So you’ve graduated college, maybe you’ve been working a few years or the car you’ve been driving has sputtered and died…perhaps you’re just tired of driving the old family Buick around. If you are a bit older and experiencing a mid-life crisis, no doubt you’re looking for a sweet ride. Where should you begin the search? All you know is that you want something cool, something that will make jaws drop, tongues wag and allow you to feel like the perfect combination of John Wayne and Sean Connery. Well my friend, I have attempted to pick the 10 manliest new cars out there (I had a lot of trouble keeping the list to 10, so I may have given honorable mentions to cars in the same vein). Enjoy and good luck!
10. Ford F-150
Ah the F-150; the classic tough-country boy-hard workin’-roughneck-git‘er done vehicle. This truck is totally utilitarian and available in an infinite combination of features ranging from bare bones practicality to country club luxury. Automobile-makers are really working to make their trucks more eco-friendly and more fuel efficient, and the new V6 engines that are being produced easily surpass the power provided by the V8’s from even 5 years ago, while consuming way less gasoline. However, if you still want the V8…more power to you….literally.
Base model 2014 F-150 Price: ~USD 24,000
Honorable Mention: Toyota Tundra, GMC/Chevrolet 1500
9. Ford Mustang
Think of a classic American car….if the Ford Mustang did not come up on your list, I guarantee you are lying. American muscle cars are a thing of beauty. If you can get your hands on a true oldie like a late 1960s Pontiac GTO, you’re certainly a lucky man. There is just something special about driving a car with over 400 brake horsepower that is built to burn rubber and enjoyably turn your face inside out. The 1990s saw the American muscle car take a more sporty approach to styling—and to be honest I don’t care much for it. However, the past 5 years or so has seen a resurgence of the old school muscle car look and performance. The Ford Mustang takes the spot on this list because it is THE classic American muscle car, but really the Honorable Mentions are just as exciting and impressive.
Base model 2014 Mustang Price: ~USD 22,000
Honorable Mention: Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger
8. Jeep Grand Cherokee
Full disclosure: I bought a 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk. I love this car, it is almost perfect (I wish my gas mileage was better, but that’s what I get for having a V8). Jeep is known for producing high quality, innovative off-road focused vehicles—and the Grand Cherokee does not disappoint.
In fact with the Grand Cherokee, I believe Jeep has struck a perfect balance between Range Rover luxury/features and the traditional Jeep prowess. Take a look at a Grand Cherokee made after 2011, and tell me that it isn’t sexy . . . tricky, huh? The Grand Cherokee is the most awarded SUV of all time, and for very good reason.
Base model 2014 Grand Cherokee 4X4 Price: ~USD 30,000
Honorable Mentions: Land Rover, Range Rover, Toyota 4Runner
7. BMW 5 series
You cannot have a list of manly cars and exclude BMW—these cars scream elegance, luxury, and performance. The 5 Series takes the cake; with this line, you can get more performance than the 3 Series for the same money from the newer Ford Mustangs et al (see No. 9 above). The 7 Series is for older men with families that want a big car that can go really fast, but the 5 Series is the perfect bachelor’s car; it’s big enough to go on a road trip to the coast with some buddies; small enough to feel sporty and nimble; and rocketed by an engine that provides all the speed you need. In fact, the BMW 550i Gran Turismo has the same engine as the 750Li (a real monster in its own right).
Base model 2014 BMW 528i Price: ~USD 49,500
Honorable Mentions: Infiniti G50, Audi A6, Mercedes E Class, Lexus GS350
6. Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
Want to go “Ferrari fast” but don’t want to pay “Ferrari dollars”? You certainly aren’t alone, and the Corvette ZR1 is the car for you. Corvettes have a winning tradition at LeMans and have been the official pace care of the Daytona 500. The Corvette ZR1 has a solid value proposition—more speed for less money. For roughly USD 130,000, you receive a supercharged 6.2 liter V8 producing 638 horsepower and a top speed of 205MPH…it’ll do 0-60MPH in 3.3 seconds. That is compared to USD 230,000 for a base model Ferrari 458, which also does 0-60MPH in 3.3 seconds. So take that extra $100,000 you save and buy yourself some tissues to wipe away the drool from your chin.
Base model Corvette ZR1 Price: ~USD 130,000
Honorable Mentions: Dodge Viper
5. Porsche Cayenne Turbo S
Oh my God, what a fine automobile. I have no idea how Porsche does it, but it seems they can make a sports car out of anything. All it takes to be sold on the Cayenne Turbo S is to turn the engine on and listen to the 550 ponies—the sound will make a grown man wail like a teen girl at a boy band concert. Take it on a test drive, and you’ll come back ready to sell your mother to go home with this car. You would be amazed that this is theoretically a 4X4 SUV with off-road capabilities—complete with air bag suspension giving roughly 10 inches of lift at maximum. This car can do it all and the Cayenne Turbo S can do it really, really fast—0-60MPH in 4.3 seconds. That would make most sports cars blush.
Base model 2014 Cayenne Turbo S Price: ~USD 146,000
Honorable Mentions*: Porsche Cayenne, Volkswagen Touareg**, Audi Q7
* Let’s be honest, there is no real equal to the Cayenne Turbo S
**The Touareg is actually built using the same chassis, body, and doors as the Cayenne—but that is where the similarities stop. I felt this was important enough to share.
