A boxer engine is also known mechanically as a horizontally-opposed engine or just a ‘flat’ engine. It is a type of engine with pistons -whether 4 or 6- in opposite directions and moving inward and outward simultaneously.
The boxer engine is shorter than the taller and more popular inline-cylinder engine, which gives it a better center of gravity and better handling.
In this article, we will be exploring a number of affordable cars that have boxer engines and you can later explore SUVs without turbo engines.
Table of Contents
1. Subaru Outback
The Subaru Outback is a station wagon that can compete fairly and confidently with SUVs. Its spacious cabin and ample cargo space are sufficient for family and luggage.
The Outback is one of few modern vehicles with boxer engines. It comes with a 2.5-L flat 4-cylinder engine paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
It sends power to all wheels to produce a moderate 182 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm and torque of 176 @ 4,400 rpm.
The Outback’s standard all-wheel drive and good ground clearance are responsible for its impressive off-road capability, even better than some sub-compact SUVs.
It is also very handy with luggage as it has a maximum trailering capacity of 2,700 pounds.
Its fuel economy is satisfactory at 26 mpg city and 32 mpg highway for an all-wheel vehicle and it has a comfortable and sleek ride with more than a handful of driver-assistance features.
The Subaru Outback’s starting price is $28,395 – $42,295 MSRP, which is not bad for a station wagon with a ton of practicality. Meanwhile, there are popular compact SUVs with V6 engines.
2. Toyota 86
Now, if you prefer something sporty with a boxer engine, you should check out the Toyota 86.
The 86 is one of Toyota’s sports cars that is endowed with a boxer engine.
It is also equipped with a 2.0-L flat 4-cylinder engine mated with either a 6-speed manual transmission or 6-speed automatic transmission.
This rear-wheel sports car’s engine churns out an above-average 205 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm and torque of 156 @ 6,400 rpm for the manual transmission.
While its automatic counterpart produces less power with 200 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm and torque of 151 @ 6,400 rpm to its name.
Generally, the Toyota brand is revered for good fuel economy and the 86 is no exception. With a fuel economy of 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway, you couldn’t agree more.
Complementing its good fuel economy is its excellent handling and smooth ride.
This sleek vehicle costs about $27,060 – $30,590 MSRP. This is a fair price to own a sports car.
3. Subaru Impreza
The Subaru Impreza is manufactured in 2 forms either as a sedan or hatchback. However, whatever your preference, both come equipped with a horizontally-opposed engine.
Though the Impreza has had some unimpressive reviews because of its relatively mediocre engine and lazy acceleration, it is not to be looked down on.
A careful assessment and you will discover it has an edge over the competition in some aspects.
The Impreza comes with a 2.0-L flat 4-cylinder engine fitted to either a 5-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable automatic transmission.
The latter still has manual shifting mode. Power is received by all wheels producing a below-average 152 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm and 145 torque @ 4,000 rpm.
Apart from what seems to be an underperforming engine, the Impreza is a practical all-rounder.
It has a moderate fuel economy of 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway, which is fair considering it is an all-wheel drive.
It is also embellished with enough safety and infotainment features that get the job done. The Impreza’s price is a ‘wow’ compared to rivals at $20,295 – $27,395 MSRP.
4. Volkswagen Beetle
The Volkswagen Beetle is one automobile that has an unmistakable exterior style. Its clear-cut exterior gives this automotive ‘bug’ a distinctive look far different from other vehicles in its class.
The Beetle gets power from a 2.0-L inter-cooled turbo-4 engine paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. It is also among affordable rear-engine cars.
It emits a middling 174 horsepower @ 5,000 rpm and torque of 184 @ 1,500 rpm-that could be considered not too exciting to drive in contrast to many rivals.
Looking on the bright side, the Beetle is quite handy when it comes to fuel economy. With fuel efficiency estimated to be 26 mpg city and 33 mpg highway, it beats many rivals to be around the top of its class.
It also has a smooth ride, an easy-to-use infotainment system, and adroit handling. The average price paid for the Beetle is $21,790 – $33,148 MSRP.
