The Ford Mustang GT packs 435 horsepower and starts at just over $33,000. Image source: Ford Motor Company.
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Horsepower fiends, rejoice! If you want 300 horsepower or more in your next new ride, you have plenty of affordable -- and good -- options. Thanks to the power merchants at Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F), Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE: FCAU), General Motors (NYSE: GM), and Nissan Motor (NASDAQOTH: NSANY), there are coupes, family-sized sedans, sports cars, and even a convertible that all fit the bill for under $35,000.
The 2017 Dodge Challenger SXT Plus. Image source: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
Of course, you can option a Challenger all the way up to 707 horsepower -- but you don't have to spend $65,000 for a Hellcat to have a quick and fun-to-drive version of Dodge's head-turning coupe. Even the most basic Challengers pack 305 horsepower with the 3.6-liter V6, starting around $28,000. If you are careful with the options list, you can even get a Hemi: The 375-horsepower Challenger R/T, powered by a 5.7-liter Hemi V8, starts at about $34,000. That's a lot of old-school fun for the money.
The 2017 Nissan 370Z Coupe. Image source: Nissan.
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Want a true sports car that's at home on curvy roads? The 370Z is the real deal at a good price. Starting at just under $30,000, Nissan's iconic sportster offers 332 horsepower from a 3.7-liter V6 mated to a proper 6-speed manual transmission. The next-up Sport model adds bigger wheels, better brakes, a nicer stereo, and some other goodies for a still-light $33,570; that might be the one to get.
The 2017 Ford Mustang convertible. Image source: Ford Motor Company.
Every single 2017 Mustang has at least 300 horsepower, and many can be had for under our price limit -- there's even a convertible. A Mustang fastback (coupe) with the 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbo four-cylinder, with 310 horsepower and 320 lb.-ft. of torque, starts at just over $26,000; the well-equipped Premium version comes in at about $32,000. The fire-breathing Mustang GT packs a 435-horsepower V8 and starts at just over $33,000 in fastback form, with a slick-shifting 6-speed manual transmission. And that convertible? You can get one with the 300-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 for a starting price of about $31,600.
The 2017 Chevrolet Camaro RS. Image source: General Motors.
Sadly, unlike the Mustang and Challenger, you can't get a Camaro with a V8 at a sticker price under $35,000. But the V6 version of Chevy's pony car combines 335 horsepower and 284 lb.-ft. of torque with a 6-speed manual transmission and the Camaro's superb-handling chassis, providing a sharp-looking and fun-to-drive package at a good price. You can have it for a little over $28,000 if you keep the options list short. Got a bit more to spend? The Camaro's nicely equipped "2LT" trim adds heated leather seats, dual-zone climate control, and premium stereo for around $33,000 -- or just under our $35,000 limit if you add the sporty RS package as shown in the photo.
The 2017 Dodge Charger R/T. Image source: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
Dodge's big sedan has evolved into a roomy, smooth-riding car that, like its two-door Challenger sibling, has plenty of power in even its most basic trims. But you don't have to stay basic: You can just squeeze a 375-horsepower V8 Hemi-powered Charger R/T under our price limit at $34,895. Need all-wheel drive? The V6 Charger falls slightly short of our power limit at 292 horsepower, but V8 Chargers are rear-wheel-drive only. Family-car shoppers in colder climates might prefer a well-equipped Charger SXT with the still-pretty-powerful 3.6-liter V6, all-wheel drive, Chrysler's nice 8-speed automatic transmission, and a good list of standard features. It's yours for about $32,000.
The 2017 Ford Fusion Sport. Image source: Ford Motor Company.
Ford Fusion Sport
New for 2017 is a surprisingly hot and fun-to-drive version of Ford's well-regarded midsize family sedan. The Fusion Sport tucks Ford's much-praised 2.7-liter EcoBoost turbo V6 under the Fusion's shapely hood, offering 325 horsepower (and a stout 380 lb.-ft. of torque) and a nice list of standard features -- including all-wheel drive -- for right around $34,000. (Note: You might pay quite a bit less. There are good discounts available on Fusions right now, including the Sport models.)
The 2017 Nissan Maxima. Image source: Nissan.
Nissan used to market its biggest sedan as a "four-door sports car." It's arguably more "luxury" than "sport" these days, but it's still a mover with plenty of room for the family. Its standard 3.5-liter V6 gives you 300 horsepower for a 0-to-60 time of 5.9 seconds, at a starting price of $32,610. Moving a step up to the SV version adds heated leather seats, a navigation system, and some other premium goodies for $34,590, just under our limit.
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