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sábado, septiembre 30, 2023
HomeCarsTop 20 Fastest Used Cars Under $20,000

Top 20 Fastest Used Cars Under $20,000

What will you do if you have a budget of $20,000 to buy a fast car? Buy a new car or a used one? If you go the new car route, your options will involve vehicles like the Kia Soul, Nissan Versa, Chevrolet Trailblazer, etc. These aren’t bad cars for that price, but they sure aren’t ‘fast’.

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But, if you go the used route, the $20,000 budget will open you to a world of fast cars that will comfortably fulfill your adrenaline cravings. That said, it leaves you vulnerable to getting cars that might end up spending half the time in garages. So, which car should you pick? Well, we’ve listed 20 of the fastest used cars you can buy for under $20,000 and have a good time with them.

The list below has been compiled by data from Kelley Blue Book validations for the used amounts, with the options left as standard and the zip code left the same. The MSRP was collected from several sites, including the carmaker newsrooms, Edmunds, Car and Driver, MotorTrend, and U.S. News and Reports.

Updated June 24, 2023: We’ve included a few more great options for sporty and quick cars that can be had for under $20,000, including some American muscle, hot hatches, and sports cars that provide plenty of thrills for enthusiasts not looking to break the bank. Despite the continued volatility of the used car market, these models still offer plenty of options for fast fun under $20,000.

RELATED: Top 10 Cheap Cars That Are Really Fast

20 2004 Pontiac GTO

Starting Used Price: $10,163

A parked 2004 Pontiac GTO
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Front and side view of a 2004 Pontiac GTO

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Here’s one model you won’t find anywhere else besides the used-car market. The fifth-generation Pontiac GTO lived a short two-year life before it was canned. It didn’t last long enough to make an impression on a lot of people, but even with its short life, the GTO was able to serve notice that it wasn’t one to be messed around with.



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Original MSRP

Pontiac GTO Base



As the last model to wear the iconic «GTO» badge, the fifth-generation Pontiac GTO lived up to the billing, thanks in large part to a 5.7-liter V-8 engine that produced 350 horsepower and 365 pound-feet of torque. The GTO wasn’t the prettiest performance car you could buy back then, but it sure packed the kind of meat that allowed it to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds on its way to a top speed of 160 mph. Finding a used model under $20,000 is no big deal, but be careful of the car’s history before buying it.

19 2006 BMW M3 E46

Starting Used Price: $12,145

A parked 2006 BMW M3 Convertible

Front and side view of a 2006 BMW M3 Convertible

The BMW M3 E46 is arguably one of the best versions of the M3 to ever come out. It was available in the market from 2000 to 2006, and it impacted many people when it was around. It was lauded for being engaging, reliable, and all-out fun to drive. The M3 E46, in particular, added incredible power to that mix, drawing its juice from a 3.2-liter inline-six engine that produced 333 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque.



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BMW M3 E46 Base



The M3 E46 could sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds and hit a top speed of 155 mph. The M3 E46 was a super hit model, so finding one won’t be a task. However, finding one for under $20,000 won’t be that easy. You can find some for a shade over $20,000, like the one we’ve linked, but it all boils down to your negotiation skills to bring it under $20,000.

18 2008 Impreza Subaru WRX STi

Starting Used Price: $14,475

A parked 2008 Impreza Subaru WRX STi
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Front and side view of a 2008 Impreza Subaru WRX STi

The Subaru Impreza WRX STi is an icon in its own way. It is powered by Subaru’s respected 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer engine, producing more than 300 horsepower. The powerful engine is complemented by a six-speed manual transmission that sends all that power to all four wheels. All of this makes the WRX STI one of the most fun performance cars to drive on the road.



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Subaru Impreza 2.5i Sport



Subaru Impreza Outback Sport



Subaru Impreza 2.5i Premium



Subaru Impreza WRX Premium



Subaru Impreza WRX Sport



Subaru Impreza WRX STi



You can’t go wrong owning one. Depending on the year and trim, owning a second-hand Subaru WRX STI is easier than it sounds. 2008 STis are what you can get in this price band. If you’re fortunate, you might also come across some 2010 models. But be sure to check it thoroughly.

