Although high-end exotic sports cars like Ferrari and Lamborghini are sure to get you noticed on the road, they frequently cost upwards of $200,000 - and with two seats and limited trunk space, they're not very practical. But you don't have to spend a quarter of a million dollars to stand out in parking lots. We've compiled a list of some of today's top cars that get you noticed - and we've set our budget at $30,000 to prove you don't need to be a millionaire to drive a car that turns heads.
With muscular, retro-themed styling and available eye-grabbing colors, it's hard to believe the recently released Chevrolet Camaro would struggle to get you noticed on the road. And unlike Camaros of years past, buyers interested in the sporty coupe's base model - which starts at a surprisingly reasonable $24,000 including destination - don't have to compromise on performance, thanks to a standard 323-horsepower 3.6-liter V6. Best of all, the model's standard equipment list is surprisingly generous - especially in upscale 2LT trim, which features a rearview camera, alloy wheels, leather upholstery with heated front seat and a heads-up instrument display for just $29,000 including destination. Although that model is our pick, nearly any Camaro is bound to turn heads - especially if you go for a bright color.
The hybrid Honda CR-Z remains a rare sight on the road today - and that's a shame. We like the sporty hatchback because it combines a surprisingly efficient hybrid drivetrain with a sporty driving experience, but you may prefer it for its exciting, eye-catching design and standout styling. Whatever the reason, the attractive CR-Z offers a base price of just over $20,000, a standard 6-speed manual transmission and an impressive fuel economy rating of 31 miles per gallon in the city and a whopping 37 mpg on the highway. Indeed, the CR-Z proves you don't have to give up fuel efficiency to stand out on the road.
Hyundai's exciting Veloster hatchback is easily our top pick for this list. With a base price of under $18,000 including destination, the Veloster offers radical styling, a very unusual hatchback setup with two doors on the passenger side and one on the driver's side, and a series of eye-grabbing colors that can't help but make you stand out in a crowd. And while the base Veloster's 138-horsepower four-cylinder leaves something to be desired, a new Veloster Turbo will arrive this summer with a 201-horsepower turbocharged powerplant and a reasonable base price of around $22,000. To us, that makes the Veloster hard to turn down as one of the top cars that will get you noticed for under $30,000.
Although the tall-roofed Kia Soul made its debut way back in 2009, we believe the funky hatchback still gets its share of looks on the road - especially in its exciting Alien Green exterior finish. Popularized by Kia's now-famous "hamsters" commercials, the Soul starts at around $14,000 and offers a standard 135-horsepower four-cylinder powerplant. We'd skip right to the top-end Soul!, however, thanks to its long list of standard equipment that includes a more powerful 164-horsepower engine, Kia's new UVO infotainment system, a standard 6-speed automatic, a rearview camera, and a fuel-saving stop-start system that shuts off the engine when idling. And just to make sure we get noticed, we'd be sure to go for Alien Green.
While opinions remain split on the compact Nissan Juke's styling, there's no doubt that the small crossover stands out from the crowd. Featuring unique character lines, unusual headlights and tail lights and a sporty stance, the Juke looks like nothing else on the road - and to us, that's usually a good thing. Power is delivered through a 188-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and while a standard continuously-variable automatic transmission dulls acceleration slightly, the Juke still provides ample passing power for nearly any situation. As an added bonus, even the top-end Juke SL is reasonably priced and well-equipped, including a navigation system, rearview camera, leather upholstery and heated front seats in its $26,000 base price tag.
There's no doubt that the brawny Toyota FJ Cruiser stands out on the road. Instead, the question is whether you can handle just how much it stands out, thanks to its bulging fenders, oversized roof rails, and an aggressive design that makes the SUV look like it should be leading safari in Africa rather than driving down an American boulevard. If that appeals to you, we suggest checking out the FJ Cruiser, which includes a standard 260-horsepower V6, a 5,000-pound towing capacity and a host of off-road goodies like a locking rear differential and off-road traction control in its surprisingly reasonable base price of around $27,000 including destination.
What it means to you: You don't have to spend exotic car prices to turn heads on the road.