Celebrating Big Power — American Style

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceBorn in the USA
Power and speed — two glorious aspects of the automobile that many Americans still care about when considering a new vehicle. Granted, electric vehicles and self-driving cars are technological advances garnering the most headlines and mindshare lately, but for those who count themselves among true car enthusiasts, it’s still the enticing roar of a big V8 that puts a stomp in the right foot and a smile across the face. Today’s choices for American power are better than ever, with a plethora of high-performance rides available from U.S. companies and brands. But these powerful vehicles aren’t always affordable — take a look at some of the most powerful American cars, trucks and SUVs on the market today, listed in order by price. And please — keep the drooling to a minimum.

© General MotorsChevrolet Camaro SS
Base MSRP: $37,495
After an eight-year hiatus, Camaro returned to market about 10 years ago with styling cues heavily influenced by the 1969 Camaro. For 2019 this classic American muscle car gets new front-end styling that features signature lighting, an extractor-style hood and an open bowtie emblem in the grille, referred to as the “flowtie.” The SS is available as a coupe or convertible and — unlike the original Camaro — this one comes with the latest high-tech safety and convenience features.

© General MotorsChevrolet Camaro SS
The SS may not be the most powerful Camaro available (see the ZL1 later in this list), but it is one of the best values on the market when it comes to power for the dollar. Under the hood lurks a 6.2-liter V8 that generates 455 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque. The standard gearbox is a TREMEC 6-speed manual with Active Rev Matching, but those who shun three-pedal antics can opt for the 10-speed automatic transmission. In addition to the powerful V8, the Camaro SS comes with a limited-slip rear differential, Brembo performance brakes, performance suspension, dual exhaust and 20-inch aluminum wheels.

© FCA USDodge Charger Scat Pack
Base MSRP: $39,995
This modern-day 4-door muscle car has a full range of powertrains, but one of the best options is the Charger Scat Pack. Although it’s not quite as powerful as the vaunted Hellcat, the Scat Pack is also considerably less expensive. And with an aggressive stance complete with a big hood scoop, a new performance grille, a rear spoiler, performance side sills, a 392 HEMI badge and 20-inch black wheels, the Charger Scat Pack certainly looks the part of a muscle car. The Charger Scat Pack also comes with Launch Assist for that optimum blast from a standstill.

© FCA USDodge Charger Scat Pack
Of course looks don’t make a muscle car, so the Scat Pack has plenty under the hood. Power comes from a 6.4-liter V8 engine producing 485 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque. A standard 8-speed automatic transmission directs all that oomph to the rear wheels as a car such as this should do. The Charger Scat Pack also comes with high-performance suspension, active exhaust, Brembo 4-piston brakes and configurable drive modes to set up the car for comfort or ultimate performance.

© Ford Motor CompanyFord Mustang Bullitt
Base MSRP: $46,595
The Mustang is one of the most iconic members of the American muscle family, and for the 2019 model year Ford introduced the latest version of the Bullitt Mustang. This special Mustang is a nod to the classic movie “Bullitt” that features Steve McQueen at the wheel of a 1968 Ford Mustang GT pursuing a Dodge Charger through the streets of San Francisco — arguably one of the best movie chase scenes ever. The 2019 Mustang Bullitt is a proper tribute to the original, swathed in classic Dark Highland Green paint and subtle chrome accents with classic torque thrust 19-inch aluminum wheels. Shadow Black is also available. The interior has a balanced mix of classic and modern touches with an all-digital LCD instrument cluster and available Recaro black leather seats with green accent stitching.

© Ford Motor CompanyFord Mustang Bullitt
The nostalgic Mustang gets a performance open air intake, a Mustang Shelby GT350 intake manifold, a larger throttle body and unique powertrain control module calibrations. All these goodies contribute to the 5.0-liter V8’s 480 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque — enough thrust to push this special Mustang to a top speed of 163 mph. The Bullitt possesses a proper manual transmission that features a classic white cue ball shift knob. To create the proper sound, Ford fitted the Bullitt with an active-valve performance exhaust tuned to give the car its signature burble.

