American Power Brokers

© General MotorsBorn in the USA
Power and speed — two glorious aspects of the automobile that many Americans obsess over. Yes, getting better fuel economy and driving more efficient cars are certainly more politically-correct ambitions, but if you count yourself among true car enthusiasts, it’s the enticing roar of a big V8 that will put a stomp in your right foot and a smile on your face. The choices for American power are better than ever, with a number of high-performance rides available from U.S. companies and brands. Take a look at some of the most powerful American cars (and trucks) on the market today, listed in order by price — and please try to keep the drooling to a minimum.

© Ford Motor CompanyFord Focus RS
Estimated Price: $35,000
Not every American performance car requires a big engine — case in point: the new Ford Focus RS. It may not be arriving until next spring, but this little pocket rocket will offer up plenty of fun powered by a small 4-cylinder engine. The 2.3-liter EcoBoost powerplant will make at least 320 horsepower, and those ponies will get to the road via all four wheels. Ford developed a new all-wheel drive system for the Focus RS, designed to provide excellent traction and grip for smile-inducing performance. A maximum of 70 percent of the torque can be diverted to the rear axle, and up to 100 percent of that torque can be sent to each rear wheel.

© Ford Motor CompanyFord Focus RS
Sometimes you can have more fun when there isn’t as much grip. That’s why Ford gave the RS “drift mode” for those who like to drive sideways — on the track, of course. The RS also looks like a performance car, differentiated from the standard Focus with a powerful front end that features a bold grille above a deep splitter incorporating a large opening for engine cooling. The large openings on either side of the grille house fog lights as well as additional air intakes to cool the brakes — these also give the RS a wider stance than the typical Focus. With its big power in a small package, the Focus RS may be the most anticipated car of the 2016 model year.

© FCA US2015 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack
Price: $37,995
Yes, there is a 707-horsepower Hellcat version of the Challenger, but the R/T Scat Pack is certainly no slouch. For about $25,000 less than the vaunted Hellcat you can still have great fun in this ‘70s-inspired muscle car. The Scat Pack upgrades the engine to the 6.4-liter HEMI V8 that puts out 485 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque, teamed with a 6-speed manual transmission – certainly enough to burn some rubber, if you’re so inclined.

© FCA US2015 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack
An electronically-controlled exhaust system provides the deep, throaty burble emanating from the dual exhaust pipes. In addition to the engine upgrade, Dodge decks out the Scat Pack with Brembo 4-piston brakes, performance suspension, high-performance tires and 20-inch polished aluminum wheels. Able to reach 60 mph in about 4.5 seconds, the Challenger R/T Scat Pack will certainly fill that need in your life for some good old American muscle.

© Ford Motor CompanyFord F-150 SVT Raptor
Price: $44,995
Although Ford debuted the second-gen 2017 SVT Raptor at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, the new truck hasn’t hit the streets yet and there’s certainly nothing wrong with the outgoing 2014 model, which still sells thousands above its original sticker price. The Raptor looks mean and sounds evil – even the name evokes a bit of well-placed fear from above. Unlike the high-performance F-150 Lightning from 15 years ago, this truck can put its power down no matter what the terrain.

© Ford Motor CompanyFord F-150 SVT Raptor
Raptor is powered by a 6.2-liter V8 engine putting out 411 horsepower. Full throttle not only pushes you back into the seat, full stomp releases a fantastic roar from the big rear pipes. With extra-long suspension travel, aggressive off-road tires, skidplates, a Torsen limited-slip differential and shift-on-the-fly 4WD, the Raptor is designed for ultimate off-road performance. Stay tuned for more details about the 2017 Raptor —based on the all-new F-150 — to be announced soon.

© Ford Motor Company2016 Shelby GT350 Mustang
Price: $49,995
Whenever the Shelby name gets put on a Mustang, you can be certain that performance will be over the top. Similar to the original GT350 introduced in 1965, Ford has taken the everyday Mustang (which is an awesome car on its own) and turned it into a high-performance street-legal race car. At the heart of this transformation is the most powerful naturally-aspirated engine Ford has ever produced. The all-new 5.2-liter flat-plane crankshaft V8 is unique to the GT350, and puts out an impressive 526 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque. With a redline of 8250 rpm, the new engine is also the highest-revving production V8 in Ford’s history.

