Despite crash test ratings, gas mileage figures, and any other practical measurement of a vehicle, horsepower still wins. The reason is simple: powerful vehicles are FUN. This is why despite increasing emissions standards, we’re currently in the second performance era (the first was the 1960s). Almost everything sold today is as fast as a classic muscle car! Here are some vehicles to meet your need for speed.
We’re starting off with an SUV for a reason. The Porsche Cayenne debuted in 2003 and initially worried longtime fans of the sports car maker. Instead of watering down their lineup with soft SUVs, Porsche instead created the luxury performance SUV market – and totally owned it. The original Cayenne Turbo dominated everything on or off the track. The second generation bowed in 2011, offering a 4.8-liter V8 making 400 horsepower. With all-wheel drive and an eight-speed auto transmission, it can sprint 0 to 60 in just 5.1 seconds. It’ll haul your kids to soccer practice in a hurry.
The S6 sedan doesn’t feel the need to brag. It already knows it’s the Conor McGregor of cars. While perhaps not as flashy as Mr. McGregor, the S6 does carry Audi’s excellent modern styling inside and out. It’s also packing a serious punch, in the form of a 4.0-liter twin turbo V8. With 420 horsepower, a seven-speed dual clutch transmission making lightning fast shifts, this comfy sedan can embarrass many muscle cars with its 3.7 second 0 to 60 time. With all-wheel drive and seating for five, the S6 is the supercar for adults with responsibilities.
The Ford Mustang name has been synonymous with affordable performance for over 50 years. The current car is among the fastest, with a stout 5.0-liter V8 with 435 horsepower. That’s good, but the used market offers a better value. The legendary Boss 302 name returned in 2012 with visual punch and upgraded parts under the hood. 444 horsepower launches the Boss to 60 in just 4.1 seconds, keeping pace with the vastly more expensive BMW M3. The quarter mile passes in well under 13 seconds. Car & Driver said the Boss 302 is better than the original, in every way. Carvana also occasionally sells tuned aftermarket vehicles, and sometimes a performer like a Mustang GT Roush Stage 2 will show up in inventory with race ready parts.
BMW has never made an “M” performance version of their flagship sedan. While the M7 doesn’t exist, you can get the next closest thing in the form of the 750Li. The V8 sports twin turbos which pressurize the combustion process to make an impressive 445 horsepower. That’s a lot of power for an engine this size, and a good amount for the class, meaning this big luxury sedan can run 0 to 60 in just 4.5 seconds. That’s an impressive time, but even more so for a vehicle that can do it while hauling your carpool buddies in comfort and style.
Chevrolet completely reworked their iconic Corvette for the seventh generation, debuting in 2014. Power in the new LT1 6.2-liter V8 increased to 455, but gas mileage and reliability make this sports car practical for every day driving. With the optional Z51 performance package, the Corvette rips to 60 in just 3.8 seconds. Keep in mind, this is the base model. There’s the brutal Z06 with a supercharger and a whopping 650 hp if you want to leave European supercars in your dust. With Ferrari-like looks, it’s no wonder the Corvette is sometimes called “America’s supercar.” Thankfully, it doesn’t have the Ferrari price tag.
Of the modern American muscle cars (Mustang, Camaro, Charger, Challenger) the Dodge Challenger retains most of the classic muscle car attitude. Big, with huge retro influences, not the greatest in the corners, and thirsty, the Challenger will make you think its 1969 again. The big 6.4-liter HEMI V8’s horsepower varies by the year, but you’re looking at 470 to 485 horsepower. That’s more than enough to overcome the 4,280 lbs heft and launch the Challenger like a Saturn V rocket. Zero to 60 is just 4.5 seconds, and if you keep your foot on it, it’ll take you all the way to 180 mph. Just keep it on the track people.
There’s a lot more to the Chevy Camaro ZL1 than power, but to basically sum it up; it’s a race car for the street. The standard SS is no slouch at 455 hp, but it’s also no muscle car hero. GM hit the easy button and slapped on a supercharger and cranked up the boost pressure. The ZL1’s 6.2-liter V8 makes 580 horsepower in the fifth generation (2010-2015), and 640 in the newer sixth gen (2016+). Motortrend called it the “most track capable road car GM has ever sold,” meaning it’s not just a drag racer. The ZL1 with optional 1LE performance package conquered Germany’s Nürburgring racetrack faster than the Nissan GT-R, Ferrari 488, and Porsche 911 GT2. That’s some serious street cred.
Tesla is the undisputed king of the 0 to 60 contest. The California-based electric car maker has been cranking out overpowered Model S sedans and Model X SUVs for several years now. YouTube is littered with the performance-oriented P85D and P100D spanking every supercar imaginable. The base Model S is roughly 382 horsepower, but with all-wheel drive, a direct-drive transmission, and instant electric torque, all that power hits instantly. The base S can hit 0 to 60 in 5.5 seconds. That’s not bad, but you’ll want the P85 or P100 with D trim (D for dual electric motors), and the appropriately named “Ludicrous Speed” option selected. That will perform an internal organ smashing 0 to 60 run of just 2.28 seconds. Looks like your next car might be electric.