For decades the V8 engine has been the benchmark for automotive performance, luxury and prestige. Today with advances in electronics, direct injection and turbocharging, automakers continue to get more performance from smaller displacement engines, but many drivers still long for the power and sound of a V8 under the hood. In most cases, a V8 is reserved for exclusive models or top trim levels, putting the most desirable engine choice out of reach for some buyers. But after a few years and some miles on the odometer the prices drop, putting V8s within reach of more buyers. What follows are 20 of our favorite V8 models now available on the used car market — with less than 100,000 miles for less than $20,000.
Mustang should be one of the first cars that comes to mind when considering fun V8 power, since it was originally offered with a V8 engine option from its inception in 1964, and has continued to offer V8 power — except for a couple years during the 1970s and ‘80s. When the previous-generation Mustang debuted as a 2005 model, the GT was powered by a 4.6-liter V8 engine that produced 300 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque. For 2010 V8-power increased to 315 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque, before the 5.0-liter V8 was added for 2011 producing 412 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque. It will be tough to find a 2011 Mustang GT with the 5.0-liter V8 at a price below $20,000, but you should find lots of 4.6-liter Mustang GTs in the sub-$20K category.
The Chevrolet Camaro debuted in 1967 to challenge Ford’s Mustang head-on in the classic pony car battle that continues to this day. That first Camaro offered several V8 engine choices including a 375-horsepower 396 cubic-inch big block. When the Camaro returned to the lineup for 2010, the Camaro SS was powered by a 426-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 engine, and for 2012 the Camaro ZL1 was added with a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 producing 580 horsepower. The limited production ZL1 still commands top dollar, but the Camaro SS has dropped below the $20,000 mark.
When Dodge brought back the Challenger in 2009 to take on Mustang and Camaro the following year, the full lineup included the Challenger R/T packing a 370-horsepower 5.7-liter HEMI under the hood, as well as the chart-topping Challenger SRT8 with a 425-horsepower 6.1-liter HEMI. Dodge continues to boost the horses, and for 2015 the 485-horsepower Challenger Scat Pack and the 707-horsepower Challenger SRT Hellcat are offered. In the resale market, the Challenger SRT8 is still above the $20,000 threshold, but you can find a nice Challenger R/T for less than $20,000.
The first Audi S4 based on the A4 from 2000–2002 was powered by a 250-horsepower twin-turbo V6, and the current version is powered by a 333-horsepower supercharged V6, but in between the S4 featured a normally aspirated 4.2-liter V8 engine from 2004–2009. The second-generation S4 was available in sedan, convertible and Avant (wagon) variations — all with the 4.2-liter V8, sport suspension, Recaro seats and quattro all-wheel drive. Today the V8-powered S4 models have dropped below $20,000 in the resale market.
BMW 6 Series
When the 6 Series returned to the BMW lineup as the 645Ci in 2004 after a 14-year hiatus, it was powered by a 325-horsepower 4.4-liter V8 engine and offered in both coupe and convertible versions. For 2006 the model name changed to 650i with the addition of the 360-horsepower 4.8-liter V8 engine. With a starting price of almost $70,000 in 2004, the 6 Series is just starting to drop under $20,000 on the used market.
Jaguar’s grand-touring XK coupe and convertible have been in the lineup since they replaced the XJ-S in the 1997 model year. The original XK8 was powered by the first-ever V8 engine for Jaguar: a 290-horsepower 4.0-liter unit. The XKR joined the lineup for the 2000 model year, powered by a 370-horsepower supercharged 4.0-liter V8 — available in both coupe and convertible versions. The current generation of the XK debuted as a 2007 model with all-aluminum construction, powered by a choice of two V8 engines: a 300-horsepower 4.2 liter or a 420-horsepower supercharged 4.2 liter. A 385-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 and a 510-horsepower supercharged 5.0-liter V8s debuted for the 2010 model year. The newest models with 5.0-liter engines are still valued above $20,000, but there should be a good selection of low-mileage XKs with either the normally-aspirated or supercharged 4.2-liter V8s available.
The midsize Audi A6 was first offered with a 4.2-liter V8 engine for the 2000 model year, producing 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. Audi continued to offer the 4.2-liter V8 with quattro all-wheel-drive for the A6 through the 2011 model year, with power increases to 335 horsepower for the 2005 model year and 350 horsepower for 2007. In today’s market you can find an Audi A6 with up to 350 horsepower and quattro for under $20,000.
The Cadillac CTS received strong reviews as a sport sedan when it debuted for 2003, but things got really interesting in 2004 when the CTS-V joined the lineup, powered by a 400-horsepower 5.7-liter V8 engine. With a 6-speed manual transmission, rear-wheel drive, sport suspension and large brakes, the CTS-V was a match for the best European sport sedans at a price just under $50,000. The second-generation 2009 CTS-V jumped to 556 horsepower from a supercharged 6.2-liter V8, and the new 2016 model jumps to 640 horsepower. Even better news: The first generation CTS-V can now be found for less than $20,000.
BMW 5 Series
The BMW 5 Series was first offered with a V8 engine in 1994, when the 530i was powered by a 215-horsepower 3.0-liter V8 and the 540i was powered by a 282-horsepower 4.0-liter V8. The 3.0 liter was short-lived, but the larger V8 continued as a 4.4-liter through the next generation 5 Series from 1997–2003 (with an available 6-speed manual transmission) and is still sought by enthusiasts. The redesigned 5 Series offered the 4.4-liter V8 in the 545i for 2004–2005 and moved to the 360-horsepower 4.8-liter to power the 550i for 2006. For under $20,000 you should find a low mileage 545i or a 2006–2008 550i with reasonable mileage.
