In the automotive world, a sleeper is a car that looks unassuming, unpretentious, slow or modest, but sports car quick when you put your foot down. Some cars meet this criteria straight out of the factory, but they’re too expensive for most -think BMW X5M. Some cars were fast and unpretentious from the factory, but are so old, or were canceled so early in their production run that they are now very rare. Sure, these cars are sleepers, but they’re not available enough to take advantage of –most people already know they’re fast. Many of these sleepers are souped up factory spec mundane cars, which is perfect for the sleeper image –they look like every other car.
Most people in this market for affordable sleepers have around $10k to spend, and for that price there’s plenty to go around. Many of the cars in this list are hatchbacks and wagons. Why you ask? Nobody expects a station wagon or a dinky little hatchback to outrun a Camaro or Porsche, but many of these sleepers have a fighting chance.
#5 Toyota Corolla XRS
Produced from 2005-2006 and then again from 2009 to 2010, these souped up corollas give even pony cars a run for their money. All XRS’s came with 6-speed manual transmissions, lowered ride heights, sporty wheels and ground effects. While it’s 127 ft-lbs of torque and 170 horsepower may not seem impressive, it’s low weight, understated look, decent performance(7.0 second 0-60), and inexpensive price (around $5k) makes this pocket rocket one of the ultimate sleepers.
#4 Volvo V70R
More appealing for families, this Swedish family hauler hauls!! The unassuming station wagon body hides this car’s great performance. Its 2.5T i5 makes 300+ horsepower and rockets this puppy to 60mph in about 6 seconds -flat. The v70R was also AWD, making this tank the perfect winter car too. Now, you can pick up a super clean v70R for about $12,000.
#3 Saab 9-3 Aero Sportcombi v6
Once again, another Swedish Wagon. These things are steals, especially when you weigh the performance and price. With 280 horsepower and 295 ft-lbs of torque, this turbocharged famiymobile gets to 60mph in just about 6 seconds, which may seem like less of a deal than the previous Volvo, but not once you consider that these Saabs are way less expensive, usually selling for less than $9000.
#2 Buick LaCrosse Super
If straight line performance is what you’re after, look no further than the 2009 Buick LaCrosse Super. With a 5.3L v8 producing 300 horsepower, this ol’ boat roars to 60mph in a brisk 5.7 seconds. With clean examples selling for no more than $7,000, this M3-beater is a no brainer for those looking for cheap speed.
#1 Lexus GS450H
With 342 horsepower and the extra uumph added from the hybrid battery pack and motor, this $10,000 road trip machine scoots! Quicker than the V8, the V6 hybrid offers many modern amenities like Bluetooth and a backup camera, plus also gettting better MPG! It’s a win-win.