The bygone golden era of muscle cars is a distant memory now. One of those sweet memories that send shivers down our spines and warm our gearhead hearts at the same time. The muscle cars today aren’t nearly as widespread as their distant predecessors, but at least they’re still around.
Not only straight line performers nowadays, the majority of contemporary muscle cars have evolved into more than capable sports cars while boasting horsepower ratings greater than ever at the same time. Of all the hallmark muscle brands, however, only a few have remained. A trio of pony cars from the “Big Three” and the Charger sedan.
Of course, a few cars that could classify as a muscle car have appeared over the years too, and we’ll take these into consideration as well because – let’s face it – even the newest models that are marketed as muscle cars don’t necessarily fit in the old school definition of muscle vehicles. So, without further ado, here are what we consider to be the best 2020 muscle cars we can expect to see.
06. 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
The long-awaited king Mustang, the Shelby GT500 has finally reached the dealerships as a 2020-year model. Long has the Blue Oval let their opponent run rampant with the Challenger Hellcat and Camaro ZL1, but enough’s enough. Still part of the sixth-generation lineup due to Ford delaying the next-gen until 2021, the all-new 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 is a much more contemporary car than its previous iteration which last appeared in 2013.
Not only is it the most powerful production Mustang ever, but one of the most advanced ones as well. That doesn’t just go for the infotainment and other convenience and safety measures, either. It also sports a highly-advanced suspension similar to that of its baby brother, the GT350. This means the GT500 too boasts the MagneRide dampers which are being put to work together with a strengthened chassis and the biggest Brembo brakes ever fitted into a Mustang.
All this has a detrimental impact on the GT500’s price tag, however, since Ford’s answer to the Hellcat and ZL1 starts from $73,995 and works its way to the six digit territory. Actually, the most expensive Mustang GT500 which includes the $18,500 Carbon Fiber Track Pack costs a whopping $107,000 which is almost a supercar territory.
The biggest hype about the Mustang GT500 was always going to be related to the muscle car’s powertrain. FoMoCo has decided to use a 5.2L supercharged V8 for their most powerful mass production Mustang ever, and they have made a good call. Why? Because the engine in question delivers a whopping 760 horsepower and 625 pound-feet of torque. This easily eclipses the ZL1’s 650 ponies but still falls short of the Challenger Hellcat Redeye’s 797 horsepower.
The new muscle car king tips the scales at 4,225 pounds which should help it to engulf a quarter-mile in under 11 seconds and gallop to 60 mph from a standstill in under 3 seconds.
Sadly, the Blue Oval won’t be offering the GT500 with a choice of transmissions. A 6-speed stick would have definitely been a welcome option, but a dual-clutch 7-speed automatic borrowed from the Ford GT is all we’ve got.
05. 2020 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
The powerful Camaro ZL1 represents one of the most exhilarating ways of owning a sports car. The sixth-gen models have received a polarizing mid-cycle update for MY 2019, but the ZL1 was spared. One of the most powerful American muscle cars won’t be long for this world, however, so 2020 might be one of the last years you’ll be able to snag one.
The 2020 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 shares a lot in common with the conventional Camaro lineup but nonetheless, it comes with plenty of unique parts of its own. Magnetic ride suspension provides impeccable body balance none of its predecessors were capable of offering before. The rest is courtesy of a special aero kit which clearly differentiates the ZL1 from the rest of its siblings.
The most powerful Camaro available starts from $62,000 if ordered in a coupe form, while the ZL1 convertible requires additional $6,000.
The engine behind the GM’s pony provides a hefty 650 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of twist. It’s no wonder really, considering we’re talking about the LT4 6.2L supercharged V8. All that power is being routed to the rear via a proper 6-speed manual transmission which is always a plus in our book.
Regardless of whether you’re a Ford, Dodge, or Chevy aficionado, you have to admit that the current-gen Camaro ZL1 isn’t just one of the best currently available muscle cars, but also one of the best pony muscles ever built.
04. 2020 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye
Despite running on the same platform since 2008, the Dodge Challenger is still going strong without showing any signs of stopping. Since FCA is inclined to keep it virtually unchanged since at least model year 2021, it would seem we’ll be stuck with yet another familiar Challenger lineup in 2020. However, familiarity only goes that far.
Although the hype over the Demon has all but quieted down, FCA already has a replacement. The next most-hyped Challenger model is being sold with the familiar Hellcat branding and everything else that comes with it. Unlike the conventional SRT Hellcat models (if the 717-horsepower muscle car and conventional can be put in the same sentence), the all-new for 2019 SRT Hellcat Redeye maxes out at a whopping 797 horsepower while offering a number of very distinctive details so everyone else knows what they have to deal with if they accidentally pit themselves against one.
The most distinctive of the above-mentioned details are the Redeye’s massive air intakes. You can find them at the front wheel and at the driver’s side headlight opening, but the most menacing of all are the new dual-snorkel hood intakes. All three air sources combined increase the flow rate by 18 percent over the regular Hellcats.
Although the regular Hellcats themselves have already received a power bump, the Redeye models follow suit with an additional 80 ponies and 51 lb-ft of torque, bringing the total to the already stated 797 ponies and 717 pound-feet of twist. The increase in power is, in no small part, a result of an updated fuel-injection system and strengthened engine innards.
