10 of the Best V8 Engine Muscle Cars
With plenty of power on tap, these V8 engine cars might give you more than you bargained for.
Published July 3, 2018
In an era of more fuel-efficient and less-is-more engines, it’s hard to come by as many V8 engine cars as there used to be. Sometimes, it can even be tough in the performance market, surprisingly enough. For example, the average, base-model Ford Mustang now comes with a turbocharged 4 cylinder in 2018. The automotive industry has taken this philosophy and ran with it, it would seem, as more efficient turbocharged engines are gradually replacing the high-displacement monsters.
The truth is that it’s not all bad, it’s just that the times have changed. Stricter EPA requirements, better turbochargers and advancements in engine design have created less need for more cylinders. More efficiency is now more important than displacement, as engineers are figuring out how to squeeze upwards of 300 horses out of a 2.0L turbo-four.
The fact of the matter is that you won’t come across many V8 engine cars as easily as you could have 10 years ago. Upper models of cars like the Camaro and Mustang will still offer them in their top-tier levels, while they’ll be more standard and common in the upper-level brands like Aston Martin and Porsche.
That said, it’s also not uncommon now for today’s V8s to be far more powerful than their predecessors. For example, the now-classic Thunderbird V8 engine offered 225 horsepower, which left heads spinning at that time. These days, a 2-liter turbocharged-4-cylinder Ford Focus ST comes with that and then some! Heck, even the Mazdaspeed 3 was doing it nearly a decade ago.
The days of big V8s aren’t all over though, as there are still quite a few options out there for the power hungry among us. However, they’re going to cost a little bit more. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth it though.
We took a cross-section of the best V8 engine cars still out on dealer lots today to create this list of the best surviving big engines across today’s muscle car, sports car and luxury markets.
10. Chevrolet Camaro SS
The Chevrolet Camaro has become one of the go-to associations when you think about American muscle cars and in fact, it’s been that way for quite some time now. They might just deserve this recognition, as they’ve gotten better with the years (we admit, this point could be argued).
If you’re looking for a powerful V8 muscle car, it’s worth checking out the SS, the ZL1, or even the oft-forgotten 2014/15 Z/28, which pumped out an impressive 505 hp from its 7.0L V8. For the 2018 year, all Camaros equipped with the 8-cylinder mill will also have launch control to give an upper edge at the dragstrip.
While the 6.2-liter engine churns out 455 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque, the supercharged ZL1 boasts upwards of 650 horses.
If speed is important, the Camaro surely has that too. The ZL1’s V-8 LT4 engine will get you up to speed without the lag, with this Corvette engine pulling the Camaro from 0-60 miles per hour in just 3.5 seconds. Not bad for a muscle car, right? Didn’t think so.
The most recent Camaro is proving to be one of the most powerful and best among the American muscle market.
9. Ford Mustang GT
Everyone knows the classic Mustang, the sports car that is one of the most iconic of all American lineups. Whether you want an everyday driver or a car for the drag strip, the Ford Mustang has become an object of desire among gearheads.
All of Ford’s Mustang GT options will get you a pretty decent V8 engine, giving you at least 400 horsepower to play with, depending on the year. This should prove to be more than enough if you’re looking to get a little bit of fun in on the way to work.
However, if track power is of importance, the Mustang Shelby GT350 is the one to consider. The incredible Shelby version of this staple muscle car gives a generous 526 horsepower at 7,500 RPM. That’s nothing to doubt, and it’s going to give better results on the track than your standard GT ever could dream.
The rear-wheel-drive Mustang is a great option to get that beloved American muscle car feel. It might not get great gas mileage with the V8 as compared to the smaller (and markedly less powerful) EcoBoost models. If you’re more in it for the fun, it is definitely there in the Mustang if you’re opting to level up to the bigger engine.
8. Dodge Charger
Another made-in-Detroit muscle car, the Dodge Charger is one not to miss if you want a V8 engine car that also has four doors.
The Charger is designed and created for power, so you’ll have more 8-cylinder options than in some of the previous sports cars listed.
All of the R/T versions have at least a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 rated for a respectable 370 horsepower. The Charger Daytona version bumps it up to a naturally aspirated 6.4-liter with 485 horsepower.
And, those two aren’t even the most impressive of Dodge’s impressive Charger lineup. The SRT Hellcat is sure to be a champ, pulling out all the stops to get up to 707 horsepower with its supercharged 6.2L HEMI. This massive V8 makes the Hellcat a real challenge to beat on the track and on the streets.
The Dodge Charger is unique because it’s one of the only American muscle cars to have four doors, a feature that gives it a greater advantage against more cramped 2+2 coupes. The Charger is powerful enough for the track yet convenient and versatile enough to drive to and from work each day, making it a great option to be a punched-up everyday driver.
7. Chrysler 300C
The Chrysler 300 is an unlikely car to grace this list, but it does deserve some recognition, for what it’s worth. It may not be among the most refined sports cars, but this sedan does have good performance and, most importantly, a standard 5.7-liter V8 engine.
Unlike the expected V6 standard engine on all other 300 models, the 300C is equipped with a HEMI engine, an 8-speed automatic transmission and of course, rear-wheel drive. It’s worth noting that this engine’s forte isn’t fuel efficiency, though, so expect to shell out some extra money to keep up with its 25 mpg highway average. Yikes.
