A quick glance at online classifieds will show German automakers have the market cornered on cheap, used, all-wheel drive sports sedans. However, if you look hard enough, you may run into a few surprises. Pickings are slim among these Japanese AWD sports sedans, but closer examination reveals a few subtle choices. These are the mild-mannered Japanese sports sedans with AWD for under $10,000.
2009 Acura TL: technology edition
Acura’s TL was a capable entry-level luxury sedan with an air of sports car wafting from under the hood. These Hondas had two engine choices: a 3.5-liter V6 with a single overhead camshaft to a slightly larger 3.7-liter V6 with 305 horsepower. It could do 60 mph in 6.3 seconds, which may have been because of the curb weight resting between 3,750-4,000 pounds. The technology package had various amenities consisting of keyless entry, a new sound system, and navigation.
The TL is comfortable with lots of space in the back seat and some cushion in the front. It’s composed under smooth acceleration and presents adequate visibility. It’s definitely not the most exciting car, but quiet enough to have a conversation with passengers and listen to some smooth jazz from that 10-speaker sound system.
2007-2010 Lexus IS 250 provides capable handling
If you want an early 2000s sport sedan from Lexus with AWD, the IS 250 is one of the more affordable options. According to consumer reviews, Lexus engine reliability is among the best, and the Lexus badge earns a comfortable interior with enough space to keep things comfortable. Acceleration is lacking, but whatever is there is smooth. While the car isn’t necessarily as agile as a BMW or as wild as an Audi, you won’t care as the Lexus IS 250 can put you to sleep without a bedtime story.
IS 250s of this vintage come with a 217-hp 2.5-liter V6. Some owners praise the Lexus for its reliability, gas mileage, and sporty handling, while others warn of driving in the rain. The IS 250’s low profile may induce hydroplaning, according to a review on Cars.com.
2009 Infiniti G37x: true sports sedan with luxury
Infiniti makes the list for its 2009 Infiniti G37x. It’s hands-down the best representative of sports sedans from the big three Japanese automakers. It has proper horsepower at 330 from its 3.7-liter V6, which can mate to a 6-speed manual transmission, which unfortunately isn’t available with AWD. Nevertheless, it received top marks from every car review entity for capable handling and interior comfort.
Acceleration from the V6 isn’t aggressive, but you know it’s there. Although a bit tight for city streets, the suspension knows when to kick in and provides superb grip with confidence enough to wait on things like traction control.
Which is the best choice?
When we say the Infiniti is the best choice, we’re being picky. All three have their own strengths, but for a pure sports sedan experience, the Infiniti has tight suspension, capable acceleration, and premium comfort.