The old saying that says you should not judge a book by its cover applies to cars too. There are cars that look boring and slow but are absolute beasts on the road, and ones that have the looks of hypercars but have no performance at all.
In this post, we will be looking at some of the cars that look slow but are in fact a force to be reckoned with. In short, if one of these passes you on a freeway, don’t try catching them in your Honda Civic, these things are FAST.
Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat
This is an SUV that has the aerodynamics of a refrigerator and weighs north of a cargo ship. SUVs have no business going fast so this thing should be slow, right? That’s what most people believe.
Even though the stock Durango is a pretty impressive vehicle on its own with the 475 hp engine, the SRT Hellcat trim takes it one step ahead. This behemoth produces 710 horsepower and can dash from zero to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds. That’s faster than the likes of GR Supra, Jaguar F-Pace, and BMW Z4.
Mercedes Brabus 800
It looks distinctive, expensive, and rugged, but not fast, not by a long shot. The G-Wagon is an insane SUV in itself but what Brabus has done to this machine can be described as a monstrosity.
The guys over at Brabus strapped some really powerful turbos on the V8 of the G-Wagon and played with the engine to get a power output of 800 horsepower. Resultantly, this box on wheels can do 0-60 in 4.1 seconds. That’s a crazy low time for an SUV.
Audi RS6 Avant
If there is one thing that cannot be fast, that’s minivans. Audi changes that doctrine by presenting the RS6 Avant. It might look just like a well-stylized minivan, but that is not the case. The upgrades Audi gave it for 2021 are not just cosmetic.
The powerplant under the hood of this car is a 4.0L twin-turbocharged V8 that produces 591 hp. If you want to get back quickly from the grocery store, this thing can go from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.1 seconds.
Any Rolls Royce
Rolls Royce cars are some of the most iconic, upscale, and premium-looking passenger vehicles on the planet. While elegance is a part of the design of these cars, speed is not the first thing that comes to mind when you see a Rolls.
Thanks to the massive W12 and V12 engines Rolls Royce uses, their cars are way faster than what you’d expect from a drawing-room on wheels. The fastest of the bunch is the Wraith, with a 0 to 60 mph time of 4.5 seconds. The rest of their cars do that in less than 5 seconds.
Just like the Rolls Royces, speed is not the first thing that comes to your mind when you see a Bentley, but these things are pretty fast. That’s because these cars pack V8s, V12s, or W12s that produce more than 500 horses.
The fastest of these is the Continental GT Speed. When SPEED is the surname of a car, you better believe it is fast. The Speed can do 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds. It would be in your own best interest to not try and catch it with your Toyota GR 86 or a Classic Challenger.
This hulking limousine from Nissan’s sister brand Infiniti can be anything but fast. You can be forgiven for thinking that because this car is huge and there’s no hint in the styling that it can be any better than hauling executives to and from board meetings.
However, this particular Infiniti comes with a 5.7L V8 that produces 460 horsepower, making it possible for this car to have a 0 to 60 mph time of just under 4 seconds. Nissan also lets you turn off all driver assistance features, essentially making this an executive limousine that you can drift.
Ford Flex EcoBoost
This is a pretty standard-looking minivan from Ford, a company known for making great family and practical cars. It can easily be assumed looking at it that this is just another underpowered minivan only good for runs to the local hardware store.
That would be true if it were not for the twin-turbo 3.5L V6 under the hood that produces 287 horsepower and drives all four wheels. What we are looking at is a minivan that does 0-60 in 13 seconds.
This car is literally as wide as a tank and has the aerodynamic properties of a photocopier. It was made by the collab of Mercedes and Porsche but it looks like they forgot to give it the looks of a fast car.
This car packs a naturally aspirated 5.0L V8 that produces 322 hp, enabling this car to attain 60 mph in 6 seconds. That might not look like it’s very fast but those are fascinating numbers for the era this car belonged in.
Another German car on the list is this luxury SUV from Audi. It does look like a premium car, one that can tackle rough terrain too. But you’d never expect any exceptional on-road performance from this SUV.
However, Audi has installed a supercharged 3.0L V6 in this car which is good for 354 horsepower. The 0 to 60 mph time for this car is well under 5 seconds and the top speed is 155 mph with electronic restrictions.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
Jeeps were meant to be all-terrain vehicles that transport you from one point to another no matter if there is a mountain, river, desert, ocean, or galaxy in the path. With that prejudice, you can be forgiven to assume this 5,500lb truck is a clumsy off-roader.
