Fiat 500X Abarth
The Fiat 500X may not be the most-sought-after small crossover, but with a few upgrades – and a modest $12,000 average asking price used – you could have your own Abarth version. The 500X uses the same 2.4-liter Tigershark inline-four from the outgoing Dart, meaning it would (theoretically) be able to use the same Road Race turbo kit ($4,449). The only limiting factor is the nine-speed ZF transmission, which is rated at up to about 350 pound-feet (474 Newton-meters) of torque. Still, that’s plenty enough power for a small crossover like the 500X.
Ford EcoSport Raptor
Believe it or not, Ford already offers a Raptor-inspired upgrade on the tiny EcoSport SUV. It’s called the Storm, but you won’t be able to get it in the U.S. If you were so inclined to upgrade your American EcoSport – which KBB estimates will cost you no more than $21,000 for the entry-level S trim – you’ll have to order the Storm accessories from overseas. Unique 17-inch wheels, a 0.7-inch taller ride height, a unique front grille, and a spare tire cover, among others, can all be had on the crossover.
Jeep Wrangler (JK) Hellcat
This is an obvious one; take a 707-horsepower (527-kilowatt) Hellcat crate engine, and shove it into an outgoing JK Wrangler. Simple. A few shops have already done it, but making an all-out Wrangler Hellcat on your own might be pricey.
KBB estimates that a lightly used, entry-level 2008 JK Wrangler will set you back around $13,000. Add on the price of a Hellcat crate engine – $19,350 (not including the $2,195 kit) – and you’ll be staring down the barrel of a $34,000 project… not including labor costs. If you don’t want to do it yourself, Dakota Customs out of South Dakota will sell you a converted Hellcat Wrangler for $56,000.
Lexus IS F
The Lexus IS F was discontinued in 2014, but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream of a modern version using the current platform. Rumors suggest the Japanese marque will offer a 400-horsepower (298-kilowatt) model in 2020, but with a few modifications and some cash, the current-generation could be upgraded to produce a significant amount of power.
Kelly Blue Book estimates that a well-kept, 2015 IS 350 is worth about $29,000 – but used examples regularly come in well under that, some as low as $22,000. With a $3,100 RR Racing upgrade providing up to a 48-horsepower (36-kilowatt) boost, the IS could be good for as much as 354 hp (263 kW). Some extra performance upgrades could push that power figure even higher.
If you want to go all out visually, you could pick up a set of RC F wheels on eBay – this used set costs just $400 – some carbon fiber F-Sport elements, appropriate F badges, and coilovers to bring it all a bit lower to the pavement.
Nissan Maxima Nismo
The eighth-generation Maxima may not be the first car you think of when dreaming up a powerful, four-door conversion – but don’t discount the full-size sedan. KBB estimates that a well-kept, used example should set you back no more than $21,000. There isn’t a huge variety of tuning options, though. But with a theoretical ECU tune, a cold-air intake, and an upgraded exhaust, you could boost the Maxima past its current 300-horsepower (223-kilowatt) output easily.
Subaru XV Crosstrek STI
The outgoing XV Subaru Crosstrek still looks great, and it’s plenty powerful-enough for the segment. But if you want to transform it into an all-out STI model – KBB estimates a used one will set you back no more than $15,000 – it will take some work. But it’s not impossible.
One XV Crosstrek owner in Vermont did exactly that. With the help of the shop Vermont SportsCar, he swapped a turbocharged WRX engine into the bay of his high-riding XV Crosstrek. STI brakes, 17-inch racing wheels, and HID headlights finished off the look. No word on how much a venture like that would cost, though.