Last week I issued a challenge to all within earshot: find the best midsize sedans on the used car market known as eBay Motors for under a $30,000 budget. That sort of money gets you near-supercar levels of performance, practicality, and looks, which begs the question: Why would any rational human ever buy new when you have the cars in this list to choose from?
While this Taurus SHO is far cry from its front-wheel-drive naturally aspirated roots, the twin-turbocharged behemoth is a stellar people hauler and can be made spectacular with some suspension and go-fast mods, as is the case with any late model car with the privilege of having a turbocharger. It’s on the heavy side, but the 365 horsepower and nearly equal gobs of torque essentially from idle more than make up for it.
(Suggested by Schep9d)
The Mercedes CLS63 AMG is, in my opinion, the best looking four-door car Mercedes has made in the last two decades. The coupe lines give the car an undoubtedly aerodynamic silhouette, while the ridiculously large V8 engine under the hood gives the car a particular sort of reliability - namely the ability to reliable smoke the rear tires any time your right foot gets a little too heavy for its own good. This one may be slightly over budget, but I’m willing to bet that you can haggle your way back without too much trouble.
(Suggested by rossluzz)
This Jaguar XF is the car that changed the styling direction of the British auto manufacturer and catapulted it into the purview of the nouveau riche, not just the old money porn producers who used to buy the older XJ8. Also, the center console lights pulsate before you turn on the car, mimicking a heartbeat. NOT EVEN A MAYBACH HAS THAT.
(Suggested by The Crazie Kanuck)
Believe it or not, this Power Wheels-size Alfa Romeo Super was considered mid-sized in Italy during the great decade known as the ‘70s. Maybe people just had less baggage, both physical and emotional, or they were smaller, but it seems ridiculous (and fun) to be able to seat five adults in such a car and weld your foot to the floor on the Cul De Turini. With Alfa prices on the up and up, buying any vintage Italian car in relatively good shape seems like the smart money move, especially when it can haul its share of paisans.
(Suggested by AntiLag)
This Audi RS6 is one of the most complete car packages I’ve ever seen. It’s relatively small, can seat five people somewhat comfortably, and goes like a bottle rocket in a barbecue. With a V8 engine coupled with two sizable turbochargers, this car is practically a Bugatti Veyron with a few less components and a few more doors. It’s the most complex thing your mechanic will ever see, but I’m not sure your smile will extend much further than when you press the loud pedal in anger.
(Suggested by JesusFingChrist)
When two German automakers love each other very much, they get together for drinks at the local Kneipe, one thing leads to another and about a year later, a four-door sedan with the looks of Mercedes-Benz and the 322 HP grunt and build quality of Porsche emerges, fresh to the world. If anyone ever wondered what the ‘90s German equivalent to the Hellcat would look like, happy freaking birthday.
(Suggested by Brian Silvestro)
This E90 BMW M3 marks the first time the lowest-level M car ever came with any more than six cylinders and it’s also the last naturally aspirated version, so there’s plenty to write home about. Sure, the new version has more power more of the time, but it also gives you a fake exhaust note that the previous versions didn’t, and more importantly, wouldn’t fake. This was the last relatively analog M car, and for those that are now scrambling to find the driver’s cars that eluded them in their youth, this is a prime example of exactly what you need right now.
(Suggested by BKRM3)
The Cadillac CTS-V is a car that just shouldn’t be good because it has an engine that was developed, in large part, five decades ago in a car that originally housed a lackluster 3.2 liter V6 engine with highly questionable electronics. Yet somehow it works. This example has super low miles, enough so that I’m convinced the owner was scared to drive it, perhaps due to the monumental power output, or the fact that it was a GM product made in the mid 2000s with speed as its primary goal. Whatever the case may be, it’s a wonderfully preserved example of the first generation of Cadillac’s assault on the Germans, and it wasn’t bad at all.
(Suggested by sm70- why not Duesenberg?)
An understated four-door sedan that has ventilated seats and a 450 HP V10 like this Audi S6 will always be met with a bit of skepticism. Yes, it’s a complete and total sleeper and it can be as civilized as the A6 that it’s based on, but its loose Lamborghini underpinnings make it out to be one of the best performance bargains under budget. The car isn’t exactly rare, but I doubt the market will fall much further, signifying that it’ll retain its value for longer than any car that comes off the showroom.
(Suggested by MLGCarGuy was sold Kinja’d laxatives by jkm7680)
If I were to include all the separate models on this list, the entire top half would be comprised of nothing but BMW M5s. That’s how amazing this car is, from the original E28 M5 to the slightly more rigid and racy E34, to the ubiquitous and near-perfect E39, to the exotic screamer that is the E60. The BMW M5 in any iteration is sure to excite immensely, as well as give you the practicality that comes in a four-door family hauler. It’s like your car now, only better.
Tavarish is the founder of APiDA Online and writes and makes videos about buying and selling cool cars on the internet. He owns the world’s cheapest Mercedes S-Class, a graffiti-bombed Lexus, and he’s the only Jalopnik author that has never driven a Miata. He also has a real name that he didn’t feel was journalist-y enough so he used a pen name and this was the best he could do.