© Ford Motor CompanyFord F-150 Raptor
Base MSRP: $52,855
Ford introduced this off-road performance truck in 2010, and since then there really hasn’t been anything else on the road quite like it. An all-new version of the Raptor rolled out last year, and it improves on the original in nearly every way. With a bold grille that sets it apart from other F-150s, the Raptor features a new torque-on-demand 4-wheel-drive system as well as 3.0-inch FOX Racing Shox that provide variable damping rates depending on wheel travel, making for a smoother ride on or off the road.

© Ford Motor CompanyFord F-150 Raptor
Powering the Raptor is a twin-turbo 3.5-liter high-output EcoBoost engine generating 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque, teamed with an advanced 10-speed automatic transmission. To make proper use of all that power, the Raptor features a Terrain Management System designed to optimize performance for almost any driving conditions. To showcase the Raptor’s extraordinary capabilities, a stock Raptor (with minor alterations) competed in — and completed — the grueling Baja 1000 off-road race.

© General MotorsChevrolet Camaro ZL1
Base MSRP: $62,000
Auto enthusiasts rejoice when carmakers try to best each other by adding more power to production cars. The Camaro ZL1 is a perfect example of this practice. The ZL1 sports a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 engine that generates an incredible 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. This powerful engine gets teamed with either a 6-speed manual gearbox or a 10-speed (yes, ten) automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Performance stats are impressive — a sprint to 60 mph takes a mere 3.5 seconds and the quarter mile gets eclipsed in 11.4 seconds.

© General MotorsChevrolet Camaro ZL1
It’s easy to recognize the dominant Camaro when you see it. The ZL1 stands apart from common Camaros with a larger lower grille opening, a carbon fiber composite hood air extractor, a larger front splitter, wider fenders, a wing-style rear spoiler and 20-inch forged aluminum wheels fitted with Goodyear Eagle F1 high-performance tires. Available as a coupe or convertible, the ZL1 is at home on the street as well as the track — proven when it completed a lap of Germany’s legendary Nurburgring Nordschleife in 7:29.6, which is 12 seconds faster than the previous-generation ZL1.

© FCA USDodge Durango SRT
Base MSRP: $63,245
It seems as if big SUVs such as the Dodge Durango have regained ground as a vehicle of choice since the popularity of sport-utility vehicles continues to grow. But there’s no reason that this big people mover can’t sport a little muscle, so Dodge added the Durango to its lineup of SRT (Street & Racing Technology) models. Under the hood is a 392 cubic inch (6.4-liter) HEMI V8 that makes 475 horsepower. With an 8-speed automatic transmission and sport-tuned full-time all-wheel drive, the big 7-occupant SUV can sprint to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and can cover the quarter mile in a mere 12.9 seconds. The Durango SRT also is capable of towing up to 8,700 pounds.

© FCA USDodge Durango SRT
The Durango SRT stands out from less-powered trims with a wide-body look that includes wheel flares, body-color side rocker panels, an SRT hood with a functional center air inlet and hot air extractor, an SRT grille mesh pattern and a new front fascia that includes cold-air ducting and LED fog lights. At the rear this Durango gets a body-color lower fascia with gloss black accents and 4-inch dual round exhaust tips. Durango SRT also gets big stopping power from 15-inch vented front brake rotors with high-performance 6-piston Brembo calipers, and 13.8-inch rear rotors with 4-piston calipers.

© FCA USDodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Price: Starting at $65,795
It’s not unusual for an elite sports car to boast 500-plus horsepower, and there are a handful of ultra-exotics from small factories that surpass 700 horses. Then there’s the 4-door, family-size Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. This aptly-named sedan sports a supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8 engine that boasts a crazy 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. And if all that power doesn’t make this car stand out from the crowd, the final shocker is that this Hellcat comfortably seats five, has all the latest high-tech convenience features, and has road manners that make it pleasant enough to drive every day.

