Sedans

Top Sport Sedans for Less Than $40,000

2019 Buick Regal GS

The sport sedan segment may be categorized as a dying breed, but the few affordable options that remain provide more bang for your buck than ever before. While the field continues to shrink, there are still some bargains to be found in the market. Here are two of our favorites.

2019 Kia Stinger GT

Starting at $39,300, the Kia Stinger GT is the newest competitor in the segment and has reshaped the very idea of what a sport sedan could be. During a time when many manufacturers are phasing out sedans entirely, Kia decided to capitalize on the shortage and start from scratch to build a car that provides the perfect balance of performance, luxury, and style.

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Featuring a dual overhead cam 3.3-liter twin turbo V6 engine that produces 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque, this Stinger isn’t to be confused with your typical mud dauber. According to test results from Car and Driver, zero to 60 mph rushes by in a blistering 4.4 seconds, and the GT completes the quarter-mile in 12.9 seconds at 111 miles per hour. At this level of performance, the Stinger GT is encroaching on pony car territory in the guise of a 4,000-pound sedan.

Utilizing a shortened version of the Hyundai Genesis’ rear-wheel drive platform, the Stinger features a rather unconventional five-door fastback configuration. This layout provides more interior cargo space than traditional sedans in its class by utilizing a hatchback design with a rear lift gate instead of a trunk. The rear seats can fold flat to provide 40.9 cubic feet of space.

Red 2019 Kia Stinger
2019 Stinger GT2 RWD | KIA Motors

High-end tech features including LED headlights, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay come standard on the base model GT, along with Brembo brakes and 19-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin summer tires. While all-wheel drive can be added for an additional $2200, you’ll have to opt for the rear-wheel drive configuration if you want to stay below $40,000.

2019 Buick Regal GS

I know what you must be thinking, “A Buick on a list of sport sedans?” Don’t act so surprised. This isn’t uncharted water for the brand. The last generation GS debuted in 2012 with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, six-speed manual transmission and GM’s HiPer Strut front suspension technology. It was an enthusiast’s car by nature based on its drivetrain configuration alone. But excessive turbo lag and the unpleasant four-cylinder exhaust note didn’t give the car the premium feel buyers were expecting. The interior was cramped, and backseat headroom was nonexistent. The GS provided plenty of sport, but the comfort and luxury appointments Buick had been known for were missing.

In 2018, the Regal GS was completely redesigned to be larger, lighter, and more practical than its predecessor. Like the Stinger GT, Buick broke the unofficial sport sedan code by making the GS a five-door hatchback. With the rear seats folded down, the GS has 60.7 cubic feet of cargo space—almost 20 feet more than the Stinger. Nearly three inches in overall length give the cabin a more spacious feel as well, especially for rear passengers.

Its impressive cargo space notwithstanding, perhaps the most appealing feature of the GS’ interior is its exclusive AGR certified front seats. Although the aggressive styling would look less out of place in a Z06 Corvette, we’re not necessarily complaining. They’re not just for show either, as the seats have adjustable side and thigh bolsters, along with heating, cooling and massage function capabilities.

With a starting MSRP of $39,995 and standard all-wheel drive, the new GS is now equipped with a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 310 horsepower and 282 pound-feet of torque. Without the help of turbochargers, it’s a far cry from the Stinger’s performance specs on paper.  But the GS’ lighter 3820-pound curb weight, 9-speed automatic transmission and GKN torque-vectoring rear differential make it an intriguing option. Both performance benchmark times are a full second slower in the GS, with a 5.4-second zero to 60 mph and a quarter-mile time of 13.9 seconds at 101 miles per hour.

Verdict

We don’t think you can necessarily go wrong with either option. The Stinger certainly offers the better performance of the two, and likely would garner more attention if turning heads were at the top of your list. The Regal is more unassuming, but perhaps flying under the radar is more your style.

Both cars feature interactive drive control systems with adjustable settings to spice up your weekly commute. Brembo brakes come standard on both, along with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. If you live in a climate where all-wheel drive is pertinent and your $40,000 budget is tight, the Regal GS might be the better choice. But if performance alone is your priority, the Stinger edges out. Regardless of your decision, you’re sure to experience a sedan that takes the mundane feeling away from daily driving and leaves you genuinely excited to get behind the wheel.