The Best Sleeper Sedans For Under $15,000 - story fullscreen Fullscreen

The Best Sleeper Sedans For Under $15,000

These 10 Sleeper Sedans will inspire you to make the Gumball Run. And they each cost under $15,000

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There’s something amusing about a quick car that looks ordinary and even boring. The feeling of smugness when you pass a performance car and see the driver’s expression is priceless. Moreover, there are certain benefits when having a car that looks like your average grocery-getter, like being pulled over less often. Now, more than ever, we are spoiled for choice and there are plenty of attainable options, like the ones on this list. Moreover, each one can be had for no more than $15,000.

Volkswagen Passat B7 3.6 FSI (2010-2014)

2011 Volkswagen Passat High Resolution Exterior
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Volkswagen has been a controversial brand, in recent years. In fact, after the “Dieselgate” scandal, the German company was fined again, together with BMW, for colluding on emissions technology. Regardless, we can’t deny they make some quick cars. The B7-generation of the VW Passat is one such car.

That is if it’s equipped with the narrow-angle 3.6-liter VR-6 engine, which makes 300 horsepower and 258 pound-feet (350 Nm). This version of the Passat only works with a six-speed, wet-clutch, version of the DSG automatic transmission and Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. The result is a 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) sprint in an impressive 5.2 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph (250 km/h).

2011 Volkswagen Passat High Resolution Exterior
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In addition to being quick, the Passat offers great comfort and practicality. You can pick a good one up for under $12,000, with under 90,000 miles (145,000 km) on the clock.

Volkswagen Passat B7 3.6 FSI specifications
Engine 3.6-liter VR-6
Power 300 HP
Torque 258 LB-FT
Transmission six-speed DSG
0 to 60 mph 5.2 seconds
Top Speed 155 mph

Read our full review on the Volkswagen Passat B7 3.6 FSI

Lexus IS350 (2005-2013)

2010 Lexus IS High Resolution Exterior
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Lexus is known for its dependable luxury cars with performance, in most cases, being an afterthought. While you won’t mistake the IS-F for the normal version, the IS350 looks just as sedate as the lesser four-cylinder model.

However, the 3.5-liter direct-injected V-6 unit pumps out 310 horsepower and 277 pound-feet (375 Nm). Those are sent to the rear wheels, through a six-speed automatic. The result is a 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) time of around 5.5 seconds. The top speed is limited to around 143 mph (230 km/h), for some reason.

Lexus IS350 specifications
Engine 3.5-liter direct-injected V-6
Powertrain 310 HP
Torque 277 LB-FT
Transmission six-speed automatic
0 to 60 mph 5.5 seconds
Top Speed 143 mph
2010 Lexus IS High Resolution Exterior
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You get slightly less space than the Passat, but the rear-wheel-drive platform makes it a bit more “tossible” in corners. You’ll have to pay for that Japanese dependability, as a 2008 model with under 90,000 miles (145,000 km) can set you back around $12,000.

Read our full review on the Lexus IS350

Acura TL & TLX (2010-2017)

The Best Sleeper Sedans For Under $15,000 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Acura TL & TLX (2010-2017)
Both of these seem like lazy comfortable sedans, but they pack potent V-6 engines.

Not one but two propositions come from Acura. The TL and TLX are both quite similar, with the TL being slightly larger. Although they are both front-wheel drive in base form, Acura’s Super Handling all-wheel drive (SH-AWD) system is available on many of them. Both are comfortable long-distance cruisers, with plenty of space for occupants and storage.

At the same time, you get potent V-6 engines, in both. The TLX’s 3.5-liter V-6 pumps out 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet (362 Nm). The 3.7-liter V-6 in the TL makes 304 horsepower and 273 pound-feet (370 Nm). Both cars take around 5.8 seconds to hit 60 mph (97 km/h), while the top speed is 150 mph (242 km/h) for the TL and 162 mph (261 km/h) for the TLX.

Acura TL & TLX specifications
Acura TL Acura TLX
Engine 3.7-liter V-6 3.5-liter V-6
Power 304 HP 290 HP
Torque 273 LB-FT 267 LB-FT
0 to 60 mph 5.8 seconds 5.8 seconds
Top Speed 150 mph 162 mph
2015 - 2016 Acura TLX High Resolution Exterior
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You are looking at around $12,000 to $15,000 for good examples with around 100,000 miles (161,000 km) on the clock.

Read our full reviews on the Acura TL & TLX

Ford Taurus SHO (2011-2019)

2014 Ford Taurus SHO High Resolution Exterior
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You probably saw that one coming. There’s a reason why the Ford Taurus was used by the Police, in some states. Just like the 1990s Taurus, this generation also has an SHO version. The car is much bigger than before, but there’s a lot more engine too. The 3.5-liter twin-turbo, direct-injected V-6 unit makes 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet (475 Nm) from as early as 1,500 RPM all the way to 5,250 RPM.

The engine is connected to a six-speed automatic and power is sent to all four wheels. This translates into a 5.2-second time to 60 mph (97 km/h) and a top speed of 155 mph (250 km/h). At the same time, the Taurus SHO looks no different than the four-cylinder version. In addition, it offers plenty of space on the inside, not to mention the 20.1 cubic feet (567 liters) of minimum cargo space.

