A sleeper is a car that’s able to go fast but no one would suspect it from looking at it. People have a tendency to judge a book by its cover before cracking it open to see what it can really do. This is the perfect kind of car for those who value performance but don’t mind going under the radar.
A sleeper is a cop’s worst nightmare. Law enforcement relies on the “eye test” to spot potential hazards in the public. That includes cars going faster than the speed limit. If a cop sees a sports car or muscle car, they’re more likely to keep a close eye on it, waiting for it to roar down the street. At least sleepers have a head start advantage because cops wouldn’t suspect these cars of going fast unless they're already familiar.
Part of what makes these sleepers listed below so impressive is that they come this way off the lot. Automakers fulfilled the hopes of enthusiasts everywhere by packing these cars with horsepower. As a result, they’re able to do top speeds that will concern the police.
In a report by USA Today, Michigan State Police upgraded their interceptors to a Chevy Caprice that's able to reach as much as 155 mph. With cop cars improving, it’s going to take some mean sleepers to be able to outrun the law. Gathered here are sleepers that have what it takes to go toe-to-toe with cop cars on the run. These are some common vehicles one might see on the road today that give little indication on the outside that they're powerhouses underneath.
25 Saab 9-2X Aero / 140 mph
Kicking off the list is the slowest entry—but that in no way makes it a pushover. There’s nothing wrong with the Saab 9-2X Aero exactly, it just doesn’t stand out from the pack—at least on the outside. Road and Track compares the Aero’s insides to its high-performing sibling—the Subaru WRX—when it comes to power. Car and Driver reports that the Aero’s top speed is 140 mph, though that’s with a governor device limiting it. If it can already go that fast off the production line, one can only imagine what a modified version could do.
24 Chevrolet Cobalt SS / 143 mph
The Chevy Cobalt SS does little to excite observers who look at its exterior alone. Fastest Laps reports that the Chevrolet Cobalt SS is able to top out at an impressive 143 mph. While that isn’t quite enough to match the Michigan State Police’s Caprice, it’s going to give the majority of cop cars a run for their money. The lack of flashiness on the exterior works to its advantage as no one would ever believe a car like this could burn rubber.
23 Mazdaspeed 6 / 149 mph
The Mazdaspeed 6 is another car that looks inconsequential on the outside but packs a punch on the inside. As Road and Track alludes to, the Mazdaspeed 6 is a blending of two worlds: practicality and performance. People buy sedans because they’re dependable and versatile, not often for their performance. Though the Mazdaspeed 6 excels in that it offers customers both. Car and Driver puts the sedan's top speed at a governor limit of 149 mph, which is enough to outpace cop cars unmodified.
22 Dodge Neon SRT-4 / 153 mph
Those considering a high-performing machine that’s also in disguise ought to consider a Dodge Neon SRT-4. Not only is it a zippy compact car, as MSN points out, but it’s also cheaper. According to CarGurus, a new one starts at a little more than $21K, with used models going for less. What makes that a good deal has less to do with its exterior than it does with what’s under the hood. Fastest Lapsreports that it can reach a top speed of 153 mph.
21 Nissan 300ZX Turbo / 155 mph
Appearances are often misleading. That at least applies to the Nissan 300ZX Turbo, which seems to offer little from its looks alone. Take one for a spin though, and it soon becomes apparent what the 300ZX Turbo is really about: performance. According to Fastest Laps, it’s able to go up to 155 mph thanks to a twin turbo V6 engine. It raises our sympathy for those in law enforcement who now have to worry about unassuming sedans speeding like the 300ZX Turbo.
20 Lexus LS400 / 155 mph
Car enthusiasts have high expectations for their cars. They want it to not only perform but look good too. Those who care less about looks though will find a lot to like about the Lexus LS400. According to MSN, it’s able to reach 155 mph, which has cop cars scrambling after in its wake. It’s surprising considering how low-key the outside looks. As CarGurus notes, these tend to cost around $5,000 on the used car market, making them a tempting option.
