Top 10 Cars Under $40,000
Top 10 cars under $40,000 by Anthony Portesy
With the vast array of automotive choices out there, picking a car these days is harder than finding parking in New York City. I have compiled a list of the ten best cars under $40,000. Here are the top ten:
10. Hyundai Genesis- Starting Price: $34,200
I know what you’re thinking and I thought I’d be in the cold, cold ground before a Hyundai would EVER make this list. Hyundai has done its homework with this car. It has the sweet looks of a runway model and its engine performs like a high school honors student. Speaking of the engine, it has a 333 hp 3.8L v6 motor. Plenty of pep for a daily commute or just cruising on the freeway. The interior is spacious and can comfortably fit four full sized adults. I wouldn’t go about bringing your fat Uncle Ted along for your adventures with this car, but for a Hyundai there’s a large amount of legroom. This car is no spring chicken and it has all the makings of a solid car that packs a punch in the looks and acceleration departments.
9. Lincoln MKZ- Starting Price: $34,645
This car is not your Grandpa’s Lincoln of yesteryear. Lincoln realized a few years ago that if you keep courting 85 year olds that eventually they kick the bucket. In order to survive, the company had to court the middle aged executive type. The exterior façade of the car, particularly the front grill, is sharper than anything out of your mom’s kitchen knife drawer. Going inside the vehicle and you will find the Lincoln SYNC ™ system, which allows you to do everything from play your IPOD™ to make phone calls with your cell phone through the vehicle speakers. Ask your grandpa what an IPOD is and you’ll realize that this car is a force to be reckoned with. The MKZ lacks a bit in the engine department with its 3.5L V6 pushing 263 horsepower. These power numbers are misleading because the car is sluggish when you push the throttle and it doesn’t move as fast as you’d think 263 ponies would. It’s like the railroad, it will get you there but not as fast as you’d like. The interior is more spacious than most of the other cars on this list but interior space has always been a Lincoln trademark. Overall, the car is well refined and a solid automobile, but Lincoln needs to do a better job in the performance department.
8. Lexus IS 250- Starting price: $34,465
Ask anyone who knows me and they know I hate Toyotas. If Toyota were a flavor, it would be a bland vanilla. They take the ‘cookie cutter’ approach to every vehicle they make in both the Toyota and Lexus auto lines. I’m surprised more people don’t fall asleep behind the wheel of their uninspiring vehicles. All that being said, the Lexus IS 250 is their attempt to ‘break the mold’ of lackluster vehicles. The exterior design makes you think it’s not a Lexus because of its sporty and sleek curves. The interior has a look of sophistication that you almost think you are riding in a chariot. The car features a 2.5L v6 engine pumping out 204 horsepower. Now, to most people that would be underpowered (especially giving my Lincoln MKZ bashing above), but the engines low rpm torque gives the car plenty of pep. This car is a step in the right direction for Toyota, but one car won’t get them out of the world of monotony.
7. Audi A4- Starting price: $29,713
Audi calls this car a “compact sedan”, but the car’s sophisticated look and style disguise it’s compact roots. The A4’s exterior is show stopping featuring a set of fog lights embedded in the headlamps that have a series of bright white bulbs rather than the traditional one bulb. This illuminates the exterior of the car and gives the car a classiness all its own. It’s rounded front and rear fascias is refreshing in an era where car companies are trying to box out the styling to be ‘edgy.’ The interior is all that you would expect from an Audi. It is a little cramped, but as the cheapest cars on the list, there will be sacrifices in some departments. The engine is a 2.0L turbo powered 4 cylinder pushing around 211 horsepower. Again, for the price you will have limits to what the car can give you. The only issue I have with this car is the ‘turbo spool’ where the car takes a second to really giddy up because the turbo needs time to spin. The A4’s weakness in the engine department is overshadowed by it’s stunning exterior.
6. Volvo S60- Starting Price: $30,975
So, I take it you stopped reading #6 when you saw the word “Volvo.” How can the car that is #1 in safety be on the top ten cars under $40,000? The same recipe that worked for other cars on this list: a jaw-dropping exterior. A car is like a girlfriend, if it doesn’t look good, what’s the point, haha. All jokes aside, this car is a real winner. I’ve already got you salivating over the exterior, so let’s talk performance. This car is available with a litany of engine choices but the one that likely comes with the base model packs a 2.5L Inline 5 cylinder pushing around 250 horsepower. Yeah, you heard right folks, a grocery getter Volvo is pushing 250 hp. That’s more hp that the A4 and IS on this list. Don’t sleep on a Volvo, it will get you there safe and in style.
