The used car market has some signs of cooling off, but buyers are still finding it frustrating especially when shopping for a crossover. For folks that are a bit more open-minded, they can score crossover utility in a sportier and more stylish package by going for a luxury (or near-luxury) five-door fastback.
This a quick reminder of what a “five-door fastback” is, because automakers have messed around with the category semantics for so long that body-style labels don’t really mean anything anymore (hence why the BMW X4 has the word “coupe” in its name). The fastback that I am referring to is essentially a sedan with a more sharply sloped roofline in the rear — and most importantly, a trunk opening that is hinged from the roof. This gives the car “hatchback”-like access and typically a lot more cargo space than a similar-sized sedan.
For about $35,000, you can find a moderately equipped Honda or Toyota crossover if by some minor miracle you score one at MSRP and/or you are willing to wait several months. The used market is an option, and you will likely pay about the same amount for a low-mile example.
Or you can live a little bit, and try one of these five used fastbacks and possibly get a better value for your dollar.
Audi’s best five-door-fastback entry into the luxury space was the sharp A7, but finding quality candidates under thirty-five large is a challenge. However, the smaller A5 Sportback can be had within a reasonable budget for folks that want the driving dynamics of an A4 but most of the cargo space of the Q5.
Under the hood is a 2.0-liter turbo that is found in a variety of Audi and VW models. It puts down plenty of punch, and of course that motor is paired with Audi’s Quattro AWD system. Sourcing a factory Certified example at this price point isn’t easy, so you will want to cast a wide net if that extra warranty is a priority.
Here we go again with BMW, which loves to keep using the word “coupe,” but I’m not sure the automaker really knows what it means. The 4 GC uses essentially the same formula as the A5 Sportback: a turbocharged 4-cylinder motor combined with all-wheel-drive, though the BMW could also be had in rear-drive guise.
The 4 series is a tad sportier than the A5, and I recommend hunting one down with the M-sport package. It doesn’t make the car any faster, but it certainly gives some aesthetic upgrades. You will also find the 4 GranCoupe to have more availability over the four-rings.
The last generation Buick Regal was a European car with an American badge, as you could find visually identical cars also called the Opel or Vauxhall Insignia in markets across the pond. What dozens of us wanted was the GS performance in the wagon body, but what we got was a 300 hp V6 in the fastback sedan.
Even so, the GS offers a sporty European-style five-door without a lot of the hassle of European running costs. If you are embarrassed to be driving a Buick, badge swaps are quick and easy, and you can even pretend your car hails from the Land Down Under.
If you want six-cylinder power but the Buick isn’t your bag, the Stinger is your ticket to a practical GT car. You can also get the Stinger with a turbo-four, but you will always question why you didn’t spring for the bigger motor, especially since there are plenty of V6 examples to be had for around $35,000. You can even get loaded GT2 trim cars with CPO coverage that will give you the balance of Kia’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Word on the street is that a gas-powered Stinger won’t be available for much longer, so now may be your chance before buyers think this car becomes a “collector’s item.”
You can view the VW Arteon as a stylish but overpriced Passat, or as a bargain Audi A7 (the VW’s dimensions are within a few inches of the big Audi). While the Arteon isn’t as sporty as the other German offerings, what it lacks in dynamics it makes up for in comfort and features.
For $35,000, you can land a loaded SEL Premium trim that retailed in the $55,000 range. Also important to remember that all 2018 /2019 model year cars had a transferrable 6-year/72,000-mile warranty, and any CPO car would add an additional year and 12,000 miles. That’s a lot of coverage if you are gun-shy about VW build quality.
The average buyer isn’t likely to forgo their Japanese crossover for European or Korean-sourced fastback, but you don’t read this website because you are an “average” buyer. So hold off on that CUV purchase for now and cruise in style.
Tom McParland is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs AutomatchConsulting.com. He takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. Got a car buying question? Send it to Tom@AutomatchConsulting.com