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Top 12 Cheapest Cars with 300+ Horsepower – MotorTrend

by Nov 6, 2022Blog0 comments

It wasn’t all that long ago that buying a brand-new 300-horsepower car was reserved for well-to-do enthusiasts shopping for exotic sports cars. Today, a grandmother taking her grandchildren for ice cream in her Toyota Camry may well have 300 horses under her right foot. How’s that for progress? Here, we show you the 12 cheapest cars with 300 horsepower that you can buy new in 2020, right off the showroom floor—no modifications or other trickery needed.
But if you think 300 horsepower equals driving excitement, well, think again. Some of these cars are far better suited to grocery store runs than they are track days. Still, with even the most expensive car on this list ringing in at under $38,000, that’s something to celebrate. If you’re looking for even more horsepower, don’t miss our breakdowns of the most affordable cars with 400-plus-horsepower and the 500-plus-horsepower kings and queens of the road.
Without further ado, the cheapest cars with 300-plus horsepower:
The 2020 Ford Mustang EcoBoost is absolutely the cheapest car with 300 horsepower on the U.S. market today with a base MSRP of $27,865 including destination fee. With a 2.3-liter turbocharged inline-four making 310 horsepower paired to a six-speed manual, you could even call the turbo-four Mustang fun to drive. Want an automatic transmission? Ford’s 10-speed slushbox adds $1,595. Feeling spendy? Step up to the 2020 Ford Mustang GT Fastback with the 5.0-liter “Coyote” V-8 and you’ll get 460 horsepower for just $37,075, less money than the most expensive car on this list. 
The base Dodge Challenger SXT with rear-wheel drive has Chrysler’s “Pentastar” 3.6-liter V-6 sitting up front with a healthy 303 horsepower on tap for just $29,590, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Given that the Challenger isn’t a lightweight, you may want to step up to the R/T RWD trim, giving you a 5.7-liter V-8 rated at 375 horsepower for just $36,490. 
Like its pony car sibling the Ford Mustang, entry level Chevy Camaros start with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine these days. Unlike the Mustang, the Camaro’s base 2.0-liter turbo four only makes 275 horsepower. That means you’ll have to step up to 3.6-liter V-6 for its 335 horsepower, paired with the standard six-speed manual transmission. At $30,090, you’ll spend several thousand more than a base Mustang, but you’ll also get a little extra oomph and arguably a more engaging exhaust note. For about five grand more ($34,995), we’d be tempted to splurge for the 6.2-liter V-8 with a big 455 horsepower which is possibly a slightly better value than the entry-level 5.0-liter ‘Stang. 
Yes, Nissan’s decade-old 370Z steed is about ready for the glue factory, but while it’s been available it’s consistently been one of the cheapest 300-horsepower cars you can buy brand new. To get this price, you’ll choose a base 370Z with a six-speed manual transmission and the 3.7-liter VQ-series V-6, with its 332 horsepower output. A new Nissan Z-car may be on the way soon, but a bone stock 370Z is still a treat to drive and a true performance bargain for traditional sports car lovers. 
And you thought we were kidding. Yes, you really can buy a 301-horsepower Toyota Camry, and the cheapest way of doing so is with the TRD trim level. That includes sportier styling and suspension, along with Toyota’s 3.5-liter V-6 engine paired to an eight-speed automatic for $32,165. Being a TRD version, you just might even get a few envious eyeballs at the local drive-thru or grocery store parking lot. And let’s not forget, this is the cheapest way you’ll get 300 horsepower in a brand-new four-door sedan in the U.S. right now.
As we told you, a minimum of 300 horsepower alone isn’t necessarily going to be enough to get your blood boiling. Case in point: the 305-horsepower Chevy Impala LT with front-wheel drive. Still, if you want the bragging rights that 300 horses bring, and you need four doors, and you want to buy from a historic American brand, this is your entry point. 
Arguably a more exciting option than the Impala, the (not always purple) Dodge Charger GT sedan in its base rear-drive spec boasts a tire-chirping 3.6-liter V-6 making dead-on 300 horses, just edging into the cheapest cars with 300 horsepower ranks. It also has a pretty decent eight-speed automatic transmission and a retail price of just $33,490. Want tire smoke instead of tire chirps? Try the Charger R/T RWD and its 375-horsepower 5.7-liter V-8 for less than five grand more ($37,990). 
Nissan’s front-wheel-drive “four-door sports car” is a looker, and nicely trimmed to boot. As a performance car? Well, we think you can do better in this price segment considering this one’s lumped with a fun-sapping CVT transmission. Still, this is a fairly luxurious-feeling sedan with an honest 300 horsepower from its 3.5-liter V-6 for well under $40,000, which isn’t something to take for granted. 
Call it an expensive Toyota, a budget Lexus, or both simultaneously—you won’t get any backtalk from us. The Avalon continues to hit its niche with middle-aged non-enthusiasts, and all Avalons, including the XLE base model, are equipped with Toyota’s 301-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6. A comfortable, roomy, pulse-reducing 300-horsepower sedan if we ever knew one. And all for just $36,870. 
If you’re shopping in the premium market space, the Infiniti Q50 3.0t Pure is going to be your cheapest 300-horsepower car option with its twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 for $37,425. With rear-wheel drive and a decent seven-speed automatic transmission, the Q50 is even up for a little backroads fun. Still, we’d venture that the Q50’s 300-horsepower engine is its most salient feature.
If you enjoy a focused performance car, here’s where things start getting extra good. The WRX STI may be at the end of its production run for the current generation, but it may also be the last STI that isn’t paired with a hybrid powertrain. If you’re a traditionalist, you might just want to hurry down to your local Subie dealer and pick up a brand-spanking-new STI with its 310-horsepower, 2.5-liter turbocharged boxer-four, paired with a six-speed manual transmission. For $37,895 it remains an all-wheel-drive performance bargain, even if it’s not the cheapest 300-horsepower car available today. 
Or, if you want to be slightly contrarian, you could opt for the Honda Civic Type R and its unnaturally good front-wheel-drive chassis. The CTR’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four pumps out 306 horsepower and its track-tuned suspension and slick-shifting six-speed manual gearbox will make you an instant backroads champion. Still, its styling may be a bit much for some—we get it. But for the driver, even as the most expensive car on this list, it’s the king of the cheapest 300-horsepower cars.
This article is an update to an article originally published December 21, 2012.