Though I played football in high school, I lost interest afterward, so the only professional football contest I fondly remember the outcome of was when the Giants of New York took on the Packers of Green Bay and in the end, the Giants triumphed by kicking an oblong ball made of pigskin through a big H. It was most exhilarating — as exhilarating as I imagine it’s gonna be Feb. 2 in Miami for fans of the Kansas City Chiefs (from my native Missouri) and the San Francisco 49ers. And while I won’t pretend to know enough about player stats to advise you on a potential wager on the outcome of Super Bowl 54, if watching the big game gets you fantasizing about walking in the shoes — make that cleats — of your athletic idol, I do have a few suggestions for how you can drive like them.
By Matt SchmitzJanuary 28, 2020
Considering the NFL minimum salary is slightly less than half a million dollars a year — nearly nine times the median income in the U.S. — it’s a safe bet that rollin’ like a baller isn’t in most fans’ budget. But like pureed cauliflower in place of mashed potatoes for carb counters, I’ve got cost-cutting recos for rides that’ll make for satisfying substitutes.
If you’re sneaking in some car shopping on your smartphone between plays during your game-night watch party, here are some beer-budget models that’ll give you the flavor of Super Bowl stars’ champagne tastes (all prices include a destination charge where applicable):
If you’re A-Rod, J. Lo’s love don’t cost a thing — but her car will still cost you nearly 150 grand. The Porsche 911 Carrera GTS that Alex Rodriguez reportedly purchased for Jenny From the Block for her 50th birthday boasts 450 horsepower, 405 pounds-feet of torque and a 0-60-mph time of as little as 3.5 seconds. But you can rock all that power, performance and style for significantly less than half the price if you opt for the all-new-for-2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 convertible.
The redesigned mid-engine Vette has Euro-influenced style and a droptop in a head-turning rear-wheel-drive sports car package (just like J. Lo), while its 6.2-liter V-8 sends up to 495 hp and 470 pounds-feet of torque to the rear wheels — sending the Chevy from a stop to 60 mph in a blistering 2.9 seconds. Talk about a hustler!
The allure of a car like the Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class, which Colombian pop star Shakira reportedly has been spotted in, is the driver’s daydream of carving up the curves on a seaside highway with the top down in a two-seater. But for a cool $35,000 discount, you can throw a sporty European roadster around those same turns with the wind through your hair and the sun on your face with a new Fiat 124 Spider.
While the 124 Spider’s performance specs are no threat to those of the discontinued SLK-Class, you can upgrade to the Abarth trim, which amps up the power and track style for a sportier experience. As for occupant comfort, the Spider offers 52 inches of hip room, but you’ll want to test-drive one to be sure it suits you — hips don’t lie, after all.
Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes, Quarterback
Onetime Pro Bowl MVP and repentant potty mouth Mahomes won a Genesis G70 for his all-star-game success in 2019. This one holds a special place in our hearts at Cars.com, as we only just recently bade farewell to our own G70, which was in our long-term test fleet for a year after we named it as our Best of 2019 vehicle overall. While the compact sports sedan from Hyundai’s newish luxury spinoff brand Genesis starts at an already reasonable $36,445, we assume the one gifted to the K.C. QB was the priciest, most luxurious, highest-performance model, the all-wheel-drive 3.3T trim.
With that in mind, consider our recommended G70 substitute, the Honda Civic Si. While this compact sedan (or coupe, if you’d rather have that body style) can’t rival the G70’s 365-hp performance, it will provide driving thrills comparable to the track-tuned Civic Type R for about $10,000 less — and about $20,000 less than the G70. In other words, the Si is like the MVP of cheap speed.
Travis Kelce, Tight End
Travis Kelce may play tight end on the field, but he’s anything but tight with his ends on the dealer lot judging by his purported purchase of an Aston Martin Vanquish that costs more than the median price of a home in Arizona — and while it’s not unheard of to have woken up in a new Bugatti, it’s unlikely you’ll want to sleep in your car every night.
Rest easy: The Mini Hardtop will provide big, British-brand fun for roughly a twelfth of the price. Sure, Aston Martin is synonymous with James Bond, but the Mini is featured in that awesome chase scene in “The Italian Job” — and before you answer as to whether you’d prefer to be Sean Connery or Mark Wahlberg, I’ll ask: Did ya see “Boogie Nights”?
