Power and adrenaline: these are the two things most commonly associated with American automakers, at least as far as specialties go.
Ford, Pontiac, Dodge, and Chevrolet, among others, built their reputations during the 1960s and 1970s by crafting brutally fast coupes that ruled the streets. But while the streets of America once served as the proving grounds for many amateur racers, the races have since moved to the track. So instead of resting on laurels and sticking with straight-line speed, automakers have had to reinvent some of their most iconic nameplates, all while making sure they stay true to their reputation. Needless to say, the results have been pretty spectacular.
We took a look at the fastest muscle cars that have graced the U.S. market in the 2010s. The list is largely the same as it could’ve been 47 years ago, with Mustang, Camaro, Challenger, Charger, and a few others, leading the lot. But thanks to huge advances in engineering, these cars are now safer, more reliable, and most importantly, more powerful than ever before. There may be some omissions, but we limited the list to cars that we could find precise and reliable test data for. Sports cars, including the Dodge Viper and Chevrolet Corvette, have also been omitted in order to stick closer to pure muscle car DNA.
We ranked this baker’s dozen by horsepower. In the event that there was a tie (and there were a few), we used zero to 60 times to settle the argument. So, without further ado, here are the 13 fastest modern muscle cars of the 2010s.
13. 2017 Dodge Challenger T/A
Get used to seeing the Challenger’s name over the course of our journey through the fastest modern muscle cars, as Dodge has thoroughly cemented its place in the new American lexicon. Of the smattering of available Challenger models, the T/A is as hot as it gets before the mad geniuses at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ performance division get a hold of it. The retro T/A produces 375 horsepower and pound-feet of torque from its 5.7 liter V8 engine. Zero to 60 comes in 5.1 seconds, and you can make the quarter mile sprint in under 14 seconds. That may sound quick, but it’s nothing compared to the other dozen cars on our list.
12. 2017 Ford Mustang GT
Let this sink in for a minute: A decade ago, the V8-powered Ford Mustang GT had a respectable 300 horsepower. Today? A whopping 435 ponies and 400 pound-feet of torque. Not bad for $34,000, right? This power bump comes courtesy of the Mustang’s iconic 5.0 liter Coyote V8 engine, which lets you jump from zero to 60 in 4.3 seconds, and run the quarter mile in under 13 seconds.
11. 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302
Ford brought the Boss back for just two years — 2012 and 2013 — but it was long enough for it to make its mark on the performance car world. The Boss was key in showing the world that American muscle wasn’t just for the drag strip. Sure, it was an assassin there with a 12.3 second quarter mile and a four-second zero to 60 sprint, but it came alive on the twists in a way that no production Mustang had before. It was no mistake that when the Shelby GT350 arrived in late 2015, it was immediately compared to the Boss.
10. 2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS
Unfortunately for Ford, the Chevrolet Camaro SS has the upper hand in the V8 horsepower wars. At around $38,000, it’s a little more expensive than the Ford Mustang, but for that extra few thousand, you get Chevrolet’s 6.2 liter V8 LT1 engine, which pumps out 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque. Zero to 60 comes in four seconds flat, and it can run the quarter mile in 12.3 seconds. And from there, the Camaro line only gets more impressive.
9. 2017 Dodge Charger SRT 392
When it rains, it pours over at SRT. The Charger and Challenger will forever be linked in the performance department, and that’s a very good thing for speed junkies. With the Dodge Charger SRT 392, the tough-looking four door gets 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque to play with, thanks to its 6.4 liter Hemi V8. Zero to 60 comes in 4.3 seconds, and you can make the quarter mile sprint in 12.4 seconds. If you think that’s impressive, wait until you see what comes next …
8. 2017 Dodge Challenger SRT 392
Fiat Chrysler’s go-fast SRT brand offers some serious horsepower-per-dollar bargains, and at the top of that list is the SRT 392. For under $50,000, buyers are treated to not only a 485 horsepower and a 475 pound-feet of torque, but a zero to 60 time of 4.2 seconds, as well as a trip down the quarter mile in about 12 seconds. You can even get a cool retro shaker hood, complete with air intake sticking out of it. If you need four doors, Dodge offers the 392 in the Charger, too.
