Autotrader: Looking for a modern muscle car? Here are 6 under $45,000

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Muscle cars have always been about value. They offer lots of power and great performance in otherwise simple packages. With the market making a move toward efficiency as of late though, many of the old-school high-powered performance coupes and sedans have gone away, while others have been moved upmarket and now have much higher price tags than what you’d expect from a traditional muscle car. Still, buyers in search of an affordable burnout machine should fear not, as there as still a number of great options on the market today, although not all of them come with the “American muscle car” pedigree. Below we’ve outlined six modern muscle cars available for under $45,000 here in 2019.

2019 Ford Mustang GT

2019 Ford Mustang GT

The Mustang might be the original muscle car and as such, the version on sale today stays true to the blueprint, offering aggressive styling, great performance, and V8 power. Under the hood of the Mustang GT is a 5.0-liter V8 pumping out a tire-screeching 460 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, good for a 0-to-60 mph time of under 4.0 seconds. Transmission options consist of either a 6-speed manual or a 10-speed automatic. Opt for the manual and you get a trick rev-matching feature. Go for the automatic and you get both paddle shifters and a sport mode. Given that the Ford F, +1.16%  Mustang GT carries a starting price of just over $36,000, it’s easy to get a fast, powerful Mustang GT while working with a budget of $45,000. We’d probably start with the GT Premium Fastback, which carries a price tag of around $40,000 and comes with heated and cooled leather seats, selectable drive modes, a 9-speaker audio system, and the latest version of Ford’s SYNC infotainment system, then add on the $4,000 GT Performance package, which comes with 19-in wheels, Brembo brakes, a rear spoiler, and a variety of upgraded steering and suspension components underneath. Also worth mentioning — the Mustang comes with a variety of modern active safety features, good outward visibility and a highly usable trunk, making it the most livable out of the three 2-door American coupes on this list. 

2019 Chevrolet Camaro SS

2019 Chevrolet Camaro

Like the Mustang, it’s possible to get a well-equipped, V8-powered Camaro for under $45,000. First and foremost though, those wanting to save more can opt for a V6-powered Camaro. Slotted between the Camaro’s available turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and the potent V8-powered Camaro SS, Chevrolet offers the Camaro with a 3.6-liter V6 putting out 335 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque, good enough for a 0-to-60 mph time of 5 seconds flat. For those wanting a true muscle car feeling though, it’s hard to argue against the SS. Chevrolet fits the Camaro SS with a 6.2-liter V8 putting out 455 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque, which reduces the Camaro’s 0-to-60 mph time to 4.0 seconds. The Camaro SS is offered in both 1SS and 2SS trims, with the 2SS adding heated and ventilated power seats, a heated steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, a Bose audio system, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and forward-collision warning among a variety of other things. Pricing for the 1SS with a manual transmission starts at about $39,000, while an automatic-equipped 2SS comes in at about $46,000, before adding any of the available performance or accessories packages. 

2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack

The Dodge Challenger

The Challenger is ancient. Having first gone on sale for the 2008 model year, the Challenger is now in its 12th year of production without a redesign, and no second-generation model is in sight. Dodge has updated the vehicle to a degree over the years and 2019 models are available with modern features like an 8.4-in infotainment screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, and a few desirable active safety features like blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, and rear parking sensors. While massively-powerful Hellcat, Hellcat Redeye, and Demon variants have been offered over the years, buyers with $45k to spend on a Challenger should look to an R/T Scat Pack model. The Challenger R/T comes with a 6.4-liter V8 making a whopping 485 hp and is paired with either a 6-speed manual or an 8-speed automatic transmission. 0-to-60 mph comes in a brisk 3.9 seconds. Pricing for the Challenger R/T Scat Pack starts at about $38,000 with a manual transmission, leaving room for options like the available adaptive damping suspension, red brake calipers, upgraded seats, or one of a few different available appearance packages.

2019 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack

The Charger is essentially the same vehicle as the Challenger, except for the fact that it has four doors instead of two. In that case, it exists almost solely to serve as a counterpoint to the excuse “I can’t buy a muscle car because I have kids.” With a roomy, easily-accessed back seat, the Charger says otherwise. Pricing stays similar to that of the Challenger. Therefore, buyers looking for the muscle car experience from a practical 4-door sedan should look to the Charger R/T Scat Pack. The same engine as in the Challenger is offered here, although the 8-speed automatic is standard — no manual is available. With the Scat Pack’s 6.4-liter V8, the Charger goes from 0-to-60 mph in about 4.2 seconds.

2019 Genesis G70 3.0T

2019 Genesis G70

The new Genesis G70 makes this list because it’s a bargain luxury car with muscle car attributes. No, it doesn’t offer a V8 engine, but rather a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 putting out 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission (worth noting is that the G70 is available with a 6-speed manual when equipped with its base engine). Rear-wheel drive is standard, while all-wheel drive is optional. We’re impressed by the G70’s exceptional balance and superb handling. It offers a plush cabin with intuitive controls, along with great crash performance, and an exceptional 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. While the G70 carries a low base price of around $35,000, opting for the turbocharged V6 sees the price jump to just a few dollars shy of $45k.

2019 Kia Stinger GT

2019 Kia Stinger GT

Kia released the Stinger almost as a way of taunting both old-school American muscle car manufacturers and the European luxury car makers. As Kia and Hyundai HYMTF, -3.23%   are sister companies, the Stinger is built on the same platform as the new Genesis G70. The two vehicles also share powertrains, meaning that you can get a Stinger with a 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 making 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque paired with either RWD or AWD. While the Stinger is offered in non-GT guise with the same 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine offered in the G70, no manual transmission is offered. A base Stinger GT comes in at around $40,000 and tops out at about $54,000 when fully loaded, leaving buyers with a few different options at around the $45,000 price point. While the Stinger doesn’t come with a V8, it’s the horsepower-to-price tag ratio that has us calling Kia’s new sports sedan a modern muscle car.

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