© Ford Motor Company2016 Shelby GT350 Mustang
It’s not enough to simply have gobs of power — it has to be controllable, so the GT350 features advanced suspension tuning as well as MagneRide dampers. The chassis has also been stiffened, and the GT350 wears the most powerful brakes ever installed on a production Mustang. The 19-inch extra-stiff cast aluminum-alloy wheels fitted with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires add to the overall handling. “When we started working on this car, we wanted to build the best possible Mustang for the places we most love to drive — challenging back roads with a variety of corners and elevation changes — and the track on weekends,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president of global product development. At a price around $50,000, the Shelby GT350 seems like a good value.

© FCA USRam 3500 Diesel Mega Cab SLT 4X4
Price: $54,740
As any truck owner will tell you, power is not only about going fast. The Ram 3500 has a number of power options; choose the diesel and you’ll be harnessing more torque than most of the sports cars on this list. The Ram’s 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel puts out 385 horsepower, but— more importantly — it has 865 lb-ft of torque. That’s not going to churn out any quick sprints to 60 mph, but it will carry more than three tons, or, tow up to 30,000 pounds.

© FCA USRam 3500 Diesel Mega Cab SLT 4X4
The Ram Mega Cab is a powerful presence as well. More than 20 feet long, this big rig has plenty of room for the family or work crew to ride in comfort. It can even be equipped with a high-end audio system, a rearview camera (highly recommended when you’re trying to parallel park a 20-foot-long pickup), a power sunroof and the very convenient RamBox cargo system, which provides lockable storage bins in the bed of the truck.

© General Motors2015 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Price: $55,505
Aside from a short 8-year gap in production, Camaro has been part of American lexicon since 1967 when the pony car segment was born. To say that the ZL1 is the most powerful Camaro ever is certainly saying something. This fire-breathing menace is powered by a 6.2-liter supercharged small-block V8 engine producing 580 horsepower. Sixty mph comes up in just 4 seconds and top speed is 184 mph, but the ZL1 can do more than just go fast in a straight line.

© General Motors2015 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
With an advanced chassis and suspension system as well as GM’s Magnetic Ride Control, the ZL1 can handle itself on the track. A number of unique aero features including a front splitter, rocker panels, belly pans and a rear spoiler create 65 pounds of downforce at 150 mph. Clearly these improvements have been effective — the Camaro ZL1 lapped the famed Nurburgring in just 7:41.27 — faster than the Audi R8 V10.

© General MotorsCadillac ATS-V
Price: $60,465
Cadillac’s entry-level model is the latest car from GM’s premium brand to get the V-Series treatment. The ATS-V is available as a coupe or sedan and features the first use of a twin-turbo engine in a V-Series Cadillac. The 3.6-liter V6 produces 464 horsepower and 444 lb-ft of torque, and is teamed with either a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. “As the smallest and lightest V-Series ever, the ATS-V forges a great connection with the driver, with exceptional nimbleness and responsiveness,” said David Leone, Cadillac executive chief engineer.

© General MotorsCadillac ATS-V
This small Cadillac offers up impressive performance — 60 mph arrives in just 3.8 seconds and top speed approaches 190 mph. Brembo high-performance brakes provide the necessary stopping power, and GM’s Magnetic Ride Control keeps the ATS-V connected with the road. The ATS-V is also 25 percent stiffer than the standard ATS. The ATS-V will easily stand out from non-V models with a vented carbon-fiber hood, unique front and rear fascias, the signature mesh-pattern grille and the wide fender flares that house 18-inch lightweight aluminum wheels.

© FCA US2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Price: $63,995
Not long ago the elite sports cars on the market were boasting 500-plus horsepower, and only ultra-exotics from small factories had more than 700 horsepower — and certainly nothing with four doors had that much power. That is until Dodge unleashed the Charger SRT Hellcat. This aptly-named sedan sports a supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8 engine that puts out a crazy 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque.