Ford Taurus SHO specifications
Engine 3.5-liter twin-turbo, direct-injected V-6
Power 365 HP
Torque 350 LB-FT @ 1,500 - 5,250 RPM
0 to 60 mph 5.2 seconds
Top Speed 155 mph
Transmission six-speed automatic

Around $14,000 can get you a good one with around 100,000 miles (161,000 km) on the clock. As a bonus, people might think you are a cop. Just don’t go pretending to be one, as the actual police might come for you.

Read our full review on the Ford Taurus SHO

BMW 550i E60 & F10 (2003-2013)

The Best Sleeper Sedans For Under $15,000
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From 367 hp and 361 lb/ft to 407 hp and 443 lb/ft. 0 to 60 mph happens in as little as 4.6 seconds.

Again, we have two for one. With so many M-models, it’s hard to remember that BMW is a luxury carmaker first and a performance carmaker second. With this in mind, $15,000 can get you the highest-spec non-M versions of the 5 Series – the 550i. The E60, although controversial in its design, features a 4.8-liter naturally-aspirated V-8 that produces 367 horsepower and 361 pound-feet (490 Nm).

If you are lucky enough, you can even find a six-speed manual version. Power goes to the rear wheels and the 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) time is 4.9 seconds. For even less, you can get the 545i or 540i, which have 333 and 306 horsepower respectively. Most 550i E60 are under $10,000, but the really good ones are around $11,000.

BMW 5 Series E60 specifications
Engine 4.8-liter naturally-aspirated V-8
Power 367 HP
Torque 361 LB-FT
Transmission six-speed manual
0 to 60 mph 4.9 seconds

If you are willing to spend a bit more, you can get a pre-facelift BMW 550i F10. In this case, you’ll get a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 with 407 horsepower and 443 pound-feet (600 Nm). The gearbox is only one – a smooth ZF eight-speed automatic. It can be had either as a rear-wheel drive or with BMW’s xDrive system. You are looking at a 0 to 60 mph (97 km) time of 4.6 seconds, which is identical to the old E60 M5.

2011 BMW 5-Series Sedan
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BMW 5-Series F10 specifications
Engine 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8
Power 407 HP
Torque 443 LB-FT
Transmission ZF eight-speed automatic
0 to 60 mph 4.6 seconds

At the same time, both the E60 and F10 550i models look identical to the lesser four-cylinder models, which have about 170 horsepower.

Read our full reviews on the BMW 550i E60 & F10

Volvo S60 T6 (2012-2018)

2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E - Driven Exterior
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Christian Moe had a week with the 2015.5 S60 T6 Drive-E, check outwhat he thought of it at TopSpeed.com.

It’s almost an unwritten rule that there should be at least one Volvo in a car list about sleepers. The Polestar versions are more on the subtle side, but if you want to really be under the radar, you have to go with the T6. Models before 2015 had the 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six unit. That produces 304 horsepower and 325 pound-feet (440 Nm). The 3.0-liter version comes with an all-wheel-drive and is automatic only. The 0 to 60 mph sprint happens in 5.6 seconds.

From 2016, Volvo downsized the T6 engine. It’s now a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four, which produces 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet (400 Nm). Less torque, but also less weight means the 0 to 60 mph time remains identical to the older S60 T6. The top speed is 155 mph (250 km/h). The gearbox is now an Aisin eight-speed automatic, as opposed to the old six-speed. Post-facelift T6 models are either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

Volvo S60 T6 specifications
Before 2015 Starting 2016
Engine 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four
Power 304 HP 306 HP
Torque 325 LB-FT 295 LB-FT
Transmission six-speed automatic eight-speed automatic
0 to 60 mph 5.6 seconds 5.6 seconds
Top Speed 155 mph 155 mph

For about $14,000 you will be able to get a clean example of the sleek Swede with around 90,000 miles (145,000 km) on the odometer.

Read our full review on the Volvo S60 T6

Jaguar XJ-R (2003-2009)

2006 Jaguar XJ
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It’s hard to believe that $15,000 can get you a clean example of this luxury barge. A lot of this has to do with Jaguar’s reliability record, which isn’t the best. However, this particular generation is said to have dealt with many of the model’s weaknesses, such as electrical gremlins and occasional coolant or oil leaks, to name a few.

I said a luxury barge, but actually, the XJ-R has always been the most fun to throw into corners from all the full-size executive sedans. This is partially due to the extensive use of lightweight materials, such as aluminum. This results in the XJ-R having a curb weight of just 3,657 pounds (1,659 kg).

The engine is a 4.2-liter supercharged V-8 that produces 395 horsepower and 408 pound-feet (553 Nm). Power is sent to the rear wheels through a five and later a six-speed automatic gearbox. The 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) time can happen in as little as 4.9 seconds, while the top speed is 155 mph (250 km/h).

Jaguar XJ-R specifications
Engine 4.2-liter supercharged V-8
Power 395 HP
Torque 408 LB-FT
Transmission six-speed automatic
0 to 60 mph 4.9 seconds
Top Speed 155 mph

The best part is, you can get a great example with around 100,000 miles for around $12,000, while higher mileage ones are well below the $10,000 mark.

