The earliest V engine was a V2, which was produced in 1889 by Daimler, the same guy who founded the internal combustion engine and Mercedes-Benz. The “V” part comes from the shape of the angle made by the pistons and cylinder. After that, numerous more V engines were produced, and of course there are also the inline, rotary and “W” engines (these W engines are seen in supercars like Bugattis and high-end cars like Bentleys).
All said, the V6 is the magic number you want to have when we are talking about engines. It’s sweet, it’s simple, and it’s efficient. If you have only one car—and this would be the majority, I’m guessing—then V6 is that perfect spot to hit. It’s civilized on the road, giving an alright mileage and a good driving experience while still sounding similar to the mightier V8, yet doesn’t carry some of the burden that V8 inflicts upon itself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying V8s are bad. (Indeed, some people are just a diehard fan of the V8s, particularly when it comes to the Mustang. They can’t not see themselves without the V8, almost as if a part of them is lost if they don’t hear the roar of the V8 or get that slightly different driving experience.) I’m saying if you go with a V6, you aren’t going to go wrong, whether it be the Challenger, Honda or Mustang, at least in the grand scheme of things.
20 WOULD BUY: 2013 CHEVY IMPALA ($5K)
Here’s another pretty good car. It’s a sweet, simple car that has reasonable looks. It’s not the most tantalizing car on this list, but neither is it anything to worry about. It should be noted that some people think the styling has gone stale though.
The controls are simple, which is good. The interior is rather capacious, so that’s something to appreciate.
Moreover, even the trunk is spacious in this lineup. The handling should be good with the V6. It’s a pretty decent car from our own backyard that you can have for anywhere from $5K-20K, depending on its shape, size and condition.
19 WOULD BUY: 2012 DODGE CHALLENGER ($8.5K)
This lineup is only about four years younger than YouTube, but it seems like it has been with us forever. That’s because Challenger didn’t change much when it was launched in 2009. The car looks like it was directly picked up from a random day of the ‘70s. It’s big, showy, heavy, powerful and meant for doing burnouts. Dodge doesn’t try to suppress the car’s traits at all. You get what you see: ground burning, gut wrenching car. That’s the reality of this car, a good one, at that. You can have a 3.6L V6 for $8.5K. It’s a solid car.
18 WOULD BUY: 2013 MAZDA6 ($8K)
The front grille of this car looks pretty exciting and happy—and that has been a good trait of Mazda—and the rest of the car is slender, despite being a few years from the past.
Inside, the cabin looks pretty good too.
While the interior is not quite as happy as the exterior, the engine bay matches the excitement of the exterior perfectly well thanks to the 3.7L V6. The engine supplies 272 horses and 269 lb-ft of torque. The deals are not that bad. You can have one for $8K-9K.
17 WOULD BUY: 2010 HYUNDAI GENESIS COUPE ($8K)
This is one of those few cars from Hyundai that is actually good. Despite the diminutive grille, the hood manages to give an overall good impression, courtesy of the curves of the hood in proportion with the rest of the styling of the car, including sides. The rear also looks good. But the beauty is not superficial here. It goes deep down to the engine of this car. Among the various options that were available, there was a 3.8L V6 that churned out 306 HP and 266 lb-ft of torque. The body itself was sport tuned. You can have these for anywhere from $7K-9K.
16 WOULD BUY: 2011 TOYOTA CAMRY ($9K)
Just because it’s not the coolest car on the block doesn’t mean it’s not a good car. It’s a good car, and some people miss out on it in an attempt to be cool.
The looks are fine, although archrival Accord looked better even then, and it significantly surpasses the beauty of Camry nowadays.
Anyway, the 2011 model year came equipped with a 3.5L V6 that produced an appropriate 268 HP and 248 lb-ft of torque. Of course, you’ll always have the reliability of Toyota from day one. Additionally, 2011 model year saw an increase in the V6’s fuel economy.