Jaguar’s midsize XF sedan debuted as a 2009 model to replace the S-TYPE with a bold new design and a choice of two V8 engines: a 300-horsepower 4.2 liter and a 420-horsepower supercharged 4.2 liter. For 2011 a 385-horsepower 5.0-liter unit was added, along with a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 at 470 horsepower. The XF-R joined the lineup for 2011 with a 510-horsepower supercharged 5.0-liter V8. Most of the supercharged models will still be above our price range, but you will find lower-mileage 4.2-liter and 5.0-liter V8 models on the market.
When it debuted as a 1993 model, the original GS had a rear-wheel-drive configuration, powered by a 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine. The GS 400 became the first V8-powered GS when the model received a redesign for the 1998 model year, sporting a 300-horsepower 4.0-liter V8. For 2010 displacement increased to 4.3 liters for the GS430, but output remained at 300 horsepower. For 2008 the GS 430 gave way to the GS 460, powered by a 342-horsepower 4.6-liter V8 engine. Some Lexus GS 460 models are just starting to drop below the $20,000 level, but there are also low-mileage GS 430s to choose from.
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class first appeared in the U.S. as a 1994 model when the previous 300E that came to the U.S. in 1986 was renamed E300. That year the E500 was added, powered by a 315-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 engine. The 2004–2006 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG featured a 469-horsepower 5.4-liter V8, and some E55 models have dropped below the $20,000 point on the used market. For 2007 the E550 replaced the E500, powered by a 382-horsepower 5.5-liter V8 engine, and the E63 joined the lineup with a 507-horsepower 6.2-liter AMG engine. The E63 is nowhere near our $20,000 threshold yet, but the E550 is dropping to that range.
Chrysler brought back the 300 as its flagship rear-wheel drive sedan in 2005, with the 300C powered by a 340-horsepower 5.7-liter HEMi V8; the 300C SRT8 got power from a 425-horsepower 6.1-liter HEMI V8. When the 300 was redesigned for 2011 the 5.7-liter HEMI got bumped up to 363 horsepower, and for 2012 the 300 SRT8 returned with 470 horsepower. Today’s market includes low-mileage Chrysler 300C models and 300C SRT8 models for less than $20,000.
The original Dodge Charger was a 2-door coupe in the 1960s and 1970s, and Dodge brought the Charger name back in 2006 as a full-size sedan, still offering HEMI V8 power. The 2006 Charger R/T was powered by a 340-horsepower 5.7-liter HEMI and the Charger SRT8 had the 425-horsepower 6.1-liter HEMI. Dodge has continued to develop high-performance versions of the Charger and for 2015 the Charger SRT Hellcat is powered by a 707-horsepower supercharged 6.1-liter HEMI V8 engine. In today’s resale market you will find low-mileage Charger R/T models and maybe a few Charger SRT8s for less than $20,000.
Hyundai added the flagship rear-wheel-drive Genesis sedan to its lineup for 2009, with available V8 power offered right from the start: a 375-horsepower 4.6 liter unit powering the Genesis 4.6. Horsepower increased to 385 for the 2010 model year, and in 2012 the new Genesis 5.0 got its power from a 429-horsepower 5.0-liter V8. It will be tough to find a Genesis 5.0 for less than $20,000, but there should be a good selection of low-mileage Genesis 4.6s in that price range.
The Infiniti M debuted as a 2003 model with the Infiniti M45 powered by a 340-horsepower V8 engine. The M was redesigned for 2006, and the M45 continued to be powered by a 335-horsepower 4.5-liter V8 alongside the V6-powered M35. The Infiniti M56 replaced the M45 after a redesigned for 2011, powered by a 420-horsepower 5.6-liter V8 engine. Resale value is still holding strong on the M56, but there should be nice examples of the 2006–2010 M45 available for less than $20,000.
Audi’s full-size sedan has offered V8 power since it was first introduced in 1997 with an available 300-horsepower 4.2-liter V8 and quattro all-wheel drive. The power output from the 4.2-liter V8 steadily increased, and from 2007–2010 it was rated at 350 horsepower before jumping to 372 horsepower for 2011. For 2013 the 4.2-liter V8 was replaced with the 3.0-liter supercharged V6 and a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 producing 420 horsepower. You probably won’t find a 2011 A8 in our price range, but should be able to find up to a 2007–2008 model rated at 350 horsepower.
BMW 7 Series
The 7 Series has been the flagship sedan in the BMW lineup for the U.S. market since the 1978 model year, and first received V8 power for the 740i in 1993. The 7 Series received a bold but controversial redesign for 2002, with the 325-horsepower 4.4-liter V8 becoming the standard engine for the 745i. The 2006 BMW 750i was powered by the 360-horsepower 4.8-liter V8 engine at a price of more than $70,000. In today’s market you should find the 745i under $20,000 and may even be able to find a 750i.
The Lexus LS flagship sedan has always offered V8 power, starting with the original 1989 LS 400, motivated by a 290-horsepower 4.0-liter V8. Power continued to increase over the years via a 290-horsepower 4.3-liter V8, followed by a 380-horsepower 4.6-liter V8 in 2007. For 2008 the debut of the Lexus LS 600h hybrid combined a 5.0-liter engine with an electric motor for a total output of 438 horsepower. Resale value on Lexus LS models is strong, but some LS 460s have dropped below the $20,000 threshold, joining the LS 430 in our price range as well.
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class flagship sedan has offered V8 power for many years, and only a few models will fall within our price parameters. The 2003–2006 Mercedes-Benz S55 AMG derived power from a 493-horsepower 5.4-liter V8, and many S55 models have dropped below $20,000. For 2007 the S550 replaced the S500, powered by a 382-horse 5.5-liter V8 engine — it has also dropped into the same price range.