Needless to say, the 2020 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye also gets a number of advanced systems all over the place like the After-Run Chiller which keeps the engine fan running after the engine shutdown. The pleasure of owning one of these babies is measured by around 73,000 units of George Washington-adorned dollar bills, but a number of available options can put the final price tag past the $90k mark. The most expensive of them is the $6,000 wide body kit which, aside from flared wheel arches and beefier tires, sadly, isn’t offering much more.
03. 2020 Equus Bass 770
The ultimate expression of muscle car luxury and handcrafted art is arguably the best example of how quickly hype can disappear in the muscle car world. After all, how many of you still remember the Equus Bass – a 1970’s inspired luxury hand-crafted muscle car built by the Detroit-based Equus Automotive?
Well, the unique $250,000 expression of the muscle car spirit is still here. Considering it takes at least 5,000 man hours to complete one, the price can easily soar to around $300,000. Despite being perceived as an over exaggeration in pretty much every single field, the Equus Bass 770 is still one of the best 2020 muscle cars you can lay your hands on. Especially considering it’s entirely built in the U.S. using domestic parts.
That domestic parts bit translates to the powertrain as well. As its name would suggest, 770 refers to displacement per cylinder in cc’s. This also means that the company is owned by someone hailing from different parts – Europe to be more precise. At least officially. Bassam Abdallah is actually a Nigerian financier living in Paris. Moreover, his name reveals where the term Bass comes from.
Back to the powertrain, though – the Bass sports a 6.4L LS9 V8 capable of producing a whopping 640 horsepower. Although this doesn’t sound like much compared to 2018-2020 figures, don’t forget the Bass was actually conceived back in 2014 when very few production cars could boast such figures.
A proper 6-speed manual routes all that power to the rear axle, and since both the chassis and body are made mostly of aluminum and some carbon fiber, the Bass 770 is capable of maxing out at around 200 mph and sprinting to 60 mph from a standing start in just 3.4 seconds.
02. 2020 Cadillac CT6-V
Alongside discontinuing the CTS, Cadillac will also retire the CTS-V which served as company’s only vehicle that actually qualified as a muscle car. At least to some extent, as the modern day muscle car definition is much laxer than that from the golden era.
Fear not, though, as the current flagship CT6 sedan is all set to take over the CTS’s duties – particularly those involving a large V8 under the hood. The CT6-V was already announced for MY 2019 at the 2018 New York Auto Show, but now the company’s decided to name it according to current standards instead of CT6 V-Sport as first intended.
Like the rest of the CT6 lineup, the V-models boast a long list of both standard and optional safety and convenience gear which, in turn, dictate its price range.
The V8 under the CT6-V’s hood sports a “hot V” setup with turbos nesting directly on the block, thus saving space and reducing the turbo lag considerably. The new engine, nicknamed “Blackwing”, develops 550 horses and 640 pound-feet of twist. A contemporary 10-speed automatic gearbox and mandatory all-wheel drive are there to keep it company.
Needless to say, such a strong performer also requires a beefier chassis, which it gets. It also gets specific suspension tuning, recalibrated magnetic dampers, and a mechanical limited-slip differential. Other than that and some visual details, the V version of the CT6 doesn’t differ that much from the current regular models which, by the way, only recently got updated themselves.
Sadly, the $95,000 muscle sedan isn’t long for this world as CT6’s future is still doubtful. MY 2020 might be our last chance to snag one up before Cadillac shifts its focus to smaller CT4 and CT5 sedans.
01. 2020 Dodge Charger
The late-seventh-generation Charger rounds out our list of the best 2020 muscle cars. Like its 2-door cousin, the Challenger, the 2020 Dodge Charger, too, simply carries over virtually unchanged despite the fact it received its last major overhaul way back in 2011. FCA decided to prolong their suffering at least until 2021 when they’ll either switch to the new Giorgio platform or receive a substantial update to the current one stemming from the DaimlerChrysler era.
But, is it really a suffering two of the most powerful Mopars at the moment are experiencing? Their design is timeless, their tech and convenience features are on-par with those of their competitors, and above all else, their sales are more than fine. That being considered, the FCA shouldn’t have too many issues keeping the interest levels in their muscles high, even in their advancing years.
New for 2020 is the optional Widebody kit available with the most powerful Scat Pack and Hellcat models. Aside from more pronounced wheel arches and wider rubber, the new Widebody kit also offers a revised frontal fascia and a reworked lip spoiler around the back. There’s also an upgraded suspension with Bilstein three-mode adaptive dampers and stiffer springs. Not to mention the large 15.4-inch Brembo disks.
A large number of different trim choices is one way to keep things interesting, and with that often comes a large selection of powertrains. The entry-level SXT models get a 3.6L V6 with either 292 ponies or 300 horsepower with the optional Rallye Group. Most Chargers, however, offer a good old-fashioned V8 power, beginning with the R/T trim. Their 5.7L Hemis churn out 370 horses, while the R/T Scat Pack’s and SRT 392’s 6.4L V8s crank up 485 horsepower. Finally, the range-topping SRT Hellcat and its 6.2L supercharged V8 make as much as 717 hp and 656 lb-ft of torque.
There probably is no gearhead that would undermine any of the aforementioned figures in 2020, hence the outdated platform is simply a mandatory trade-off at the moment.