Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

Used Cars

Exploring Affordable AND Powerful Used Cars

If you’re currently in the hunt for a used ride, you may be operating under the “beggars can’t be choosers” mindset. Sure, we understand where you’re coming from; you’re shopping around on a limited budget, so you really don’t have enough flexibility to be choosy. Forget that. Just because you’re pursuing a used car doesn’t mean you have to settle for some underwhelming ride. Rather, you can still hunt for a number of affordable and impressive used nameplates. Specifically, you should still be able to find pre-owned rides that are equipped with powerful engines, and they won’t cost you an arm and a leg to pursue. Below, we explored several used rides that are both affordable and powerful (and, in some cases, plenty luxurious). Take a look at the price tags and the corresponding specs, and we’re sure at least one of these rides will be atop your list when you’re shopping for used cars


Early-2000s Chevy Camaro

This nameplate is known for its sportiness and power. However, some customers who are hunting for a used vehicle may ignore an almost-20-year-old ride due to its rising age. While an early-2000s version of this nameplate certainly won’t be as technical or modern as, say, a late-2000s variation, drivers should still expect a whole lot of power from these rides.

Specifically, the 2002 Chevy Camaro Z28 was accompanied by the hulking 5.7-liter V8 engine. This unit was ultimately capable of delivering an impressive 310 horsepower and 340 pound-feet of torque, numbers that are rarely seen even today. In other words, just because you’ll be traveling around in a used ride, it doesn’t mean power will be compromised in any way.

Best of all, the vehicle comes in south of $8,000, providing a perfectly logical target for those on a budget. Sure, since the vehicle is more than 15 years old, you can expect some of these specs to have slightly decreased over the years. However, even if they have, the power specs are still more impressive than those included in rival used rides.


Late-2000s BMW 5 Series

Few individuals could even dream of driving around in a BMW, much less owning one. While purchasing a used nameplate is presumably out of your budget, a used model is more realistic. Plus, these vehicles tend to pump out a whole lot of power, satisfying those who are looking for some speed.

Offerings like the 2010 BMW 5 Series were touted for their power when they were initially released. It’s only been eight years since this specific model hit dealership lots, so this sentiment should still ring true. The impressive 4.8-liter twin-turbo V8 engine is as nimble as it is muscular. The system is relatively fuel efficient, and it manages to deliver an impressive 360 horsepower. This spec ultimately leads to a 0-to-60 time that’s lingering around 5.4 seconds, which is an absolutely incredible number.

The price tag is the most alluring aspect of this ride. The 2010 BMW 5 Series tends to sell for around $10,100, which should be a perfect fit when it comes to your budget.


Early-2000s Cadillac Seville STS

While this vehicle definitely looks a bit dated, that doesn’t mean it still isn’t capable of pumping out a whole lot of power. Plus, if you opt for an early-2000s variation of this nameplate, you should be able to pull off a sale that’s around $5,500. That’s a great deal for any used vehicle, especially one that’s as mighty as the Cadillac Seville STS.

Looking at specific specs, the 2003 version of the nameplate was equipped with the 4.6-liter Northstar V8 engine, which delivered 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Despite being on the road for nearly a decade-and-a-half, these two specs should still be north of 250, providing an excellent target for those seeking a powerful used ride.


Early-2010s Ford Mustang

The Ford Mustang is one of the most beloved pony cars of all time, and it’d provide the perfect affordable target for those seeking a powerful used ride. Specifically, the 2011 Ford Mustang GT was one of the most hulking rides in the entire industry, and we’re sure the power specs have lasted after less than ten years on the road.

The accompanying 5.0-liter V8 engine is one of the most renowned offerings in the nameplate’s history, promising drivers an incredible 412 horsepower. Even if you opt for a model that’s equipped with the alternative V6 engine, you can still expect 300 horsepower, and the manual or automatic transmission assure smooth switching between gears.

As the cherry on top, customers won’t have to pay an arm and a leg for this used model. An early-2010s version of the Ford Mustang typically comes in around $11,000.


Mid-2000s Audi S4

Sure, Audis aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. However, since you’re pursuing a used vehicle, you really shouldn’t be all that picky. Plus, to satisfy any cosmetic issues you may have, these nameplates have also proven to be plenty powerful.

The V8 engine that’s included under the hood of the 2004 Audi S4 manages to crank out 340 horsepower, allowing the driver to keep up with any other car on the highway. While the engine is especially susceptible to repairs, the low monetary investment makes it worth the risk. After all, mid-2000s versions of the vehicle tend to sell for around $9,500.


Late-2000s Nissan 350Z

You can kill three birds with one stone if you pursue a late-2000s Nissan 350Z. You won’t only be purchasing an inexpensive used ride, but you’ll also be opting for a powerful car. Oh, the vehicle is also a convertible, providing drivers with a luxury experience at a fraction of the price.

The 3.5-liter V6 engine promises drivers 306 horsepower, a number that is rarely seen in convertibles. Plus, the accompanying engine has proven to be plenty reliable, so you shouldn’t expect to dish out additional money at the mechanic. Best of all, pursuing this nameplate would only set you back around $11,000, a solid bargain for a used, powerful convertible.