This post was updated for 2019
Let’s say you’ve got an insatiable appetite for speed but you also have other responsibilities like three kids, a golden retriever, volunteer work on weekends and other domestic duties.
We hear you loud and clear and feel your pain. But just because you need sensible transportation doesn’t mean you have to completely sacrifice performance at the altar of practicality. Oh no…
There are actually plenty of highly entertaining vehicles on the market right now that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face, one so lasting that you can go for a drive on Monday and still have a grin for the rest of the week. These models span the market from luxury vehicles to family sedans, SUVs to pickup trucks; some of them are even quite affordable, but others not so much.
Dodge Charger Hellcat
One of the easiest recommendations we can make is the Charger Hellcat. This full-size sedan packs the heat of two fully operational nuclear reactors, well, maybe not that much power, but its supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi is an absolute beast. This Dodge has 707 horses on tap but that’s not its only parlor trick. It also comes with four doors, a spacious back seat and 16.5 cubic feet of luggage space. With a base price around 68 grand, how do you argue?
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Mercedes-AMG E63 S Wagon
But let’s say you need even more luxury and interior space than a Hellcat can offer. Well, Chrysler’s old partner turned ruinous overlord is happy to oblige. The Mercedes-AMG E63 S wagon is as fast as it is practical thanks to a zero-to-60 time of 3.4 seconds and more than 64 cubic feet of cargo space. Delivering that explosive performance is a 4.0-liter bi-turbo V8 that puts out 603 hp and 627 lb-ft of twist. It’s paired with a special nine-speed automatic transmission that provides maximum acceleration. All told, this car is roomy enough that you could start a jug band and go on tour across the country. Base price is around $110,000.
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Subaru WRX STI
Of course, not everyone can afford to drop 100 G’s on a new ride. Fortunately, there are some practical and attainable performance cars on the market today. One such model is the Subaru WRX STI. This small sedan starts around $38,000 and serves up an energetic 310 ponies and 290 pound-feet of torque from its 2.5-liter turbocharged boxer engine. It also features a standard with a six-speed manual transmission. Upping its versatility factor, this car comes with Subaru’s famous Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system, which means the WRX STI is ready for just about any kind of driving.
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Volkswagen Golf R
Arguably even more practical than the boxer-brandishing STI is Volkswagen’s Golf R. This hot little compact is graced with a commodious hatchback body, one that endows it with a metric ton of interior space, or more specifically around 53 cubic feet of junk-ingesting room. Beyond that, it’s powered by a 288-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that’s matched to either a six-speed manual gearbox or a lightning-fast seven-ratio automatic. Like the Subaru, torque is routed to all four corners for maximum grip. Throw in subtle design, a premium interior and lots of features and it’s easy to fall for this VW. Base price is around 41 grand.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
All-wheel drive is all well and good, but some people need serious off-road capability and that’s something these systems cannot deliver. For true mud-slinging, a Jeep is just about perfect, but not just any model. How about one that’s as competent on the racetrack as it is on the Rubicon trail? The brand’s Grand Cherokee Trackhawk features the same 707-horsepower supercharged 6.2-liter V8 as in the Charger Hellcat. Predictably, it’s bolted to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. What other vehicle offers nearly 70 cubic feet of cargo volume and can hit 60 miles an hour can in just 3.5 seconds? Base price is roughly $87,000.
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Ford F-150 Raptor
But sometimes you need an open bed, which the Grand Cherokee cannot offer unless you’re skilled with a reciprocating saw. Eliminating the need to slice and dice is the Ford Raptor. This ground-pounding pickup is certifiably badass, with copious ground clearance, dedicated hardware and the power to back it all up. Under the hood, it features a high-output 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 that delivers 450 ponies and 510 pound-feet of torque, all of which is routed to the wheels through an efficient 10-speed automatic transmission. All told, this SVT F-150 is fast, tough and extremely desirable.
Tesla Model X
Plenty of people have a bone to pick with Tesla for one reason or another. Still, throngs of others are devoted to this automaker with religious-like fervor. Is the firm failing or does it deserve mountains of praise? Like most things in life, the answer is somewhere in between. Sure, the company has made some curious missteps over the years but it’s also working to revolutionize transportation in a way we haven’t seen in a century or more. At the tip of this thrust into the future, Tesla offers well-heeled drivers a vehicle that’s both reasonably practical and stupendously fast. They’ve built a crossover that can hit 60 miles an hour in less than three seconds yet still has enough room for the entire family. The Model X is equal parts utility vehicle and scud missile, an impressively swift product with an emissions-free driving range of around 290 miles.
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Audi RS 7 Performance
The Audi RS 7 is a German delight, especially in hopped-up Performance trim. It features a 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V8, a highly advanced powerplant matched to an eight-speed self-shifting gearbox and Quattro all-wheel drive. All told it’s packing more heat than Mexican drug cartels, 605 horses to be precise. This “four-door coupe” can seat four adult passengers in reasonable comfort and hold a fair amount of stuff thanks to its lift-back rear end. But perhaps best of all it drives amazingly well, looks gorgeous and can hit 60 miles an hour in as little as 3.6 seconds. Base price is around $130,000 so, unfortunately, you may have to sell drugs in order to afford one.
Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo
The Porsche Panamera is a big car with a long wheelbase and generous back seat. But just because it’s of the larger persuasion doesn’t mean it can’t thrill the driver. In Turbo Sport Turismo guise, it’s unusually spacious, with up to 49 cubic feet of cargo space in the trunk. Underhood resides a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that delivers 550 horsepower and 567 pound-feet of torque. Allied with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission it can hit 60 miles an hour in as little as 3.4 seconds. Top speed is 188. Base price for the Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo is about $155,000.
BMW X6 M
Providing speed, style and reasonable amounts of space, BMW’s X6 M seems to have it all. A 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 delivers 567 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. Harnessing that goodness is an eight-speed M Sport automatic transmission. Despite a husky curb weight, the X6 M can rocket from zero to 60 in about four seconds flat.