However, the folks over at Jeep installed a supercharger on top of the 6.2L V8 and tweaked the internals to get a power output of 707 horsepower from this engine. This vehicle does 0 to 60 mph in under 4 seconds and can go up to 160 mph.
The SS might look like a Holden Commodore with some cosmetic changes, but it’s not what you think. The exterior of this car can mislead anyone into believing that this is a family sedan with no relation to going fast.
Well, under that hood lives a fire-breathing LS V8 that produces 415 horsepower. That is enough power to accelerate this car from 0 to 60 in under 4 seconds. If you are looking for a speedy car that does not draw attention, this might be the one.
5th Gen Pontiac GTO
The original GTO from the 1960s was a great sales hit and that was what made GM bring it back. The 2004 GTO looks like a slightly redesigned Chevy Cavelier, and not a fast car.
The truth is, this has an LS1 under the hood, yes the same 400hp LS1 used in the Corvettes of that era. Even though it looks like it has no business going fast, the fifth-gen GTO has a 0 to 60 mph time of under 5 seconds and can attain 160mph.
4th Gen Ford Taurus SHO
If you see a Ford Mustang, you instantly know that it is a car made with one specific purpose: Speed. The same can’t be said about the Taurus SHO (Super High Output). While the first three generations of the Taurus were pretty boring, the 4th changed the game.
This car is equipped with a 3.5L twin-turbo V6 that produces 365 horsepower. With a 0 to 60 mph time of 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 143 mph, the SHO might not be the fastest car out there but it is definitely faster than you’d expect from a car of this shape.
Mercedes R63 AMG Minivan
It is a minivan that can fit 6 adults in first-class comfort. It weighs in the ballpark of African Elephants. There’s no way this grocery hauling German absurdity of a car can beat my Mustang off the red light!
Well, for starters, this ‘Minivan’ has 700 horses at the crank, thanks to this legendary Mercedes V8 Biturbo motor. That is enough power to move this hulk of a van to 60 mph from a red light in 3.3 seconds. You can’t catch it in a long race either, it tops off at 170 mph.
Large sedans are usually not known for being fast, and they definitely don’t look fast at all. That’s the case with the A8. It is big, bulky, and stylish, but that style does not show speed and is rather focused on elegance.
However, the motivation in this German super salon is provided by a W12 engine that makes just under 500 horsepower and is enough to rocket this thing to 60 mph in under 4 seconds.
VW Passat 4Motion W8
This looks like a love child of an SUV and a minivan. The result is elegant in many ways but nothing on the face of it says speed out loud. It is an AWD vehicle with quite a bit of ground clearance and that’s all.
But NO! The 4Motion is powered by a V8 that comes with a stock power output of just under 300 horsepower – and can be tuned up to 380hp. This car is not very fast, but quite fast for the way it looks.
Renault Mégane GT 220
Hatchbacks are a great way to blend into the traffic without getting noticed. One of the most impressive offerings in this segment, the Megane GT 220 blends right in with no one thinking this thing can go fast.
However, thanks to the 220 hp engine, athletic handling, and a suspension tuned for performance, this is a pretty quick and agile car. You can easily challenge a car 3 times more expensive than this and you’ll most probably come out victorious.
Volvo, the company that invented the three-point seatbelt, is known to make safe and luxurious cars. Speed has never been their strong suit, especially when it comes to family sedans of the brand. The S80, produced between 1998 and 2016 looks like anything but a fast car.
However, if you can get your hands on the 4.4L V8 version of the car, you are in for surprise. This car can go from 0-60 in 7 seconds and attain a top speed of 166 mph.
SUVs are not built for speed. Boxy cars are not good at going fast. If you apply both those assumptions on the Typhoon, you have the recipe for a car that takes a whole minute to get to highway speeds.
GMC begs to differ. The 4.3L V6 that pumps out 280 horsepower, the 4-speed manual transmission, and an AWD system make it possible for this car to get to 60 mph in just under 5 seconds. Do remember it came out in 1991. Five seconds for 0-60mph is still fast for an SUV, how fast would it have been back then?
2nd Gen Volkswagen Phaeton
The Phaeton looks like it is a Passat that’s been on steroids too long for its own good. This chunky luxury boat on wheels can easily pass as a slow car moms drive to drop children at school.
