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10 Best Sports Cars for the Money in 2021

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Find the best sports car that fits your driving desires, whether you’re looking for all-American muscle, luxury sports cars with Italian styling or lightweight, turn-tracing, performance cars. Our top picks cover them all.

Best sports cars for 2021
Horsepower Torque (pound-feet) Base MSRP
BMW 2 Series Coupe 248 258 $35,300
Toyota 86 205 156 $27,060
Mazda MX-5 Miata 181 151 $26,580
Ford Mustang Coupe 310 350 $26,670
Subaru WRX 268 258 $27,495
FIAT 124 Spider 160 184 $25,390
Porsche 718 Cayman 300 280 $57,500
Subaru BRZ 205 156 $28,845
Dodge Challenger 303 268 $28,095
Chevrolet Corvette 495 470 $58,900

How we chose the best sports cars

To find the best sports cars, we looked at muscle cars, coupes and roadsters with significant horsepower and torque. Eligible vehicles could not be defined as supercars and had to have a starting price under $100,000. They were then scored according to how well they performed in expert and consumer reviews from Kelley Blue Book (KBB) and Edmunds. The top performers averaging 4.33 out of 5 or higher are featured here, from highest to lowest average score.

The best sports cars

2020 BMW 2 Series Coupe

  • 4.73 out of 5
  • $35,900 starting MSRP

Starting off the list of the best sports cars is a luxury coupe, the BMW 230i. There are six models under the 2 Series, including a four-door Gran Coupe, but we’ll focus on the two-door coupe — it’s got a 2-liter turbo, 4-cylinder engine with 248 horsepower, 258 pound-feet of torque and rear-wheel drive. This’ll get you from zero to 60 in 5.3 seconds. Base trim features include 17-inch wheels, seven speakers and LED lights, as well as frontal collision lane departure warning. Going up in price, the M240i gets a 3-liter turbo, inline 6-cylinder that offers 335 horsepower and 369 ft-lb of torque. All vehicles come with a four-year, 50,000 mile warranty and BMW Ultimate Care, which covers regular maintenance for 3-years, 36,000 miles.

2020 Toyota 86

  • 4.58 out of 5
  • $27,060 starting MSRP

A collaboration between Toyota and Subaru birthed the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ (to be featured below). The Toyota 86’s relative strength is in its lower starting price: For less than $30,000, drivers could buy a sports car with rear-wheel drive, a 6-speed manual transmission and a 2-liter, 4-cylinder engine with 205 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque. Digital information on the gauge cluster displays performance statistics, trip information and even the oil temperature. The optional TRD handling package (available on the manual) features Brembo brakes, Michelin tires and SACHS dampers, though it sends up the price by about $2,700. But if price isn’t a concern and you’re after some serious performance, the lineup of Toyota sports cars includes the famous GR Supra, with a starting MSRP of $43,090 for the 2021 model. All Toyotas come with a 3-year, 36,000 limited warranty and a 5-year, 60,000-miles powertrain warranty.

2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata

  • 4.53 out of 5
  • $26,580 starting MSRP

The Miata has somewhat of a cult following, famous for both reliability and performance. On paper, its horsepower and torque aren’t terribly impressive (181 horsepower, 151 pound-feet), but combined with its low weight, it goes from 0 to 60 in 5.7 seconds. It comes with standard 16-inch wheels, keyless entry and ignition, a 7-inch touch screen and advanced driver safety aids such as blindspot monitoring. The biggest downside, though, is that it’s one of the smallest coupe cars around, and if you want the convertible version, it’ll cost about $6,500 more (and is available only as a hardtop). All Miatas come with a 3-year, 36,000-mile warranty on basic components and a 5-year, 60,000-mile warranty on its powertrain. A 2021 Miata is out but with fewer reviews, we opted for the previous year’s model.

2020 Ford Mustang Coupe

  • 4.46 out of 5
  • $26,670 starting MSRP

Perhaps the American sports car, the Ford Mustang increased base performance for 2020: 310 horsepower and 350 pound-feet torque from a turbocharged 2.3-liter, 4-cylinder engine. Standard features include 17-inch wheels, remote start capability, an app to track performance, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and keyless entry and ignition. Add the High Performance package for 332 horsepower, or splurge for the top-of-the-line Mustang Shelby GT500 with 760 horsepower. A convertible version starts at $32,170. All Fords come with a 3-year, 36,000-mile basic warranty and a 5-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

A 2021 Mustang is out, including the new Mustang Mach 1 and all-electric Mustang Mach-E, but with few changes to the base Mustang and greater number of reviews, we stayed with the previous model year.