19 Mercedes-Benz S600 / 155 mph
Mercedes-Benz manages to make beautiful luxury cars. At the end of the day though, the S600 model is another sedan that blends in to the crowd. What many wouldn’t expect though is that it comes with a V12 engine, according to Road and Track. With an engine like that, these are able to do 493 hp. Fastest Laps confirms that the Mercedes-Benz S600 W220 model is able to do an impressive 155 mph, which matches some of the fastest police interceptors on the road today.
18 Jaguar XJR / 155 mph
The Jaguar XJR has a lot to offer. For one, it offers a look that grabs attention. Its real highlight is the performance it’s able to put out, which is more than one would expect from the sleek exterior. According to MSN, it comes with a supercharged V8 that’s able to crank up to a top speed of 155 mph. That’s more than most would ever see coming, even unsuspecting police officers. It would certainly give the cops a tough time in a high-speed pursuit.
17 Volvo V70 R / 155 mph
The Volvo V70 R is in many ways the quintessential sleeper. While its outside is distinguishable, wagons tend to have other associations outside of speed. They’re built for families and travel, leading many cops to write them off when it comes to performance. They couldn’t be more off with the V70 R though. Road and Track reports that they can churn out a competent 296 hp. According to Fastest Laps, the V70 R is able to do 155 mph for its top speed, which will confound cops.
16 BMW 540i / 155 mph
The BMW 540i is a high-performing vehicle that’s available at a low price. According to MSN, it’s able to reach a top speed of 155 mph. Even then, that’s with a limiter. One can only imagine how fast a properly tuned one might go. The same source notes that they’re affordable on the used car market and can go for less than $5,000. Cops may not assume a BMW could go so fast at first until they see it in action.
15 Buick Regal GS / 155 mph
The Buick Regal GS may not look like much on the outside, but it’s got power underneath. That’s all thanks to what Road and Track confirms is a turbocharged engine capable of putting out 259 hp. That’s a lot for a car that looks like your run-of-the-mill midsize sedan. What’s most impressive is its top speed, which Fastest Laps puts at 155 mph. That’s enough to keep the chase neck and neck, even with the fastest cop cars on the road today.
14 Pontiac GTO / 155 mph
The Pontiac GTO delivers what really matters: the thrills of driving an automobile. The only thing standing in a thrill seeker’s way are speed limits and law enforcement. We can all be grateful those restrictions exist to keep people safe. Should a GTO ever drive unshackled, Fastest Laps reports they can go as fast as 155 mph. That’s all due to its 5.7-liter V8 engine. MSNeven notes that many sell for less than $15,000 on the used car market.
13 Ford Taurus SHO / 157 mph
The Ford Taurus has several different models from the SE, SEL, Limited and SHO. The SHO trim is the focus here, which doesn’t sport much on the outside. The car’s performance is a different story though. According to Road and Track, the SHO is able to go 0 to 60 mph in a little over five seconds. That’s all thanks to what Fastest Lapsreports is an EcoBoost V6. It’s the same engine that’s able to push the SHO past cop cars to a top speed of 157 mph.
12 Audi S4 / 157 mph
The Audi S4 seems like a typical sedan on the outside, making it a classic sleeper. It’s the last car picked out of a lineup one would expect to perform at a high level. MSN reports that the B5-generation models are capable of going as high as 157 mph. They’re also affordable, in what the same source notes can pop up for less than $5K on the used car market. We don’t encourage anyone try to outrun cops, even though this car could hold its own.
11 Infiniti G35 Coupe / 157 mph
The Infiniti G35 Coupe will appeal to those who are performance purists. They could care less about the exterior look of the car. All they want is power. The Infiniti G35 Coupe fits in perfectly for those who want, as Fastest Laps points out, a car that can go as fast as 157 mph. That’s all in part due to a 3.5-liter V6 engine. Even more, it’s not outside the realm of possibility to own, as they’re priced reasonably on the used car market.
10 Porsche 944 Turbo / 157 mph
The Porsche 944 Turbo has more to offer on the outside than plenty on this list. In the end though, it’s not a car that’s going to catch a lot of interest. That is, until the driver pushes pedal to the metal. MSN reports they can go as fast as 157 mph, which is sure to turn heads. Potential buyers will be glad to hear they go for less than $10,000 on the used car market. That should have police worried over this inconspicuous car.
