Cheap, Powerful Cars to Impress Your Friends

From Toyota Camrys to Hyundai Velosters to BMW 230i’s, there are plenty of affordable vehicles to satisfy your need for speed.
Written by Jason Tushinski
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
From Toyota Camrys to Mini Coopers to Chevrolet Camaros, show your friends and family you’ve made it with a car that oozes power—but doesn’t empty your bank account. From sporty sedans to versatile hatchbacks to traditional American muscle cars, there are plenty of cost-conscious options that will make your loved ones’ eyes bulge with envy.
No matter what cheap (don’t worry, we here at Jerry live by a strict code of omerta, or code of silence) but powerful car you buy, protect that speedster with a
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Sporty sedans

Who says sedans need to be staid and boring like all the middle managers who seemingly drive them? We here at Jerry think that’s nonsense, so we present you three swift sedan options to set your paper-pushing heart aflame!

2021 Subaru WRX

Price : $27,495
You’ll hear jaws hit the pavement when you pull into your work parking lot with this rally-inspired sedan. 
  • The Subaru WRX is a Japanese dynamo sporting 268 horsepower courtesy of a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine
  • WRX pairs macho styling with an aggressive-yet-responsive driving experience
  • Choose between a 6-speed manual or continuously variable transmission (CVT)

2021 Toyota Camry TRD

Price: $32,185
Strap the kids in and tape your spouse’s toupee down—the TRD’s 3.5 L V6 engine boasts a hair-raising 301 horsepower.
  • Features an 8-speed automatic transmission that pumps power to the Camry’s front wheels
  • Boasts a tuned suspension and sport front seats so you can move as one with this car 
  • Lots of exterior and interior styling
  • Toyota’s full suite of driver-assist technology (along with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa) come standard

H3: 2021 Kia Stinger GT

Price: $39,590
A Sedan with coupe-esque curves and lots of personality.
  • Roomy and comfortable inside, with plenty of standard features
  • Ride a twin-turbocharged V6 engine that spews 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque
  • Handles excellently for a sedan
  • Brembo brakes bring this rocket-propelled Stinger to a stop quickly and safely

Shifty hatchbacks

If you think hatchbacks are solely the realm of the soccer mom, we here at Jerry have some news for you—you’re going to want to become a soccer mom. There are plenty of shifty hatchbacks that provide lots of road-worthy sizzle, so here are the best ones to give the kids a thrill on the way to their soccer match.

2021 Volkswagen Jetta GTI

Price: $28,695
Yes, folks, the Germans have done it again—they’ve engineered a stylish, practical, and fun-to-drive Volkswagen that will leave enough Euros in your pocket for some post-game schnitzel & strudel.
  • Plush interior, nimble handling, and sport-worthy performance
  • Plenty of seating room and lots of cargo space
  • The Jetta GTI features a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine boasting 228 horsepower
  • You have the option of a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed dual-clutch auto transmission
  • Limited slip-differential paired with adjustable driving mode gets you where you need to go, whether cruising through the countryside or going for a raucous, family-friendly vacation 
  • Lots of tech and driver-assist features come standard

Hyundai Veloster N

Price: $32,250
The Veloster sports one of the coolest designs on the road, with its sole driver-side door paired with front-passenger and rear-passenger side doors.
  • Turn heads with this slick ride’s turbocharged 2-liter, 4-cylinder engine that boasts 275 horsepower and 260-pound feet of torque
  • Choose either a 6-speed manual or an 8-speed dual-clutch auto transmission that pumps power to the Veloster’s front wheels
  • Electronic slip-differential keeps traction on point
  • Performance-tuned suspension and sport bucket seats will make your weekly grocery run tons of fun

2021 Mini Cooper JCW

Price: $32,400
A sporty, tuned-up Mini John Cooper Works that is fun, budget-friendly, and would fill Mr. Bean with the most awkward glee you can imagine.
  • The JCW sports 228 horsepower and gets you some of the most bang for your pound/buck in terms of a fast, affordable ride
  • Its turbocharged engine is a treat for driving enthusiasts and car-poolers alike
  • The sport exhaust, upgraded brakes, and Nitron suspension system will turn your commute into a seat-of-your-trousers joyride

Muscle car mania (for the frugal set)

The good news is you do not have to be Steve McQueen to look cool behind the wheel of a true, American muscle car—the better news is there are a slew of muscle car options available if you’re looking to keep costs in check.

2021 Ford Mustang EcoBoost

Price: $27,155
The EcoBoost might not have the sizzle of the beefier Mustang GT, but who cares? This trimmed-down steed has plenty of flash to garner you lots of looks while cruising down Main Street.
  • Boasts a 4-cylinder turbocharged engine that boils with 310 horsepower and 350-pound feet of torque
  • Power is routed to the rear wheels by either a 6-speed manual or a 10-speed auto transmission
  • This Mustang has a surprisingly big trunk
  • Ford’s CoPilot 360 infotainment system is standard, as is a WiFi hotspot
  • Great handling and the slimmer EcoBoost takes turns better than the bigger and much-ballyhooed GT—so there

2021 Dodge Challenger R/T

Price: $34,000
The Dodge Challenger is a nostalgia-fuelled muscle car with modern styling and touches to get that beefy American heart of yours racing.
  • The Challenger’s 5.7 L Hemi V8 roars with 375 horsepower and 410-pound feet of torque
  • Features a 6-speed manual or an 8-speed auto transmission to send plenty of power to the rear wheels
  • Grips road well, though not as balanced in turns as rival Camaro or Mustang
  • Plenty of space in the trunk and rear seats (even for adults) for a 2-door roadster
  • Modern infotainment system and safety features are standard

2021 Chevrolet Camaro SS

Price: $37,500
Knocks your socks off with a powerful 6.2 L engine with 455 horsepower and the same amount of pound-feet torque.
  • Goes 0 to 60 in a blistering four seconds
  • Boasts a 6-speed manual or an optional 8-speed auto transmission to route power to rear wheels
  • Brembo Performance brakes easily bring this beast to a stop
  • Sport, Tour, Snow/Ice, Track modes are all available
  • Track mode turns highway straightaways and tight corners into true performance moments

Bonus affordable power option

We here at Jerry know that everyone (well, not us) wants to show off once in a while. But if you really want to show the masses that you’ve got the means for speed, get behind the wheel of the latest in a classic line of road-conquering machines.

2021 BMW 230i

Price: $35,900
This one is a vehicular throwback to when BMWs were actually the ultimate driving machine, so strap on your lederhosen (no sense denying it, we know you own them) and get ready for some driving thrills.
  • A simple yet stylish coupe boasting a 4-cylinder 248 horsepower engine that shoots power to its rear wheels
  • Take the 6-speed manual transmission for quick-twitch uber-thrills, but an 8-speed auto transmission is available as well
  • Downshifts are smoothed out by an intelligent rev-matching system—the 230i is great for taking tight corners on a less-than-lazy Sunday drive

Protect your cheap powerful car by using Jerry

We all can protect our cheap, powerful cars with expansive (but not expensive)
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