What is a “sleeper”? In most cases this is a person or a product that ends up giving a performance that greatly outdoes the expectations of the market or industry. In the automotive industry there are many sleepers that look like they might do well, but little is actually expected of them. What happens when these sleepers start to become the leaders in sales and on the market, the manufacturer has to scramble to keep up with the demand, but certainly is able to be giddy about the unexpected success of one of their products. Here are some cars that were deemed sleepers over the past several years.
GMC Sycolne/GMC Typhoon – The look was that of an older model small pickup that may have been the brother to the S10, but this truck was much more. The engine put out 280 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft. of torque from a turbocharged V6 to make the run to sixty mph in only five seconds. This truck even offered AWD to make it even better to drive, but you had to step inside to know this was no ordinary offering from the small truck lineup at GM.
Mercedes-Benz S600 – Using a massive V12 engine this car would be quick and offer you 493 horsepower and 590 lb.-ft. of torque, but you certainly wouldn’t know it until you stepped in this car that seemed to be a plain and nondescript Mercedes-Benz. This car is certainly not ugly, but it’s not the stylish offering expected from this company which made it a perfect sleeper and was able to give owners the power and the quickness the desired on the road.
Mercury Marauder – Even though this car looked a lot like the Grand Marquis it was completely different underneath. This car offered you a 302 horsepower V8 engine and a sportier suspension to give us a muscle sedan that would offer the power and performance we desired. Because this class of car from the Ford family was more for retirees and law enforcement many of us overlooked the Marauder until we got behind the wheel for a real test drive of what this car could do.
Volvo V70 R – What is the best place to hide some power and performance along with an AWD system? How about under the skin of a station wagon? That’s exactly what Volvo did by putting their inline five-cylinder engine which makes 296 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque under the sheetmetal of this car. This wagon could reach sixty mph in less than six seconds to make it a true performance player for those of us who also need to tote our whole family around.
Saab 9-2X Aero – If you love the WRX from Subaru but don’t want the brashness of the car this is the version you wanted to buy. With an upgraded interior that is more luxurious along with a styling on the exterior that is more subtle than the WRX most drivers don’t know what they are getting until they drive the 9-2X Aero. This gives you the chance to look more grown up on a car that has plenty of great power, a true sleeper for those of us with a fun side that we want to keep somewhat quiet.
Mazdaspeed6 – Taking the Mazda 6 and letting the Mazdaspeed team have a crack at it gave us a car that was not just practical, but a car that offered AWD, 270 horsepower, a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual transmission to make the driving much more exciting than in any other midsized sedan. With the ability to hit sixty mph in only 5.5 seconds this car has the acceleration desired to be a great car to drive even for those who are unaware of the awesomeness of this car.
Chevrolet Cobalt SS – If the others on this list were sleepers, this car was unconscious. The Cobalt was the follow up to the Cavalier and was a slight improvement but still nothing to be overly proud of. Then, in 2008 the Cobalt showed off a 205 horsepower SS model, but the best of the bunch was the 260 horsepower version that had a huge wing on it. This car was fast and made for the track which you would have never expected from the Cobalt .
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT – Even though this probably shouldn’t be a sleeper because we all know the Grand Cherokee to be an awesome SUV, this is certainly fitting on this list if you don’t know what an SRT really is. The first model was able to make it to sixty mph in less than five seconds and with 50 more horsepower it seems the next version will be able to do this run even quicker. This is a rocket clad in a Grand Cherokee skin that is meant to give you some of best driving excitement ever.
Ford Taurus SHO – While we have certainly learned about the SHO over the years many still look and think of it as just another boring large sedan that is good only for commuting for work. Although the basic Taurus is made for this kind if driving the SHO is a performance based power player that will give you the driving pleasure you want in order to have the best ride ever. Running to sixty mph in just over five seconds this car is quick and ready to take on any challengers that come its way.
Chevrolet SS – The SS is the real sleeper among the car models. As a car that doesn’t seem to get a lot of attention this car certainly should simply because it has a massive V8 engine that puts out 415 horsepower and mates to a six-speed manual transmission, all features drivers love. Toss in the magnetic suspension and you can have a lot of fun tossing this car to and fro on any roadway that offers the right curves for you to drive and have the time of your life.
Sleepers for certain, these cars are some of the best offered , especially in their model ranges and should have gotten your attention much sooner. When you hear the term “a wolf in a sheep’s clothing” think of these cars as prime examples of exactly what that saying means.