This is quite affordable having in mind that the Volkswagen Beetle has halted production since 2019. So, all that’s left is the nostalgic legacy of the German ‘Bug’.
5. Subaru Legacy
If you fancy a more spacious car with a boxer engine, a sedan to be specific, the Subaru Legacy should fit your preference.
The Legacy is a smooth and comfortable mid-size sedan with loads of technological features with ample trunk space.
Featuring a 2.5-L 4-cylinder boxer engine, the Legacy comes with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) with manual mode. It has a power rating of 182 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm and 176 of torque @ 4,400 rpm.
The Legacy is great with fuel efficiency with a calculated fuel efficiency of 27 mpg city and 35 mpg highway.
Only a lean number of rivals can boast of such fuel economy on a fuel tank size of approximately 18.5 gallons. Especially with the standard all-wheel drive.
This spacious and comfortable mid-size sedan costs $24,395 – $37,695 MSRP. It is a handsome price for a family vehicle with myriads of appealing features and specifications.
6. Scion FR-S
When you talk about competence, a sporty touch, and a horizontally-opposed engine, you talk about the Scion FR-S. The FR-S is a sports car that garnered even more positive acclaim with a boxer engine.
It is one small vehicle that has not been downplayed because of its flat engine.
The Scion FR-S could be described as a sleek and active coupe that goes against all odds to claim its place around the top.
Not surprisingly, the FR-S was ranked number 1 on the U.S. News for the 2016 affordable sports cars category.
Packaged with a 2.0-L flat-4 engine, attached to a 6-speed manual transmission or 6-speed automatic transmission, the FR-S zooms nimbly.
Its flat-4 engine produces an impressive 200 horsepower @ 7,000 rpm and a torque of 151 @ 6,500 rpm.
It has been hailed for its smooth handling, agile transmission system (both manual and automatic), and easy-to-use technological fittings.
The Scion FR-S also possesses a satisfactory fuel economy of 22-25 mpg city and 30-34 mpg highway. It is a safe car with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarding it a perfect 5-star for safety.
With all its overwhelming qualities, the FR-S costs an affordable $20,549 – $23,430 MSRP. It is noteworthy that the Scion FR-S rolled up production in 2016.
7. Subaru Tribeca
Now, shifting to something relatively bigger with a boxer engine is the Subaru Tribeca. It is worthy of note that this model stopped production almost a decade ago in 2014.
The Tribeca is one of Subaru’s crossovers that comes loaded with a horizontally-opposed engine. Say you are looking for a comfortable vehicle for your family, the Tribeca might just match your need.
Rated an impressive 256 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm and torque of 247 @ 4,400 rpm, the Tribeca’s 3.6-L flat-6 engine is strapped to a 5-speed automatic transmission.
Power is received by all wheels as is the custom of Subaru.
Though this straightforwardly-built crossover is not as technologically savvy as many rivals or has the best fuel economy, it still manages to get the job done.
It has a poor fuel efficiency of 16 mpg city and 21 mpg highway which is one of its significant shortcomings.
Overall, the Tribeca is a moderate crossover for those that are not asking for too much and it costs $17,476 MSRP.
8. Subaru WRX
The muscle-looking Subaru WRX appeals to one’s sense of style, fineness, and ruggedness.
The WRX is fitted with a 2.4-L turbocharged flat-4 engine that is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
It oozes a remarkable 271 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm and 258 of torque @ 2,000 rpm.
However, the WRX’s subpar gas mileage of 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway reduces the applauds it has garnered for its powerful engine.
On the bright side, the WRX is an all-wheel compact car, that has incredible handling, a user-friendly infotainment interface, and a surprisingly roomy cabin.
$30,605 – $43,395 MSRP is what you pay to own this ‘compact-size boxer wonder.’
It is expedient to note that boxer or horizontally opposed engine vehicles have gradually declined in past years.
The decline is partly due to the fact that they (flat engines) are expensive to manufacture and backbreaking to fix inside a vehicle body.
Consequently, most modern vehicles come equipped with the more popular straight-inline engines for easy repair and maintenance. Only a few car brands still use boxer engines. The notable ones are Subaru and Porsche.
Furthermore, you can find out if all Porsches have boxer engines.