10 Modern Muscle Cars That You Shouldn’t Overlook
The pony power revolution is still alive and well!by Kirby Garlitos, on
Muscle cars first gained popularity in the 1960s, and the ensuing years ushered a golden era of sorts for the car segment. Just about every automaker in the U.S. produced muscle cars, and while some have stood the test of time, others have gone by the wayside. Those who have survived have continued to thrive, particularly in recent years when the muscle car segment experienced a renaissance of sorts. Today, the pony car business is as alive as it’s ever been. We’re seeing automakers break new ground on some of the most powerful cars in the industry and, while the rest of the auto world has gravitated towards SUVs, hybrid cars, and electric cars, there’s still plenty of space for muscle cars to roam free and remind us that these high-powered machines are more than just chips off the old block. Take a look at these ten modern muscle cars that you shouldn’t overlook at a time when electrification is what’s on everyone’s mind.
The Ford Mustang is synonymous with muscle cars, and when you add the name “Shelby” into the mix, then you get one of the most desirable, high-revving machines in the industry.
Shelby Mustangs have been around since the birth of the Mustang nameplate so it’s no surprise that the legacy of this muscle car is tied to the history of the iconic nameplate. You can have a pick of the pack on which Shelby Mustang you want to include here, but I’m shining the spotlight squarely on one of the gnarliest Mustangs to ever wear the Shelby moniker: the GT350R. Mind you, the GT350R is the more hardcore version of the Shelby GT350. It’s powered by the same 5.2-liter V-8 engine as the GT350 with similar output levels at 526 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque. The “R” stands out in the realm of aerodynamics where the GT350R comes with a carbon fiber rear wing and a larger splitter, creating significantly more downforce than the GT350. This allows the GT350R to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds on its way to a quarter-mile time of 12.5 seconds.
|Engine:||5.2-liter V-8 engine|
|0 to 60 mph:||3.8 seconds|
|Quarter-mile time:||12.5 seconds at 119 mph|
|Top speed:||180 mph|
Read our full review on the Ford Shelby Mustang GT350R
Is the Dodge Charger a muscle car? That’s a question a lot of people have asked, in part because the Challenger, by virtue of name and heritage, sits as the true Dodge pony car. But I’m calling an audible here and I’m proclaiming the Dodge Charger as a muscle car! Yes, it is!
The Charger’s muscle car evolution hit its apex when Dodge presented the outrageously powerful Charger SRT Hellcat.
If it wasn’t enough that the current-generation Charger comes in so many versions, Dodge decided to enlist the help of SRT to turn the Charger into a full-blown Frankenstein monster. With a mammoth 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V-8 engine sitting under that hood and delivering a whopping 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque, the Charger SRT Hellcat is capable of destroying just about every muscle car on this list. You won’t feel its full fury unless you hit the gas pedal, but when you do, prepare to hold on for dear life.
|Engine:||6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V-8 engine|
|0 to 60 mph:||3.6 seconds|
|Quarter-mile time:||10.96 seconds|
|Top speed:||196 mph|
Read our full review on the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Of the many — and there are many — versions of the Ford Mustang, the Mustang GT Performance Pack 2 doesn’t get the love that it deserves. Granted, the things that make it special don’t make the headlines, but if you know your ‘Stangs, you know that the Performance Pack 2 is arguably one of the most rounded versions of the Mustang that Ford has released in recent years. The headline bits read as you’d expect. The Performance Pack 2 is powered by the same 5.0-liter Coyote V-8 engine as most versions of the Mustang GT. Even the output — 460 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque — is straight out of the Ford Mustang catalog. The Mustang GT Performance Pack 2 stands out in areas that you don’t see in fancy brochures. From the low weight, stout brakes, incredibly handling, and all-around driving dynamics, the Mustang GT Performance Pack 2 is a sleeper Mustang that people shouldn’t be sleeping on in the first place.
|Engine:||5.0-liter Coyote V-8 engine|
|0 to 60 mph:||4.5 seconds|
|Quarter-mile time:||12.6 seconds at 113.5 mph|
|Top speed:||155 mph|
Read our full review on the Ford Mustang GT Performance Pack 2
The Chrysler 300 is an out-of-place model on this list since it’s known more as a full-sized luxury sedan. But there once was a time when Chrysler decided to add some muscle to the 300. That model, called the 300 SRT8, gave the nameplate some serious performance credibility. For a model that’s typically powered by a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine, the sight of a 6.4-liter 392 HEMI V-8-powered Chrysler 300 was jarring to say the least. The massive powertrain produced 470 horsepower and 470-pound-feet of torque, allowing the 4,328-pound sedan to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds. Consider this: the standard 300 with the 292-horsepower, 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine can cover that same ground in 6.3 seconds, a full two seconds slower than the 300 SRT8. The 300 C does not belong on this list, that’s for sure. But the 300 SRT8? Might as well make room for it here.
