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2014 Dodge Challenger

Thursday Throwdown: 2014 Muscle Cars

In today’s Thursday Throwdown, we’re looking at muscle cars. These are performance cars in the American tradition of focusing on muscular looks and power rather than cornering and sport. The term “muscle car” is loosely defined, so we’re narrowing it by including only models from the Detroit makes that are both muscular in performance and stylistically and/or historically tied to the popular muscle cars of the 1970s.

Our top picks are chosen for their speed, engine size, and looks. Our base prices are based on the lowest price of entry for that model, not necessarily the most powerful option in the lineup. These 2014 models are beginning to appear as used car and dealer demonstration vehicles now, so be sure to check the CARFAX report for one you might purchase used and our Used Car Listings to find one for yourself.

[Read: Best Used Car Deals for February 2015]

For performance metrics, we are combining the best 0-60 mph test times from respected automotive journals such as Edmunds, Car & Driver, and Motor Trend. These are averaged for each vehicle in its most performance-tuned packaging. Our other picks (track-readiness, daily drive, etc) are based on our own experience with the vehicle as well as published notes from the aforementioned outlets. Best-looking, of course, is very subjective and is formed by our own opinion of the cars.

Side-by-Side Comparison Chart of Top Picks

2014 Muscle Cars Base $ 0-60 Largest Engine
Chevrolet Camaro $23,555 4.4s 7.0L V8
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray $53,000 4.1s 6.2L V8
Dodge Challenger $26,495 4.5s 6.4L V8
Dodge SRT Viper $84,885 3.7s 8.4L V10
Ford Mustang $23,800 4.7s 5.0L V8

2014 Top Muscle Car Picks

Lowest Entry Price: Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro
Best 0-60 mph: Dodge SRT Viper, Corvette Stingray
Best Daily Ride: Cadillac CTS-V
Most Track-ready: Dodge SRT Viper
Biggest Engine: Dodsge SRT Viper
Best Looking: Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, Dodge Challenger

2014 Cadillac CTS-V

2014 Cadillac CTS-V
(General Motors)

The Cadillac CTS is a well-built, with a beautiful interior and luxurious appeal. The exterior is striking and refined. The CTS-V carries the appeal and adds a stiffer sport suspension, more powerful engine, and a lot of appeal.

The CTS-V is powered by a 6.2-liter V8 that produces 556 horsepower through supercharged performance. A sophisticated suspension uses magnetic dampers to provide a self-adjusting ride to soften potholes while hugging the curves. The CTS-V’s 0 to 60 mph time is more than respectable and comes in no small part due to the smart engineering underneath this Cadillac.

[Thursday Throwdown: 2014 Luxury Compact Crossovers]

2014 Cadillac CTS-V
Base price new: $65,825
0-60 (best): 4.3 seconds
Smallest Engine: Supercharged 6.2-liter V8
Largest Engine: Supercharged 6.2-liter V8
Crash Test Rating: IIHS – G/N/G/N/N, NHTSA – 5-Stars

2014 Chevrolet Camaro

2014 Chevrolet Camaro
(General Motors)

The Chevrolet Camaro has several performance options and comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, with an optional automatic in most trims. Handling and steering are good and get better in higher performance models, but the interior remains lackluster with a lot of plain plastic and poor visibility. Taller drivers and passengers will feel cramped with the low roof as well. On the outside, though, the Camaro is a great looker with a strong sense of its muscularity.

Performance models in the Camaro line are the low-priced SS and the higher-performance Z/28 and ZL1 models. A sporty V6 and three powerful V8 engines are offered in various trims of the Camaro.

  1. The LS and LT trims have a 3.6-liter V6 producing a respectable 323 horsepower.
  2. The Camaro SS has a 6.2-liter V8 engine with 426 horsepower. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8-seconds.
  3. The Camaro ZL1 has a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that produces 580 horsepower. Its 0 to 60 mph time is about 4.4 seconds.
  4. The Camaro Z/28 is a track-ready powerhouse with a 7.0-liter V8 producing 505 horsepower. A good driver can get from 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, but the Z/28 has a higher top speed and is more at home on the track than the ZL1.

