Not too long ago, sedans were mentally categorized by many in the same slot as minivans. Roomy, family-friendly, but decidedly not sexy.
Enter the sports sedan.
Decades ago, in 1968, BMW introduced the world to the idea that a sedan could be efficient and sleek at the same time. But affordable? That was another story.
Since then, carmakers have been upping the sports sedan game, trying to outclass each other in terms of performance, reputation, style, and price.
2020 brings the rise of all of this competition integrated with never-before-seen technology. Instead of the term “sports sedan,” they’re more like “four-door sports cars.”
These vehicles are still family-friendly and roomy, but now they’re fuel-efficient and sporty. Now the problem becomes having too many choices.
So how do you find the best sports sedan amongst the many? Here’s a guide of the best of the best available in 2020 to help you, broken down by affordability and performance.
The Best in the Class for Affordability
Many people in the market for sports sedans want something that they can use to load up their kids and friends. But they still want a powerful car that looks good, even if they don’t maximize the horsepower it offers.
They also want a car that they can afford on a budget.
If this sounds like you, a sport sedan is exactly what you need. Even with four doors, these cars have ample speed without a price tag that’s going to make you choose between a car payment and feeding your kids.
To make this list, these sedans had to be the 2020 models, sporty, powerful, and still affordable for most budgets. The cream of the crop are right here for your review:
- Honda Civic Si – Honda Civics tend to lead the pack when it comes to affordability and power. The Si version that you’ll see in 2020 has even more that sets it apart and puts it in the number one slot on our list.
Honda updated the front and rear styling for both the hatchback and the Civic Si, making them more sporty and less boring. The cabin trim in the Si stands out from its more toned-down hatchback counterpart.
Exactly what the heads of families ordered, this sport sedan gets excellent fuel mileage and handling. There’s a solid balance of style and comfort, so families can enjoy road trips without compromising on fuel and appearance.
Honda has also upped the safety features and technology by rolling out a lot of amenities like a collision warning system and blind-spot camera.
As to the price component, the loaded Si two-door coupe has an MSRP of about $25,000. You can’t beat that in a brand-new car with these high-quality specs.
- Nissan Versa – It took a while for the Versa to take off in popularity, but its 2020 model made up for the past versions. Now, the standard Versa has the same functionality it once did with added style.
Nissan bumped up their revisions on both the exterior and interior before releasing the newest edition. You’ll find the Versa has a nicer body than previous models that were snubbed because of the lack of style. The cabin got an upgrade, too, giving it more legroom but still not a lot of extra storage space.
Another redesign was to the safety features. Nissan added in upgrades like forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, and forward and reverse automatic emergency braking as standard.
Although the engine is more powerful than previous models, there’s an increase in its fuel economy that families will appreciate. You’ll also likely see features including a rearview camera, automatic high-beam headlights, and innovative lane departure warnings.
The loaded SR four-door sedan can be purchased for an MSRP of under $19,000, so if you’re good with compromising a bit of sexiness for affordability, this car’s for you.
- Mazda 6 – When family is first, handling is a necessity in your car. Mazda took itself out of the boring and into the best list with its Mazda 6 in 2014. Though the 2020 version of the 6 hasn’t changed too much from prior versions, it keeps its spot in the “best” category easily.
The 6 offers drivers a smooth, high-performing experience that is usually only seen in luxury vehicles. Even though this model has a fancy-looking chassis, it’s actually affordable.
Families and individuals who want a sedan that looks like a high-class, better-than-average car often head to the Mazda 6. With its comfortable seats, roomy interior, and enhanced fuel economy, it’s definitely the perfect road trip car.
But the turbo engine with cylinder deactivation to pump up the horsepower and torque make this vehicle a magnet to those who want power and efficiency.
At an MSRP of under $30,000 for the well-equipped model, you don’t have to break the bank to drive away with a brand-new Mazda 6.
Top of the Class in Performance
Price isn’t always the first concern for people who want a sports sedan. Top performing vehicles that also look sleek and sexy outshine affordability for many.
There are always the brands that make headlines around the world as the best cars to drive. Your typical big names like BMW and Mercedes can’t seem to go wrong lately with anything they put out. But they’re not the only manufacturers who can release a high-performing vehicle, especially with all the technology available to carmakers in 2020.
If you’re looking for a car that leaves the rest of its competition in the dust when it comes to performance, these are the models you want to check out. They rate an 8.4 or higher in their performance scores on the U.S. New and World Report and will never be mistaken for your mother’s hand-me-down vehicle.
- Kia Stinger – Classified as a sports sedan, this car will always be mistaken for a luxury vehicle at first sight. It comes standard with leather seats and a muscular, sexy body that shows off its turbocharged engine. But it’s still a sedan.
The 2020 model continues to shine with its previously touted roomy, classy interior. But now it adds an upgraded touch screen, 255-365 horsepower, and better (though still below average) fuel economy.
