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American Muscle Cars - Gear Heads Unite!

Written By, Chloe L.

When talking and comparing modern muscle cars, the conversation is a lot different than one about sedans or SUVs. Unlike other car classes, the muscle car class seems pretty small because there are only four different makes and models (the Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger, Chevy Camaro and Ford Mustang), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of options.

Unlike other cars, muscle cars tend to have a lot of different engine and trims options, and those engines make a big difference. In fact, although there are only four different makes and models, there are more than 30 different types of muscle car trims and configurations, and that can make it a little tricky for some shoppers to figure out what option is the best for them.  Here are a couple different categories we used to break down and compare all of the muscle car options.

Most Powerful and Fastest

The decision is easy for shoppers that want the most powerful and fastest muscle car. In the 2018 model year, the fastest and most powerful muscle car is the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. The Challenger SRT Demon breaks all types of records and it produces up to 840 horsepower and 770 lb-ft of torque. All of that power helps the Challenger SRT Demon accelerate from 0-60 mph in 2.3 seconds and complete a quarter-mile in 9.65 seconds.

However, the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon has a very limited production run, so it won’t be very easy for a buyer to get their hands on it, so what would a buyer’s next best choice? The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, 2018 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody, but the Camaro ZL1 is a close runner up.

Up until the release of the 2018 Challenger SRT Demon, the fastest and most powerful muscle car was the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat or Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. The Challenger SRT Hellcat produces 707 horsepower, 650 lb-ft of torque, accelerates from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds and finishes a quarter-mile in 11.2 seconds. The Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat produces the same amount of power but it accelerates from 0-60 mph just a hair faster (3.4 seconds) but it’s quarter-mile time is a hair slower (11.4 seconds) than the Challenger SRT Hellcat.

Shortly after the introduction of the 2018 Challenger SRT Demon, Dodge and SRT introduced a wide-body version of the Challenger SRT Hellcat. Due to the design of the Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody, it accelerates from 0-60 mph .1 second (3.4 seconds) faster than the Challenger SRT Hellcat (same time as the Charger SRT Hellcat) and it finishes a quarter-mile time .3 seconds (10.9 seconds) faster. The Chevy Camaro ZL1 isn’t far behind the power or speed of the Challenger SRT Hellcat. The Chevy ZL1 produces 650 horsepower, 650 lb-ft of torque, accelerates from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds and completes a quarter-mile time in 11.4 seconds.

Most Powerful at Price Points

While every muscle car enthusiast would probably love to have an unlimited budget to buy the fastest muscle car, that just isn’t a reality. Here’s a breakdown of speed, power and MSRP for buyers shopping with a budget in mind.

Under $30,000

Though there are only four different make and models of muscle cars, there are six different muscle car trims priced under $30,000. The most affordable, most powerful and fastest option under $30,000 is the 2018 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Fastback (0-60mph in 5.3 seconds, MSRP $25,585, 310 horsepower). With a 0-60 mph acceleration time of 5.3-5.4 seconds, the 2018 Chevy Camaro 1LT is the second fastest and the 2018 Dodge Challenger SXT is the second-most powerful option under $30,000.

2018 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Fastback - $25,585
2.3L GTDI I-4 Engine, 310 horsepower
0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds

2018 Chevy Camaro 1LS - $26,900
2.0L Turbo SIDI Engine, 275 horsepower
0-60 mph 5.3-5.4 seconds

2018 Dodge Challenger SXT - $26,995
3.6L V6 Engine, 305 horsepower
0-60 mph 6.1 seconds

2018 Chevy Camaro 1LT - $27,695
2.0L Turbo SIDI Engine, 275 horsepower
0-60 mph 5.3-5.4 seconds

2018 Dodge Charger SXT - $28,495
3.6L V6 Engine, 292 horsepower
0-60 mph 6.3 seconds

2018 Dodge Challenger SXT Plus - $29,995
3.6L V6 Engine, 305 horsepower
0-60 mph 6.1 seconds

Between $30,000- $40,000

The decision making gets a lot harder for shoppers looking for a muscle car priced between $30,000 and $40,000 because there are 18 muscle car trims (not including convertible options).

The fastest muscle car between $30,000 to $40,000 is the 2018 Chevy Camaro 1SS and it accelerates from 0-60 mph in 4.0 seconds, and just behind that is the Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack, which accelerates from 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds. The most powerful cars between $30,000 to $40,000 are the 485 horsepower Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack and Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack.

One thing that is unique about the $30,000 to $40,000 price range is that there are three muscle cars that are available with all-wheel-drive, and they are the only three muscle cars out of all the muscle car options. The Dodge Challenger GT AWD, Dodge Charger GT and Dodge Charger GT Plus are excellent muscle car options for buyers that live in snowy or icy areas and want a muscle car and the handling of an all-wheel-drive vehicle.

