Although 4-door sports cars under $30,000 don’t quite qualify for unicorn status, they’re certainly not that common. Which is odd, when you consider that U.S. customers have historically preferred sedans. Many mainstream automakers—since they offer hot hatches for that price—could quickly whip up sporty compact sedans if they so desired. Luckily for customers, a few brands have begun to do just that, while some still satisfy the need for affordable 4-door driving excitement in other ways. That means sport-tuned suspensions, potent turbocharged engines, and full-fledged aero packages are all in the mix here, as are rear- and all-wheel drive choices. Nor do these cars sacrifice modern-day comfort and convenience in the pursuit of performance—as you can discover on the following pages.
10 4-Door Sports Cars Under $30,000
Photo Credit: Dodge
2017 Dodge Charger SXT
Technically, our first choice doesn’t, in fact, qualify as one of the 4-door sports cars under $30,000: That’s because the 2017 Dodge Charger is the nation’s only 4-door muscle car under $30K. The Charger starts at $27,995 and gets its muscle from a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 that delivers 292 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque straight to the rear wheels. A leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, 17-inch alloy wheels, and both LED headlight accents and Dodge’s distinctive LED “Racetrack” tail lamps are all standard, too, and there’s still room left in your budget for a Blacktop appearance package. The Charger SXT comes in at $29,995 with the 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment system and more.
Photo Credit: Mazda
2017 Mazda Mazda3 Sport
There’s an old saying among gearheads that it’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than it is to drive a fast car slow. With that in mind, we next present the 2017 Mazda Mazda3. As is the case with a couple of our 4-door sports cars under $30,000, the Mazda3 sedan—which has an MSRP of $17,845—doesn’t include an output boost to its 155-horsepower 4-cylinder engine. Yet in daily use, the car shows the same attention to the driving experience that you’d expect from the company behind the Mazda MX-5 Miata. A sophisticated electric power assist steering system with dynamic stability control, for example, is standard, and an aero-style body kit adds a mere $1,300 to the bottom line.
Photo Credit: Nissan
2017 Nissan Sentra NISMO
Right off the bat, let’s note that Nissan’s self-titled “4-Door Sports Car,” the 2017 Nissan Maxima, has a starting price of $32,610. For 4-door sports cars under $30,000, the brand has the 2017 Nissan Sentra. Don’t laugh, either. You may have missed it, but the Sentra SR Turbo now packs a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine that’s worth 188 horsepower and 177 lb.-ft. of torque, and the Sentra NISMO not only leverages that same powerplant, it also gets a full makeover from Nissan’s NISMO performance-engineering and motorsports division. NISMO-tuned suspension and steering systems, heated NISMO sport seats, a NISMO steering wheel, and a functional NISMO rear spoiler are all covered by a price of $24,990.
Photo Credit: Honda
2017 Honda Civic Si
Though the 306-horsepower Type R is the new benchmark for Civic performance in this country, enthusiasts shopping for 4-door sports cars under $30,000 should steer their way toward the 2017 Honda Civic Si. Available in coupe and sedan formats—as opposed to the hatchback-only Type R—the 2017 Si is priced from $23,900 in either body style. Both rely on Honda’s energetic new 1.5-liter turbo engine for 205 horsepower and 192 lb.-ft. of torque, with peak outputs coming much earlier in the power band than in previous models. Next, to make the most of that power, the Si sedan showcases performance enhancers like a short-throw 6-speed manual transmission, a two-mode adaptive damper system, and a helical limited-slip differential.
Photo Credit: Toyota
2017 Toyota Camry XSE
The 2017 Toyota Camry might not be the first vehicle that comes to mind when considering 4-door sports cars under $30,000, yet the XSE trim explicitly targets the “enthusiast lurking in any driver.” Again, the Camry’s engine remains untouched by the XSE upgrade, as Toyota focuses on features like a more agile suspension tuning, well-bolstered sports seats, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, and a multi-mode 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and a dedicated “S” setting for a more engaging driving experience. The XSE also looks the part, thanks to a more aggressive front fascia with a black-mesh grille, dark chrome-tinted headlamps, and 18-inch machine-finished alloy wheels. As for the XSE MSRP, that starts at $26,310.
Photo Credit: Kia
2017 Kia Optima SX
The 2017 Kia Optima has the looks of a sleek European sport sedan, and in its SX trim, it also backs up that style with hi-po substance. More specifically, the Optima SX carries a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine that’s been turbocharged to dial up 240 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. Kia then supplies a 6-speed Sportmatic automatic transmission, with paddle shifters, bigger front brakes, a sport-tuned suspension, and a rack-mounted motor-driven power steering system connected to a sport-style multi-function steering wheel. The Optima SX does push the boundaries for sports cars under $30,000, since it’s priced from $29,940. However, it’s equipped with premium cues like an 8-inch touchscreen, navigation, and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay smartphone integration.
Photo Credit: Subaru
2018 Subaru WRX
Meanwhile, Subaru is your headquarters for rally-inspired 4-door sports cars under $30,000. Based on the same foundation as the championship-winning WRX STI, the WRX checks in with a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine in the brand’s hallmark boxer configuration—with the cylinders laid flat and the pistons facing each other. The setup helps deliver keen handling traits that are complemented by the engine’s 268 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque, a standard 6-speed manual transmission, and an available Sport Lineatronic continuously variable transmission. The CVT option is further fine-tuned with a manual shifting mode and steering-wheel-mounted paddle-shift switches. Subaru’s other signature technology—symmetrical all-wheel drive—is standard as well. The starting price? An affordable $26,995 for the 2018 model that’s at dealerships now.
Photo Credit: Volkswagen
2017 Volkswagen Jetta GLI
Despite the lack of 4-door sports cars under $30,000 from the premium German brands, the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta GLI can furnish a reasonable facsimile. It’s sort of like the sedan version of the VW GTI hot hatch, right down to the 2.0-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. This unit serves up 210 horsepower and 207 lb.-ft., which is a bit more output than you find in the admittedly less expensive Civic Si. On the other hand, the GLI’s starting point of $27,895 does cover a nice blend of features to improve all facets of the driving experience. Among them: A Fender premium audio system, navigation, sport seats, 18-inch alloy wheels, and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay smartphone integration.
Photo Credit: Buick
2017 Buick Regal Sport Touring
Perhaps the most surprising choice on our list of 4-door sports cars under $30,000 is the 2017 Buick Regal. A budget of $28,615 actually allows you to step up from the entry trim to the Regal Sport Touring, and at that stage, the Buick boasts a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that kicks out 259 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. To put that output into perspective, the Regal Sport Touring has 69 more horsepower and 59 more lb.-ft. of torque than a standard Audi A4; the Audi does exceed the Buick in pricing, however, with an MSRP more than $6,000 higher. The Regal Sport Touring comes with heated front-row seats and a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, too.
Photo Credit: Hyundai
2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport
Borrowing the turbocharged engine also found in the high-velocity Hyundai Veloster, the 2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport rounds out our gallery of 4-door sports cars under $30,000 with an MSRP of $21,650. That 4-cylinder engine forces out 201 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque in the Elantra Sport, accompanied by an especially aggressive growl. Engineers retuned the Sport model’s muffler for what the brand calls an “unmistakable snarl to match its performance bona fides.” Also spicing up the Elantra Sport are a leather-wrapped, flat-bottomed steering wheel, sport-style front seats, aluminum-alloy pedals, and exterior style cues that stretch from its specific front fascia and grille to aero side skirts to a rear air diffuser and chrome-tipped dual exhaust outlets.