Top 3 Best Used Sports Cars Under $20,000

by Gabrielle DeSantis

The current used car market has been tough on consumers looking to buy a set of wheels. A budget of $10,000 severely limits the available choices but saving a little extra scratch opens a lot of doors. With $20,000, a consumer can get virtually any kind of used car they want. In some cases, they may need to make a compromise or two, but if not there are plenty of other cars to choose from. Here are a few of the best sports cars on the used market for $20,000 or less.

2010 Lexus IS 250

Lexus IS 250 | Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Sports cars are typically high-revving, sensitive, finicky cars and reliability doesn’t always coincide. The closest anyone can get to a reliable sports car is from Lexus. The 2010 Lexus IS 250 uses a 2.5-liter V6 that makes 204 horsepower and can be mated to a manual transmission. Much like the SC line from the 1990s, the IS 250 provides reliable performance. It’s on the heavy side, but for dependability’s sake, it’s a small price to pay. Although it can have a manual transmission, is rear-wheel-drive, and comes in coupe form, Edmunds evaluates its suspension as too soft for a sports car. 

1996-2004 Porsche Boxster S

porsche boxster by harbor
1997 Porsche Boxter by harbor | National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images

The Boxster S deserves more praise for what it is. Thanks to depreciation, the prices have plummeted and now anyone with $15,000 extra can enjoy the experience. The car feels glued to the ground through the corners and each gearshift is precise and deliberate. Power delivery is smooth but subtle. WIthout a V8 grunt or a high-pitched whine from a turbo inline-four, the car doesn’t make a grand entrance. The Boxster S uses a 3.2-liter horizontal-six that cranks out 280 horsepower, mated to a six-speed manual. All told the car only weighs 2,965 pounds. A perfectly balanced sports car, the Boxster S exhibits superb handling, and the acceleration while not as boisterous as a V8 is ample. 

2006 Mercedes-Benz SLK280

Mercedes built a car that steps away from its normal executive sedan lineup. The SLK is a roadster class, that until recently was still sold with a manual transmission. There are multiple variants, including an SLK55 AMG. The SLK280 from 2006 uses a 3.0-liter V6 that makes 228 horsepower, which isn’t bad for a car that weighs just 3,200 pounds. If it’s like any other Mercedes, the drivetrain will be reliable and last for several hundred thousand miles. They’re also for sale everywhere.

Plenty more choices out there for used sports cars

Aside from these three, there are many sixth-generation Camaros for sale, as well as Mustang V6s. They all fit within the $20,000 budget. Hatchbacks like Mini Coopers also go for the same price if not less, and are just as fun to drive. Sports cars are tough to peg for reliability, but if you stick with the tried and true method of getting an inspection before purchase, you can’t go wrong.

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