5. Infinity G37- Starting Price: $35,800
Since the cars introduction in 2003, it has been the car of choice for the mid 20 year-old who just scored his first full time job. That is the precise reason why I really was reluctant to embrace this car. Most of the guys that drive this car have egos that the car’s 3.7L v6 couldn’t pull. But, this article is about the car, not the driver. The car is firing on all cylinders from its exterior, interior, and engine. The exterior has visual cues that are reminiscent of Roman architecture with the sharp peaks around the front end and sleek rear bumper. The interior is nothing less than you should expect out of an Infinity with plenty of front and rear room. The coolest thing about the car is how the cup holders are recessed below the shifter. It’s really annoying to spill your iced coffee when you are shifting and the engineers at Infinity really got the hint. The engine makes your heart beat faster than your first girlfriend ever could. With a 3.7L v6 pushing out a whopping 328 horsepower, you are sure to get a few speeding tickets, if you don’t watch your lead foot. The cars burbling exhaust makes a guy’s testosterone levels fly off the charts. It’s no wonder guys my age drive this bad boy. The G37 is a car for the man lusting for adventure and sophistication.
4. Mercedes C300- Sport Sedan Starting Price: $33,990
Let's be real fellas, if you want to impress a girl, you drive a Mercedes. Of course, she’ll think that you’re making up for a certain male organ, but she’s still in the car with you. This car is everything that you expect out of a Mercedes and more. It has the perfect combination of luxury and sportiness. The engine is a 3.0L v6 pushing out 228 horsepower. I know what you’re thinking, 228 hp, my grandma is faster than that. Well, remember this engine is made by Mercedes. This car will blow the doors off of half the cars in this list. One of my co-workers has this car and it moves like a salsa dancer on a Saturday night. The car is a Mercedes and its exterior speaks for itself. If I need to tell you that a Mercedes is a top ten car in any list, you should have your head examined. Just kidding, but this car is a legitimate force in the automotive world of cars under $40,000.
3. Cadillac CTS- Starting Price: $35,990
Oh, Tony of course, you would pick a Cadillac #3 on the list because of your heritage. Let me tell you, not every Italian drives a Cadillac. This car gets the three spot on this list on its own merits. When this car was introduced in 2002, the brand was in trouble in many of the same ways Lincoln was. The average buyer was in their 70s and Cadillac had some bland autos in its stable due to GM cutting costs left and right on research and development. The Cadillac CTS was the “knight in shining armor” for the brand. Today, the car is the brands top seller and it is because of its slick styling, innovative electronics, and awe inspiring interior décor. The engine is a 3.0L V6 churning out 270 horsepower. This is about par for the course for most of the autos on this list but the car has some muscle to those 270 ponies. I have driven this car and I will tell you that when you slam the throttle, you really get thrown back in your seat. This is not your typical “old man’s Cadillac.” It looks like Cadillac has finally built a sedan that can play in the big leagues.
2. Acura TL Starting Price: $35,605
I will say that I am partial to the Acura brand since I drive a TSX sedan, but the Acura TL is a ‘trail maker’ vehicle. It’s aggressive styling hues and engine technology makes the TL a trendsetter in the field. The car has Acuralink ™ real-time traffic and weather embedded into the Navigation system to provide you with the most up to date traffic and weather. Further, the engine has fuel vapor technology that absorbs the burned off fuel to get more miles per gallon. Couple that with a 3.5L V6 engine that gets a whopping 280 horsepower and you have car that is definitely a wild animal. The one downside is that the car tips the scales at almost 3,700 lbs, which makes it one of the heaviest cars on this list. However, the added curb weight does not make the car sluggish due to the aforementioned engine power. The best feature about this car is a subtle nuance: the shifter. Most cars, you feel a slight hesitation shifting through gears but with the TL the shifter moves like a hot knife through butter. The Acura TL is a solid vehicle and worthy of any driveway in America
1. BMW 328i Starting Price: $34,600
The BMW 3 Series is the ‘yard stick’ for every other auto on this list and quite possibly the industry. It has been in the Car and Driver 10 best for 10 of the past 11 years, an unprecedented streak of excellence. The 3 Series is flawless from its angel eye headlights to dual chrome tipped exhaust tips. Everything about the car just screams excellence. Most car redesigns are focused on recreating the accented exterior features of the BMW 3 series, giving credence to the exterior styling of the car. The hand stitched leather seats are a pleasant touch to an already finessed interior loaded with wood panel trim. The engine is a 2.8L Inline 6 cylinder pushing around 230 horsepower. Again, the low horsepower numbers are misleading because the car is zippy through the highway. The 230 horses out of this engine would easily match up with a car with 260+ horses under the hood. The best thing about buying a BMW: hassle free maintenance for 4 years or 50,000 miles. They cover all maintenance for the first 4 years that you own the car. You get to drive one of the best cars in the world AND you don’t have to pay a dime for maintenance! The BMW 328i is the #1 car under $40,000 due to its elegant styling and sophisticated craftsmanship that is the envy of the entire auto industry.
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