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4 Fun Cars On a Budget

The automotive market in the USA is saturated with an almost embarrassing number of models from just about every brand operating globally. This is great for those who like variety and options, but it can be overwhelming for shoppers who have a limited budget to work with. But just because you can’t afford the best of the best, that doesn’t mean you should have to settle for a lemon. In fact, some of the most enjoyable drivers are budget-friendly, with many top midsize cars coming in near or below $30k. Of course, you can actually get a bit of bonus value by spending more upfront on a hybrid or electric vehicle. Here are just a few of the most engaging vehicles that won’t break your bank:

1. Kia Stinger

Eastern automakers have long been gunning for some of the luxury spotlight, introducing premium divisions like Lexus, Infiniti, and Genesis in an effort to close the gap between them and established European names like BMW and Porsche. However, the Kia Stinger is proof that they can deliver comparable performance and luxury without resorting to such tactics.

It may be one of the pricier models in the brand’s range, but the sheer value it offers cannot be denied. The Stinger is powered by an efficient and capable turbo four-cylinder engine, though a V6 is available for those that want the more vibrant soundtrack and are willing to pay the larger fuel bills associated with poorer gas mileage.

Aside from a spacious cabin with more cargo space than premium rivals could hope to provide, the Kia sedan is also genuinely fun to drive. Though it may not be a traditional coupe, this sports sedan knows how to deliver a thrill or two, but trying to strike a balance between athleticism and comfortable luxury does mean the suspension does neither masterfully.

Car

2. Toyota GR 86

Toyota has a lot of experience when it comes to making affordable and efficient cars, with top sellers in the states including the Toyota RAV4 and Corolla. However, the automaker also has a long history in the motorsports industry. These two pedigrees combine in the Toyota GR 86, a stylish sports coupe with a flat-four engine that’s good for 205 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of torque. And while the 0-60 mph sprint of 6.1 seconds isn’t going to give you whiplash, the exceptional handling of this sportster will definitely impress. 

Due to its size and body style, the rear seat is cramped, and there is laughably little cargo space in the trunk, but this isn’t meant to be a family car. The cabin feels more like a cockpit that cossets those upfront and delivers the most immersive experience possible. 

The low-displacement four-pot boasts better fuel economy than more common V6 engines in the segment, but overall mpg is still mediocre at best. The high availability of Toyota parts and a good warranty period make the cost of ownership quite manageable.

3. Ford Mustang

No list of popular and affordable sports cars would be complete without a traditional American muscle car, and the Ford Mustang fits the bill perfectly. Unmistakable pony styling is combined with a 310-hp EcoBoost inline-four engine to create a deceptively powerful coupe. Another thing buyers often don’t expect is that it’s also a very practical car. In fact, it serves as a great daily driver that just happens to be stupidly fun.

In terms of economy, the miles per gallon consumption is not terrible, but not all that great, either. However, the Mustang has a very appealing asking price. This increases as you move up the various trim levels, with the Mach 1, GT, and Shelby GT delivering more power and fun in exchange for greater investment.

The American-based brand also has excellent parts coverage, and you can’t throw a rock without hitting a dealer capable of performing a service. 

Car

4. BMW 3 Series Hybrid

By giving one of the most popular and well-crafted luxury sport sedans a hybrid engine, BMW presents the 3 Series Hybrid as one of the best hybrid sports cars money can buy. True, it’s a bit on the pricey side, but the hybrid powertrain helps to alleviate some of the cost of ownership, though the German luxury exec still relies on premium gas. However, most of the electrical assistance goes towards boosting performance.

It’s one of the more practical Bimmers out there, though the standard tech offering could be better. As is often the case with the brand’s cars, you have to pay extra for a lot of desirable features. That being said, the infotainment suite is comprehensive and easy to use. It’s arguably one of the most engaging and capable sports execs, and the hybrid variant barely costs more, which is quite unusual.

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