15 WOULD BUY: 2012 NISSAN ALTIMA ($8K)
Nissan tries to boast its current model as being a sports car, and while it’s not exactly a sports car, the sedan does a good job of keeping the driver entertained. Much like a lot of other things in life, that didn’t start just recently; Nissan was into making its 2007-2013 model years more sporty than reliable. Not that its reliability was bad—it was above average—just that Nissan was shifting focus toward sportiness. And because of that great effort, you have a solid 3.5L V6. The car has an excellent handling and cozy ride. You can have one for $8K.
14 WOULD BUY: 2011 CADILLAC CTS 3.6 ($9K)
I always thought this car seemed a little “too full,” but besides that, the styling of the car is pretty good. It’s no CTS-V, but it does its job pretty awesomely.
Besides, the exterior alone doesn’t look much different from the more powerful counterpart.
The rear-wheel drive came with two engine options, V6 and V8. The 3.6L V6 produced 255 HP and drove nicely despite what the heavy exterior would suggest. The reliability was not award winning, but as long as you get one that was treated like a car, you should be good. You can have one for $9K.
13 WOULD BUY: 2013 CHRYSLER 300 ($9.9K)
If you want a car that looks all formal and scary, go for this one. When cars like these pass by, Mini Coopers kind of seem childish. The 300 is a big, elegant car that tries to imitate the likes of MB E-Class. To that end, the car looks huge and can be modded to suit your personality. The beauty of this car is that even if you paint the body pink and black out the rest of the car, it will manage to look good. It’s not difficult to get the 2013 3.5L V6 for under $10K, just that the mileage would be high.
12 WOULD BUY: 2009 HONDA ACCORD COUPE ($6K)
Here’s a lovely car, the Accord. The car looks good. That shape is not reminiscent of the Audi R8, but the styling remains tantalizing enough for most of us. The metallic door handles accentuate its beauty.
While the rear seats are not going to be the most accommodating things on this planet, the interior is fairly well done.
The cabin looks gorgeous with the seats looking all posh. The 2009 model was equipped with a 3.5L V6 that produced a whopping 271 HP and 254 lb-ft of torque. Atop, the fuel economy was pretty high. You can have this car for $6K.
11 WOULD BUY: 2011 LEXUS ES 350 ($8K)
This is a pretty nice car from Lexus. The exterior looks pretty decent but, with a Lexus, it’s the interior that matters. The car is comfy through and through and once you get inside the car, you’ll also appreciate the quiet and comfortable ride. While the platform is the same as that of the Camry, the Lexus name does carry it decently far and highlights the differences in the driving and cabin experiences. For instance, the steering wheel design is much, much smoother than other bulky steering wheels of its time. You can have this car for around $8K with good mileage.
10 WOULD BUY: 2012 INFINITI G35 ($9.9K)
Here’s another nice car that is worth it. It looks similar to the Lexus 350 mentioned above, although it definitely seems a little sportier. The slight curves on the hood and the grille look reasonably well. It’s not, however, just my observation that this is a sports car.
It was even available with a stick shift and was available in the rear-wheel-drive configuration; all-wheel drive was available too.
Not surprisingly the V6 equipped car handles well. The interior is posh and roomy. As far as the reliability is concerned, it’s in the top 25th percentile. You can get one for $9.9K.
9 WOULD BUY: 2009 MERCEDES-BENZ E-CLASS ($9K)
While some people may get tired of the MB proprietary elements, I think the front remains pretty powerful. Whatever the class or model year may be, anyone who gets the tiniest glance at the car automatically has some preconceived notions about it. It’s an MB, so the interior is bound to be posh and nice. And that’s absolutely true; the cabin is well done and the seats look comfy. Parts are not cheap, but reliability is not an issue for this car, so it should be good. You can have a good one for $8K-10K, but cheaper ones can also be found.
8 WOULD BUY: 2011 FORD MUSTANG ($9K)
Here’s the love of this country, car wise. It has been in the game since 1964, and that pony has been running strong since then. Besides the Camaro, there aren’t a lot of other good competitors that can match what this car has to offer.
While the exterior styling keeps getting better and better with each new model year, the 2011 model year doesn’t look that unfamiliar.