2018 Dodge Charger SXT Plus - $30,495
3.6L V6 Engine, 292 horsepower
0-60 mph, n/a

2018 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Premium Fastback - $30,600
2.3L GTDI I-4 Engine, 310 horsepower
0-60 mph, 5.3 seconds

2018 Chevy Camaro 2LT - $31,495
2.0L SIDI Engine, 275 horsepower
0-60 mph, 5.3 seconds

2018 Dodge Charger GT (AWD) - $32,495
3.6L V6 Engine,  292 horsepower
0-60 mph, n/a

2018 Dodge Challenger GT AWD - $33,495
3.6L V6 Engine, 305 horsepower
0-60 mph, n/a

2018 Dodge Challenger R/T - $33,495
5.7L HEMI V8 Engine, 375 horsepower
0-60 mph, 5.1 seconds

2018 Dodge Charger R/T - $34,995
5.7L HEMI V8 Engine, 375 horsepower
0-60 mph, 5.1 seconds

2018 Ford Mustang GT Fastback - $35,095
5.0L Ti-VCT V8 Engine, 460 horsepower
0-60 mph, 4.5 seconds

2018 Dodge Charger GT Plus (AWD) - $35,495
3.6L V6 Engine, 292 horsepow
0-60 mph, n/a

2018 Dodge Challenger R/T Plus - $36,495
5.7L HEMI V8 Engine, 375 horsepow
0-60 mph, 5.1 seconds

2018 Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker - $36,995
5.7L HEMI V8 Engine, 375 horsepower
0-60 mph, 5.1 seconds

2018 Dodge Challenger T/A - $37,495
5.7L HEMI V8 Engine, 375 horsepower
0-60 mph, 5.1 seconds

2018 Chevy Camaro 1SS - $37,995
6.2L V8 Engine, 455 horsepower
0-60 mph, 4.0 seconds

2018 Dodge Charger Daytona - $38,995
5.7L HEMI V8 Engine, 375 horsepower
0-60 mph, 5.1 seconds

2018 Ford Mustang GT Premium Fastback - $39,095
5.0L Ti-VCT V8 Engine, 460 horsepower
0-60 mph, 4.5 seconds

2018 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack - $39,995
6.4L HEMI V8 Engine, 485 horsepower
0-60 mph, 4.3 seconds

2018 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack - $39,995
6.4L HEMI V8 Engine, 485 horsepower
0-60 mph, 4.1 seconds

2018 Dodge Challenger R/T Plus Shaker - $39,995
5.7L HEMI V8 Engine, 375 horsepower
0-60 mph, 5.1 seconds

$40,000-50,000

2018 Chevy Camaro 2SS - $42,995
6.2L V8 Engine, 455 horsepower
0-60 mph, 4.0 seconds

$50,000+

There is one clear winner of muscle cars with an MSRP above $50,000, but as we mentioned earlier, production on the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is limited, so when it comes to shopping, it’s more practical to put the Challenger SRT Demon on the sideline.

Aside from the Challenger SRT Demon, when it comes down to the most power, fastest and most bang for your buck, the 2018 Chevy Camaro ZL1 or 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat are the best bets. The Camaro ZL1 is priced slightly under the Challenger SRT Hellcat (2018 Chevy Camaro ZL1 has an MSRP of $64,495, the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat has an MSRP of $65,595), and it has the same 0-60 mph acceleration time (5.3 seconds), but it produces a little bit less horsepower (Chevy Camaro ZL1 produces 655 horsepower, Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat produces 707 horsepower).

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT 392 - $50,495
6.4L HEMI V8 Engine, 485 horsepower
0-60 mph, 4.2 seconds

2018 Dodge Charger SRT 392 - $51,145
6.4L HEMI V8 Engine, 485 horsepower
0-60 mph, 4.2 seconds

2018 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350- $57,145
5.2L Flat Plane Crank V8, 526 horsepower
0-60 mph, 4.3 seconds

2018 Chevy Camaro ZL1 - $64,495
Supercharged 6.2L V8 Engine, 655 horsepower
0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds

2018 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R - $64,645
5.2L Flat Plane Crank V8 Engine, 526 horsepower
0-60 mph, 4.3 seconds

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat - $65,595
Supercharged 6.2L HEMI SRT Hellcat V8 Engine, 707 horsepower
0-60 mph 3.5 seconds

2018 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat - $67,995
Supercharged 6.2L HEMI SRT Hellcat V8 Engine, 707 horsepower
0-60 mph 3.4 seconds

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody - $71,495
Supercharged 6.2L HEMI SRT Hellcat V8 Engine, 707 horsepower
0-60 mph 3.4 seconds

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon - $84,995
Supercharged 6.2L HEMI SRT Demon V8 Engine, 840 horsepower
0-60 mph 2.3 seconds

Style and Function

Some people want a muscle car for looks, but they still want it to be somewhat functional. When it comes to functionality in the muscle car class, there are two things to think about -- passenger seating and fuel economy.

Passenger Seating

Shoppers that want a muscle car that can seat up to five passengers have two options, the Dodge Charger or Dodge Challenger. The Dodge Charger is the only four-door muscle car on the market and it has a spacious cabin. The Dodge Challenger, Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro are two-door vehicles, and the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro only have seating for four passengers.

Fuel Economy

The most fuel efficient muscle cars are also the most affordable muscle cars because they are equipped with the smaller engines. Of the four muscle cars, the 2018 Chevy Camaro is the most fuel efficient and it averages 22 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway, and it has a combined city/highway fuel economy of 25 mpg. The second most fuel efficient option is the Ford Mustang and it has a fuel economy of 21 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway, and a combined city/highway fuel economy of 24 mpg. Just behind the Ford Mustang are the Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger and they average 19 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway, and they have a combined city/highway fuel economy of 23 mpg.

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