© FCA USDodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Unlike most family cars, the Hellcat can pass a quarter mile in 11 seconds and boasts a top speed of 204 mph. According to Chrysler, the Charger SRT Hellcat is the fastest, quickest, most powerful production sedan ever. Add the fact that it’s rated at 22 mpg on the highway and priced well below any other sedan with this kind of performance and it’s no wonder why this is one of the most talked-about models in the Dodge lineup. And for those desiring an even bolder look and more performance, Dodge recently announced that the Charger Hellcat (and Scat Pack) will be available with a Widebody package that adds a range of performance upgrades.

© Ford Motor Company2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500
Base MSRP: $70,300
Ford will debut an all-new Shelby GT 500 Mustang later this year, and it is not only the most powerful street-legal Mustang the Blue Oval has ever produced, it also boasts more power than any other Ford product — including the mighty GT supercar. With styling that sets it apart from any “normal” Mustang, this latest Shelby GT500 is designed for more than simply straight-line performance — it’s built to carve corners like a proper sports car.

© Ford Motor Company2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500
Ford recently announced the new GT 500 will sport a 5.2-liter supercharged V8 engine that produces 760 horsepower and 625 lb-ft of torque. Surprisingly, Ford will not offer the GT500 with a manual gearbox; the big V8 gets teamed with a TREMEC 7-speed dual-clutch transmission that is capable of shifting gears in less than 100 milliseconds. Final performance figures haven’t been announced, but Ford expects this ultimate Mustang will sprint to 60 mph in the 3-second range with top speed likely to approach 200 mph. To manage all that power, the Shelby GT 500 is equipped with Ford Performance-spec Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. Providing the stopping power necessary to corral this Mustang are massive 16.5-inch 2-piece rotors with Brembo 6-piston calipers.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceDodge Challenger Redeye Widebody
Base MSRP: $76,245
The Challenger Hellcat is a beast of a car, boasting 717 horsepower — more than most folks will ever need. But what if they do need (read want) more power? Dodge has introduced what can be best described as a Hellcat possessed — the all-new 2019 Hellcat Redeye. The Hellcat’s new dual-snorkel hood is fitted atop a 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V8 engine straight out of the now-discontinued Demon that generates a mind-blowing 797 horsepower and 707 lb-ft of torque. That’s enough power to move this Challenger to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds on its way to a top speed of 203 mpg. The Redeye can pass through the quarter mile in an impressive 10.8 seconds at a speed of 131 mph.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceDodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye
The Hellcat Redeye will be available in either standard width or a Widebody package. Like the outgoing Demon, the Redeye features 25 major component upgrades, including a larger supercharger, strengthened connecting rods and pistons, a high-speed valvetrain and fuel injection systems, as well as an improved lubrication system. But unlike the Demon, this won’t be a limited-edition model — gearheads who want to buy a Hellcat Redeye can get one from their local Dodge dealership.

© General MotorsCadillac CTS-V
Base MSRP: $86,995
If car shoppers are looking for a luxury sedan with outrageous performance, they are no longer limited to offerings from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and other European super sedans. Cadillac offers a superior sport sedan in the extreme CTS-V. The V-Series is Cadillac’s high-performance offering (which began with the 400-horsepower CTS-V in 2004), so it’s fitting that this latest version is the most powerful V-Series ever. At the heart of CTS-V lurks a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 engine generating 640 horsepower and 630 lb-ft of torque, teamed with a quick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission.

© General MotorsCadillac CTS-V
CTS-V drivers will enjoy race-inspired Recaro seats and a thick-rim steering wheel as they accelerate to 60 mph in a mere 3.7 seconds. Magnetic Ride Control adjusts to surface conditions at a rate of 1,000 times per second, and big Brembo brakes along with sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires help keep all that power under control — much-needed features considering the CTS-V is capable of speeds up to 200 mph.