|Engine:||6.4-liter HEMI V-8 engine|
|0 to 60 mph:||4.3 seconds|
|Quarter-mile time:||13.2 seconds at 109.4 mph|
|Top speed:||165 mph|
Read our full review on the Chrysler 300 SRT8
This list is littered with Fords, Chevys, and Dodges, but we’re not limiting it to just the mainstream muscle car models. If there’s a niche muscle car that deserves our attention, we’ll give that car its proper due. The Equus Bass 770 is one of those cars.
Introduced in 2014, the Bass - it’s pronounced like the “bass” in “bass guitar” — looks like an amalgam of muscle cars from yesteryear.
There are design elements from the Mustang, the Camaro, and the Charger, mish-mashed to create a saucy looking American muscle car. Of course, it helps the Bass 770’s cause that it’s powered by a 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 engine that Equus’ sourced from the Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1. The unit produces a mouth-watering 640 horsepower and 605 pound-feet of torque, enough to propel the Bass 770 from 0 to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds. The Bass 770 may not make it on other people’s list of modern muscle cars that you shouldn’t overlook, but it rightfully deserves a spot on our list.
|Engine:||6.2-liter supercharged V-8 engine|
|0 to 60 mph:||3.4 seconds|
|Top speed:||Over 200 mph|
Read our full review on the Equus Bass 770
Not all muscle cars are built the same way. Case in point: the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. It’s the only SUV on this list, and, yes, it counts as a muscle car because of the massive powertrain sitting underneath its hood. That engine — a 6.2-liter supercharged HEMIG V-8 unit — is the same engine that powers two other cars on this list: the Charger SRT Hellcat and the Challenger SRT Hellcat. Imagine an SUV that produces 707 horsepower and 645 pound-feet of torque and features all-wheel-drive capability. The possibility of having fun while driving this rocket of a mountain is beyond any form of rational description.
The Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is the most powerful factory SUV in the world, and with that HEMI providing all that power, you’d be hard-pressed to find a factory SUV that can beat the Trackhawk in any competitive racing environment.
|Engine:||6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V-8 engine|
|0 to 60 mph:||3.5 seconds|
|Quarter-mile time:||11.7 seconds at 116.2 mph|
|Top speed:||180 mph|
Read our full review on the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
You can’t have a list of muscle cars without mentioning the Chevrolet Camaro. Just like the Ford Mustang and the Dodge Challenger, the Camaro pretty much defines the muscle car segment. It’s been there from the very beginning, growing to become one of the most established models of all-time. In its current form, the Camaro ZL1 stands as the pinnacle of Camaro awesomeness. A 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 engine brings 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque to the table. It’s like a juiced-up version of an already meat-loaded model, one that’s capable of incredible performance figures. It only takes 3.5 seconds for the ZL1 to go from 0 to 60 mph and just 11.4 seconds to hit the quarter-mile. It may not be as deranged as, say, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, but rest assured, the Camaro ZL1 is a worthy model to sit atop the model’s hierarchy. Step inside one and you’re not going to want to get out after taking it for a spin, or in some cases, a race or two.
|Engine:||6.2-liter turbocharged V-8 engine|
|0 to 60 mph:||3.5 seconds|
|Quarter-mile time:||11.4 seconds at 127 mph|
|Top speed:||198 mph|
Read our full review on the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
When you think of Cadillac, you normally think luxury cars, right? That sentiment still holds true, but Caddy has also dabbled into the world of muscle cars in the past, most recently with the small but super powerful ATS-V. Before Cadillac reverted to form and replaced the ATS lineup with the luxurious CT4, the high-powered ATS-V stood tall as a muscle car with serious performance chops. Power came from a 3.6-liter turbocharged V-6 engine that produced 464 horsepower and 445 pound-feet of torque, making it one of the most powerful Caddys of its time.
The ATS-V was propped up against models like the BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C 63 S because of its heritage and name, but if you think about, the ATS-V was more of a rival to the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang.
