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20 of the Fastest Sleeper Cars of 2016

Don’t let their seemingly uninspiring looks deceive you. Sleeper cars have been giving us the ultimate performance in somewhat bland package for decades now, and they continue to do so today. Sleeper is basically the same or very similar to stock entry-level models, but that extra horsepower and torque make all the difference. If you’re hunting for one such performer without flashy body panels and unnecessary kits, look no further. Here are 20 of the best sleeper cars for 2016.

Honda Accord EX-L/Touring V6 Coupe

Accord usually comes with 185-horsepower in-line four cylinder engine, but Japanese still leave you with the option to choose the V6. It’s reserved for top of the line EX-L and Touring trims, though. 3.5L unit generates 278 horses and 252 lb-ft of torque which is enough for 0 to 60 time of 6 seconds or thereabouts. Accord coupe will cost you at least $30,000 though.

Toyota Camry XLE/XSE V6

Rarely anyone thinks about the best-sold US family mid-size sedan as a performer, but that’s exactly what V6-powered Camry is. 3.5L DOHC V6 with intelligent variable valve timing doesn’t only deliver 268 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. It also enables Camry to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than 6 seconds. And it’s cheap too. Shouldn’t cost you much more than $30,000 in that setup. Do you still look at it as a family car? Me neither.

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Ford Taurus SHO

Taurus SHO has always been one of the best known sleepers in the US. It’s a massive flagship sedan with equally massive performance. 0 to 60 in 5.8 seconds might not seem like a breakthrough in performance, but Taurus is a full-size car after all. 3.5L EcoBoost V6 with 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque is what enables that acceleration, and $40,000 is what will get you a Taurus SHO.

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Nisan Maxima Platinum

You can get the entry-level Maxima for $10,000 less, but $40,000 Nissan Maxima Platinum is almost double the car. It’s got bigger wheels, much more refined interior and abundance of high-tech goodies. More importantly, it’s got a 300 horsepower 3.5L V6 engine. Add 261 feet-pound of torque to the equation and you’ll get 0 to 60 time of 5.7 seconds as well.

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GMC Yukon Denali 4WD

I know it’s an SUV, and a large one at that. Still, you can’t dispute the figures. They’re here, black on white, and they’re impressive to say the least. Although it weighs close to 6,000 pounds, luxurious Yukon Denali will accelerate from 0 to 60 in only 5.5 seconds. That’s possible thanks to its large (and thirsty) 6.2L V8 engine packing 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. The pleasure of owning one will also cost you close to $70,000.

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Kia K900 V8 Luxury

Who says Kia can’t be luxurious? And fast too, at the same time. Kia K900 might cost $62,000 to begin with, but it packs plenty of heat to burn much more illustrious opponents. 5.0L V8 under its hood enables it to speed up to 60 mph from standstill in 5.5 seconds. That’s what you get from 420 horsepower and 376 feet-pound of twist. It’s up to you to decide whether it’s smart to splash the cash on a badge such as Kia.

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Acura RLX SH-AWD

377-horsepower Acura RLX SH-AWD is not yet available, but it will be this fall. SH-AWD stands for Sport Hybrid with all-wheel drive which is quite self-explanatory. Just the way we like it. Apart from putting up 371 ponies, 3.5L V6 and trio of electric motors develop 341 feet-pound of torque. Enough for the luxury car to accelerate to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds. Not a bad feat for almost 4,500-pound heavy and north of $60,000 expensive car.

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Volkswagen Golf R

There are very few compact hatchbacks that deserve as much love as the Volkswagen Golf does. It has proven its nimbleness, craft and efficiency a long time ago. For quite some time now, it can also be fast. At least as fast as compact affordable sleeper cars go. And Golf R goes from 0 to 60 in 5 seconds flat. All-wheel drive is mandatory, and so is 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with 292 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. Although small, VW Golf R has a sticker just shy of $40,000. However, you simply won’t find a compact hatchback with its qualities.

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Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

When it comes to powerful SUVs, there are very few things more powerful than Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. $66,000 get you the base package, while $71,000 get you the limited edition blacked out SRT Night trim. They both accelerate from 0 to 60 in 4.8 seconds, courtesy of 6.4L Hemi V8 packing 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. When it comes to sleeper cars, there aren’t many that are more badass than the Grand Cherokee SRT.

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Volvo S60 Polestar

After skipping this year, masters of Volvo tuning are returning for the next. Technically still available for the year 2016, Volvo S60 Polestar therefore qualifies for this list. People at Polestar have beefed up Volvo’s sedan and its 3.0L turbocharged straight-six engine to 345 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. S60 is still a sleeper, though, even with 0 to 60 time of 4.7 seconds. S60 can be yours for $60,000 which is quite pricey for a Volvo, but probably worthy considering all that you get. There’s also the V60 Polestar which hits 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, but doesn’t differ too much apart from being a station wagon and $3,000 more expensive.

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Chevrolet SS

We can safely say that SS is an oddball in modern Chevy lineup. It’s basically a rebadged Holden Commodore (VF) that’s being marketed in Australia. We won’t hold that against it, though. Not with the kind of performance it delivers, at least. Chevy SS is powered by the 6.2L LS3 V8 engine that graces C6 Corvette’s engine bays. It generates 415 horsepower and corresponding amount of torque which propels it to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. And it doesn’t cost more than $47,000.