Read our full review on the Jaguar XJ-R

Chrysler 300C HEMI (2011-present)

2012 Chrysler 300C Exterior
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The Chrysler 300C is another often-mentioned car on such lists. We are focusing on the second generation in particular, as it offers more refinement and more power. $15,000 will not get you the SRT-8, but it will get you the 5.7-liter V-8 HEMI-powered version. In this generation, the pushrod engine puts out 363 horsepower and 394 pound-feet (534 Nm).

Earlier models are equipped with a Mercedes five-speed automatic, while later ones (2013 onwards) have the ZF eight-speed unit. The 300C is probably the most car you’ll get for the money, at least on this list. Despite weighing in at 4,325 pounds (1,962 kg) curb weight, the big Chrysler manages a 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) time of around 5.3 seconds.

Chrysler 300C specifications
Engine 5.7-liter V-8 HEMI
Power 363 HP
Torque 394 LB-FT
Transmission five-speed automatic
0 to 60 mph 5.3 seconds

The 300 is technically a more luxurious version of the Dodge Charger and Challenger, although they are all based on an old Mercedes E-Class platform. It’s not impossible to find decent examples for around $13,000, although mileage can vary from 30,000 miles (48,000 km) to over 100,000 miles (161,000 km).

Read our full review on the Chrysler 300C HEMI

Ford Fusion Sport (2017-2019)

2017 Ford Fusion High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The Taurus SHO has proven worthy of the sleeper title, but the Fusion Sport is often neglected. Dubbed the Mondeo in Europe, the Fusion Sport can be had with a 2.7-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6. It also comes with an all-wheel-drive and a six-speed automatic with manual mode. According to Ford, if you use 93-octane fuel, the Fusion Sport’s V-6 makes 325 horsepower and 380 pound-feet (515 Nm).

Ford Fusion Sport specifications
Engine 2.7-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6
Torque 325 HP
Torque 380 LB-FT
0 to 60 mph 5.1 seconds
Top Speed 155 mph

This is enough for a 5.1-second sprint to 60 mph (97 km/h). Ford, however, has not given exact numbers for lower-octane fuel. I guess they want us to use “premium unleaded only”. Regardless, this is enough grunt to put many performance cars to shame or at least give them a run for the money. At the same time, you get great practicality and that ala-Aston Martin front grille, which Ford shamelessly stole. Sadly, the Fusion Sport’s European counterpart – the Mondeo – cannot be had with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine.

The good news is, good examples can be had for around $15,000, with about 100,000 miles on the odometer. For lower mileage ones, expect to pay a few grand more.

Read our full review on the Ford Fusion Sport

Audi S6 5.2 FSI (2008-2010)

The Best Sleeper Sedans For Under $15,000
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Audi S6 C6 2008-2011
Lamborghini V-10 in a subtle German sedan? Yes, please! 4.9 seconds to 60 mph rarely sound so exciting.

This one is a bit of a stretch, but it’s still within the $15,000 mark. The Audi S6 from these years was one of the first cars that saw the exchange of parts between Audi and Lamborghini. Because of this, you will find a 5.2-liter normally-aspirated V-10 engine, under the hood of the S6. Of course, it’s not the exact same engine as in the Lamborghini Gallardo, as it has been de-tuned to 435 horsepower and 398 pound-feet (540 Nm).

Audi S6 5.2 FSI specifications
Engine 5.2-liter normally-aspirated V-10
Power 435 HP
Torque 398 LB-FT
0 to 60 mph six-speed Tiptronic automatic
0 to 60 mph 4.9 seconds
Top Speed 155 mph

Coupled to a six-speed Tiptronic automatic and the Quattro all-wheel-drive system, this unassuming German sedan can reach 60 mph (97 km/h) from a standstill in just 4.9 seconds. The top speed is limited to 155 mph (250 km/h), as per the German Gentlemen’s agreement. The more hardcore RS6 uses a twin-turbo version of the same engine with up to 580 horsepower. Unfortunately, it does not fit the budget.

For $15,000 you will be able to find a decent later example with around 100,000 miles (161,000 km) on the clock. With these, you definitely need to make a pre-purchase inspection, otherwise, you might be walking into a potential bankruptcy, followed by a divorce.

Read our full review on the Audi S6 5.2 FSI

Dim Angelov
Dim Angelov
Born in 1992, I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts. My passion for cars was awoken at the age of six, when I saw a Lamborghini Diablo SV in a magazine. After high school I earned a master’s degree in marketing and a Master of Arts in Media and Communications. Over the years, I’ve practiced and become skilled in precision driving and to date have test driven more than 250 cars across the globe. Over the years, I’ve picked up basic mechanical knowledge and have even taken part in the restoration of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to automotive photography, and while modern cars are my primary passion, I also have a love for Asian Martial Arts, swimming, war history, craft beer, historical weapons, and car restoration. In time, I plan my own classic car restoration and hope to earn my racing certificate, after which I expect to establish my own racing team.  Read full bio
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