Cars

7 Cars That Are Better Than Their Pricier Siblings

Published On 09/14/2015 Published On 09/14/2015
BMW

A little sibling rivalry never hurt anybody... except your brother, that one time, and he still turned out alright. But there’s some major sibling competition in the car world as well, and playing favorites can make a pretty nasty dent on your wallet. As the average price of a new car inches closer to $35,000, now's a good time to ask the question that automakers really don't want you to ask: if a manufacturer makes two similar vehicles, is the more expensive one always better? 

Okay, "better" is a little subjective, but if you look at a vehicle and its more expensive sibling, compare what they're about and how they perform, you'll get a pretty good idea of where the better value lies. Take the seven vehicles below for example. They're all great, and the one thing they all have in common is that you only have to walk a few steps at a dealership to spend thousands more on something not quite as good.

Toyota

1. Toyota 4Runner

MSRP: $33,510
Pricier Sibling: Sequoia
Sibling MSRP: $44,965

Why it's better: The 4Runner is an extremely capable vehicle that can basically go anywhere you'd ever want to take it. It's a real SUV, instead of a crossover, and you can option it into a luxurious suburban cruiser just as easily as you can set it up as a desert-conquering weekend toy.

The Sequoia's a fine vehicle, but from a practical standpoint, the only area where it truly dominates the 4Runner is towing boats. Even then, by the time you've priced it out, you're a stone's throw from the Land Cruiser, which is a fantastic SUV, even if it costs well over two 4Runners.

Porsche

2. Porsche Cayman GT4

MSRP: $84,600
Pricier Sibling: 911 Carrera
Sibling MSRP: $89,400

Why it's better: Porsche is understandably beholden to its most loyal and well-heeled customers, who demand nothing less than a 911 with an engine in the very back, where it has been since day one. The marque's dirty little secret? In terms of performance -- which is kinda important in a Porsche -- mounting an engine in the middle (behind the driver, but in front of the rear wheels) makes for a much better solution.

Conspiracy theorists have claimed that Porsche deliberately holds the Cayman back, lest it embarrass its ultra-iconic older sibling by actually being faster around a race track. But then, the GT4 was born. It's cheaper, lighter, more powerful, and generally such a threat to the current 911* that Porsche won't even let you compare the two on its website's comparison page.

*Porsche recently announced its next-generation 911, with significant performance upgrades. Pricing is not yet available.

Mercedes

3. Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV

MSRP: $51,100
Pricier Sibling: GLE Coupe
Sibling MSRP: $65,100

Why it's better: Simply put, the GLE Coupe and SUV are very similar -- under the skin, they're essentially the same vehicle. The only difference is that with the Coupe, you can't get the cheaper, less powerful engine option like you can with the SUV. But even if you go with the same powerful engine as the Coupe in the SUV, it's still a few grand less expensive, plus it sports an additional 27 cubic feet of cargo space compared to its pricier sibling. Kind of a no brainer.

Nissan

4. Nissan Juke

MSRP: $22,050
Pricier Sibling: Rogue
Sibling MSRP: $23,040

Why it's better:  The Juke is a lively little crossover that's brimming with so much character, Nissan's engineers can't help themselves from using the GT-R parts bin to create some gloriously absurd souped up Jukes. The Rogue, on the other hand? It's a bit more practical, and a bit more roomy. Basically, it's the Juke's best friend that almost definitely has, um... a brilliant personality?

BMW

5. MINI Cooper Hardtop

MSRP: $20,700
Pricier Sibling: MINI Countryman
Sibling MSRP: $22,750

Why it's better:  Today, the two-door hardtop version of the MINI is the closest thing you can get to the spirit of the original Mini. Literally everything else in the lineup -- however good each vehicle may or may not be when judged in a bubble -- strays not just from the formula, but from the essence of MINI itself. That essence, for the record, is one of minimalistic motoring fun in the form of the smallest package possible.

Cadillac
 

6. Cadillac ATS-V

MSRP: $62,665
Pricier Sibling: CTS-V
Sibling MSRP: $83,995

Why it's better: Objectively, the ATS-V is quicker around a race track than its competition from Mercedes' AMG or BMW's M Division. It's also quicker than its significantly pricier sister, the CTS-V. Big deal, you say: the CTS-V is more luxurious and thus it's okay if it's a tad slower. Well, if this were the non-V versions of both cars, that would certainly hold true. Once you start swapping luxury items for performance gains, as with both of these cars, the yardstick by which you must measure them changes.

The CTS-V is impressive, and is absolutely a blast to drive around a race track. But fancy numbers (650 hp, 200 mph top speed) don't mean much when it's beaten by its kid sister in the one area it was specifically engineered to thrive in: performance.

BMW

7. BMW 2 Series

MSRP: $32,850
Pricier Sibling: 4 Series
Sibling MSRP: $41,650

Why it's better: BMW doesn't want to admit that the 4 Series (known as the 3 Series Coupe until recently), is the German marque's second best sports coupe. The 2 Series shares the same fundamental drivetrain, chassis, and suspension setup as the much pricier 4 Series, but its body is essentially shrink wrapped around it. It's a couple hundred pounds lighter, and significantly more engaging to drive... not to mention quite a bit faster. There's a reason the 2 Series, and not the 3 or the 4, was named Consumer Reports' top gasoline-powered car, regardless of price. This is the best driver's car BMW makes today. That it's also among the cheapest is a bonus.


Aaron Miller is the Rides editor for Supercompressor, and can be found on Twitter. Full disclosure: in the 2 Series debate, he backs the 228i side so much that he bought one.

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