We love sleeper cars.
We mean cars that don’t put on airs and offer more “go” than show. Sleeper cars pull up to the stoplight with a trunk full of groceries, a kid or two in back ... and can blow your doors off when you least expect it.
And these are five current production models that more than fit the mold.
It might come from Down Under (the SS is a rebadged Holden Commodore), but it’s still got a thoroughly American Chevy bowtie on the grille. The downplayed sheetmetal looks like it was plucked from the rental car fleet, but it’s anything but with a 6.2-liter V8 that spews out 415 ponies and 415 lb-ft of torque. Pair it with a race-worthy six-speed manual transmission, and you’ve got automotive weaponry at hand — stealth weaponry. ($46,575)
Ford Taurus SHO
If you want a large sedan that makes you look like you’ve graduated to middle age but still delivers speed like a bat out of hell, the Super High Output version of the venerable Taurus is the order of the day. It’s got ample room for five with the ability to frighten all of them thanks to 365 horses from the twin-turbocharged V6 EcoBoost engine. The 0-60 clocks in at 5.1 seconds, and it even comes with torque vectoring for those challenging turns, a sport-tuned suspension and all-wheel drive. Who’s driving the dowdy sedan now? ($40,275)
Even with its upscale styling, the current Avalon looks more like a casino limo than a candidate for a drag race, but the 268-horsepower V6 launches the Avalon to 60 MPH in a feline 6.1 seconds, and it has the agility to match. That it’s cavernous inside and supremely comfortable doesn’t detract from the fact that it’ll drop a Ford Focus ST like a bad habit. ($32,650)
Kia K900 V8 Luxury
Kia’s unassuming luxury sedan is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, especially when it comes with a hulking 5.0-liter V8 under the hood. From tip to toe, it’s outfitted with posh tech and amenities, but it’s when you mash pedal to floor — and the K900 bests 60 mph in 5.7 seconds — that the 420 HP ride really impresses. That Lexus RC 350 F Sport sitting next to you at the stoplight will have no idea what’s in store for it. ($61,900)
Cadillac CT6 3.0L Twin Turbo V6
Cadillac’s new flagship sedan is meant to go up against the likes of the big bad Germans, but with a distinctly American flavor. That flavor just happens to be supremely spicy, by virtue of the CT6’s whopping 404 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. Sure, you’re cosseted in fine wood and leather, but all that goes out the window when you do 60 mph in five seconds flat — enough to battle a Nissan 370Z Nismo, but with cushy room for five. ($65,390)