The 3.7L V6 provides you with 305 ponies, meaning 0-60 is feasible in just 6.2 seconds. The fair market price is $10K, but you can easily have one cheaper than that.
7 WOULD BUY: 2014 VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT ($9.8K)
The grille of this car differentiates it from the rest of the herd. It doesn’t become Audi-like all of a sudden, but if you were seeking some form of novelty, here it is. It doesn’t look bulbous and doesn’t have high character lines, yet manages to keep that authoritative look. Motor Trend was a big fan of this car when it was released. Now, the base model is just an I5 with 170 HP and 177 lb-ft of torque. But as you keep climbing the ladder, you’ll hit the 280 HP 3.6L V6. Pricing of the V6 might be difficult, but not impossible under $10K.
6 WOULD BUY: 2011 CHEVY CAMARO ($9.8K)
If you want a wide, beautiful car, go for that Camaro. It’s one tantalizing car that can be had for a reasonable price brand new—$25K—which is just a tad bit under what the new Mustang sells for.
Anyway, back in 2011, this car rocked it, outselling the Mustang, Challenger and Hyundai Genesis Coupe, thanks to its wide body, low slung look.
It was offered with various engines, with the most powerful producing 426 HP and base version 3.6L V6 giving some 312 HP, beating the Mustang by exactly eight horses. You can have this car for around $9.8K.
5 WOULDN’T BUY: 2013 FORD TAURUS ($8K)
These cars look pretty okay nowadays, although I still think it’s a bit bottom heavy. It’s like that kid whose pants are a little too high. But the grille looks pretty Jaguar like. Going back a few years, you’ll note that the car was mediocre with relatively poor interior. There used to be a time when Taurus dominated the sedan category back in the mid ‘90s. That period lasted for a couple of years, but after that, Taurus became relatively unpopular, although the SHO variant is definitely another species. You can have this 3/5 rated car (courtesy of Motor Trend) for around $8K.
4 WOULDN’T BUY: 2012 LINCOLN MKZ ($8K)
This is a pretty bad car. There are some things that you can try to shine under any light, but they just won’t change. No matter how you photograph this car, which camera you use or even if Kate Moss comes advertising this car, it just won’t become appealing to anyone.
I mean, that grille is just a mess.
It’s kind of difficult to not talk about it, being that it’s at the front of the car. But I think Lincoln also got the message and decided to change; kudos, Lincoln! All said, you can still have this car for around $8K.
3 WOULDN’T BUY: 2006 DODGE DAKOTA ($8K)
Pickups are one of the best modes of transportation in this country right now, even if it’s driving five miles down the road and then coming straight back at five in the evening—and then not doing much with it. Hey, everyone has it, so why not me? While we are crazy after pickups, not all pickups are equally liked. The Dakota is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of an unlikable pickup. It was starting to age, and that took a toll on chassis, interior and ride quality. You can have this for $8K, if you’re so inclined.
2 WOULDN’T BUY: 2011 CHEVY MALIBU ($6K)
The current model year looks gorgeous, particularly with the dashing sloping roofline (sorry tall passengers though!). It kind of looks like the Honda Accord, but not totally. But that wasn’t always the case.
Go back to the likes of model years 2008-2013, and you’ll find mediocre looks through and through.
On top, the space is tight, the trunk opening isn’t standard and the reliability, well, let’s just say it’s average. While the car does provide a comfy ride and handles well, the V6 simply doesn’t make the cut. You can have one for as cheap as $6K and as expensive as $11K.
1 WOULDN’T BUY: 2011 BUICK LUCERNE ($5K)
Oh boy, the Lucerne! Motor Trend tore this car apart into pieces in its review. The review itself seems pretty innocuous, until you get to the last line that reads, “Cars like this nearly killed Buick.” (I guess “marshmallow ride” was the allusion, but I didn’t catch it!) Seriously though, the car looks terrible and the engineering is just about as old as our solar system. It was the last year for Lucerne, so I guess Buick wasn’t exactly concerned with trying to make it appealing to anyone. The V6 made 237 horses, but the ride was bad. Price? $5K-7K.