7. 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z28
The Z28 nameplate is legendary among Camaro fans, and when it returned in 2014, it brought it right back to the track. The latest Z28 proved that muscle cars have figured out how to take a corner — fast. Zero to 60 in this “track rat” comes in four seconds flat, and quarter-mile runs come in at about 12.2 seconds, besting all but a few muscle cars on the market. But lightness and suspension adjustments are what made the Z28 so formidable; 505 horsepower and 481 pound-feet is nothing to sneeze at, but compared to other cars on this list, it’s a lightweight. There hasn’t been a Z28 announced for the sixth-generation car yet, but that’s alright, because we still have the next car on our list.
6. 2017 Shelby GT350R
In a throwback to the 1960s, Shelby has transformed the ubiquitous Mustang into one of the most formidable track cars in the world. For under $60,000, you get Ford’s outrageously high-revving Voodoo V8, which pumps out 526 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque. For $10,000 more, you get a lighter, decontented, and even more focused track car, the R. In that car, zero to 60 comes in at 3.9 seconds, and you can make the quarter mile sprint in 12.5 seconds.
5. 2015 Equus Bass 770
Can a hand-built, $250,000 performance car truly be a raw piece of American muscle? Yes it can. Seemingly a cross between a classic Mustang, Camaro, and Charger, the Equus Bass 770 (pronounced like bass guitar, not the fish) brings serious speed and power to the table — for a very wealthy few. Boasting a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine borrowed from the C6 Corvette ZR1, the Bass 770 makes 640 horsepower and 605 pound-feet of torque, while reaching a speed of 60 miles per hour in just 3.4 seconds. But with plans to build just 250 of these (as of 2015), chances are you probably won’t be seeing a Bass at your local drag strip anytime soon.
4. 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
So far, the Z28 is taking a breather from the Chevrolet Camaro lineup. That leaves the new ZL1 as the baddest and fastest of the bunch. The ZL1 is a 650 horsepower monster equipped with a 6.2-liter supercharged LT4 V8 engine that knocks out 650 pound-feet of torque. Top speed is 195 miles per hour, and it can jet to 60 miles per hour in just 3.5 seconds, running the quarter mile in under 12 seconds.
3. 2014 Shelby GT500
While we wait with baited breath for the next-generation Shelby GT500 (Ford promises it’s coming in 2018), the 2014 car will continue to hold a place for it. The current GT350 is a lithe, brutally fast track car; the old King Cobra was an old-school straight line missile. Tackling the quarter mile in 11.5 seconds, the Shelby tops out at 189 miles per hour behind the power of 662 horses and a monstrous 631 pound-feet of torque, courtesy of a 5.8-liter supercharged V8 engine. It can also rocket to 60 miles per hour from a standstill in just 3.5 seconds.
2. 2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
The Challenger Hellcat — perhaps the most aptly named vehicle ever — has made a name for itself as the most powerful production muscle car of all time, and so far, nearly 20,000 people have put down their hard-earned cash for one. The Hellcat makes a hearty 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque, which allows it to spring to 60 miles per hour in around 3.5 seconds on its way to an overall top speed of 199 miles per hour, putting it in a class with supercars from Ferrari and Lamborghini. The quarter-mile can also be done in a relative snap, as the Hellcat can get it done in 11.2 seconds.
1. 2017 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Sibling rivalry is real. You may scoff at a sedan taking the top spot here, but hey, is any muscle car list complete without a solid showing from a Dodge Charger? The four door has the same 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque as its two-door brother, but thanks to better aerodynamics, the Charger is actually a little quicker to 60 from a standstill — 3.4 versus 3.5 seconds — and just breaks that magic 200 mile per hour mark with its top speed of 204 miles per hour. But it won’t be at the top for long. We’ll have to update this list as soon as the even hotter Dodge Demon hits the streets.
Additional reporting by Sam Becker.