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Four-Door Sports Cars for $30,000

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    The 2017 Ford Fusion receives a thorough makeover for the new year. Should Camry and Accord worry?
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author photo by Jeffrey Archer August 2012

Who says having a family means you can no longer enjoy driving? We've listed our favorite four-door sports cars for $30,000, from the Nissan Maxima--billed as the original "four-door sports car"--to sporty versions of many other traditional sedans. Each of these vehicles proves that buyers can still enjoy driving even if they have a car seat strapped in back.

Ford Fusion Sport

With a new model coming this fall, buyers interested in the high-performance "Sport" trim level of the Ford Fusion sedan are likely to get a great deal this summer. But even without discount pricing, we think the Fusion Sport's price tag of $28,000 including destination is very reasonable. That's mostly because of its impressive powerplant, which is a 3.5-liter V6 engine capable of producing a robust 263 horsepower and 249 pound-feet of torque. But we also think the Fusion Sport boasts a great deal in its long list of equipment, which includes leather upholstery, a power driver's seat, Ford's technologically advanced SYNC system and--in keeping with its sporty image--18-inch alloy wheels.

Honda Accord EX V6

While most Honda Accord models sold in the United States include the sedan's base-level, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, driving enthusiasts might be surprised to discover the excitement offered by the available 3.5-liter V6. Capable of producing a whopping 271 hp, the Accord V6 scoots to 60 miles per hour from a standing stop in around six seconds--an impressive figure that rivals many of today's performance cars. And while the Accord V6 doesn't boast many other performance upgrades, its long list of standard equipment--including leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control and Bluetooth--makes it a great choice whether you're driving to a soccer game or trying out a new back road.

Hyundai Sonata SE 2.0T

Although the Hyundai Sonata doesn't offer a V6, it's hard to ignore the dramatic midsize sedan. Thanks to an exciting 274-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, the Sonata SE 2.0T offers much of the muscle associated with a V6 and improved fuel economy. It also plays the role of a performance car better than most rivals due to its standard sport suspension, fog lights and stylish 18-inch alloy wheels. But don't let its sporty styling and tight steering fool you: The Sonata SE is a highly competent family car. Its long list of standard equipment includes automatic headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery and keyless access--all for a base price of under $26,000 with shipping.

Kia Optima SX

Like the mechanically identical Hyundai Sonata, the midsize Kia Optima SX uses a 274-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder powerplant in place of the V6 engine used by many rivals. We like the turbocharged power, and we also appreciate the sport suspension, Xenon headlights, rear spoiler and 18-inch wheels found on the Optima SX--especially considering its base price of under $28,000 including destination. But if you're interested in the Optima SX because of what it can do on the road, you can rest assured that it also includes a host of features--such as leather upholstery, power seats and Bluetooth--that make it a great vehicle for shuttling children between sporting events and music lessons.

2011 Nissan Maxima

Although a brand-new Nissan Maxima will cost at least $32,000 including destination, shoppers willing to consider a lightly used example will easily find several 2011 models for under $30,000. In addition to a muscular 290-hp 3.5-liter V6, the latest Maxima includes several sporty features, such as standard alloy wheels, aggressive styling and V-rated high-performance tires. Driving enthusiasts looking for even more equipment will want to upgrade to the Maxima SV, which adds leather upholstery, fog lights and a Bose sound system to the sedan's already generous list of standard equipment.

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Used 2012 Toyota Camry SE
Used 2012 Toyota Camry
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Used 2012 Ford Fusion SEL V6
Used 2012 Ford Fusion
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Used 2013 Kia Optima

Toyota Camry SE V6

While most shoppers don't associate the Toyota Camry with high-performance driving, the recently redesigned sedan's latest SE V6 model may help change that. With a base price of around $27,500 including destination, the sedan boasts a raucous 268-hp 3.5-liter V6 that propels it to 60 mph in less than six seconds--a time that was once reserved for sports cars. The Camry SE V6 also boasts sport suspension, alloy wheels and fog lights--three performance-oriented upgrades that give the latest Camry a refreshingly exciting flair.

Volkswagen Passat SE V6

Although the newly redesigned Volkswagen Passat offers three available engines, the sedan's 280-hp 3.6-liter V6 is the one that excites us most. That's because the muscular V6 propels the sedan to 60 mph from a standing stop in just 6.1 seconds--a stellar figure for a family car. And while a Passat SE equipped with the powerful V6 stretches our budget with a $30,000 base price including destination, we think most buyers will agree it's worth it. That's especially true thanks to luxury-levels of standard equipment, such as leather and suede upholstery, a remote engine starter and an upscale Fender sound system.

What it means to you: Our list includes several great choices for driving enthusiasts with a burgeoning family.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Four-Door Sports Cars for $30,000 - Autotrader