RELATED: The 10 Most Desirable Classic Ford Mustangs in Existence

17 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

Starting Used Price: $14,634

A parked Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
IFCAR via Wikimedia Commons

Front and side view of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

Mitsubishi doesn’t have the sparkliest of reputations these days. However, it has one model that still captures the imagination of sports car lovers worldwide. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution was produced from 1992 to 2016, and, to this day, it’s still considered one of the purest all-wheel-drive performance cars in the business.



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Mitsubishi Lancer DE



Mitsubishi Lancer ES



Mitsubishi Lancer GTS



Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart



Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution SE



Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR



Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR Touring



Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR



That’s high praise for an automaker who has struggled to gain traction (pun unintended) in the industry for over two decades. It is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces as much as 291 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. Combine that with its all-wheel-drive setup, and the Lancer Evo was as fast as it was fun to drive.

16 2010 Ford Mustang GT

Starting Used Price: $11,574

A parked 2010 Ford Mustang GT Premium Convertible

Front and side view of a 2010 Ford Mustang GT Premium Convertible

While the standard V-6 powered 2010 Mustang can be much cheaper than the V-8 powered GT version, the two extra cylinders provide a lot of added performance, with most models still staying below $20,000. Better still, a $20,000 max budget doesn’t exclude the GT Convertible model for those who crave open-air cruising and to hear more of its V-8 soundtrack.



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Ford Mustang Base



Ford Mustang Premium



Ford Mustang GT Premium



Ford Mustang GT



Ford Mustang Shelby GT500



Even though well over a decade has passed, the Mustang’s retro-inspired exterior styling and cabin are still endearing, as is the 4.6-liter V-8 offering up an impressive 315 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. The 2010 GT is an appealing option as it was the first model year to offer a revised interior with better quality materials, a facelift over prior models, with a reduction in drag, wider wheels, a higher rev-line, and increased stiffness to benefit performance.

15 2011 Dodge Challenger R/T

Starting Used Price: $14,751

A parked 2011 Dodge Challenger R/T

Front and side view of a 2011 Dodge Challenger R/T

The Dodge Challenger is a prime illustration of the automotive industry’s move to full electrification, with the traditional model being replaced by the upcoming Charger Daytona EV. But thankfully for those who still want a burly V-8 under the hood, the Challenger R/T not only fits the bill on cylinders, but models from 2010-13 are fairly abundant at under $20,000.



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Dodge Challenger Base



Dodge Challenger R/T



Dodge Challenger SRT8



The R/T is powered by a hulking 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 that dishes out 376 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque with a standard six-speed manual transmission. That’s good enough to propel the 2011 Challenger from 0-60 mph in 5.0 seconds and onto the quarter-mile mark at 13.5 seconds at 106 mph. And as a slice of American muscle, the Challenger R/T has the commanding presence, both visually and aurally, to match its engine’s performance.

Related: 10 Best First Cars Under $10,000

14 2012 Nissan 370Z

Starting Used Price: $14,235

Blue 2012 Nissan 370Z

A front 3/4 outdoor shot of a 2012 Nissan 370Z driving on a race track

The new Nissan Z has garnered quite a lot of attention, but much of its underpinnings are shared with its predecessor, the 370Z. The 370Z is the continuation of the long-running Z lineup, and like its new iteration, it puts a premium on sports car thrills without breaking the bank — it won’t take too much searching to find a coupe model from 2008-14 that rings it an under $20,000.



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Nissan 370 Z Base



Nissan 370 Z Touring



Nissan 370 Z NISMO



Powered by a 3.7-liter V-6 offering 332 horsepower paired with a six-speed manual, the 370Z provides adept handling, sprightly acceleration, and a bevy of customization options to increase its performance. And though its design is now over 15 years old, the 370Z’s styling will still turn heads.

