10 Best V8 Muscle Cars

Charles Krome
by Charles Krome
December 30, 2019
5 min. Reading Time
2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 exterior above ・  Photo by Ford

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 exterior above ・ Photo by Ford

For 2020, the best V8 muscle cars come in just four basic flavors: Camaro, Challenger, Charger, and Mustang. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find out that each model has multiple V8 powertrains to satisfy your appetite for performance.

That’s why we’re doubling down on all four to showcase two of the top engines from each lineup. In all cases, we’ve included some of the fastest, quickest examples ever sold for each nameplate. Also, because those trims are relatively pricey, we’ve got the quartet’s least expensive V8 choices here as well. And don’t forget that the modern-day muscle cars are equipped with modern-day features, too, so you can enjoy many advanced technologies and premium luxuries. We then round out our selections with two V8 muscle-car alternatives that you’ll have to see for yourselves.

2020 Dodge Challenger R/T

The best V8 muscle cars start with the 2020 Dodge Challenger R/T. It’s the least powerful vehicle in the segment, but it’s also the least expensive — with an MSRP of $34,545 — and you’ve still got plenty of ponies under the hood. The 5.7-liter Hemi V8 that’s standard for the Challenger R/T makes up to 375 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque.

Dodge also stays true to the Challenger’s muscle-car roots with a standard six-speed manual transmission (a paddle-shifting eight-speed automatic is optional). Other standard highlights include Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and heated mirrors. A final benefit for the Challenger is that it’s the only two-door muscle car with three rear seats. This complements more rear legroom and trunk space than the Chevrolet Camaro or Ford Mustang.

 Photo by Dodge

Photo by Dodge

2020 Chevrolet Camaro SS

The 2020 Chevrolet Camaro SS leads off the best V8 muscle cars from the bowtie brand. With this entry, a $37,000 starting price covers a 6.2-liter V8 that can deliver 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque. It’s enough that this generation of the SS is the most powerful ever sold by Chevy.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard, as with the Challenger — and the Mustang. Chevrolet, though, ups the ante on Dodge with two more cogs for the Camaro’s available 10-speed automatic. Brembo brakes and mobile Wi-Fi are standard for the Camaro — but not the Challenger — as well. Finally, the Camaro also tops the Challenger for open-air driving. Credit for that goes to the SS’s convertible variant and its power-retractable soft roof.

 Photo by Chevrolet

Photo by Chevrolet

2020 Ford Mustang GT

The best V8 muscle cars from Ford provide even more bang for the buck. For example, the 2020 Ford Mustang GT is priced from $35,360 and packs a 460-horsepower V8 that also makes 420 pound-feet of torque. At that rate, you’re paying less than $77 dollars per horsepower. The Camaro SS charges $81 per pony, and you’ll be forking over $92 for every 1 horsepower with the Challenger R/T.

Transmission-wise, the Mustang follows the same template as the Camaro, featuring a standard six-speed manual and an available 10-speed automatic. Another similarity between those crosstown rivals is that the Mustang is available with a power-retractable convertible top. To help the Mustang GT stand out from the competition, it’s equipped with full LED exterior lighting as standard content.

 Photo by Ford

Photo by Ford

2020 Dodge Charger Scat Pack

We’re not going to let two extra doors prevent us from adding the 2020 Dodge Charger Scat Pack to our list of the best V8 muscle cars. Not when this Charger relies on a 392-cubic-inch Hemi V8 that’s good for 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque.

Additionally, the Charger is a great option if you like the traditional two-door muscle-car body style, but you actually need the practicality of a full-size sedan. Dodge delivers on that promise with 40.1 inches of rear legroom — 11 inches more than the Mustang. If you need to put junk in the trunk, the Charger has 16.5 cubic feet of storage there — 80% more than the Camaro. The Charger Scat Pack checks in with an MSRP under $40K, too.