2020 Subaru WRX

  • 4.44 out of 5
  • $27,495 starting MSRP

With standard all-wheel drive (AWD), this compact sedan is practical and sporty. It gets 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque from a 2-liter turbo, 4-cylinder engine with a 6-speed manual transmission. It comes with standard features like 17-inch wheels, smartphone integration and 6.5-inch touch screen. The WRX STI trim gets up to 310 horsepower, 290 pound-feet of torque and comes with Brembo brakes, but also has a higher starting price at nearly $37,000. A 3-year, 36,000-mile basic warranty and a 5-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty are standard on the WRX.

2020 Fiat 124 Spider

  • 4.42 out of 5
  • $25,390 starting MSRP

A compact roadster, the Spider is one of the best luxury convertibles, ideal for pleasure drives. The model shares DNA with the Mazda Miata with an Italian twist, including an engine that features 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It has nimble handling, though critics note that it’s not a performance model. Rather, its four trims focus on amenities that include a quiet interior, thanks to sound-proofing insulation — this lessens road and engine noise, a nice change from the Toyota 86’s lack of sound insulation. The Fiat 124 Spider comes with a 3-year, 36,000-mile limited warranty.

2020 Porsche 718 Cayman

  • 4.4 out of 5
  • $59,900 starting MSRP

If you’ve got some cash to spend, Porsche is one of the most reliable luxury brands. The base trim of the Porsche 718 Cayman has a turbocharged, 2-liter, 4-cylinder engine that generates 300 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. The 718 Cayman has four trim options with the addition of a new trim, the GT4, which has a price of $100,550. To go with that eye-popping price, the engine offers an eye-popping 414 horsepower and 309 pound-feet of torque gained from a naturally-aspirated, 4-liter, 6-cylinder engine. All of this is covered by a 4-year, 50,000-mile warranty.

2020 Subaru BRZ

  • 4.4 out of 5
  • $28,845 starting MSRP

The Subaru BRZ has a comparatively low 205 horsepower, but it makes up for it with its range of standard features: navigation, heated front seats, satellite radio, keyless entry and ignition, a 7-inch touchscreen, dual-zone climate control, 17-inch alloy wheels and a Torsen limited-slip differential. A performance package would add $1,195 for Brembo brakes and Sachs shock absorbers or you can opt for the tS model — it adds those things, plus 18-inch alloy wheels, STI flexible V-bar strut-tower braces and red leather upholstery. A 3-year, 36,000 mile basic warranty and a 5-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty are standard.

2020 Dodge Challenger

  • 4.38 out of 5
  • $28,095 starting MSRP

A modern American muscle car, the Dodge Challenger comes with a 3.6-liter V6 engine offering 305 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque. Also standard is an eight-speed automatic transmission, keyless entry and ignition, an 8.4-inch touchscreen and smartphone integration. From there you could customize the Challenger all the way up to a mind-boggling 807 horsepower and 707 pound-feet of torque. Whatever level of muscle you choose comes with a 3-year, 36,000 mile basic warranty and a 5-year, 60,000 mile powertrain warranty.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette

  • 4.33 out of 5
  • $58,900 starting MSRP

Redesigned for 2020, the Corvette comes in three trims, all with a mid-mounted 6.2-liter V8 that creates 490 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. This was a risk that paid off, as the placement allows for increased power while still preserving handling due to better weight distribution — plus, it also gave designers the ability to deliver some more exotic styling. Standard features include keyless entry and ignition, an 8-inch touchscreen, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, 10-speaker Bose system and leather seats. The sports car is covered by a 3-year, 36,000 mile basic warranty and a 5-year, 60,000 mile powertrain warranty.

How to finance the best sports cars

If you’d rather spend your money on horsepower instead of auto loan interest, get a preapproved auto loan before going to the dealer. Know what rate you qualify for directly from a lender before the dealer can take their cut. You could fill out a single online form with LendingTree and receive up to five potential auto loan offers from lenders at once, depending on your creditworthiness.

 

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