Ford Focus RS

There probably aren’t any better rounded-off compact hatchbacks than Volkswagen Golf R, but there are faster ones. Ford Focus RS can speed up from 0 to 60 in 4.6 seconds, thus beating its German counterpart. 2.3L EcoBoost 4-cylinder generates 350 horsepower and 350 feet-pound of twist. Not only that, but it also delivers extremely good grip and cornering ability. And all that for around $36,000. Some will say that’s too much for a Focus, but then again, RS is not your average Focus.

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Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400

At first glance, Infiniti Q50 is just another luxurious sedan which offers sub-par refinement compared to Mercedes-Benz and correspondingly weaker performance compared to BMW. Look again. Red Sport 400 version of the sedan packs 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque thanks to 3.0L twin-turbo V6 engine. Enough for 4.5 second 0 to 60 time. You can get it with both rear and all-wheel drive with former costing $48,000 and latter demanding a $2,000 premium atop of that.

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Lexus GS F

In Lexus’ world, F stands for performance. Lexus GS F is therefore one highly capable luxury sedan with 0 to 60 time of 4.5 seconds. That’s possible thanks to 5.0L V8 mill capable of putting up as much as 467 hp and 389 lb-ft of torque. Of course, Lexus GS F costs a lot as well. It starts from $84,000, and although it looks mostly unassumingly potent as sleeper cars are supposed to, people will still know it isn’t an average car, or even an average luxury car for that matter.

Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR

SVR sits atop the Range Rover Sport range, but doesn’t look that much different than the rest of the lineup. Performance, on the other hand, does differ. Range Rover Sport SVR can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 4.3 seconds. That’s taken care of thanks to 5.0L V8 mill generating 550 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque. Although it doesn’t offer that much in terms of additional refinement compared to its siblings, SVR does cost a little bit more. Base price is around the $112,000 mark which means this sleeper isn’t meant for everyone.

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Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE63 Coupe

If Range Rover Sport SVR is exclusive, where to even begin with the Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE63? Coupe costs around the same ($110,000), but offers much narrowed spectrum of capabilities. It’s not a capable off-roader, nor does it offer a lot of interior space. It is, however, a sleeper. Especially with the kind of performance it offers. AMG GLE63 Coupe is powered by 5.5L twin-turbo V8 mill making 577 hp and 561 lb-ft of torque. That propels it to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds despite its high stance. Still, it seems like it’s caught in no man’s land. It’s neither a crossover nor a coupe. You’d probably have a tough time explaining that if you’d owned one.

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Jaguar XJR

XJR is the performance version of Jaguar’s flagship sedan – the XJ. It’s powered by 5.0L supercharged V8 engine developing as much as 550 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque. That’s enough to launch it to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds as British themselves claim, or in 3.8 seconds as numerous other reputable sources say. Whether the truth is at one or the other end (or somewhere in between), Jaguar XJR is one mean 4-door sleeper sedan. It costs close to $120,000 which might pose a problem to most people though.

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BMW X6 M

BMW X6 M is actually easier to explain than the base X6. This crossover coupe is an oddball to begin with, but at least the M sport package gives it some purpose. With it, this peculiar BMW sleeper can hit 60 from standstill in 3.7 seconds. That’s what you get from BMW’s own 4.4L twin-turbo V8 powerplant with 567 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. And it’s slightly cheaper than its Mercedes-Benz counterpart with starting sticker at just north of $100,000.

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Audi S8 Plus

Pretty much any performance-oriented Audi has always been the epitome of sleeper cars. Audi S8 Plus tops that lot, and with a good reason. If 4.0L twin-turbo V8 with 605 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque isn’t a good reason, then I don’t know what is. Furthermore, S8 Plus achieves 60 mph in 3.4 seconds – time that puts most modern supercars to shame. Unlike modern supercars, Audi S8 Plus is a pure sleeper with the $116,000 price tag.

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Tesla Model S

I didn’t specify the model on purpose. After all, pretty much every Tesla Model S looks the same, and they all perform beyond our wildest dreams. Let’s just say that 2016 P90D accelerates to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds. The upcoming P100D will be even faster, with 0 to 60 time of around 2.5 seconds. It’s worth mentioning that P90D has the combined power output of 503 hp and 713 lb-ft of torque which doesn’t look all that hypercar-like. However, it’s also worth mentioning that Tesla, as an electric car, has all that torque available at 0 rpm. In other words, it gets instant torque to propel it to such a crazy 0 to 60 time. Oh, and it costs $120,000 at least. And it’s one of the most obvious sleeper cars we’ve ever seen.

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Categories: Gear Grinding, Production Cars

Nikola Potrebić
About Nikola Potrebić

Although driving a piece of junk, Nikola is a true car enthusiast. Very few things move him as muscle cars do - especially those from the golden era. Which makes him wonder: why wasn't he born a few decades earlier? Well, at least he's been able to enjoy the likes of Pontiak Aztek, Fiat Multipla, and the likes this way - right?