Tyrann Mathieu, Safety
Mind you, 17 racks buys you the most modestly priced version of Bentley’s absurdly opulent SUV, but you can level up that starting price to around a quarter-mil if so inclined and enriched as Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu, assuming this Instagram post is any indicator.
Until you get that big inheritance windfall from the money transfer request emailed to you by the estate executor of your distant, dearly departed Saudi prince relative you’ve never met, our advice is to go with a Hyundai Palisade instead — winner of Cars.com’s 2020 3-Row SUV Challenge and Best of 2020 nominee. It’ll save you at least 80% and you’ll still find yourself with a luxuriously appointed, comfortable-riding, technology-packed three-row people hauler you can spend some quality time driving around with all those long-lost wealthy family members while they’re still alive.
Andy Reid, Head Coach
- What He Drives: Ford Model A, $6,000-$115,000
- What You Should Drive: PT Cruiser, $3,400-$8,300
Far be it from us to actually recommend the decade-discontinued PT Cruiser, but it does rock the retro 1930s style that a lot of people dug back when it launched. And if you’re the type who likes riding around in antiquated automobiles — like Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid, who restored his father’s Ford Model A — the PT Cruiser certainly puts the “funk” in defunct. And if, like Reid, you’re into restoring old cars, a 10-year-old PT Cruiser restomod could be your next garage project.
San Francisco 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo, Quarterback
Big sedans with big power are decidedly out of fashion as new-car buyers nowadays ain’t tryna hear about anything but SUVs. So beyond wishing to emulate the Niners’ Garoppolo, you’re probably a little old-school. Instead of blowing all your euros on an Italian icon among large sports sedans, consider spending less than a third as much on an American icon (owned by an Italian automaker, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles). True, you won’t get that exotic-car cachet, but you will get a beloved muscle car that you can option up with wholly impractical power while still being able to schlep your family around in roomy comfort (and still afford the groceries to feed them).
Emmanuel Sanders, Wide Receiver
A Rolls-Royce Wraith like the one Emmanuel Sanders drives will make your life savings disappear faster than the haunting apparition for which the ultraluxury coupe is named. Big, comfy two-door cruisers from mainstream brands that could serve as affordable alternatives, like the Cadillac Coupe de Ville, are a thing of the past, but you may find the vibe you’re looking for in the Chrysler 300 full-size sedan. It’s got a big, boxy, imposing build like the Bentleys and Rolls-Royces of the world, formidable power and highly respectable luxuriousness as you get to top trims. Of course, you won’t be able to get those way-cool rear-hinged doors like the Wraith’s on anything cheaper than a $100,000-plus Lincoln Continental.
Richard Sherman, Cornerback
Sherman is known for his intelligence and conscientiousness off the field as much as his athletic prowess, so it makes sense that he would drive a technologically advanced and eco-conscious car — but he’s still a wealthy NFL player, so it also makes sense that it’s an expensive one like the Tesla Model S his wife (then-girlfriend) bought him one recent Christmas.
But you needn’t be a famous footballer to make a play for the environment by choosing a long-range electric car: The 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV starts at just over 37 grand and has an anxiety-squashing all-electric range of 259 miles on a full charge — which means you could … go … all … the … way without spending that last quarter you’ll need for the coin toss to decide who gets the ball first. Moreover, Tesla officially no longer qualifies for federal tax incentives for electric vehicles, whereas you can still get $1,875 off the price of a Bolt EV if you take delivery by March.
Deebo Samuel, Wide Receiver
Here comes Deebo! And he’s not riding a bicycle. Nope, the San Fran receiver is rolling up in a Range Rover, with all its luxurious interior appointments and nearly unparalleled off-road prowess. But just because a Rover is out of our range doesn’t mean we regular folk can’t rock-crawl in classy comfort thanks to an iconic mainstream brand with a penchant for eschewing asphalt. The Jeep Grand Cherokee provides all the convenience of a big SUV, which you can option up with high-quality interior appointments and — particularly with the Grand Cherokee’s Trailhawk version — off-road excitement.
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