Celebrating American Muscle

© Ford Motor CompanyBorn 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 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 plethora of high-performance rides available from U.S. companies and brands. 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 try to keep the drooling to a minimum.

© Ford Motor Company2017 Ford Focus RS
Price: Starting at $36,120
Not every American performance car requires a big engine — case in point: the exciting Ford Focus RS. This little pocket rocket offers spirited fun, motivated by a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine producing an impressive 350 horsepower. Drivers can make proper use of all those ponies via Ford’s newly developed all-wheel-drive system designed to provide excellent traction and grip for grin-inducing performance. Up to 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 Company2017 Ford Focus RS
Sometimes more fun can be had when there isn’t much grip, so Ford bestowed the RS with “drift mode,” specifically for those who like to drive sideways — on racetracks, of course. The RS doesn’t look like the standard-issue Focus — the powerful front end features a bold grille above a deep splitter incorporating a large opening for engine cooling. The other big openings on either side of the grille house fog lights as well as additional air intakes to cool the brakes — these apertures also give the RS a wider stance than the typical Focus. With its big power in a small package, the Focus RS is a great way to get some American muscle in your garage.

© General Motors2017 Chevrolet SS
Price: Starting at $46,625
The SS is a bit of an anomaly in the Chevrolet sedan lineup. Built on a unique chassis shared with the Australian-built Holden Commodore, the SS is the only rear-wheel-drive sedan currently adorned with the bowtie. The SS doesn’t really stand out from the crowd, but enthusiasts will recognize it as something special with its 19-inch alloy wheels, high-performance tires, Brembo brakes and quad exhaust outlets.

© General Motors2017 Chevrolet SS
Under the hood of the SS lurks a 6.2-liter LS3 small-block V8 engine that produces 415 horsepower and 415 lb-ft of torque. The SS comes standard with a paddle-shifted 6-speed automatic transmission, but it’s also available with a 6-speed manual. Magnetic Ride Control is standard with driver-selectable Touring, Sport and Performance modes. Unfortunately the SS never caught on with American car buyers, so 2017 will be the last year of production for this American sport sedan.

© Ford Motor Company2017 Ford F-150 Raptor
Price: Starting at $49,265
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 has come to market, and it improves on the original in just about 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 Company2017 Ford F-150 Raptor
Powering the Raptor is a new twin-turbo 3.5-liter high-output EcoBoost engine that puts out 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 nearly all driving conditions.

© FCA US2017 Ram Power Wagon
Price: Starting at $51,695
Ram refers to the Power Wagon as the “most capable off-road truck in America,” and the big pickup gets updated styling and features for the 2017 model year. This is the latest in a line of Power Wagons that began in 1945, when the original was the first mass-produced 4WD pickup truck. “Dating back to 1945, the Ram Power Wagon’s heritage holds a distinctive position in the Ram Truck lineup as an example of engineering innovation and off-road capability,” said Rob Wichman, director of Ram Truck Engineering.

© FCA US2017 Ram Power Wagon
Among the Power Wagon’s impressive capabilities are 14.3 inches of ground clearance, 26 inches of wheel travel and the ability to drive through up to 30 inches of water. Front and rear electronic locking differentials are standard, as is a Warn winch with a 12,000-pound rating mounted to the front bumper. The Power Wagon’s 6.4-liter HEMI V8 engine puts out 410 horsepower — good enough to tow more than 10,000 pounds. It may not be fast, but if you’re looking for American muscle, the name says it all.

© Ford Motor Company2017 Shelby GT350 Mustang
Price: Starting at $54,845
Whenever the Shelby name gets put on a Mustang, you can bet on performance being over the top. Like the original GT350 introduced in 1965, Ford takes the everyday Mustang (which is an awesome car in its own right) and turns 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 5.2-liter flat-plane crankshaft V8 is unique to the GT350, and generates 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 Company2017 Shelby GT350 Mustang
Having plenty of power is important in a muscle car, as well as the ability to take advantage of it. To properly put the power to the pavement, 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. Mission accomplished.

© General Motors2017 Cadillac ATS-V
Price: Starting at $60,695 sedan; $62,895 coupe
Cadillac’s entry-level model is the latest car from GM’s premium brand to get the V-Series treatment. Available as a coupe or sedan, the ATS-V features the first use of a twin-turbocharged engine in a V-Series Cadillac. The 3.6-liter V6 produces 464 horsepower and 444 lb-ft of torque, 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 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. It’s easy to spot the ATS-V with its vented carbon-fiber hood, unique front and rear fascias, signature mesh-pattern grille and the wide fender flares that house 18-inch lightweight aluminum wheels.

© General Motors2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Price: Starting at $61,140
Auto enthusiasts rejoice when carmakers try to top each other by adding more and more power to production cars. The new 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 new 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 a mere 11.4 seconds.

© General Motors2017 Chevrolet 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 — 12 seconds faster than the previous-generation ZL1.

© FCA US2017 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Price: Starting at $65,945
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 puts out 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 US LLC2017 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Unlike most family cars, the Hellcat can pass a quarter mile in just 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 Chrysler is having difficulty keeping up with demand. Now if only they’d build a wagon version . . .