[Thursday Throwdown: Best Infotainment Systems]

2014 Chevrolet Camaro
Base price new: $23,555
0-60 (best): 4.4 seconds
Smallest Engine: 3.6-liter V6
Largest Engine: 7.0-liter V8
Crash Test Rating: IIHS – N/A, NHTSA – 5-Stars

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
(General Motors)

The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is one of the most storied of American sports cars. The Corvette continues to produce some beautiful performance figures and cuts a breathtaking swath of air with its top-notch design. To call the Corvette Stingray a “looker” would be an unjustified understatement. It’s flat-out gorgeous.

The Corvette Stingray is powered by a 6.2-liter V8 that generates 455 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. Five more horses and pound-feet are added with the exhaust tuning package. A seven-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic is optional.

Further boosting the Corvette Stingray’s performance is its two-seat design and light body weight, which give it a great power-to-weight ratio.

[Thursday Throwdown: 2014 Sports Cars and Convertibles]

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Base price new: $53,000
0-60 (best): 4.1 seconds
Smallest Engine: 6.2-liter V8
Largest Engine: 6.2-liter V8
Crash Test Rating: IIHS – N/A, NHTSA – N/A

2014 Chevrolet SS

2014 Chevrolet SS
(General Motors)

All-new for 2014, the Chevrolet SS seems to have been designed specifically to be a “sleeper car” with relatively sedate sedan styling coupled with a beefy, performance-tuned engine. The contemporary, even practical, design makes the SS a family-style car with plenty of room and versatility as a sedan. Underneath that, however, is a 6.2-liter V8 producing 415 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque. The Chevrolet SS also offers excellent stability and tight handling.

[Thursday Throwdown: 2014 Affordable Full-Size Sedans]

2014 Chevrolet SS
Base price new: $43,475
0-60 (best): 4.8 seconds
Smallest Engine: 6.2-liter V8
Largest Engine: 6.2-liter V8
Crash Test Rating: IIHS – N/A, NHTSA – N/A

2014 Chrysler 300

2014 Chrysler 300
(Fiat Chrysler Automobiles)

Possibly the last of the truly American-style big sedans with an attitude of comfort and muscle rolled into one cigar, the Chrysler 300 is a standout. Commanding the road as did the cruisers of old, the 300 is a more luxurious car than its price tag might indicate. The interior of the 300 is well-appointed, even at the base level, and very plush. Visibility is low and driving dynamics on some models may be too cushy for some. However, the upper trims offer performance readiness, especially the 300 SRT8, which is a powerhouse of muscular tire melting. The 300 is one of the only large sedans offering all-wheel drive, though this is not an option for the powerful SRT8 performance trim.

  1. The base 300 has a 3.6-liter V6 engine producing 292 horsepower and an eight-speed automatic transmission.
  2. A tweaked 3.6-liter V6 boosts output to 300 horsepower in the 300S. The 0 to 60 mph time for this configuration is about 7 seconds.
  3. Most Chrysler 300 trims can be outfitted with a 5.7-liter V8 engine that outputs 363 horsepower and is paired with a five-speed automatic.
  4. The 300 SRT8 has a beefy 6.4-liter V8 engine producing 470 horsepower. Rear-wheel drive and a five-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters are the only options, but performance is excellent.

[Thursday Throwdown: 2014 Compact Crossovers]

2014 Chrysler 300
Base price new: $31,395
0-60 (best): 4.7 seconds
Smallest Engine: 3.6-liter V6
Largest Engine: 6.4-liter V8
Crash Test Rating: IIHS – G/N/G/G/G, NHTSA – 5-Star

2014 Dodge Challenger

2014 Dodge Challenger
(Fiat Chrysler Automobiles)

The Dodge Challenger is unusual for the muscle car segment in that although it draws heavily from its history as a performance car, the Challenger is more modern than many of its counterparts. The behemoth Challenger offers a roomy interior with a spacious back seat. It’s also one of the more affordable monsters, with the 5.7-liter V8 model coming at a lower cost than most of its neighbors in the segment.

