5 Family-Friendly Tuner Cars You Can Buy With a Warranty
Just say no to minivans.
A lot gets sacrificed when you start a family (I’m assuming). And while you may have accepted the loss of your bachelor pad and getting less than 4 hours of sleep a night, having to give up your fun daily driver (i.e. the racecar that’s only broken slightly less than your other racecar) may be the most painful.
Sure, a minivan or crossover SUV seems like the practical choice for a family-friendly lifestyle, but let’s be honest, you’ll go crazy not being able to scratch your car hobby itch.
After all, tinkering around with cars is your hobby, your passion, your connection to your friends—maybe even a community, and probably the thing that keeps you from telling your boss exactly where he can stick it (you can’t flip him off because racecar money, damn it).
Luckily, fun doesn’t need to die just because you’ve taken on some additional responsibilities.
There are options out there for the driver who still wants to have fun modifying and tuning, and shifting their own gears… but may also need to drive the kids to daycare.
For the sake of this list, we’re excluding cars you can’t currently get new, without a warranty. Because warranties are something responsible adults get.
For that reason, you won’t find discontinued cars cars like the Mitsubishi EVO, Mazdaspeed 3 or older BMW models on this list.
1. Ford Focus
I’m so close to breaking that rule I just laid down. The Focus goes out of production for the 2020 model year. However, there should still be some ‘19 models kicking around Ford dealer lots. Particularly in the trims you would actually want for tuning; the ST or RS models.
Both come with excellent stock power (276 and 350 respectively), have a wide variety of aftermarket parts available, are great fun to drive and have roughly 45 cubic feet of space for transporting children, pets and pre-assembled IKEA furniture.
2. Honda Civic
The staple of the tuning community. The Honda Civic Si still offers great value for money, but if you want to kick up the fun factor (as well as your street cred) you might consider ponying up for the wicked-looking, 306 horsepower Type R.
Don’t let those wicked looks fool you, however. The Type R is as accessible, daily-able and practical as any Honda ever was.
You can read our full review of the Honda Civic Type R here.
3. Subaru WRX
Sorry, kids. There are no snow days when you own a WRX.
True, the WRX has gotten fatter and softer as the years have gone on. It’s the dad bod of cars. However, the WRX is still available with a Subaru Boxer engine (either the 268 horsepower 2.0 litre variant in the base model or the 310 horsepower 2.5 litre variant in the STI trim), which offers a variety of aftermarket solutions.
Like the Type R, the STI also has a lot of those “tuner” looks (flared wheel arches, many-vented fascias, aggressive spoilers and hood scoops) out of the box, as a bonus.
4. Volkswagen Golf GTI
The granddaddy of the hot hatch. The original “do it all” car.
While the GTI is down a bit on power compared to some of its competition (228 horsepower from its familiar 2.0 litre engine), and its looks are by far the most restrained (some might even say “boring”), it does offer a simply staggering range of aftermarket components and opportunities for customization.
It also has a bewildering 52.7-cubic-feet of cargo space with the seats down. It’s also very nicely trimmed inside, I must admit.
If you can afford the 288 horsepower Golf R. Go for it.
5. BMW 330i
The most expensive car on the list, but also the most dignified (after all, you may not want to take your jerk boss out to lunch in your Type R with the bright red racing seats).
It’s easy to pass over the BMW 3 series, especially for tuning purposes, but let’s not forget, this is still a RWD-based platform with a turbocharged inline motor upfront.
Performance parts are abundant, and horsepower gains are easily achieved through tuner chips (where the whole “tuner” thing comes from).
If you opt for the M340i, your Bimmer will come with a 382 horsepower B58 engine — a more powerful variant than what currently powers the new Toyota Supra.
Let that sink in. Your family-friendly sedan will have the same engine as the new Supra. Okay, technically, the new Supra has your family-friendly sedan’s engine, but try to see the glass as half full for once.