© FCA US2018 Dodge Durango SRT
Price: $67,000 (est.)
Dodge has transformed many vehicles via its Street and Racing Technology program, the latest of which is Durango. The Durango receives full SRT treatment, starting with its 475-horsepower 392-cubic-inch HEMI V8 engine combined with a standard TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission and a performance-tuned all-wheel-drive system delivering power to all four wheels. Dodge touts the Durango SRT as the fastest and most-capable three-row SUV, citing a quarter-mile time of 12.9 seconds and a zero-to-60-mph time of 4.4 seconds. But the Durango still offers the utility expected of a big crossover, including a towing capacity of 8,600 pounds.

© FCA US2018 Dodge Durango SRT
The Durango SRT makes its mark with a wide-body style 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 special Durango gets a body-color lower fascia with gloss black accents and 4-inch dual round exhaust tips. A big SUV with this much power needs big binders, so the SRT has 15-inch vented front brake rotors with high-performance 6-piston Brembo calipers, and 13.8-inch rear rotors with 4-piston calipers.

© FCA US2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
Price: $70,000 (est.)
For years there have been rumors about Jeep dropping the vaunted Hellcat engine into a Grand Cherokee. Earlier this year, the rumors were put to rest at the New York Auto Show when the all-new Grand Cherokee Trackhawk made its debut. Taking a page from the Hellcat guide to horsepower, this new 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.

© FCA US2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
The massive engine has already proven itself in Dodge’s Charger Hellcat and Challenger Hellcat, but this will be the first application in an all-wheel-drive vehicle. With power being sent to all four wheels, the Trackhawk screams to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and tops out at 180 mph. Of course, if you possess the power to go fast you also need equal strength to stop, and Jeep has provided high-performance Brembo brakes with 15.75-inch vented rotors up with 6-piston calipers up front and 13.78-inch with 4-piston calipers in the rear. The new Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is expected to go on sale later this year.

© General Motors2017 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Price: Starting at $79,450
In production since 1953, the Corvette is often referred to as America’s sports car. Just one year after taking the wraps off 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 more powerful than any General Motors production vehicle ever made (except the new Camaro ZL1, which matches horsepower).

© General Motors2017 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
The capability of the Z06 is extraordinary. As expected, this special Corvette is very fast — 60 mph arrives in under 3 seconds, a quarter mile gets easily eclipsed in 10.95 at 127 mph, and top speed is in excess of 200 mph. Developed alongside the C7.R race car, the Z06 shares the same carbon-fiber roof and hood, composite floor panels, hydroformed aluminum frame and titanium intake valves with the race car. For added excitement, the Z06 is also available as a convertible which lets occupants enjoy that wonderful V8 exhaust note.

© FCA US2018 Dodge Challenger Demon
Price: Starting at $84,995
If you subscribe to the notion that more horsepower is more better, then the latest Dodge Challenger is your new car. The limited-edition Challenger SRT Demon — powered by a supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI Demon V8 engine — produces 840 horsepower and 770 lb-ft of torque. The widest Challenger ever, the SRT Demon adds factory-installed fender flares that increase the overall width by 3.5 inches, and up front sits a wide Air Grabber hood scoop — the largest functional hood scoop on a production car.

© FCA US2018 Dodge Challenger Demon
The HEMI Demon V8 is the highest horsepower V8 engine ever offered in a production car, and Dodge claims that it makes the Demon the fastest production car ever. The performance stats are nothing short of amazing: a sprint to 60 mph takes 2.3 seconds, and the Demon can eclipse a quarter mile in an insane 9.65 seconds with a trap speed of 140 miles per hour. The Challenger SRT Demon also is the first production car to lift its front wheels at launch, as certified by Guinness World Records. We should mention that the Demon is indeed street legal.

© General Motors2017 Cadillac CTS-V
Price: Starting at $85,995
If you’re looking for a luxury sedan with outrageous performance, you 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 putting out 640 horsepower and 630 lb-ft of torque, teamed with a quick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission.

© General Motors2017 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. 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.

© Tesla Motors2017 Tesla Model S P100D
Price: Starting at $140,000 (before tax credits and incentives)
Electric cars are improving every year, with better performance and longer ranges between charges, but nothing has caught up to the Tesla Model S. The Model S remains the only mainstream luxury performance sedan powered solely by electricity, and it puts all other electric offerings to shame. The top-of-the-line P100D costs about three times the price of a Nissan LEAF, but you do get a lot for your money.

© Tesla Motors2017 Tesla Model S P100D
The P100D offers performance that easily matches or bests some of the most powerful gasoline-fueled sport sedans. With two electric motors — one in front and one at the rear — this AWD luxury sedan will hit 60 mph in a mere 2.5 seconds and has a top speed limited to 155 mph. And unlike most electric cars, the Model S P100D can travel around 315 miles between charges, making it much more useful for everyday driving.

© Tesla Motors2017 Tesla Model X P100D
Price: Starting at $145,000 (before tax credits and incentives)
The Model X is currently the only production electric SUV on the market, and this sleek vehicle offers more than simply impressive fuel economy. According to Tesla, the P100D has a range of around 289 miles on a full charge while offering seating for up to seven. 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 in addition to the rear cargo area.

© Tesla Motors2017 Tesla Model X P100D
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 P100D 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.

© Ford Motor Company2017 Ford GT
Price: Starting at $450,000
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ford’s 1966 victory at Le Mans, the new Ford GT ultra-high-performance supercar is a showcase for Ford’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, combined with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.

© Ford Motor Company2017 Ford 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. A special Ford GT ’66 Heritage Edition honors the historic No. 2 race car and is limited to the 2017 model year.

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