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.
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.