A “sleeper” is a car that looks slow but is unsuspectingly fast. Of course, no one ever buys these cars for their performance, it’s more of just a cherry on top of whatever else the car has to offer. Some sleeper cars – like luxury sedans from Lexus or Audi – are quite expensive, but some can be found for cheap if you look at the used market. Here are five cheap sleepers that almost anyone can afford.
1. Saab 9-2X
The Saab 9-2X is essentially a Subaru WRX in Saab clothing. Also known as the “Saabaru,” this unique hatchback featured the same 227-hp turbocharged flat-4 engine as the Subaru WRX at the time. That also meant that it came with a five-speed manual transmission and an all-wheel drivetrain. According to Car and Driver’s testing, the 9-2X was able to jaunt to 60 mph from a standstill in only 6.1 seconds.
That’s impressive, especially considering any casual onlooker would be none the wiser as to what lies beneath those Saab badges. As far as pricing goes, a recent nationwide search on Autotrader revealed one Saab 9-2X selling for less than $3000. But just note that some may sell for more and they could be tough to find considering Saab only sold this car from 2005 to 2006.
2. 2012 Nissan Altima V6 (with a six-speed manual transmission)
The 2012 model year was the last time that Nissan produced an Altima with a V6 and a manual transmission. And while you might be wondering why you should buy this particular Altima, just know that it can go from 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds, according to Automobile Catalog. That’s quick, especially for an unassuming sport coupe (or sedan) with an Altima badge on it. Knowing that it’s no wonder that so many Altima drivers drive around like they’re trying to win a race.
3. 2007 Saturn Ion Redline
A Saturn, really? Yes, but this is no ordinary Saturn that we’re talking about. Specifically, it’s the Saturn Ion Redline, which was a corporate cousin of the Chevy Cobalt SS. Under the hood of this plastic coupe with suicide doors was a supercharged four-cylinder engine that pumped out 205 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque. The folks at Car and Driver once tested the Ion Redline and reported that it could get to 60 mph in just 6 seconds. Talk about an unassuming car!
4. 2005-2014 Acura TL Type S (six-speed manual)
If you’re looking for a luxury sedan that’s sporty and spacious, then you can’t go wrong with a used Acura TL Type S. This specially trimmed TL was offered in the second and third generations of the car, but what makes it even more special is the six-speed manual transmission that some were equipped with. As you can imagine, a slick-shifting stick coupled with a 270-hp V6 engine made the car a blast to drive.
The later models – 2010 to 2014 – carried a 3.7-liter V6 engine that produced 305 hp that was transmitted to all four wheels via the Super Handling AWD system. Acura said that this configuration could rocket the car to 60 mph from a standstill in just 5.3 seconds, which is fantastic for a luxury sedan. The best part is that this car is quite affordable as many are selling nationwide for around $15,000.
5. 2017 Honda Accord V6 (six-speed manual transmission)
The last known Honda Accord to come with a V6 engine and a six-speed manual transmission was produced in 2017. Just like the Nissan Altima V6, we recommend this sleeper of a sedan because it can get up to 60 mph in just 5.8 seconds, which you would never expect from a sensible Accord. Also, you can find these cars on the market for around $10,000 right now, which is an added plus.
Affordable sleepers that almost anyone can buy
While there are plenty of other sleepers on the market, these five are prime examples of affordable cars that can smoke many cars off the line. They’re quick, cheap, and reliable. So if you’re looking for a practical sedan or a sleek coupe that will fill your need for speed without breaking the bank, check out the cars on this list first.