In reality, though, it is made on the same platform as the Bentley Continental GT Flying Spur. The engine in this barge of a car is good for 444 horsepower and is pulled from a top-of-the-line Audi A8. It can easily hit 170mph, so better not assume it is slower than your Miata.
Subaru Legacy Spec B
The Legacy is a car that does not turn heads at all. It is a pretty standard sedan with boring looks. Not a lot of people know what this car is all about and what it is capable of doing.
It comes with a 2.5L boxer engine that produces 247 horsepower at the crank and drives the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. All things considered, that is the recipe for a pretty fun-to-drive car that would never get noticed.
Mazda did bless the 2006 Mazdaspeed 6 with their most powerful engine till that time, but looks were an area they never gave any attention to. It looks like a pretty standard grocery hauler with just another 2.3L I4 under the hood.
Only, this time the rather normal I4 pumps out 274 horsepower and sends all that power via a six-speed manual transmission to the wheels. All that combined makes a car with a 5.4 second 0-60 time and very nimble handling.
The Marauder name was started by Mercury in 1968 for a short production run that lasted in 1970. Those were really impressive cars but nothing comes close to the 2003 revival of the name that had the most powerful Mercury engine till that time.
The 2003 version of this classic has a V8 engine good for more than 300 horsepower. This performance sedan might fly under the radar as just another slow family car, but if you do get the chance to get behind the wheel, you can do 0-60 mph in just 5.1 seconds and can even hit 189 mph!
Buick Verano Turbo
You’d be right to think that this sedan from Buick is made for retirees looking for an economical way to move around. This unassuming car looks like going fast was never on the mind of the designers.
However, under the hood, you’ll find a turbocharged 2.0L from a Saturn Sky Redline. This engine, with its huge tuning potential, can be tuned to 360 horses. Now that’s a lot of power for a car this side. Get the optional six-speed manual, and you’ll be quite fast.
Volvo S60 R
Volvo is not exactly an automaker known for making fast cars. What they are known for are sensible sedans that provide the bits and pieces of luxury once only available in the most expensive cars. The S60 is exactly that but when they added an R to the name, they didn’t just add an R.
They added a turbocharger to bump the power output to 300 hp, tuned the suspension for better handling, added a manual transmission, and removed the driver assistance features. The result? A car that looks slow but is fast and fun to drive.
Toyota has built a market value around reliability and affordability and those words seldom belong in the same sentence with speed. That’s why Toyotas (other than the Supra of course) are generally considered slow cars. Consumers, however, always wanted a car that was fast and still reliable as a Toyota.
Toyota answered that demand with the Avalon. While it appears to be just another Toyota with the front grille inspired by the Lexus family, it is a lowkey fast car in fact. The 3.5L V6 in this car is capable of 301 hp and it can attain 60 mph in just under 6 seconds. That might not sound (pun intended) so fast, but that’s a lot of speed for a Toyota this size.
Ford Fusion Sport
While the Mustang is the most speed-oriented car on Ford’s menu, they do produce more economical family cars that are good at going fast. One of the prime examples is the Fusion Sport.
It may have the looks of a family car but the engine under the hood of this one is none other than a twin-turbocharged 2.7L V6. This powerplant makes 325 hp and can move this family car with considerable agility. We’re talking 5.3 seconds for 0 to 60mph level of performance here.
If you cannot recognize this car, it’s not your fault. It was never sold in the North American market. Still, looking at it, you can very easily tell that this is not a fast car, and you’d be wrong.
This sedan has a 3.6L twin-turbocharged V6 which pumps out 375 horsepower and can easily propel this car to 177 mph. The 0 to 60 mph time of just under 5 seconds might not be super fast, but still enough to have thrill driving.
Lincoln MKZ 3.0
Luxury is definitely the most prominent part of any Lincoln vehicle but with this one, they promised speed too. While it looks just like another sedan with some extra chrome on the front grille, it does have a formidable engine.
The twin-turbocharged 3.0L V6, capable of generating 400 horsepower, and six-speed manual transmission makes this car fast and fun to drive. It has instant power delivery and 0-60 time of just under 5 seconds.
The Altima is the last car someone would imagine being fast. That’s true for the most part. True, until you get a chance to drive the 2010 V6 Altima. This one looks like any other Altima so mistaking this for a slow car can be forgiven.
It, however, has a 3.5L V6 under the hood, one that produces 270 horsepower and powers the rear wheels via a manual transmission. The 0 to 60 mph time of 6.8 seconds might not be very fast by supercar standards, but it’s nothing you’d expect from an Altima either.