© FCA US LLCJeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
Base MSRP: $87,150
For those consumers who need an SUV but still want a performance car, Jeep has a perfect solution. Taking a page from the Hellcat Guide to Horsepower (not a real book, but one that should be written), this extreme Jeep boasts a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine producing a massive 707 horsepower and 645 lb-ft of torque, teamed with an upgraded high-torque capacity TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission and full-time all-wheel drive.

© FCA US LLCJeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
The massive V8 engine has already proven itself in Dodge’s Charger Hellcat and Challenger Hellcat, but this is the first application in an all-wheel-drive vehicle. With power being sent to all four wheels, the Trackhawk screams to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds, topping out at 180 mph. Of course, possessing the power to go fast also means needing equal strength to stop, and Jeep provides high-performance Brembo brakes with 15.75-inch vented rotors and 6-piston calipers up front, and 13.78-inch rotors with 4-piston calipers in the rear. The Trackhawk still has SUV capabilities to accompany its outrageous performance, featuring 8 inches of ground clearance and a tow rating of more than 7,000 pounds.

© Hennessey Performance EngineeringHennessey Exorcist
Base MSRP: $113,695
As we mentioned earlier, the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is an amazingly powerful vehicle, but there also is a way to obtain something slightly meaner. Texas-based Hennessey Performance Engineering can customize that Camaro ZL1 and turn it into what the company calls the Exorcist. Available as a coupe or convertible, the Exorcist takes the already extreme Camaro ZL1 and adds performance upgrades that include a high-flow supercharger, a custom camshaft, a high-flow intercooling system and a range of other improvements.

© Hennessey PerformanceHennessey Exorcist
The upgrade from the ZL1 to the Hennessey Exorcist results in a Camaro that boasts 1000 horsepower and a mind-bending 883 lb-ft of torque available at 4500 rpm. According to HPE, the Exorcist can sprint to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds, complete the quarter mile under 10 seconds and — with enough room — can reach a top speed of 217 mph. A limited number of Exorcists will be built, so not only is this a supercar Camaro, it is also rare. Since we’re talking muscle cars, there aren’t many that offer more muscle than that.

© Tesla MotorsTesla Model S Performance w/Ludicrous Mode
Base MSRP: $116,000 (before tax credits and incentives)
Electric cars are improving every year, with better performance and longer ranges between charges, but no other vehicle has been able to match the Tesla Model S. Although there are new EV offerings coming soon from Jaguar, Audi and other European car companies, for now the Model S remains the only mainstream luxury performance sedan powered solely by electricity. The top-of-the-line Performance costs about four times the price of a Nissan LEAF, but buyers get a lot for their money.

© Tesla MotorsTesla Model S Performance w/Ludicrous Mode
The top-level Model S offers performance that easily matches or bests some of the most powerful gasoline-fueled sport sedans on the market. With two electric motors — one in front and one at the rear — this AWD luxury sedan will hit 60 mph in a mere 2.4 seconds and has a top speed of 163 mph. And unlike most current electric cars, the Model S can travel up to 345 miles between charges, making it much more useful for everyday driving.

© General MotorsChevrolet Corvette ZR1
Base MSRP: $120,900
The Corvette is the quintessential American sports car, residing at the top of the Chevrolet lineup as the brand’s highest performance offering. Now Chevy’s halo car has risen to new heights with the 2019 Corvette ZR1. Although Chevrolet has already announced that the next-generation ‘Vette will be mid-engine, the ZR1 remains a traditional front-engine, rear-drive powerhouse — as many think it should be. Production of the previous ZR1 ended in 2013, coinciding with the rollout of the current-generation Corvette. At the time, the ZR1 was the most powerful and highest-performing Corvette in the company’s history. Not anymore.