4. Aston Martin Vanquish
If it’s good enough for James Bond, it is good enough for anyone. Aston Martin’s are, in general, beautiful cars that will always be in style. The Vanquish in particular has all the performance one would expect from a high end sports car with the luxurious interior one would expect from Maybach. With hand stitched leather, a completely redone “infotainment” center, to a powerful 565 brake horsepower V12 engine—this car is the perfect cure for a strong mid-life crisis. It is so nice the wife can’t possibly get mad at you.
Base model 2013 Vanquish Price: ~USD 278,000
Honorable Mentions: Bentley Continental
3. Porsche 911 Turbo S
Ferdinand Porsche got it right with the Porsche 911, which is why this car is world renowned for automotive excellence in track racing (LeMans, etc.), rally racing, and simply driving on open road. Throw in a turbo package and you have a real road demon. The 911 Turbo S has a whopping 560 brake horsepower from a straight 6 rear mounted engine—0-60MPH in 2.9 seconds. That is faster than Ferrari 458 at 3.3 seconds. If you watch the British Top Gear, you know that whenever the boys test a Porsche 911 against cars such as Ferrari, BMW, Mercedes AMG, etc. the Porsche surprisingly beats the competition.
Honorable Mentions: Ferrari 458 , BMW M5
2. Jeep Wrangler
There is not a man I know that has not, at some point in their life, had a Jeep Wrangler or dreamed of owning one. Jeep Wranglers are the perfect warm weather vehicle; everyone likes the idea of cruising along the beach with the top and doors off and going off-roading/mudding with the boys. The Wrangler is the car you can trust to take you anywhere you want to go without worrying too much about damaging it. Jeep has put some very innovative off-road technology into their vehicles such as big, beefy differentials, well placed skid plates, complex independent suspension systems…all in the pursuit of the best damn off-road experience possible.
Base model Wrangler price: ~USD 22,000*
Honorable Mentions: No current production vehicle compares.
*If I were buying a Jeep Wrangler, I would look for a good used one. These are cars for using, not really for showing off. Used, good quality Wranglers can be had for as low as USD 5,000.
1. Pagani Huayra
Go to Modena, Italy and you will find that Ferrari and Lamborghini own this town. Both have facilities or headquarters in Modena and have been a longstanding tradition in Modena. 1992, Horacio Pagani kicked in the doors on the Ferrari/Lamborghini party and did what no one else could—successfully build their own supercars right in the backyard of the world’s “greatest” supercar companies. He successfully topped the other guys in regards to design insanity, mechanical capability, and just pure driving joy. The Huayra has a twin-turbo 6 liter V12 producing 720 brake horsepower with a top speed of 235MPH and 0-60MPG of 3.2 seconds. The Pagani Huayra is all but guaranteed to make every head turn within a 2.6 mile radius. This car isn’t even out yet, and Pagani has said they will only produce 40 each year…so if you can get your hands on one…then you officially win the game of life.
Base model Pagani Huayra price: EURO 1,000,000
Honorable Mentions: Lexus LFA
So, I’m ready to buy…any tips before I thrown down my money? Actually, yes:
Conduct some extensive research on your dream car before setting foot into the dealership. Know what options you want and don’t want. Many car company websites have a tool where you can “build your own car,” I strongly suggest utilizing this tool and building multiple cars with different features. This tool will even give the suggested price for each added feature and a total vehicle MSRP that can be compared to the dealer’s asking price.
Use websites like Kelley Blue Book , Edmunds, or Cars to compare prices on new and used vehicles. Get acquainted with the market for your car—it will help you in negotiations. Prior price and features research will come in quite handy if you come across a good used auto on a dealer’s lot.
Now that you know what car and options you want and you roughly know the price of the car, it is time to go to the dealership. The best time to go is end of the month, and if possible, the end of the year…there are always great promotions going on to clear the prior year’s inventory and make room for the new year’s cars. Ask the salesman to show you the specific car you have in mind and start there, don’t settle to look at a lesser car. One of the first things the salesman will ask you is your budget…do not tell him this. The salesman will say something like “if I don’t know your budget it will be tougher for me to find a vehicle that fits your needs.” Tell that salesman “perhaps the dealership across town can show me the car without knowing my budget,” and this should end the discussion. Any good negotiator knows that having the other guy name the price first is advantageous, and revealing your gameplay to the salesman will make lowering his given number much more difficult.
So you found your car and the dealer has thrown you a price. Chances are it is higher than you expected; tell the dealer a number that is a little lower than price you had in mind (which you know from the prior market research you did). The dealer will take the offer to his managers, and come back with another offer. This can go on, but eventually you will come to your number (if it is fair). Be very careful and really look over the offer, features list, and warranty, etc.—the dealer will whittle away on after sales service/warranty etc. to meet your price idea and won’t tell you. Make sure you are getting what you want for your price. Once a price has been reached, you will be shuttled to the financing office.
Expect an auto financing interest rate from 1.9% to 3.9%. If your credit history is undesirable, expect higher. You should check auto credit websites like Auto Credit Express to calculate your interest rate if you have bad or no credit. If this is your first car and you are financing yourself, expect a rate of at least 3.9%. Also, if you don’t find an online solution, the dealership will apply for financing on your behalf with many institutions and you will get declined often, but don’t let this worry you…the dealer will find you financing somewhere.
The five steps above should give you a good bit of confidence going into most auto dealerships; unfortunately, if you are after a high end machine such as an Aston Martin or Ferrari—you are more at the mercy of the dealer due to scarcity. It still helps to know the price and features of these vehicles, but don’t expect to get fantastic deals here…people want these cars, people are willing to pay the price and, more importantly, the dealers know it. If this guide was helpful or you found it lacking, please let us know in the comments. I would also love to hear which cars you think should have made the list but didn’t, and why.