Most Powerful Cars and SUVs Under $30,000 in 2019
You can have an all-new vehicle with 395 horsepower for $30,000by Safet Satara, on
These are the most powerful vehicles under $30,000. Some of them offer an insane amount of raw power for the money, and we can thank the good ol’ capitalism and the competitive market for that.
Horsepower wars realistically started when the second car was invented, and, whether you like it or not, horsepower sells. This list, thankfully, shows that we live in a time when you can get the most bang for your buck, all thanks to your unsatiated need for speed and raw power. To give you a glimpse of the sheer horsepower insanity behind the sub-$30k price cap, let me tell you that you can have a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado with 310 horsepower for less than that. If you, however, like the appeal of a muscle car, then the Ford Mustang EcoBoost with 350 pound-feet of torque and 310 horsepower could soothe your need for power.
Despite the incredible power/price ratio of 300+ horsepower for less than $30,000, this is not the most you can get for your money, as you’re about to find out.
Let me tell you something right from the start. I could find a more powerful vehicle to start this list, but I think that the 2020 Subaru WRX deserves to be on it. It is a car with a fantastic symmetrical all-wheel-drive system and a rather raspy 2.0-liter turbocharged engine packing 268 horsepower.
Regardless of the sheer horsepower, it's the rally-inspired pedigree, track-ready suspension, and a fantastic six-speed manual make it competent in any situation.
I would even go that far to say that despite being the least powerful on this list, it is the most capable on asphalt.
The latest version can accelerate to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds. And it will do so on almost any surface you encounter. The big deal to take away from this is that the Subaru WRX starts at $27,495. You can head out and opt for an overachieving Subaru WRX Premium and still remain under $30,000. That one comes with Subaru’s Starlink 7-inch Multimedia Integration, a sport-tuned suspension setup, and 18-inch wheels. Quite cool.
Read our full driven review on the 2020 Subaru WRX
Surely, I had to include the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado WT and its 4.3-liter EcoTec V-6 that develops 285 horsepower. Believe it or not, the GM truck is among the least powerful cars on this list, but it is not the most affordable.
Not only does it move past the usual curtails of the entry-level trucks with the best-in-class torque rating of 305 pound-feet, but this entry-level Silverado can tow up to 7,900 pounds.
Now, bear in mind that I am just starting a list, and the horsepower number will only rise from now on. This one, at 285 horsepower, has more power compared to rally-bred WRX.
Read our full review on the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado WT
The next in line is, of course, the Silverado’s nemesis - the 2020 Ford F150. Particularly the XL trim level, regular cab, two-wheel-drive model. Obviously, almost the same as the Silverado.
Except for one crucial fact - the cheapest Ford F-150 shoots a tad above the Silverado price-wise, and it does have a smaller engine.
The 3.3-liter Cyclone engine good for 290 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque powers the base Ford F-150. Despite packing five more horsepower, it is not as punchy as Chevy’s. After all, 40 pound-feet of torque more in the Chevy is a lot. Nevertheless, the cheapest Ford F-150 can tow up to 7,700 pounds. Not shabby at all.
Read our full review on the 2020 Ford F-150 XL
In an everlasting attempt to attract buyers to its super-old Durango, Dodge offered it with a rather capable V-6 in its entry-level form. It reached this list as one of the cheapest SUVs out there, packing 290 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Interestingly enough, the transmission is even more impressive.
The ZF-sourced 850RE eight-speed automatic 850RE transmission is one of the most advanced in the business.
It, unequivocally, makes the Durango that much better. And the V-6, in its latest form in the Durango, can return 19 mpg city, 26 highway, and 21 combined. Not the best, but also not the worst.
Start/Stop comes as standard, as well as the Uconnect 4 multimedia setup and its 7-inch display. A light beige interior is also a no-cost option and could even be better than the plain black. While I did list the Durango with its "Employee price", it is well known that any buyer can get this price when shopping for the entry-level model.
|Price (Employee price):||$29,804|
Read our full review on the 2020 Dodge Durango
Since the introduction of the second-generation 300, Chrysler has managed to find more than 400,000 buyers for its full-size car.
Some would say that 300 is counting its last days on the market, but I am sure it will survive for a couple more years.
One of the reasons for its surprisingly wide market reach is the distinctive design. However, I would say that some of its appeal comes with its entry-level 3.6-liter engine with 292 horsepower on tap. The 2019 Chrysler 300 Touring with a V-6 is available for just under $30k. More so, the Touring comes with a pleiad of fine equipment such as 17-inch alloys, 8.4-inch Uconnect 4, and the Torqueflite eight-speed automatic transmission. Heck, throw in a $95 engine block heater and the Interior Appearance pack from Mopar, and you’ll barely overshoot $30,000.
