Some car enthusiasts love being flashy and spending money on all sorts of cosmetic upgrades, fancy paint jobs, and accessories that make them look stylish, sporty, or aggressive. On the other hand, some car enjoyers prefer to fly under the radar with their favorite sleeper cars.
What is a sleeper car, anyway?
A sleeper car is essentially a wolf in sheep’s clothing of the automotive world. These cars look like your ordinary production vehicle and are no different than your standard econobox. However, these unassuming cars with low-key exterior styles pack serious performance and driving dynamics that will give sports cars a run for their money.
So, we rounded up some of the best sleeper cars you can buy today. For this list, we’ll focus on stock sleeper cars, which means they offer excellent performance sans modifications and upgrades. Let’s take a look.
1. 2023 Volkswagen Golf R ($44,740)
The 2023 Volkswagen Golf R has all the qualities that all the best sleeper cars have. Besides the subtle badges and slightly more aggressive shape, the Golf R looks very similar to the standard VW Golf or GTI, so it’s not exactly a head-turner. However, the VW Golf R more than makes up for the lack of curb appeal with serious performance.
Under the hood, the Golf R is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four-cylinder engine that cranks out an impressive 315 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque – a stark improvement from last year’s Golf R with 288 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. Also, the engine is mated to either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed automatic transmission with standard all-wheel drive. The Golf R also includes a selectable Drift mode for great fun on slick surfaces.
BE CERTAIN YOU’RE GETTING THE BEST DEAL
CoPilot searches your area and lets you know if there’s a better deal on a similar vehicle nearby, so you’re always certain you got the best deal possible. The CoPilot app is the smartest way to buy a car.
2. 2023 Audi S8 ($120,500)
Regarding luxury cars, the 2023 Audi S8 features a somewhat muted and restrained design. With a six-figure price tag, this car is definitely not for those who want to attract attention with their luxury car. However, if you’re going to fly under the radar and surprise people with a twin-turbo V-8, the 2023 Audi S8 offers a perfect blend of luxury and performance. Of course, the show’s star is the twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 engine capable of blasting a mighty 563 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. The engine is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive. Audi claims this sleeper car has a top speed of 155 mph and a 0-60 mph acceleration in 3.2 seconds.
3. 2023 Toyota Camry V6 ($36,095)
The Toyota Camry is one of the most popular cars in America and has a reputation as a fuel-efficient, reliable, but boring car. As a mainstay in the midsize sedan segment, the 2023 Toyota Camry will let you blend in with the crowd and not stand out. If you opt for the base engine, you’ll have your reliable but boring car.
However, the real gem for the 2023 Camry lineup is the XLE and XSE models with a V-6 engine capable of 301 horses. Many enthusiasts will have fun driving the Camry with more responsive handling and a controlled ride.
4. 2023 Volvo S60 Polestar Engineered ($68,050)
The Volvo S60 Polestar Engineered is an entry-level luxury sedan with an elegant but otherwise understated exterior. While it’s far from the most affordable entry on this list of the best sleeper cars, it’s the only sports hybrid model. In fact, this car is the only plug-in hybrid in its class with an efficient and powerful engine.
The Volvo S60 Polestar Engineered is powered by a twin-charged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine up front and an electric motor on the other end. This combination provides an exhilarating output of 415 hp and 494 lb-ft of torque.
5. 2023 Mazda 3 2.5 Turbo ($34,000)
It’s no secret that Mazda has been targeting the upscale market with its recent vehicles, and the 2023 Mazda 3 is no exception. Unlike many cars on this list, the 2023 Mazda 3 has a relatively striking exterior design, leaning more towards sporty and mature.
The base model is motivated by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 191 hp. However, the more fitting variant for this list is the model with a 2.5-liter turbocharged Skyactiv-G engine capable of 227 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque with unleaded fuel and 250 hp and 320 lb-ft when running on premium.
6. 2023 Honda Civic Si ($28,500)
The omnipresent Honda Civic is another popular option for buyers looking for affordability and engaging driving dynamics. As one of the most prevalent vehicles on the road, the 2023 Honda Civic Si probably won’t turn many heads, which is quite the point if you love sleeper cars. Thankfully, the Civic Si’s performance is on point.
It’s not the fastest car on this list, but the Civic Si is simply a joy to drive. Powered by a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, it produces 200 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque. The selling points are the standard limited-slip differential and the 6-speed manual transmission.
THE BEST CARS FOR SNOW
Winter driving impacts young and experienced drivers alike. We’ve compiled a list of the best cars for snow, so you can get from Point A to Point B as safely as possible.
7. 2023 Subaru Legacy Sport ($33,895)
While the WRX and WRX STi Subarus are touted as high-performance models, the 2023 Subaru Legacy is their performance-oriented sibling that doesn’t look the part. The 2023 Subaru Legacy Sport is arguably a sedate-looking midsize sedan that delivers a good balance of price and performance. It comes with the more powerful 260-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a 260-hp output. And since it’s a Subaru, all-wheel drive is standard.
8. 2023 Toyota GR Corolla ($36,995)
It’s a Corolla. Just how much more understated and unassuming can you be? In all seriousness, the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla is like everyone’s favorite hot hatchback but with more attitude and performance. For starters, the Toyota GR Corolla houses a turbocharged three-cylinder engine straight from the GR Yaris. Even more mind-blowing is its 300 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque output. In addition, the 2023 Toyota GR Corolla comes with a 6-speed manual transmission and standard all-wheel drive. The only downside is its limited production numbers.
THE BEST USED MINIVANS ON THE MARKET
When it comes to hauling a lot of people and cargo, the minivan is hard to beat. We’ve factored in reliability, affordability, and functionality to create this curated list of the 8 best used minivans on the market today.
Get a Curated List of the Best Used Cars Near You
The CoPilot car shopping app is the easiest way to buy a car. Tell us what you’re looking for and we’ll search the inventories of every dealership in your area to make you a personalized list of the best car listings in your area.
Only looking for newer models? CoPilot Compare is the search engine for nearly-new cars. Only see cars five years or newer with low mileage — CoPilot Compare is the best way to find off-lease, early trade-in, and CPO cars.
The best part? CoPilot is built using the same technology that dealerships use to buy and sell their inventories, so we have more info on each vehicle than competitors. CoPilot doesn’t work with dealerships, so there are no sponsored posts or other shady practices — just the most info on the best cars. Check out our About Us page to see how CoPilot works.