Top 10 Affordable Rear-Wheel-Drive Cars

Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., and California are armed with a legislative battleaxe and they’re bringing it to bear against the automotive industry. Fuel economy regulations are hitting like a war hammer, disrupting the market and crushing carmakers. In a mad dash to meet upcoming CAFE standards, manufacturers are dramatically shifting their product offerings. Downsized vehicles, hybrid drivetrains and EVs are some of the tools in their defensive arsenals.

SEE ALSO: Why Front-Wheel-Drive Cars Are More Efficient

One unfortunate victim of this efficiency stampede is rear-wheel drive. Slowly but surely, over the past 30 years, automakers have made the switch to front-drive, a layout that’s more economical in a number of ways. But not everyone is content driving a Nissan Sentra, or getting by in a minivan. For enthusiasts who care about performance, rear-wheel drive is king, but it’s a monarch that’s under siege. Keeping the dream alive, here’s a list of the Top 10 (reasonably) affordable RWD cars on the market today. Act fast before they’re gone in a puff of tire smoke.


10. Genesis G70

Starting off our list is the Korean luxury auto-manufacturer’s entry level model, the G70. Starting at a price of $37,535 USD, the G70 2.0T RWD comes equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine producing 252 hp. The G70 really turned a corner for Genesis, showing the world that the brand could build products just as good as anything to come out of Germany, America, or Japan.  

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9. BMW 2 Series

Next up, the BMW 2 Series. This little coupe is responsive, refined and most importantly, rear-drive. In base 230i form, it’s motivated by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that’s good for 255 horses and is paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission. This combination allows the car to go from 0-60 to mph in just 5.5-seconds. The 230i rings in at a price point of just $36,350 USD. 

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8. Cadillac CT4

Our third and final luxury car entry on this list is the Cadillac CT4. In the base Luxury trim, it comes equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Prices at $34,590 USD ($36,198 CAD), it undercuts the 2-series and G70, but makes do with a bit less power, rated at 237 hp. 

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7. Chrysler 300

Next up, a member of the large sedans, and a vehicular class that used to be a staple of the American roadscape. Unfortunately, the traditional rear-wheel-drive, full-size car is an endangered species today. But continuing the tradition and proudly waving the banner for both Mopar fans and auto enthusiasts alike are the popular LX cars. The first of three entires on this list is the Chrysler 300. Equipped with the smooth-running Pentastar V6 engine, the Touring costs just $31,540 USD ($44,465 CAD). That’s a lot of car for the money. 

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6. Dodge Charger

Undercutting its corporate sibling by $415 is the Dodge Charger SXT. Whereas the Chrysler 300 is aimed to be more of a premium full-size sedan, the Dodge Charger has more sport aspirations, backed up by the ridiculously powerful SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody. But back on the more reasonable end of the spectrum, a base SXT goes for just $31,125 USD ($39,765 CAD) and includes nearly 300 hp from a 3.6-liter V6. Not a bad value at all. 

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5. Dodge Challenger

Getting some mileage out of its rear-wheel-drive architecture, Stellantis also builds the Dodge Challenger on a modified version of its LX platform. This Pentastar pony car is perfect for doing smokey burnouts and getting sideways. Like the Charger and 300, it’s offered with a variety of different engines ranging from a base V6 to a hopped-up Hemi. As you’d expect – and as there should be – a manual transmission is available. The Challenger starts at about $29,065 USD ($36,265 CAD), which gets you a 305-horse stable and an eight-speed automatic transmission.

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4. Toyota GR86/Subaru BRZ

When it comes to affordable fun it’s hard to beat the Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ twins. These sporty rear-wheel-drive coupes are a modern take on a classic formula. With these cars, engineers made driving dynamics a top priority, and it shows. All new this year, the cars have more power (228 hp) and sleeker sheetmetal. At a starting price of $27,700 USD, the GR86 slightly undercuts the BRZ ($27,995 USD) in terms of pricing. But in Canada, the BRZ has the pricing advantage of $29,495 CAD vs the GR86 at $31,490 CAD.

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3. Ford Mustang

Credit goes to Ford for inventing the pony car segment when it introduced the Mustang in 1964. This long and low two-door struck a chord with young people growing up in the flower-power period, and America’s youth has snapped ‘em up by the truckload ever since. The car has provided five decades of delinquent rear-wheel-drive behavior and it shows no sign of stopping. The company nailed it when they introduced Mustang all those years ago, and fortunately the car has stayed true to those roots. A 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder cranks out 310 hp for low entry fee of just $27,205 USD ( $31,895 CAD). 

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2. Mazda MX-5 Miata

Mazda’s MX-5 Miata is probably the most iconic roadster ever built. It combines fun, efficiency and, more importantly, reliability in a compact, lightweight package. Of course, it’s also rear-wheel drive and is available with a manual transmission. In the hands of a skilled driver, this affordable droptop can slice through corners with the speed and elegance of a samurai katana. After receiving a power increase recently. the MX-5 Miata starts at just $26,830 USD ( $33,200 CAD).

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1. Chevrolet Camaro

What a crazy world we live in where the Chevrolet Camaro is the lowest priced rear-wheel drive car on sale. But this is the case and at a mere $25,000 USD ($29,598 CAD), it is comfortably the lowest. The base model of Chevrolet’s pony car is still a hoot to drive with a 275 hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired up to a six speed manual transmission. 

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Recent Updates

November 18, 2021 – updated the introduction for accuracy. Remove Chevrolet SS. Removed Nissan 370Z. Removed Smart ForTwo. Added Genesis G70. Updated BMW 2 Series image, text and ranking for accuracy. Added Cadillac CT4. Updated Chrysler 300 image, ranking and text for accuracy. Updated Dodge Charger image, text, and ranking for accuracy. Updated Dodge Challenger ranking, text, and image for accuracy. Updated Toyota GR86 and Subaru BRZ image, text and price for accuracy. Update Ford Mustang ranking, image, and text for accuracy. Update Mazda MX-5 Miata title, ranking, and text for accuracy. Updated Chevrolet Camaro image, text, and ranking for accuracy. 

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