© General Motors2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
The new Corvette ZR1’s LT5 6.2-liter supercharged V8 engine rates a stunning 755 horsepower and 715 lb-ft of torque. The increased performance is largely due to a more efficient supercharger that offers 52 percent more displacement that the Z06’s LT4 supercharger. With that much volume, the ZR1 boasts the highest output ever for a Chevrolet production vehicle. Top speed is rated at 212 mph. Of course, stopping power is just as vital as horsepower, and the ZR1 delivers. Massive 15-inch carbon-ceramic brake rotors occupy all four corners. Up front are 6-piston aluminum calipers, with 4-piston calipers in the rear. Available as a coupe or convertible, the ZR1 stands out from the typical Corvette with a unique rear spoiler and an all-new front fascia designed to channel more air for better engine and drivetrain cooling.

© TeslaTesla Model X Performance w/Ludicrous Mode
Base MSRP: $122,000 (before tax credits and incentives)
The Model X was the first production electric SUV on the market, and this sleek vehicle offers more than simply impressive fuel economy. According to Tesla, the Model X Performance has a range of around 305 miles on a full charge while still offering seating for up to seven occupants. The Model X really stands out when the rear Falcon Wing doors swing open, offering easy access to rear seats even in tight parking spaces. Thanks to its lack of an internal combustion engine, the Model X also offers a large front trunk (sometimes called a frunk) in addition to the rear cargo area.

© TeslaTesla Model X Performance W/ Ludicrous Mode
Like its sedan sibling, the Model X features full-time all-wheel drive with a motor powering each axle. Acceleration is extreme — the Model X can sprint to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds when using “Ludicrous” mode. (Yes, we said Ludicrous.) The Model X also tows up to 5,000 pounds and can be equipped with many high-tech features including a HEPA air filtration system and an enhanced autopilot system.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHennessey Velociraptor 6X6
Base MSRP: $349.000
Hennessey Performance Engineering offers numerous enhancements for Ford’s F-150 Raptor, but making it a 6-wheel-drive truck is the ultimate upgrade. Based on the 2019 Raptor, this extreme truck features 6X6 locking rear axles, upgraded Fox suspension, custom 20-inch wheels with larger off-road tires, special front and rear bumpers and an array of LED lights. Should we mention it again? The VelociRaptor is a 6X6 — meaning not only does it have six wheels; it also boasts 6-wheel drive.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceHennessey Velociraptor 6X6
While this VelociRaptor’s upgrades will certainly capture the attention of onlookers, HPE is best known for its work under the hood. With upgraded twin turbochargers, a stainless-steel exhaust, an upgraded air-to-air intercooler and a retuned factory computer, the VelociRaptor boasts 600-plus horsepower under the hood. Aside from being one of the largest pickup trucks on the road, the VelociRaptor handles well. The ride is comfortable with a stylish interior that carries over from the stock Raptor. Ultimately it drives like a regular pickup truck — which is meant as the sincerest of compliments.

© Ford Motor CompanyFord GT
Base MSRP: $450,000
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ford’s 1966 victory at Le Mans, Ford introduced the extreme GT ultra-high-performance supercar as a showcase for the company’s application of race technology, use of lightweight materials, aerodynamics and EcoBoost power. The mid-engine 2-seat coupe has the most powerful production EcoBoost engine ever: a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 producing 647 horsepower and 550 lb-ft of torque, teamed with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.

© Ford Motor CompanyFord GT
The sleek body incorporates active aerodynamics such as a deployable rear spoiler, and the GT uses lightweight materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum. Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes provide appropriate stopping power. Even before the Ford GT went into production late in 2016, Ford returned to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a GT race car based on the new Ford GT, winning the LMGTE Pro class 50 years after that first Ford GT win. Due to high demand for this American supercar, Ford accepted applications from interested buyers to determine who would be permitted to purchase this exquisite specimen of American muscle.

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Published on: July 1, 2019

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