© FCA US2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
The stats of the Charger SRT Hellcat are extremely impressive. The Hellcat can pass a quarter mile in just 11 seconds and with a top speed of 204 mph. It is — according to Chrysler — the fastest, quickest, most powerful production sedan ever. Add the fact that its 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 Chrysler is having difficulty keeping up with demand. Now if only they’d build a wagon version . . .

© General Motors2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Price: $78,000
In production since 1953, the Corvette is often referred to as America’s sports car. Just one year after taking the wraps the all-new seventh-generation Corvette, Chevrolet debuted the most powerful production Vette ever, the Z06. The supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine puts out 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque, making the Z06 the more powerful than any General Motors production vehicle ever made.

© General Motors2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
The capability of the Z06 is incredibly impressive. As expected, this special Corvette is very fast — 60 mph comes up in about 3 seconds, a quarter mile gets easily eclipsed in 10.95 at 127 mph, and top speed is in excess of 200 mph. For 2016 a limited run of Z06 C7.R editions will be available, painted to match the C7-R race car and featuring a number of high-performance add-ons.

© General Motors2016 Cadillac CTS-V
Price: $84,990
If you’re looking for a luxury sedan with outrageous performance, the new Cadillac CTS-V might be the car for you. The V-Series is Cadillac’s high-performance offering (which began with the 400-horsepower CTS-V in 2004), so it‘s the fitting that the latest version of this sport sedan is the most powerful V-Series ever. Cadillac wants to challenge the leading performance sedans from Mercedes and BMW, and the CTS-V is certainly up to the job. The heart of CTS-V is a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 engine putting out 640 horsepower and 630 lb-ft of torque, teamed with a quick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission.

© General Motors2016 Cadillac CTS-V
CTS-V drivers will enjoy the race-inspired Recaro seats and thick-rim steering wheel as they’re accelerating to 60 mph in a mere 3.7 seconds. The Magnetic Ride Control adjusts to surface conditions at a rate of 1,000 times per second, and big Brembo brakes along with the grippy Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires help keep all that power under control —much-needed features considering the CTS-V is capable speeds up to 200 mph.

© FCA US2015 SRT Viper
Price: $84,995
A true American supercar, the Viper has always been for the pure enthusiast willing to sacrifice some utility and comfort for superior performance. Although early Viper adopters had to give up more than those buying the 2015 version — the current model has comfortable leather-trimmed racing seats, premium materials throughout and (for those who are not professional race drivers) stability and traction control. A customizable instrument cluster displays statistics including zero to 60 mph time, zero to 100 mph time, braking distance and top-speed performance. In no way are we implying that the Viper has gone soft — far from it, dude.

© FCA US2015 SRT Viper
The Viper has been powered by a V10 engine since it was introduced for the 1992 model year, and the current 10-cylinder powerplant puts out more venom than ever before. The handcrafted, all-aluminum 8.4-liter V10 creates 645 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque — the most from any naturally-aspirated sports car engine in the world. Sixty mph comes up from a standstill in just over 3 seconds, and top speed is in excess of 200 mph. With this kind of performance and the head-turning looks, the $85,000 price tag starts to look like a bargain.

© Tesla MotorsTesla Model S P85D
Price: $105,000 (before tax credits and incentives)
Most production electric cars are small, not terribly powerful and have a typical range around 100 miles. And then there’s Tesla. The Model S remains the only mainstream luxury performance sedan powered solely by electricity, and it puts all other electric offerings to shame. Of course the top-of-the-line P85D costs about three times the price of a Nissan LEAF, but you do get a lot for your money.

© Tesla MotorsTesla Model S P85D
The P85D offers performance that easily matches or bests similar gasoline-powered options. With two electric motors — one in front delivering 221 horsepower and one in the rear adding 470 (yes, 470) more horses — the AWD luxury sedan will hit 60 mph in just 3.1 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph. And unlike most other electric cars, the Model S can travel more than 250 miles between charges, making it much more useful for everyday driving.

© Falcon MotorsportsFalcon F7
Price: $295,000
Most of the cars coming out of Detroit, even those on this list, are relatively common — at least when compared to the Falcon F7. The small, specialized car company based in the Motor City hand builds about 12 cars per year, and most are sold to Michigan residents. An F7 is the ultimate exotic for those who don’t want a Ferrari or Lamborghini, and it certainly doesn’t sacrifice any performance.