13 2014 Chevrolet Camaro SS

Starting Used Price: $17,502

A parked 2014 Chevrolet Camaro SS

Front and side view of a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro SS

The fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro was a return to form for Chevy’s resident muscle car. Introduced in 2010 after an eight-year hiatus for the Camaro nameplate, the fifth-gen Camaro not only reignited interest in the Camaro as a muscle car, but also sparked a renaissance for the entire pony car industry.



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Chevrolet Camaro LS



Chevrolet Camaro LT



Chevrolet Camaro SS



Chevrolet Camaro ZL1



Chevrolet Camaro Z/28



Of all the versions of the Camaro that came out in that era, the SS was arguably the most sought-after. It wasn’t as fast as the Z/28, but the Camaro SS still packed an impressive 6.2-liter V-8 mill with 426 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. Just as important as the Camaro’s power figures were its performance times. In full bloom, the Camaro SS could sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds on its way to a capped top speed of 155 mph. You should be able to easily hunt down a model from this generation for under $20,000.

12 2014 Subaru BRZ

Starting Used Price: $11,259

A parked 2014 Subaru BRZ

Front and side view of a 2014 Subaru BRZ

The Subaru BRZ was unique for the time because of a Toyota/Scion partnership that led to a rear-wheel drive sports car that was a sibling to the Toyota 86 and the Scion FR-S. It was designed and produced to take on the other sports cars flooding the markets, such as the Mazda MX-5 Miata.



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Subaru BRZ Base



Subaru BRZ Limited



The Subaru BRZ was an affordable sports car in 2014 when it was pushed out onto the market, as it is today on the used market for those looking for something with a little bit of power. The 2.0-liter under the hood can pump out up to 200 horses, and the high-revving engine can reach torque amounts of 151 pound-feet. On the track, you are looking at times like 6.4 seconds from 0 to 60, with room for improvement.

Related: The Best Luxury Cars Under $70,000

11 2014 Infiniti Q50

Starting Used Price: $13,708

white 2014 Infiniti Q50 rear

rear 3/4 view of a white 2014 Infiniti Q50 overlooking mountains

Looking back through history, many carmakers you see have been around for a long time, but that is not the case with Infiniti. This luxury brand of Nissan has only produced cars for American markets since 1989. The motto they started out with of not trying to please everyone, but rather the few, has been a level of production that they strive to reach even today.



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Infiniti Q50 S 3.7



Infiniti Q50 Base 3.7



Infiniti Q50 S Hybrid



Infiniti Q50 3.7 Premium



Infiniti Q50 Hybrid Premium



The 328 horsepower V-6 from previous years is carried over for 2014, leaving the Infiniti Q50 a little behind some competitors, such as the BMW 335i. That is one of the reasons why you can pick this luxurious sports sedan up for less than $20,000 because many people underestimate the power that it still has. The car can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 5.5 seconds, which is still better than many of the smaller sports cars on this list.

10 2015 BMW 328i

Starting Used Price: $11,730

A parked 2015 BMW 328i xDrive

Side view of a 2015 BMW 328i xDrive

What better than getting a less-than-10-year-old BMW for under $20,000? It’s not just about the badge; you get a car that’s a looker, a performer, and an absolute keeper. Keep in mind that the 328i is a bit of a collectible when it comes to luxury cars, so you may have to look somewhere other than auction sites to find a good deal on one.



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BMW 328i



The turbo-four engine is smooth, gives ample power, and can be a fun vehicle for straight-line sprints. It’s not just that; you can potter it around town at legal speeds and even have fun on windy roads over the weekend. There’s a reason why BMW 3 Series is known as the sportiest compact luxury sedan, and the 328i is no exception.

9 2015 Scion FR-S

Starting Used Price: $12,933

A parked 2015 Scion FR-S

Front and side view of a 2015 Scion FR-S

Due to the collaboration with Subaru in making the BRZ, the Scion FR-S is a close sibling but has fewer standard features than the BRZ. The idea behind that is not to leave you without creature comforts but to leave you with what you really want; nothing but the driving experience of a fine sports car.