Lined up against these two established icons, the ATS-V proved that it could more than hold its own.
|Engine:||3.6-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engine|
|0 to 60 mph:||4.2 seconds|
|Quarter-mile time:||12.6 seconds at 114.2 mph|
|Top speed:||189 mph|
Read our full review on the Cadillac ATS-V
Not a lot of people remember, but Pontiac was once a prominent player in the muscle car scene.
Some even acknowledge Pontiac as the first automaker to roll out a muscle car when it introduced the GTO back in the early 1960s.
That nameplate stool tall and proud until 2006 when the last GTO was retired. Sure, it’s not a “modern” muscle car compared to other models on this list, but we have to pay some measure of respect to the GTO name. The last model to carry the nameplate was the 2006 Pontiac GTO. It was powered by a 6.0-liter V-8 engine that produced 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. Back when the Mustang was struggling and the Camaro was in its almost decade-long sabbatical, the GTO was around to entertain the muscle car-loving masses. It only needs 4.7 seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph and 13.3 seconds to break the quarter-mile. The GTO was more than just a capable muscle car; it was lethal on any drag strip. Of course, part of its appeal is the “GTO” name, which is about as iconic a name as there is in the muscle car world. No automaker other than Ferrari uses — or used — the GTO nameplate to success other than Pontiac. It deserves a spot on this list.
|Engine:||6.2-liter V-8 engine|
|0 to 60 mph:||4.8 seconds|
|Quarter-mile time:||13.3 seconds at 105.9 mph|
|Top speed:||170 mph|
Read our full review on the Pontiac GTO
The last car on this list is a no-brainer, though there were some discussions on which version of this model to put here. In the end, we opted for the most mental, most maniacal, and most extreme factory muscle car in history: the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. What’s there to say about the Challenger SRT Demon that hasn’t been said already. If it’s not enough that the SRT Demon carries a 6.2-liter turbocharged engine that’s equipped with a 2.7-liter supercharger that helps produce as much as 840 horsepower with 100 octane fuel or higher, the Challenger SRT Demon is capable of the kind of performance that requires a specific set of drag radial road tires. You know you’re special when tire makers build tires specifically for you.
All told, the Challenger SRT Demon can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.3 seconds and hit a quarter-mile in just 9.65 seconds at speeds in excess of 140 mph.
The Challenger SRT Demon is the crown jewel of muscle cars. It’s not the kind of car you traditionally overlook, but considering what it’s capable of, sometimes we all need to be reminded just how special this model is.
|Engine:||6.2-liter turbocharged V-8|
|Horsepower:||808 horsepower (with 91 octane fuel) / 840 horsepower (with 100 octane fuel or higher)|
|0 to 60 mph:||2.3 seconds|
|Quarter-mile time:||9.65 seconds at 140.09 mph|
|Top speed:||Over 200 mph|
Read our full review on the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon
What are some modern muscle cars?
There are a lot of modern muscle cars that are in the market these days. The sixth- and current-generation Chevrolet Camaro has been around since 2016. The same holds true for the fifth-generation Ford Mustang. It’s been around since 2015 and is still going strong in the market. The third-generation Dodge Challenger has been in the market since 2008, and while that is a bit problematic for some, recent releases like the Challenger SRT Hellcat and the Challenger SRT Demon have injected new life to the Challenger nameplate.
Are there any New Muscle Cars?
In addition to all the recent Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger releases, some new muscle cars to hit the market include the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat and, yes, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.
Is the New Dodge Challenger considered a muscle car?
Yes, the 2020 Dodge Challenger is considered a muscle car. It has always been a muscle car from the day the first-generation Challenger hit the market in 1969.
Is the New Ford Mustang considered a muscle car?
Yes, the 2020 Ford Mustang and all of its trims and versions are considered muscle cars. The Mustang is one of the pioneers of the muscle car segment. You don’t mention muscle cars without mentioning the Ford Mustang.
Why are modern muscle cars larger than the originals
Modern muscle cars are larger than classic muscle cars because of prevailing technical and mechanical specifications that are used in the development of these models.
What’s the best modern muscle car?
Picking the best modern muscle car is a subjective undertaking, but the most powerful modern muscle is, without question, the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. It’s powered by a 6.2-liter turbocharged V-8 engine that produces 808 horsepower (with 91 octane fuel) or 840 horsepower (with 100 octane fuel or higher) and 770 pound-feet of torque. The Challenger SRT Demon can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 2.3 seconds and hit a quarter-mile in just 9.65 seconds at 140.09 mph.