For what it’s worth, the Chrysler 300C is worth considering if you’re looking for a touch of elegance without the added upcharges associated with owning a luxury vehicle down the road. It’s a practical vehicle nonetheless, with an engine that can deliver a respectable 363 horsepower.
6. Cadillac CTS-V
The fastest Cadillac on the market is the CTS-V, which wows the competition with 640 horsepower and 630 lb-ft of torque. Not at all reminiscent of the Cadillac your grandparents drove, this is a sedan made for the track – Cadillac claims it can manage 0-60 miles per hour in 3.7 seconds.
Combine that big V-8 engine with a stylish and refined interior, and the CTS-V is a real competitor. The CTS-V sits at the intersection luxury and performance, making it an American sports car made to compete with the European market.
Though it may look a little bit too similar to the normal CTS for some’s style, the CTS-V does have some options to differentiate it. Carbon fiber packages give it a distinct exterior style and available Recaro performance seats can help to give the interior a look worthy of what’s under the hood.
This rear-wheel-drive Cadillac is designed with speed and style in mind, so it’s definitely one to watch for on the streets and track.
5. BMW 8 Series
Last for sale new in 1991, the BMW 8 Series has been wowing auto shows worldwide and will hit dealer lots in late 2018. BMW’s newest release replaces the 6 Series and is a 2-door coupe. However, the specs are out now and, as expected, they’re impressive.
The new series will only have one model to start in the States, called the M850i xDrive. A 4.4-liter turbocharged V8 will bring 523 horsepower, and there will be lots of new interior upgrades designed to impress.
The only available transmission will be an 8-speed automatic, so if you want the thrill of shifting gears in a manual, the 8-series might not be the one for you. Either way, you’ll still be able to make 0-60 in 3.6 seconds, or at least that’s what the manufacturer claims. For now, speeds will top out at 155 miles per hour.
At any speed, the BMW 8 Series has been a long-awaited re-release of an old sporty classic and is likely going to be one of the best V8 engine cars of 2019.
4. Chevrolet Corvette Z06
The Chevrolet Corvette Z06 has become another iconic sports car that has captivated drivers for years. Advanced features put this car ahead of the curve, and several engine choices gives this car an advantage over others.
The Corvette Z06 has two engine options for the new 2019 model year: the naturally-aspirated LT1 and the supercharged LT4. While both are strikingly impressive V8s, the supercharged version of the LT4 is capable of a whole new level of performance. 650 horsepower in the LT4 versus the LT1’s 460 makes the supercharged engine far superior in terms of power.
The Corvette Z06 and ZR1s are essentially street-legal race cars, and with these impressive V8s under the hood, it’s easy to see why.
3. Porsche Panamera
A unique blend of power, functionality, and luxury, the Porsche Panamera is a car that exceeds the expectations of most, if not all, 4-door V8 engine cars.
The Panamera is impressive because though it appears to be a larger and heavier luxury vehicle, it can seriously move and will probably surprise most critics. Car and Driver’s test showed the Porsche Panamera logging 0-60 in just 3 seconds in the all-wheel-drive 8-speed automatic version.
Though it does have V6 engine options, the Panamera gets the most thrills with a V-8 engine. With the Panamera, you’ll also get the rare choice of a V8 hybrid, which is an interesting option because it is great for fuel efficiency.
Expect to shell out big bucks for this car, as the version with the turbo engine comes in with an MSRP of about $150,000 new. The V8 hybrid will add more to that figure as well.
Though pricey, for the Porsche Panamera, you’re sure to get what you pay for (in a good way, that is).
2. Lexus LC 500
Keeping up with other major luxury heavyweights, Toyota-owned Lexus has developed a V8 engine too. In fact, the brand offers quite a few V8 engine cars to satisfy that craving. One of them is just not like the others.
The Lexus LC 500 is a coupe that fills a market of its own, as it’s main competitors are no longer in production. It’s a larger sports coupe, similar to the BMW 6 Series or Jaguar’s extinct XK, according to Autotrader.
Though it doesn’t have the low, sporty profile of some other cars boasting V8s, what it does have is some muscle. With a 5-liter, naturally aspirated engine, this car can really fly and has proven itself on highways. About 470 horsepower is available on this car, so it is capable of keeping up with others on this list.
However, one of the biggest downs about this car is the price tag. Coming in at about $92,000 for a base price isn’t exactly in the price range of most who are looking to own a Lexus.
However, those who are willing to shell out this kind of money will be treated to a gorgeous interior with lots of sophisticated styling and a top track speed of 168 miles per hour. So perhaps it’s not such an easy pass after all.
1. Aston Martin Vantage
Though it’s far less ubiquitous here in the states than the other cars on this list, the Aston Martin Vantage is a real stunner and a powerful V8 contender. Making no compromises, Aston Martin has pulled out all the stops to make the Vantage a great and very fast car.
The Vantage might only have a 4-liter engine, but its twin-turbo setup is made for surprises of the best kind. This car can hit 62 miles per hour in 3.6 seconds. Its interior is less luxury and more sport, which helps it live up to the expectations set forth by the sleek exterior.
The Aston Martin Vantage starts in a price bracket compatible with the Porsche Panamera at $150,000, but with the Aston Martin, there are neither cheaper nor less powerful options like there are with the Porsche. It’s all or nothing with the Vantage, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
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