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Scion FR-S Base



Scion FR-S 1.0 Release Series



The Scion FR-S has the same 2.0-liter flat-four cylinder that pushes out 200 horsepower and up to 151 pound-feet of torque. On the track, it can put numbers down like 0 to 60 in 6.2 seconds and a quarter-mile run in under 15 seconds. Since the Scion has a rear-wheel drive system, the FR-S can make a great drift car if built correctly.

Related: Top 10 Best Practical Sports Cars Under $30,000

8 2015 Fiat 500 Abarth

Starting Used Prices: $7,483

If you step back and look at the Fiat 500 Abarth, you might chuckle to yourself or even laugh out loud because it does not look like much. If you are trying to find a car that looks fast, this is not the model for you. But, throughout the 60+ years of Abarth history, they have built cars for one purpose; to race.



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Fiat 500 Abarth Base



The 2015 Fiat Abarth has a small 1368cc turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine under the hood that can only manage about 157 horsepower at 5,500 RPM and 183 pound-feet of torque at 2,400 RPM. The little car only weighs 2,683 pounds, so it can still sprint from 0 to 60 in around 6 seconds. If you think about that speed in such a little car, you can imagine how fast it actually feels when sitting in the driver’s seat.

7 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Starting Used Price: $12,436

A parked 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Front and side view of a 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Almost every enthusiast has this little roadster on their bucket list at some point in life. The MX-5 nameplate rocked our worlds for the first time in the late 80s and has been a heartthrob ever since. We’ve picked the 2016 Miata because Mazda returned to the original template with this model after swerving off in between.



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Mazda MX-5 Miata Sport



Mazda MX-5 Miata Club



Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring



It was smaller and lighter, thus making it even more agile and fun to drive. Although 155 horses don’t seem like a lot on paper, the Miata will prove you wrong. The 2016 MX-5 Miata started at around $26,000 and went up to $31,000, but you can get the top-end Grand Touring convertible for under $20,000 in 2023 if you search well.

6 2016 Dodge Charger

Starting Used Price: $13,193

A gray Dodge Charger SXT

An exterior shot of a base model Dodge Charger

If you’re looking for raw, brute power, the Charger should be on top of your list. It was offered with many engine options, but the one that will fall within this budget is the 292-horsepower V-6 engine. It was mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox that powered the rear wheels. If you are lucky, you could also get an all-wheel-drive model at this price.



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Dodge Charger SE



Dodge Charger SXT



Dodge Charger R/T



Dodge Charger R/T Road and Track



Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack



Dodge Charger SRT 392



Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat



The Charger offers ample space for passengers in the front and back. To make it even better, it offers a relatively spacious cargo space so you can carry luggage for a week-long vacation for your entire family without worrying about how you’ll travel with it.

Related: The Best Cars Under $35,000

5 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Starting Used Price: $14,379

A driving 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Front and side view of a 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTI

This is one hatchback you just can’t go wrong with. While the 2023 range starts at around $30,000, you can lay your hands on models as new as 2017 for well under $20,000. The Volkswagen Golf GTI has been around for the longest time, and it is one of the best enthusiast cars you can get if you’re just starting off.



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Volkswagen Golf GTI S



Volkswagen Golf GTI Sport



Volkswagen Golf GTI SE



Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn



It comes with 220 horses, which should make you chuckle every time you floor the A-pedal. When you’re ripping it on the roads, it will also serve as an excellent daily driver and a nice weekend-getaway car for the family. All said, there’s no way the Golf GTI can disappoint you, unless you’re a glass-half-empty kind of person.