  1. The base level Challenger SXT is motivated by a 3.6-liter V6 producing 305 horsepower through a five-speed automatic transmission.
  2. The Challenger R/T has a 5.7-liter V8 that’s rated at 376 horsepower, which is paired with a standard six-speed manual transmission. Zero to 60 mph for this configuration is about 5.5 seconds.
  3. The Challenger SRT8 has a 6.4-liter V8 outputting a rumbling 470 horsepower. A six-speed manual is standard and five-speed automatic is optional. The Challenger SRT8 is capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.

[Thursday Throwdown: 2014 Subcompact Cars]

2014 Dodge Challenger
Base price new: $26,495
0-60 (best): 4.5 seconds
Smallest Engine: 3.6-liter V6
Largest Engine: 6.4-liter V8
Crash Test Rating: IIHS – N/A, NHTSA – 5-Stars

2014 Dodge Charger

2014 Dodge Charger
(Fiat Chrysler Automobiles)

Similar to the Chrysler 300 in build, the Dodge Charger is a big, beefy sedan that flaunts its muscular body like it’s on Muscle Beach. Stylistically, the Charger will not be for everyone, but as a great combination of high performance, family utility, and low-impact price, the Charger is hard to beat. Rear-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is an option for those who want it.

  1. The Charger SE and SXT models come standard with a 3.6-liter V6 engine that produces 292 horsepower. This output is tweaked to 300 horsepower when equipped with upgrade packages.
  2. The Charger R/T has a 5.7-liter V8 engine that generates 370 horsepower.
  3. The Charger SRT8 has a massive 6.4-liter V8 engine that growls out 470 hp.

[Thursday Throwdown: Winter Sports Cars]

2014 Dodge Charger
Base price new: $26,995
0-60 (best): 4.5 seconds
Smallest Engine: 3.6-liter V6
Largest Engine: 6.4-liter V8
Crash Test Rating: IIHS – G/N/G/G/G, NHTSA – 5-Star

2014 Dodge SRT Viper

2014 SRT Viper GTS
(Fiat Chrysler Automobiles)

Another vehicle that some might object to being on our list of muscle cars, the Dodge SRT Viper is a true performance powerhouse with little compromise towards any other purpose. It’s a track-tuned, tire-burning monster with nothing but aggressiveness and a huge power plant as its focus. It’s also the priciest vehicle on our list.

[Thursday Throwdown: Full-Size Pickup Trucks]

2014 Dodge SRT Viper
Base price new: $84,885
0-60 (best): 3.7 seconds
Smallest Engine: 8.4-liter V10
Largest Engine: 8.4-liter V10
Crash Test Rating: IIHS – N/A, NHTSA – N/A

2014 Ford Mustang

2014 Ford Mustang
(The Ford Motor Company)

One of the longest-running and most iconic of the pony/muscle cars on our list, the Ford Mustang is also one of the most well-loved. Its signatures are its small size, fast pace and enthusiastic handling. A cheap interior at lower trim levels is offset by its very low price of entry. A good, all-around entry-level performance car, the Mustang remains popular for a reason.

  1. The base level 3.7-liter V6 engine outputs 305 horsepower through a standard six-speed manual transmission (six-speed automatic is optional).
  2. The GT trim upgrades to a 5.0-liter V8 engine that produces 420 horsepower. This is also available with a six-speed manual or automatic.

[CARFAX Finds: Midsize Pickup Trucks]

2014 Ford Mustang
Base price new: $23,800
0-60 (best): 4.7 seconds
Smallest Engine: 3.7-liter V6
Largest Engine: 5.0-liter V8
Crash Test Rating: IIHS – G/N/A/G/N, NHTSA – 4/4/4/5

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