Some cars you expect to be heroes on a race track, crossing treacherous terrain, or pampering you on the highway, while others hide in near-anonymity, invisible to most of the motoring public's eye despite seriously legitimate credentials.
The following are the 10 most underrated cars you can buy today. They're all damn fine vehicles, and if you're in the market for a new car, you don't want to sleep on these.
It might (technically) be a form of Ford's cheapest model, but the Fiesta ST's one hell of a performance car. For starters, it's legitimately capable of going toe to toe with much pricier competitors like the Mini Cooper S or Subaru BRZ. Drive one on a race track, and you'll be shocked it starts at under $21,000.
There are two types of people in this world: those who recognize the well-balanced and lightweight Miata as one of the best sports cars in existence and can't wait to convert one into a full blown race car, and those who think it's "cute." Sadly, the latter makes up approximately 98% of the population.
The Tacoma gets far less credit than it deserves, as it's a small truck in a world of full-sized Goliaths, but unless you're towing a 30-foot Airstream every weekend, it can do everything the big boys can.
4. Chevy SS
It might look like a run-of-the-mill sedan, but the SS is actually one of GM's hot Australian cars from its Holden division. Under the hood it's basically a Camaro, and the adaptive suspension uses the same tech you'll find in the Corvette.
5. BMW 228i
Here's a dirty little secret: you can buy an "entry level" BMW, tick an option box for the same adaptive suspension controller that you'd find on an M4, and you've got a relatively lightweight and seriously quick car for roughly half of the M's price tag.
The average person driving down the road won't even look twice at a Golf R, thinking it looks like a boring car for the post-high school crowd. Don't put up with that. Take advantage of the nearly 300 hp lying in wait under the hood to make those snobs look like ants in your rearview mirror.
7. Ford Flex
Go ahead. Try to find another crossover SUV that offers the family-friendly functionality of a minivan with a great suite of technical packages and a 365 hp turbocharged V6 (like the one in a Taurus SHO). We'll wait. This is the station wagon hot rod your dad has always dreamed of.
There was a time when people called the Cayman "the Porsche you get when you can't afford a 911." The truth, however, is that the mid-engined Cayman is such a capable performer that Porsche has to hold it back, lest it infringe on the 911's stomping ground.
9. Volvo S60
Despite a long history that incudes gorgeous sports cars and championship-winning station wagon race cars, it might sound strange to hear "Volvo" and "sport sedan" in the same sentence. But the S60, with its with 325 hp and all-wheel drive variants is a more than capable alternative to the usual German suspects.
Close your eyes and imagine a 348 hp, four seat, two door, rear-wheel drive car with a manual transmission for under $30,000. Now open them, and realize you just dreamed up a Hyundai Genesis. Surprises can be good sometimes.