The 16 Most Powerful Cars You Can Get for Under $40,000

Horsepower for the masses.


Serious power doesn't have to cost serious money. For under $40,000 you can get cars with horsepower figures that were astronomical 15 years ago.

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Infiniti Q50 3.0T - 300 HP - $39,150

The Infiniti Q50 just barely makes it on our list with a base 3.0T costing just under $40,000. Its twin-turbo V6 makes 300 hp here, but in the more-expensive Red Sport 400 S, it makes, you guessed it, 400 hp.

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Toyota Avalon - 301 HP - $35,500

The Toyota Avalon traditionally hasn't been a Road & Track car, but the new 2019 model gets a new 3.5-liter V6 with 301 hp. You can get this engine for a little less money in the smaller Camry, though.

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Toyota Camry V6 – 301 HP – $34,400

We bet you weren't expecting to see this here. The Toyota Camry gets an optional 301-hp, 3.5-liter V6 for the 2018 model year. It's a strong motor, and it's got some genuine sports-car pedigree, thanks to the Lotus Evora.

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Chevrolet Impala V6 – 305 HP – $28,865

Chevrolet will sell you a totally base Impala with a 3.6-liter V6 for well under $30,000. Our friends at that it's more fun than you'd expect, too.

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Subaru WRX STI – 305 HP – $36,095

The 2.5-liter flat-four in the WRX STI may be over a decade old, but it still holds its own among serious company. This is old-school turbocharging, and you have to love it for that. And if you can get your hands on a WRX STI Type RA, you get an extra five—five!—horsepower.

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Honda Civic Type R – 306 HP – $34,700

Finally, US car enthusiasts get the Civic Type R, a car we've wanted for a long time. It's a little monster with a reasonable price and a front-wheel drive Nurburgring record.

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Buick Regal GS - 310 HP - $39,070

The Buick Regal GS makes a return for 2018 with a 3.6-liter V6 borrowed from the Chevy Camaro. It makes a little less horsepower than the Camaro, but it pairs it with a clever torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system.

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Ford Mustang EcoBoost - 310 HP - $25,680

The cheapest Mustang you can get today still offers serious performance, thanks to its 310-hp EcoBoost four-cylinder. It wasn't that long ago that a V8 Mustang barely made as much.

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Ford Fusion V6 Sport – 325 HP – $33,845

It took a while, but the Ford Fusion now has a proper engine to match its Aston Martin-aping looks. The 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 in the Fusion Sport makes 325 horsepower and is equipped with all-wheel drive. Just get one before production ends in the coming years.

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Nissan 370Z – 332 HP – $29,990

The aging 370Z tends to get forgotten among all the great new performance cars it competes with, but it's emerged as somewhat of a bargain. For not much more than the price of a Subaru BRZ, you get a lot more horsepower.

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Nate Hassler
Chevrolet Camaro V6 - 335 HP - $28,395

You can get the 335-hp V6 Camaro for well under $30,000, but we recommend opting for the $4500 1LE package. That makes the Camaro a serious track-day machine, all for just $32,895.

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Kia Stinger GT - 365 HP - $38,350

The Kia Stinger GT is one of the most exciting sports sedans on sale today, posing a real challenge to much more expensive rivals from BMW and Audi. Its 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 makes a respectable 365 hp, helping the Stinger's chassis come alive.

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Dodge Challenger R/T - 372 HP - $33,995

If you want an American V8 on a budget, the Challenger R/T is the way to go. Its 5.7-liter Hemi cranks out 372 horsepower, and you can pick one up for under $35,000. And if you need four doors, the mechanically similar Charger R/T is just under $36,000.

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Chevrolet Camaro SS – 455 HP – $37,995

Instead of comparing this car with the Mustang, think of the new Camaro SS as the cheapest way to get the Corvette's amazing LT1 V8. It's a superb engine, and it's installed in an amazing chassis too.

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Ford Mustang GT – 460 HP – $35,190

For 2018, Ford upgraded the Mustang GT's 5.0 V8 to crank out 460 hp. It's a hell of an engine, and it's worth the price of admission alone. Thankfully the new 'Stang handles well too, especially with the Performance Pack.

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Dodge Challenger/Charger RT Scat Pack – 485 HP – $39,995

Long live cheap American horsepower. The Challenger and Charger Scat Packs might not have the crazy 707-hp V8 of the Hellcat, but it offers plenty of power for the money. Frankly, this might be the best all-around Challenger/Charger available in the whole range.

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