. Room for Cargo? Absolutely. Regardless of why people enjoy high-performance sedans, there are several options out there that cater to just about every need, whether its brutal, raw power, or a bigger emphasis on comfort.

These cars typically follow the traditional muscle car setup, with big power coming from the front, usually on its way to the rear or all four wheels by means of a traditional six speed transmission, though that latter bit is changing rapidly. So whether it’s carving curves on a winding highway, shredding up a rural dirt road, or trying to get the kids to school on time, here’s a list of high performance sedans that all fall under $50,000.

Since we here at Wall St. Cheat Sheet haven’t driven the vehicles in question ourselves, we turned to the automotive expertise of Edmunds.com, Car & Driver, and others for some insight as to the pros and cons of each vehicle. Here are eight options for exciting sedans that are either available now, or will be in the near future; the following are ranked alphabetically.

2013-audi-s4-exterior-001

1. Audi S4

Base price: $48,100

Fuel economy: 17 miles per gallon city, 26 miles per gallon highway.

Pros and cons: Edmunds commended the Audi (VLKAY.PK) S4′s “Fantastic” supercharged V6, its “likable” balance between sharp handling and a comfortable ride, the classy interior, its standard Quattro all-wheel drive system, “respectable” fuel economy, and the S4′s excellent crash test scores. However, the S4 didn’t do as well when it came to its “unintuitive” standard control layout. 

Options worth splurging on: Since the base price rubs up against $50,000, there isn’t a whole lot or room for options; however, the sport differential ($1,100) could be be a good edition, or Audi’s adaptive suspension ($1,000).

2014 Cadillac ATS Front

2. Cadillac ATS-V

Base price: Unknown

Fuel economy: Also unknown.

Pros and cons: The biggest con is that the ATS-V hasn’t yet been officially confirmed by Cadillac (NYSE:GM), but Car & Driver said that insider sources reported that a hotter version of the popular ATS is under development, and it would pack a twin-turbo V6 that could conceivably lay down as much as 380 horsepower. Not much is known for certain, but if you are looking for a hot sedan and can wait around, it’s definitely worth waiting to see what develops here — with the coupe just released, an ATS-V could be just around the corner.

Options worth splurging on: Unsure.

Chevrolet SS

3. Chevrolet SS

Base price: $43,475

Fuel economy: 14 miles per gallon city, 21 miles per gallon highway.

Pros and cons: The biggest pro is that this is a rear-wheel drive, V8 powered sedan, for well under $50K. Few others can claim they have a car of that nature in their stable, giving the GM’s (NYSE:GM) Chevrolet SS a fairly open market to take advantage of. On the downside, some have derided it for being rather pricey, and with that kind of power, the SS is going to be a thirsty one — and you’ll be on the hook for the $1,300 gas guzzler tax.

Options worth splurging on: Chevy doesn’t offer a whole lot of options for the SS. In fact, you can choose a full size spare tire and wheel ($500) and a power sunroof ($900), but that’s it.

DodgeChargerSRT

4. Dodge Charger SRT

Base price: $44,385

Fuel economy: 14 miles per gallon city, 23 miles per gallon highway.

Pros and cons: If there’s any car giving the SS a run for its money, it would be the 470 horsepower Fiat’s (FIATY.PK) Doge Charger SRT. For pros, look for big power, big noise, and big attitude — Car & Driver described it as a bruiser, and we’re inclined to agree. Again, like the SS, it’s going to consume a lot of fuel, even when the pedal isn’t be pushed through the floorboard; Car & Driver also pointed to its “brutal” ride, noted that it feels massive, has muted steering, and can get expensive.

Options worth splurging on: Dodge offers lots of convenience features for the Charger SRT, but that isn’t what this car is about. However, for those on highway often, the adaptive cruise control and forward collision systems ($795) wouldn’t be a bad idea.

FordTaurusSHO

5. Ford Taurus SHO

Base price: $39,980

Fuel economy: 17 miles per gallon highway, 25 miles per gallon city.

Pros and cons: The Ford (NYSE:F) Taurus SHO is the sleeper unit of the Taurus family; while the Charger and SS are big, loud, brash sedans, the Taurus is far more reserved and refined, though admittedly less powerful. It produces 365 horsepower from a twin-turbo EcoBoost V6, which puts it more in line with the Audi. The Taurus is more for drivers who seek out comfort first, but have the power on tap when they want it; it’s also a larger sedan. It also comes standard with all-wheel drive, so that’s nice.

Options worth splurging on: We’d go with the SHO Performance Package ($1,995) that offers better brake pads, improved shocks, springs, stabilizer bars and rear suspension, bigger brake rotors, and 20-inch rims, among other things.

2014-CLA-CLASS-COUPE-GALLERY-024-WR-D

6. Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG

Base price: $47,450

Fuel economy: 23 miles per gallon city, 31 miles per gallon highway.

Pros and cons: Car & Driver loved the performance from AMG’s first four-cylinder engine, which in the Mercedes CLA45 produces 355 horsepower — one of the most powerful four-bangers available. It’s also most affordable AMG model on the market, and it returns pretty decent mileage for its level of performance, and considering its all-wheel drive. However, it is a smaller car, and Car & Driver wasn’t a fan of the new seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Options worth splurging on: There are not a whole lot of options — any, actually — that help enhance the performance of the CLA45, but those 19-inch AMG 16-spoke wheels ($850) in black look incredible.

HIGH RES GOLD WHEEL OPTION

7. Subaru WRX STI

Base price: Unknown, likely in the mid-$30,000 to high-$30,000 range.

Fuel economy: Also unknown.

Pros and cons: It’s performance numbers haven’t changed drastically from the Subaru WRX STI of old, but its evident that the 2015 model year will be among the best WRX yet in terms of handling and drivability. The hallmark boxer engine churns out 305 horsepower to all four wheels, routed through an increasingly rare manual six-speed. Larger front and rear anti-roll bars provide 67 percent faster steering response, according to the company, and 16 percent less body roll thanks to tweaked suspension. The biggest and perhaps only con? There won’t be a hatchback version this time around.

Options worth splurging on: Available options have not yet been disclosed.

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8. Volvo S60 Polestar

Base price: Unknown, but expected to fall around that of the S4.

Fuel economy: Also unknown, probably not fantastic.

Pros and cons: Volvo has long tried to get by with its R-Line of vehicles, but the few cosmetic tweaks didn’t fool anyone. Now, Volvo is playing hardball, with the 350 horsepower S60 Polestar sedan. Yes, 350 horsepower, from a turbocharged six-cylinder, from Volvo. It’s probably pretty safe, too. Volvo is taking a good looking car, and giving it the chops to match. It’s got all-wheel drive, and can break 60 in under 5 seconds. The downside is it isn’t the 501 horsepower Polestar prototype.

Options worth splurging on: Unknown, the options have not yet been made available.

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