 Photo by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Photo by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

2020 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

For maximum performance, the best V8 muscle cars turn to forced induction. Consider the 2020 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Chevy supercharges the Camaro’s 6.2-liter V8 for this trim, raising output to 650 horsepower and 640 pound-feet of torque. It also lowers the Camaro’s 0-60 time to only 3.5 seconds.

Yet the Camaro ZL1 supplies more than just superior straight-line acceleration. Thanks to standard equipment like a Magnetic Ride suspension, Brembo brakes, and Recaro racing seats, the ZL1 is an ideal choice for the twistiest racetracks. Now, there is a price for this kind of excitement, and the ZL1’s MSRP is $62,000. The good news is that you’ll get upscale cues such as climate-controlled front seats, a heated steering wheel, and premium Bose audio.


2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

A Camaro that carries 650 horsepower is no doubt impressive, but three of the best V8 muscle cars have joined the 700 club. One of them — the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 — boasts a 5.2-liter supercharged V8 that can unleash 760 horsepower and 625 pound-feet of torque.

As a result, the mighty Mustang is the most powerful street-legal vehicle ever built by Ford, with 113 more horsepower than the Ford GT supercar. The Shelby GT500 is also the quickest of this year’s muscle cars: It can gallop from 0-60 in 3.3 seconds and cover the quarter-mile in 10.7 seconds. Standard Brembo brakes slow you with what Ford calls “the largest front brake rotors ever available on an American sports coupe.”


2020 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye

True, the 2020 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye isn’t quite as quick as the Shelby GT500. The Hellcat Redeye claws its way to 60 in 3.4 seconds and eats up the quarter-mile in 10.8 seconds — 0.1 seconds behind the Ford in both cases.

But the Dodge does take the title for most powerful muscle car of the year. Backed by a supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V8, the Hellcat Redeye can serve up an amazing 797 horsepower and 707 pound-feet of torque. (That’s actually a reduction compared to the 840-horsepower Challenger Demon that was only sold new in 2018.) The Hellcat Redeye also has the requisite Brembo brakes as standard equipment, and it’s offered with an aggressive widebody kit as an option.

 Photo by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Photo by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

The best V8 muscle cars also include Dodge’s most potent sedan. Even without the Redeye treatment, the 2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat can ignite its supercharged 6.2-liter V8 for 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque.

Upgrade to the Widebody model and you’ll be rocking the “quickest and best-handling” Charger Hellcat to ever be released into the wild. That’s according to Dodge, which reports that the four-door Hellcat can charge from 0-60 in 3.6 seconds. It can also squeeze under the 11-second mark in terms of quarter-mile runs. As for the Widebody’s handling, this gets a boost from the standard three-mode Bilstein suspension with adaptive damping. Brembo’s ubiquitous brakes also do their share to improve performance, bringing the car from 60 to 0 in just 107 feet.

 Photo by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Photo by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

2020 Mercedes-Benz AMG C 63 S Coupe

Next, we’ve got one of the best V8 muscle cars from the premium brands. The AMG C 63 S coupe is a high-performance version of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe, and it’s right about the same size as the Camaro and Mustang.

The C 63 S is a little light on output, though — at least compared to the range-topping U.S. models. For the German alternative, a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 is standard with 503 horsepower, 516 pound-feet of torque, and a 0-60 time of 3.7 seconds. The difference-maker here is a standard cabin with heated 14-way power-adjustable front seats, Nappa leather upholstery, real wood accents, a high-end Burmester surround-sound audio system, and safety technology like automatic forward emergency braking.


2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

Let’s face it: The best V8 muscle cars may be fun to drive, but they’re not exactly known for their functionality. With this in mind, we think muscle-car lovers may also like the 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.

This is basically a Grand Cherokee Hellcat, right down to its supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V8. In the Trackhawk, that engine cranks out 707 horsepower and 647 pound-feet of torque. Not only is that enough output to sprint from 0-60 in 3.5 seconds, it also enables a maximum tow rating of 7,200 pounds. Unsurprisingly, the other muscle cars aren’t rating for towing at all. Nor do they have as much cargo space as the Jeep.


 Photo by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Photo by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

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