The Camry is a nice car, but how much will $35,000 buy you on the used market?
We recently reviewed the all-new 2018 Toyota Camry, and found it to be a very positive experience. The new 3.5-liter V6 engine produces a whopping 301 horsepower - which is what V8 engines were producing around 15 years ago. Unfortunately, our loaded V6 XSE carried a starting price of just under $35,000 with an as-tested price of just under $40,000. The V6 Camry is by no means a slow car, but we wondered how much $35,000 would get you on the used market. As it turns out, it's quite a lot.
When it was new, the Chevrolet SS cost around $46,000. Since the car wasn't well publicized, it didn't sell well - now used examples can easily be found for less than $35,000. Unfortunately, all of the SS examples at this price are 2014 models, so there is no option of a six-speed manual transmission. Instead, the 6.2-liter 415-hp V8 is mated to a six-speed automatic. We wouldn't worry too much about the transmission, because it's not like Toyota offers the V6 Camry with a manual either. Instead of 301 hp going to the front wheels, the SS sends its V8 grunt to the rear, which is better for aggressive driving.
The base Alfa Romeo Giulia undercuts the price of a nicely optioned Toyota Camry XSE that will cost buyers around $38,000. Unfortunately, most of the cars that dealerships stock are closer to $45,000. Luckily, Alfa Romeo's legendary depreciation has already started to kick in, and a used Giulia can now be had starting at around $29,000. The 280-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder may not have as much power as the Camry's V6, but it delivers 306 lb-ft of torque compared to the Camry's 267 lb-ft. Crucially, the Alfa is RWD, and feels much more engaging to drive. In the Camry's defense, Toyota's reliability has been known to be worlds apart from Alfa Romeo's.
If merely beating a V6 Camry isn't enough and you really want to leave the Toyota for dust, consider a used Jaguar XFR. This 510-hp supercharged V8 beast is the most powerful car on our list, yet low mileage examples can still be found for less than $35,000. We even found the updated 2013 model, which moved from a six-speed automatic to a smoother eight-speed unit. The Camry may be quick with a 5.8-second 0-60 time, but the XFR is blisteringly fast with a time of just 4.2 seconds.
In the world of sport sedans, no combination of letters and numbers elicits more excitement from enthusiasts than M3. For well under $35,000, it is possible to buy our favorite generation of the M3, the E90. We'd opt for the four-door model for practicality, with the optional six-speed manual transmission. The seven-speed dual-clutch is an excellent option as well, but we think the only V8 M3 ever produced, along with a manual transmission, may soon become a collector's item. The 4.0-liter 414-hp V8 will sing to you on its way to a 8,400 rpm redline as your neighbor makes their mundane commute in a new Camry.
The idea of a 400-hp or even a 500-hp car for the same price as a Camry is very enticing, but some people want a car that will be extremely reliable and easy to maintain. While nothing on this list will be quite as affordable to maintain as a Toyota, the Lexus GS 350 F Sport gets awfully close. Lexus is obviously owned by Toyota, so the GS is also powered by a 3.5-liter V6. The GS's V6 produces more power than the Camry's (311 hp), and is also RWD. Lexus reliability is generally excellent, so we would feel comfortable buying a 2013-2015 GS 350 with the sporty F Sport package for less than the price of a new Camry.