I’m a fan of this newly popular body style. It’s a similar idea to the CUV, except not lifted, not too fat, and I don’t vomit in my mouth whenever I look at one. The three competitors I could think of are the Kia Stinger, the BMW 4 series Gran Coupe, and the Audi A5/S5 sportback.

Kia:

  • Base: 2.0L, RWD - $32,800
  • Base model with the big engine: 3.3L Twin Turbo V6, RWD - $39,250
  • Fully Loaded: AWD - $52,300

BMW:

  • Base: 2.0L, RWD - $43,530
  • Base model with the big engine: 3.0L Twin-scroll I6, RWD - $51,930
  • Fully Loaded: AWD - $63,340

Audi:

  • Base: 2.0L, AWD - $42,600
  • Base model with the big engine: 3.0L Turbo V6, AWD - $54,400
  • Fully Loaded: $65,300

The Kia comes with way more options at every trim level, but the fully loaded GT2 comes dangerously close to well-equipped German territory. If you absolutely need to stay under $50k, then the Kia is going to be the one to get. On the high end, I’d go with the BMW, but without AWD and some of the options in the “fully loaded” configuration. On the low end, I think the base Stinger is an amazing bargain. The Audi is pretty and tempting, though...

Yes, wagons are available in these price ranges, but only in AWD and only with the smaller engine. How about a sedan? Sweet spot for me would be an M-Sport 330i with a few choice options including a manual transmission, which trumps the liftback and makes this whole exercise pointless. The cost for that one is $48,000. New cars are so expensive.

Or (ignore the wagon in the background), how about a used Mazda6 liftback? Probably less than $10k, if you can find one. And it even came with a manual transmission, which none of the above offer.