Dodge RAM SRT
Trucks are made for hauling and towing, not going fast. Any time you look at a truck, you might wonder how much it can carry or tow, speed is not the thing that you’d think of.
None of that can stop automakers from making insanely fast trucks. While we do not have a necessity for fast vehicles in this class, the RAM SRT, with its 8.1L 560hp engine, is just the start. It goes 0 to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. If you think that’s insane, wait for the next ones.
Pontiac G8 GT
This one can easily fly under the radar looking like a boring sedan that has nothing to do with speed. The most it can look like is a car with a performance body kit and no real performance.
However, pop the hood and you’d be greeted by a 6-liter V8 that produces 361 hp. That too without any turbo lag as you see in the twin-turbocharged V6s. With a top speed of 165 mph and a 0 to 60 mph time of just over 5 seconds, this is one of the most capable cars of all time.
Someone at GMC, who bunked science classes at school, named it a Syclone WITH AN S. Leaving that aside, it looks like GMC forgot to give this truck the looks of a fast vehicle as well.
But all those problems were solved by the people over at the engineering department who strapped a 4.3L V6 into this truck. The result is a truck that does 0 to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds and looks very cool while it’s at it.
Saturn Aura XR
Another car that looks like just another sedan on the road is the Aura XR. When GM introduced this car in 2009, no one thought it would be a fast vehicle. But that was until people put their foot on its pedal.
Blessed with a 3.6L V6 that produces 252 horsepower, this car can do 0 to 60 in a mere 5.8 seconds. The top speed is, however, electronically limited to 115 mph, but do you really wanna challenge an Aventador driving this thing?
1994 GMC Suburban
The 1994 Suburban might just be one of the most underrated and underestimated cars of all time. It looked like just another SUV of the era, but it was a real beast at the core, only people who have driven one can relate.
When GMC commissioned engineer John Lingenfelder to make a powerful engine for this SUV, they had no idea how powerful it was going to be. Lingenfelder ended up making a 9.9L V8 good for 550hp, without any turbos. This model, also known as the Lingenfelder Suburban can do 0 to 60 in just 4.3 seconds – and is your cheapest ticket into the performance SUV market.
Buick Grand National Experimental
If you had $30,000 in the late 1980s and wanted to buy a car that looked normal but was a beast at the core, you could go for the Buick Grand National Experimental. This car appeared to be just another two-seater wanna-be but it was not.
Buick gave this car a turbocharged V6 that produced 276 hp. The car was capable of 0 to 60 in just 4.7 seconds. That is still a respectable time! Just imagine how big of a deal would it have been in the 1980s?
Dodge Shelby GLHS
The only hint that this car can be fast is the Dodge name. Other than that, it is just another budget coupe. However, a man named Carrol Shelby was involved in developing this thing. When that man gets involved, competitors run for cover.
Mr. Shelby blessed 500 of the GLHS coups with a 290hp engine that powered the front wheels, making it one of the most powerful FWD production cars. Getting one these days is quite difficult. If you do get one, keep it.
Ford F-150 Raptor
The Raptor is a legit truck. It looks sturdy, strong, powerful, and rugged. However, none of the DRLs, fender flairs or aggressive headlights can make you think that this thing is fast. Right? But that’s not the case!
Thanks to the twin-turbocharged 3.5L V6 that produces 450hp, this truck is faster than many performance cars. We’re talking 5.5 seconds for 0-60 in this hulking beast of a truck.
The latest Ford Bronco is unarguably one of the best off-road machines ever. Besides its formidable power specs, the folks at Hennessey did a great job with its looks too.
Since this will be the last engine-swapped car from Hennessey Performance Engineering, they have not spared any expense in making it fast. The V8 in this car, sourced from a Ford Raptor, can be tuned to up to 750 hp. The result is a car that goes 0 to 60 in under 4.5 seconds while looking like, well… a Bronco.
GMC Sierra Goliath
From the looks of it, you can be reasonably worried that it would engulf your Civic in one go. It might just be the most aggressive tuck of all time, but the sheer weight and size of this 5,500lb truck can trick you into thinking that this thing is slow.
For starters, this thing is created by Hennessey Performance Engineering. While you must be proud of your Accord having a 2.4L engine, the Supercharger alone in this truck is 2.9 liters. All in all, it has 700 horses at the crank and does 0 to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds. It really does eat Civics!