9 High Horsepower Cars for Under $20k

Looking for a bargain barnstormer? These sporty cars are less costly, but still offer plenty of driving fun.

9 High Horsepower Cars Under $20K | CarMax

November 2016

There’s something about a car that goes vroom that can’t be beat. When you’re sitting behind the wheel of a powerful car, your heart races and your mind wanders to all the places you can go. There are plenty of used cars out there that deliver high horsepower for low prices. 

Here are 9 High Horsepower Cars Under $20K:

Research or Buy a Used Nissan 370Z | CarMax

2009 Nissan 370Z

Nissan stepped up its edgy design aesthetic with the 370Z. This car’s length has been trimmed by three inches, the wheelbase lost four inches, and the long-hood looks are extended. The 370Z has a powerful 332-horsepower V6 engine that reaches 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. However, the 370Z requires premium gas to power that engine. On the interior, the two-seater is a tighter fit but it includes padded knee rests for both the driver and passenger.

Research or Buy a Used Nissan 350Z | CarMax

2008 Nissan 350Z

The Nissan 350Z is known for being a modern, edgy sports car. On the exterior, the car has kept the basic shape of the classic Datsun Z but the design is smoother, with fewer angles. With rear-wheel drive, the 350Z also has plenty of power. Under the hood, the standard V6 engine delivers up to 306 horsepower with a 0 to 60 time of 5.6 seconds. And the 350Z delivers a smooth driving experience. The steering is responsive, which comes in handy when you’ve got 268 pound-feet of available torque. Rear visibility is limited, due to the design. And while the car only has seating for two, it fits taller passengers comfortably.

Research or Buy a Used Dodge Challenger | CarMax

2012 Dodge Challenger

The year may say 2012, but the Dodge Challenger looks like the classic model from the 1970s. The 305 horsepower V6 engine revs up nicely and pairs with a five-speed automatic transmission. The base model goes from 0-60 mph in 6.4 seconds. A new option for this model is the high performance Harmon Kardon® audio system. The car comes with six airbags, ABS, and interior head-impact protection, among other features. The Challenger’s comfortable seats and trunk space make for an ideal road-trip pick.

Research or Buy a Used Infiniti G35 | CarMax

2008 Infiniti G35

Known for being one of Infiniti’s best-selling models, the G35 was reinvented as a sedan in 2008. Still, the powerful V6 engine brings up to 306 horsepower. The car comes with a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. This model includes keyless entry and a push button to start the engine. The G35’s handling is still top of the line, and the backseat has plenty of legroom. Leather comes standard, making the ride comfortable for everyone inside.

Research or Buy a Used Chevrolet Camaro IT | CarMax

2011 Chevrolet Camaro LT

Chevrolet stepped up the engine in the Camaro LT, bringing the horsepower up to 312 compared to the previous year’s 304 horsepower. Going 0 to 60 mph takes just 4.9 seconds. The V6 engine does well on fuel economy, getting up to 28 mpg on the highway. While some car reviewers found the steering wheel to be overdesigned, they agreed the Camaro LT handles curves well. The LT also comes standard with OnStar®.

Research or Buy a Used Hyundai Genesis | CarMax

2012 Hyundai Genesis

This Hyundai Genesis was released with several upgrades to the previous year’s model. The new V6 engine has more horsepower, at 333 hp, and a standard eight-speed automatic transmission. The Genesis also comes standard with leather seating and eight airbags. The optional navigation system also includes a rear view camera, included in the optional navigation system. While some have noted the Genesis could have more responsive steering, it does have good fuel economy, with an EPA-estimated 28 mpg on the highway. There’s also ample legroom for five passengers and decent trunk space.

Research or Buy a Used Infiniti G37 | CarMax

2011 Infiniti G37

The Infiniti G37 is a car that balances both speed and luxury. The V6 328 horsepower engine can go from zero to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds. Leather seats come standard for the interior, as well as Bose premium speakers. While the G37 is not known for its roomy back seat, drivers find it offers user-friendly handling, making for a comfortable drive. With an engine that delivers 270 pounds-feet of torque, the G37 carries the title of being the strongest in the Infiniti G series.
Research or Buy a Used Chevrolet Camaro | CarMax

2014 Chevrolet Camaro LS

Chevrolet took a note from their competitors and designed a modern car with a classic feel that looks straight out of a movie set. But that review is just for the exterior. Under the hood, the Camaro LS comes with a standard 323 horsepower V6 engine that provides serious off-the-line acceleration. The LS can carve through turns well, making it feel like you’re driving a smaller car. As with other sports cars, the Camaro’s low visibility is something to be aware of, especially while trying to park.

Research or Buy a Used Ford Mustang | CarMax

2014 Ford Mustang

This classic pony car celebrated 50 years of continuous production in 2014. With the standard 305 horsepower V6 engine, the Mustang can reach 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. The six-speed automatic transmission can also save money by reaching an estimated 31 mpg on the highway. The 2014 Mustang was built similarly to the previous year’s model but with new colors available: Oxford White and Ruby Red Metallic. Like previous models, reviewers still find the backseat is a little tight, but the electric power steering makes for a smooth drive either on the highway or on winding country roads.


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If you have the right strategy and an open mind, there are plenty of ways to save money when you’re shopping for a used car. Here are five ways to make a smarter used car purchase, stretch your dollars even further, and potentially get a newer or more fully-loaded vehicle.

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12 Smart Tips for Buying the Right Used Car

10 Tips for Buying the Right Used Car | CarMax

So you’re ready to hunt for a new, used car. How’s your search going? Not sure how or where to start? We’ve got some car buying tips that can help. Buying a used car doesn’t need to be an ordeal — not when you’ve got solid pointers for searching, shopping, buying, and financing a vehicle. 

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Reasons to Buy a Toyota Tundra

Reasons to Buy a Used Toyota Tundra | CarMax

The rugged, capable pickup truck is an American icon, right up there with the Statue of Liberty and the white-painted Hollywood sign. Of course, the truck needs to be American, preferably with a bench seat for three and room for a dog. Something like the Toyota Tundra, perhaps?

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Reasons to Buy a Nissan 370Z

Reasons to Buy a Used Nissan 370z | CarMax

Over the last nearly 20 years, the Nissan 370Z has built up quite a strong reputation in the US. It has performed admirably against its pricier competition, such as the Toyota Supra and the Mazda RX-7. Today, the Nissan 370Z remains an excellent choice for those in the market for a sleek, stylish sports car with brilliant handling and an impressive interior with lots of driver-friendly features.

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