Read our full review on the 2019 Chrysler 300 Touring
Whether you like it or not, the Ford Mustang EcoBoost is a thing. I am not even mad. After all, we had the SVO in the eighties with the 2.3-liter four-banger and 200 horsepower.
Unlike that one, the latest 2020 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Fastback ticks a lot of performance-oriented boxes with its 310 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque.
After all, this engine, taken from the Ford Focus RS, was detuned for its use in the Mustang. The big deal here is that the rather large Mustang is pretty capable with its tiny engine. I am talking about a 0-60 mph time of less than five seconds and a top speed of 155 mph. I know that some of you feel like vegans in a meat restaurant driving around in an EcoBoost Mustang, but the thing is this is a fast car.
Read our full review on the 2020 Ford Mustang EcoBoost
Well, this may be a teenager’s sweetheart (well, it was), but no one can dispute the incredible value of the two-door, two-seat 2020 Nissan 370Z. OK, it is not a $30k car.
It is 90 bucks more expensive than that, but I cannot believe that the dealer would not sell it to you for $29,999.
The thing about the 370Z is that it can be fun. Its 3.7-liter V-6 good for 332 horsepower may not be the most refined, but it is fun. There’s no denying about that. Plus, in its base guise, it comes with a freaking six-speed manual transmission. Can’t ask for more than that, can you now?
The thing about the 370Z is that it feels like a car destined for mods. It is like a blank canvas with which you can do a lot. Nevertheless, even if you like your stuff stock, 270 pound-feet of torque and 332 horsepower can do some proper tire-shredding and satisfy your need for performance. Expect it to reach 60 mph in just over five seconds. Heck, if you can change your gears fast enough, you can even slash that time a bit. The Nissan 370Z comes as stock with 18-inch wheels shod in 225/50 R18 front and 245/45 R18 rear Yokohama Advan Sport high-performance tires.
Read our full review on the 2020 Nissan 370Z
Apart from the rather impressive Ford Mustang EcoBoost, I will include here yet another muscle car - the 2020 Chevrolet Camaro.
Unlike the Mustang EcoBoost, the Camaro comes with a six-cylinder engine good for 335 horsepower and 285 pound-feet of torque.
Some would say that having a V-6 Camaro isn’t exactly muscle-y enough, but the thing is that this is a rather good V-6 as it cranks out more pound-feet of torque than you can get from an entry-level V-6 in the F-150. In this case, however, all of it plays to provide the Camaro V-6 with a lively performance. In numbers, it looks like this:
|0-60 mph:||5 seconds|
|Top Speed:||155 mph (est)|
I don’t know about you, but I call that competent enough. To give you some more perspective, this Camaro is just as quick as the BMW M3 E46 - on the straights, of course. The most impressive fact about the Camaro V-6, however, is that you can pay $1,600 more for the automatic transmission, and still remain under $30,000 mark.
Read our full review on the 2020 Chevrolet Camaro 1LT
Now we are getting to the big boys.
This is the Nissan Titan, a truck available with a 5.6-liter gas engine that develops 390 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque.
Apart from this V-8, Nissan offers it with a Cummins V-8 diesel, but that one is of no interest to this list. With 390 horsepower and 401 torques available at 4,000 rpm, the Titan feels like one of the most apt trucks out there. It will tow just shy of 10,000 pounds and has a maximum payload capacity of 1,850 pounds, and it will seat three on the front bench seat.
As far as fuel economy goes, the Titan will return 15 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway. Not the best one out there, but what did you expect of a $30,000 V-8 truck?
Read our full review on the 2020 Nissan Titan
As part of the program called Employee Price for All, Ram will sell you a powerful 1500 Tradesman Quad Cab 4X2 for just over $30,000.
The thing about this one is that it comes with a freaking V-8 engine. The 5.7-liter, Hemi V-8 makes 395 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. That is a lot in a car that sells for as low as this one. Sure, I have to be honest and say that you could have work trucks from Ford or Chevy with a V-8 for a bit more, but this one seems to be one of the cheapest.
Having the most powerful engine on this list, the Ram 1500 Tradesman is also a competent tow truck, as it will pull up to 12,750 pounds.
Without all that weight in the back, however, the V-8 can return up to 22 mpg on the highway.
Read our full review on the 2019 Ram 1500 Tradesman Quad Cab 4X2