Not all fast cars are meant to look the part.
For as long as performance vehicles have existed, the term “sleeper” has applied to cars that are fast, but look mundane. Some sleeper cars are way faster than you’d expect, while others just pack more punch than what’s considered standard for the segment.
Meanwhile, there are other sleepers that just buck the trend and reputation the automaker has by offering something that seems unlikely for the brand. There’s a lot of sleepers available in today’s market, but AutoGuide.com decided to pick 10 that we thought were the best. It’s worth mentioning that the Hyundai Genesis, our Car of the Year, was a candidate that barely missed the list with its 5.0-liter V8 engine sporting 420 hp.
10. Buick Regal GS
As the oldest American automaker still in existence, the Buick brand has always been about entry-level luxury vehicles that slot beneath what Cadillac has to offer. As a result, the nameplate isn’t exactly known for exciting sports cars but rather mundane sedans. That is unless you’re behind the wheel of a Regal GS. Powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 259 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, the specs won’t blow the doors off a BMW M3, but it’s also not what you’d expect from a Buick… unless it’s a Buick Grand National, but those aren’t available in 2015.
9. Cadillac XTS Vsport
Yes Cadillac has its high-performance V models that most wouldn’t mistake for a sleeper, but the XTS Vsport is an entirely different story. Just look at how tame the body lines are on that sedan! Sporting a new 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6 under the hood, the XTS VSport has an impressive 410 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque backed by the American automaker’s Magnetic Ride Control, Brembo front brakes and high-tech safety features like Adaptive Forward Lighting.
8. Kia K900
Fit for a King (James), the Kia K900 is the Korean automaker’s flagship sedan that no one seems to want to respect. With a 5.0-liter V8 providing 420 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque, the K900 is quite the sleeper especially since many consider Kia as an entry-level, budget brand. The powerplant is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and despite the performance specs, the K900 returns a respectable 15 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.
7. Volvo V60 Polestar
For decades, Volvo has been synonymous with safety, but the Polestar sub-brand has injected performance into various models. This little five-door wagon has a 350-hp T6 engine and goes 0-62 mph in just 4.9 seconds. Sure, one could argue that it’s bright blue paint job makes it a non-sleeper, but the V60 Polestar is also available in black, white and silver.
6. Chevrolet Silverado / GMC Sierra
Most pickup trucks aren’t really sleepers, since they more than likely have a V8 powering them. But the new Silverado can be had with a 6.2-liter EcoTec3 V8 packing 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque, sporting the most torque of any half-ton. And yes, that’s the same 6.2-liter V8 used in the Chevrolet Corvette so in a way, the Silverado has a bit of the Corvette in it.
5. Lexus LS600h L
Let’s face it, flagship hybrid sedans are the quintessential sleepers and the Lexus LS600h L is a perfect fit. One glance and you think it’s pure luxury with comfortable seating and fancy bits, but the LS600h L packs a serious punch with a combined system output of 438 hp. In fact, the sedan goes 0-60 in 5.5 seconds making it no slouch as the world’s first luxury, all-wheel drive V8 hybrid.
4. Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT
SUVs were created for utility and cargo space to haul many things, but the Jeep Cherokee SRT hauls too. With 475 hp and a 0-60 time of 4.8 seconds, the Cherokee SRT has a 6.4-liter HEMI V8 mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. There is a bit of a giveaway though on the Cherokee SRT, which comes standard with 20-inch wheels and Brembo brakes.
3. Ford Flex EcoBoost
Features Editor Sami Haj-Assaad had a lot of great things to say about the Ford Flex EcoBoost, some of which we probably can’t repeat if we want to stay PG-13. But in Sami’s defense, the Ford Flex EcoBoost does pack a lot of fun with a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine with 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque along with all-wheel drive. The Ford Flex definitely looks the part of a mundane family car, but it’s a ton of fun to drive and has more horsepower than a CLA 45 AMG.
SEE ALSO: 2014 Ford Flec EcoBoost Review
2. Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon
Speaking of AMG, the Mercedes-AMG E63 wagon is quite possibly the most exciting wagon available in the U.S. Besides the AMG badge to hint at the amount of power this car holds, the E63 wagon was a real contender for the ultimate sleeper considering it has 577 hp from its 5.5-liter Biturbo V8 engine, resulting in a 0-60 time of just 3.6 seconds. But unfortunately we felt the AMG badge is a bit of a giveaway, taking away from true sleeper status.
1. Chevrolet SS
Which means the top car is none other than the Chevrolet SS, one of the few if not the only sports sedans left that can be had with a manual transmission. Available for well under $50,000 the Chevrolet SS goes 0-60 in 4.7 seconds thanks to its 6.2-liter V8 engine with 415 hp. Sure it has Brembo brakes hinting at the performance under the hood, but the sedan’s styling is so subdued that we wouldn’t even blame anyone if they mistaken it for an overgrown Malibu.