© Falcon MotorsportsFalcon F7
All body panels on the F7 are made from carbon fiber and Kevlar, while the chassis features lightweight aluminum. The entire car weighs only 2,785 pounds — about 500 less than a Chevrolet Corvette. Two engine options are available. The standard powerplant is a 620-horsepower V8 based on the GM LS7 motor, but for $100,000 more you can upgrade to a twin-turbo Lingenfelter V8 that puts out 1100 horsepower. With the engine upgrade, the F7 can hit 60 mph in just 3.3 seconds on its way to a top speed around 200 mph.

© SSC North AmericaSSC Ultimate Aero XT
Price: $850,000
Even though the Ultimate Aero is no longer in production, you can’t talk about American performance cars without giving this one a mention. Built in very small number by Shelby Super Cars (SSC), the Ultimate Aero XT is the final edition of this incredible supercar built in eastern Washington state. Founded by Jerod Shelby (no known relation to Carroll Shelby), SSC started building the Ultimate Aero in 2007. Within a few months, the car earned the title as the world’s fastest production car, hitting 256.14 mph as confirmed by the folks at Guinness World Records. It held onto the title until 2010 when the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport reached 267.8 mph.

© SSC North AmericaSSC Ultimate Aero XT
The XT is the final edition of the Ultimate Aero, and only five were built. The specs are quite incredible: the twin-turbo V8 engine produces 1300 horsepower and 1004 lb-ft of torque. Weighing just 2,800 pounds, the XT can reach 62 mph in 2.65 seconds and boasts a top speed of 273 mph. Even more impressive: it can move from a standstill to 100 mph and then back to a standstill in just 11.2 seconds. With no electronic driving aids such as traction control or stability control, this car is not for the timid. SSC has announced a follow-up car — the Tuatara — but there hasn’t been any additional news on this car for a few years, so we’ll have to wait and see what comes next from SSC. Whatever it is, it will be exciting.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2015 Hennessey Venom GT
Price: $1.4 Million
If you’re looking for the ultimate in American horsepower, this is where you stop looking. Hennessey Performance has been modifying production cars since the early 1990s, turning them into ultra-performance vehicles. A few years ago Hennessey decided to build a new vehicle from the ground up — the result was the Venom GT. A headline on the Venom GT website reads, “When a Bugatti Veyron seems a little too tame . . ..” Not many carmakers can make a statement that bold, but Hennessey can.

© Hennessey Performance Engineering 2015 Hennessey Venom GT
The Venom GT is powered by a 7.0-liter V8 engine putting out a mind-boggling 1244 horsepower and 1155 lb-ft of torque at just 4400 rpm. Even more insane are the performance numbers: zero to 60 mph in 2.7 seconds; zero to 100 mph in 5.6 seconds; zero to 200 mph in 14.5 seconds; a quarter-mile in less than 10 seconds. After one mile the Venom will be travelling at 253 mph. And that’s not even the top speed — in February 2014, the Venom GT set a new world record for 2-seat sports cars by reaching a top speed of 270.49 mph.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFord GT
Price: TBA
In 1966 three Ford GT race cars swept the podium at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, and 50 years later Ford will commemorate that feat with the introduction of an all-new Ford GT. This sexy-looking supercar made its debut earlier this year at the Detroit Auto Show, and we anticipate it will live up to the hype. Ford expects the mid-engine 2016 GT to be a showcase for extreme EcoBoost performance, aerodynamics and lightweight carbon fiber construction.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceFord GT
Complete details about the new car have not been released, but we hear the GT will sport the most powerful EcoBoost production engine ever. The twin-turbo V6 is expected to generate more than 600 horsepower. “The GT is the ultimate execution of an enthusiast supercar,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president of global product development. “GT includes innovations and technologies that can be applied broadly across Ford’s future product portfolio,” Nair added. Ford has also announced that it will take the new GT racing, with plans to return to Le Mans next year.

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1 Comment

  1. Baba M

    I think names like “Venom”and “Raptor”, “Falcon” and “Viper”are labels that appeal to men. How about an article about some safe and roomy cars appealing to women?? Baba M

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