4 2017 Honda Civic Si

Starting Used Price: $16,788

A parked 2017 Honda Civic Si
Inertiadrifto86 via Wikimedia Commons

Side and partial front view of a 2017 Honda Civic Si

The Type R is the pinnacle of performance in the Civic portfolio, but it hasn’t been present on our shores since the beginning. Until its arrival, the Civic Si held that spot, so it’s fair to put it on this list. The 2017 Civic Si is part of the 10th-gen Civic that came out a year before. Although the Si was known to come with its own identity (under the hood), from this generation onwards, it featured the same mill as the pedestrian Civics, albeit in a different state of tune. The 2.4-liter free-breathing engine made way for a smaller 1.5-liter, four-pot with forced induction.



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Honda Civic LX



Honda Civic EX-L



Honda Civic Touring



Honda Civic EX-T



Honda Civic LX-P



Honda Civic Si



It makes the same 205 horses but 18 pound-feet more torque than the models before the 2017 range. This gives it a strong low- and mid-range but reduces the redline to just 7,000 rpm. It is a decent daily driver, too, and can be a good car for your urban commutes. The 2017 Civic Si hovers around $20,000 in price. High mileage models will fall under it, and low mileage, over. But, if you research well, you can get lucky and get the best of both worlds – low mileage and under $20,000.

3 2017 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

Starting Used Price: $11,352

A parked 2017 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

Front and side view of a 2017 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

The Hyundai Veloster may not have the outright power of many of the cars on this list, but the quirky little hot hatchback isn’t short on driving excitement, particularly when it’s being thrashed around in corners. While the standard Veloster had to manage with 138 horsepower, the Turbo version is fitted with a 1.6-liter, you guessed it, turbocharged four-cylinder that offers 201 horsepower with either a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.



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Hyundai Veloster Base



Hyundai Veloster Value Edition



Hyundai Veloster Turbo



Hyundai Veloster Turbo R-Spec



The Veloster Turbo’s small footprint helps its agility in corners, and its accurate, quick steering aids the cause. It’s also easy to appreciate the Veloster’s unique status as a hot hatch with three doors, two big exhausts at the shortly overhanging rear end, and its overall idiosyncratic looks. And plenty of Turbo models can be found for several thousand under $20,000.

RELATED: The 17 Fastest Cars in the World Ranked

2 2017 Mini Cooper

Starting Used Price: $10,698

A parked 2017 Mini Cooper
2017 Mini Cooper

Front and side view of a 2017 Mini Cooper

The Suez Canal Crisis back in 1956 is something that most of you have forgotten about, but if you want to know why the Mini Cooper came to be, it is necessary to travel back in time to that point in history. Gas prices increased, and car sales for larger vehicles decreased, leaving a place on the market for small European cars. Hence the Mini Cooper was created.



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Mini Cooper Base



Mini Cooper S



Mini Cooper John Cooper Works



The base trim level Mini Cooper is powered by an inline three-cylinder that can manage to pump out 134 horsepower, which is adequate for daily trips back and forth to the store or work. If you want something fast, though, you will need to try and find the Cooper S or John Cooper Works version because it comes with a more powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder mated to a six-speed automatic or manual transmission.

1 2018 Ford Focus ST

Starting Used Price: $13,689

A parked 2018 Ford Focus ST
Vauxford via Wikimedia Commons

Front and side view of a 2018 Ford Focus ST

All enthusiasts can appreciate a good hot hatchback, and the Ford Focus ST was undoubtedly a bright spot for the segment during its production run in the U.S. Though earlier versions exist, the most powerful version available in the U.S. had a production run from the 2013-18 model years with the facelifted version debuting in 2015. The Focus ST is powered by a sprightly 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder serving up 252 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque.



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Ford Focus SE



Ford Focus SEL



Ford Focus Titanium



Ford Focus Electric



Ford Focus ST



Ford Focus RS



Showing its enthusiast-driven nature, it is only available with a six-speed manual transmission. Alongside its more aggressive looks and available Recaro sport seats, the ST features a sport-tuned suspension and other kits that make it a strong performer in the corners with all the everyday practicality of a Focus hatchback. Even top-spec versions of the ST can now be had for under $20,000.

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