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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

How Much Power Does a Dollar Buy?

photo by Jakub Maciejewski

Imagine the sound the tailpipe of your favorite car makes when the pedal is pressed to the floor. Now imagine the engine that tailpipe is connected to. When you look into the cockpit, what does it look like? Do you see leather? Wood trim? A recent study by found that the luxury of a vehicle does, of course, affect the price you pay for the power in the engine. However, for cars that are near the same price, you tend to pay near the same amount for every horsepower.

The Under $50,000 Category

There are so many vehicles in this category and so many revamped models being placed on lots. It’s hard to figure out which car has the most horsepower per retail dollar. The following models are good bets.

Nissan 370Z
MSRP: $29,990
Horsepower: 332 (Most Models)
Curb Weight: 2,246 lbs
Horsepower/$: .011

The Z has long been a competitive yet affordable sports car. At the price of a typical Chevrolet sedan, the latest Z is especially affordable and quite liberally powered. It’s light, too. Lighter than any other model we studied, as a matter of fact.

Dodge Charger SE
MSRP: $27,995
Horsepower: 292
Curb Weight: 3,934 lbs
Horsepower/$: .010

The base model in the Charger line is powerful. It’s weight is more than 1,000 pounds over the 370Z’s weight, though. That can’t be good for performance.

$50,000 to $75,000

Horespower per dollar at the top of this category hovers around the same available in the under $50K category, around .011. It then drops to .007, which is the power you get for each dollar spent on the Benz C63 AMG Coupe and the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT.

Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
MSRP: $65,945
Horsepower: 707
Curb Weight: 4,575 lbs
Horsepower/$: .011

Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
MSRP: $62,495
Horsepower: 707
Curb Weight: 4,449 lbs
Horsepower/$: .011

Ford Mustang Shelby GT 350
MSRP: $54,295
Horsepower: 526
Curb Weight: 3,781 lbs
Horsepower/$: .010

$75,000 to $100,000

The sports cars in this category may be some of the fastest non-luxury cars on the track. The power you get for every dollar you spend on cars over $100,000 drops by half in the best of circumstances. And cars in this category have more horsepower per pound than anything else.

Corvette Z06
MSRP: $83,400
Horsepower: 650
Curb Weight: 3,582 lbs
Horsepower/$: .008

Cadillac CTS-V
MSRP: $83,995
Horsepower: 640
Curb Weight: 4,134 lbs
Horsepower/$: .008

Dodge Viper SRT
MSRP: $87,895
Horsepower: 645
Curb Weight: 3,378 lbs
Horsepower/$: .007

$100,000 +

Look above $100,000 and you start to see luxury cars like the Mercedes S63 and the Rolls-Royce Wraith, which are powerful but also quite heavy. Beyond that, you’re into supercar territory. Lamborghini Aventadors and new Bugatti Chirons. The best power for your dollar you can get here is probably around .004, which is what you get with the S63 AMG.

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