It’s a sensible, yet sporty car. The spacy interior makes it great for families and long drives, and the easy handling is enjoyable to drive.
Sound boring? The twin turbocharged V6 engine will excite you with its 365-capacity horsepower. Don’t worry about safety at that power, since the Stinger GT has Brembo brakes and limited-slip differential to make sure you are taken care of when you’re checking out what your car can do.
The standard MSRP of around $33,000 makes this an affordable version of its Mercedes-Benz and Audi competitors. With the Kia Stinger, you’ve got a family budget car that looks like a luxury-class vehicle.
- Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan – Luxury and performance don’t get much better than what you’ll find in the newest Mercedes C-Class sedan. The typical sleek, boxy body Mercedes is known for combine with upgrade performance features and amenities that make this car worth its upscale price tag.
Of course, this sedan comes with the high-tech features you’ve come to expect in a Mercedes. It’s got a 10.25-inch center touchscreen, COMAND system voice controls, a wireless charging station, WiFi connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and all of the other amenities that make the Mercedes the top car manufacturer.
But what about the other features, like comfort and performance?
The 2020 C-Class comes standard with leather seats, automatic climate control, power accessories, power rear-shade window, remote engine start, and other creature comforts. But it also has your choice of two powerful engines, the S560 4matic or S650.
The S560 has a turbocharged V8 powering it. It’s only available in all-wheel drive, making it easy to handle in all weather. But the V12 in the S650 has a 463 horsepower on tap. If your performance decision is rated on power, the V12 is the definite winner.
There’s a hefty difference in price, though, with the MSRP average on the S560 a solid thirty grand less than its S650 sister. You’ll see the asking price of $170,750 on the S560 and $199,900 on the S650.
- BMW 7-Series – Where there’s a Mercedes in the ranking, there’s always a BMW to compete with it. The 7-series 2020 model released by BMW goes neck and neck in ratings with the Mercedes C-Class.
The new release has a redesigned front and rear body, sporting new headlights and taillights to make it sleeker. The six, eight, and twelve-cylinder models have reworked powertrains that are definitely sportier than past models. And, stepping up BMW’s role in the green industry, the 7 Series hybrid has gotten a new six-cylinder engine.
Even the plug-in hybrid has a powerful engine, though, so the 7-series’ performance is tiny but mighty. Drivers and their families will enjoy the comfortable ride in the roomy, luxurious interior with upgraded features. Passengers can really relax in the rear with the extra room this area now has.
You’ll find the typical backup camera and touchscreen monitor seen in most new cars, but BMW kicks theirs up to high class with surround view with 3D in the cameras and large screen monitors.
The intercooled turbo premium unleaded I-6 engine has 335 horsepower with sensitive braking for smooth handling. For comparable performance at half the price of the Mercedes C-Class, the BMW hits the spot.
Expect to see an MSRP of somewhere between $86, 450 and $95,500, depending on the engine you choose, which is still an entire price tag below the Mercedes.
Want to Go Used?
2020 models are rolling out. Some are affordable; some are luxurious. But if you’re looking for a top-of-the-line sports sedan on a budget, you can find the best of 2019s out there, too.
- Honda Civic Si – Honda didn’t have to upgrade too much from its 2019 version to get the 2020 model that topped our list. Affordable and classy, the Civic Si has a lot of amenities that come standard. It also has a powerful four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual transmission option.
Road tripping with your family? No worries. This car has plenty of room in the interior and trunk. And at an MSRP of around $25,000 new, you can still afford to travel.
- Genesis G70 – Lesser known but just as high in quality, the Genesis G70 looks like an upscale model sedan but has an affordable price tag. It has great acceleration with the V6 engine, precise steering, and a smooth ride. You’ll find many standard features for its standard MSRP of around $30,000.
The Genesis isn’t known for its fuel efficiency or roomy interior, but it gets great reviews consistently and has powerful performance.
- Kia Stinger – Yet another repeat on our list, the 2019 Stinger isn’t a downgrade from its 2020 counterpart. Two different engine options mean you can choose your power level, but the base model has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, giving you 255 horsepower, which is plenty for the average driver.
Kia’s typical cost-efficiency measures come into play with the Stinger, but you’d be hard-pressed to notice them. The interior is still classy and comfortable, and the exterior screams “sportscar” on the road.
At an MSRP of $33,000, this sports sedan combines affordability and sexy style that is definitely not a compromise.
Make Way for the New 2020 Sports Sedan
Buyers in 2020 don’t want to settle any longer. They don’t want to have to sacrifice appearance for safety and space. But they also don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for a decent vehicle, either.
The sports sedan, or four-door sports car, is the answer to that problem. Compromise is no longer necessary, whether your focus is on performance with a classy, sexy look, or affordability that doesn’t look like a family car, even though it is.
These top sports sedans won’t steer you wrong. Comfort, style, and high performance are all covered, no matter which car you look at on this list.