9 Chevrolet SS / 160 mph
A Chevrolet SS on the outside offers consumers a typical sedan styling. The inside offers more in what Road and Track confirms is a V8 that can output 415 hp. Many drivers want to stand out in a car that packs this much power, while others prefer an SS, even if it doesn’t give on to its performance. According to Business Insider, automakers capped the SS’s top speed to 160 mph. That alone is enough to give cops a headache.
8 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 SS / 160 mph
The Chevrolet Camaro Z28 SS—seen in the foreground here—is not the most eye-catching car around. What it lacks in style though, it makes up in power. Average pedestrians passing by wouldn’t predict it could so fast, that is, until they see it in action. MSN reports that the Z28 SS is able to reach a top speed of 160 mph. That’s enough to concern cops who are on duty. Older models are on the used car market for anywhere between $5K-$10K.
7 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 / 165 mph
Enthusiasts will scoff at the addition of a Jeep on this list, thinking none are up to the task of outperforming a cop car. The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 forces enthusiasts to reconsider their notions though about the brand as a whole. According to Fastest Laps, the SRT-8 is able to reach a top speed of 165 mph, which is more than enough to outrun cops. Even more, as Road and Track notes, these can go from 0 to 60 mph in less than five seconds, giving them a healthy head start.
6 Porsche Boxster S / 165 mph
The Porsche Boxster S is going to stand out from the norm when it comes to exterior styling, yet it’s several overlooked when it comes to power. If cops don’t already know, the Boxster S is a speedy RWD car that Fastest Laps notes will go as fast as 165 mph. That gives the Boxster S a significant edge over the police in pursuit. This relates to the 986 models, which are able to perform thanks to a 3.2-liter engine.
5 Chrysler 300C SRT-8 / 173 mph
Chrysler has fans, especially among the tuner community. It’s common to find 300 models modified. The 300C SRT-8 on its own already goes fast though. According to MSN, they can go as fast as 173 mph. That’s thanks to what Fastest Laps notes is its V8 engine that powers a RWD system. Even more, MSN reports that the car is affordable. For the mere price of $10,000 on the used market, drivers can own a car that’ll go faster than many cop cars on the road today.
4 Audi S8 Plus / 190 mph
The Audi S8 is a stylish sedan that will appeal to average car buyers and enthusiasts alike. It’s not exactly a standout though, which comfortably settles this in the sleeper category. Road and Track reports that it comes with an unassuming 4.0-liter V8 that’s able to do an enormous 605 hp. That in turn translate to real performance on the road. Fastest Laps notes that its top speed is 155 mph, which will have the cop’s putting together all they can to catch it.
3 Cadillac CTS-V / 200 mph
On the outside, many will write off the Cadillac CTS-V exterior as nothing special. Except when it comes to power, as Road and Track notes, it has more in common with the Ford GT and Dodge Charger Hellcat. That same source reports that those two cars and the CTS-V are the only American-made cars on sale today that can reach 200 mph. That makes the CTS-V an impressive sleeper and a car that law enforcement will have to contend with on their beat.
2 Aston Martin Vanquish S / 201 mph
The Aston Martin looks good. To call this car a sleeper is something of a stretch. It also grabs attention, which everyone expects in a car that KBB reports costs nearly $300,000. Still, few could imagine that the Vanquish S is capable of churning out as much horsepower as it leads on. Road and Track report that it’s able to do an impressive 580 hp. That, in turn, translates to a top speed of 201 mph that cops will be struggling to keep up with.
1 Aston Martin Rapide S / 203 mph
Rounding out the list is the Aston Martin Rapide S, which lacks the exterior to match its inner monster. There’s nothing wrong with the outside, it just doesn’t live up to the same performance this car offers. According to Road and Track, it’s able to reach an astounding 203 mph. The police would have a tough time keeping up with this much power. What makes the blistering speed behind this car possible is its V12 engine that packs a wallop.
Sources: Car and Driver , Road and Track , Business Insider , MSN , CarGurus , KBB