DODGE CHALLENGER R/T SCAT PACK
Mpg: 14 city/23 highway
0-to-60 mph: 4.2 seconds
If you’re into pure American muscle, it’s hard to resist the Dodge Challenger. Not to knock Mustangs, but like Starbucks you can probably find one on every corner. It’s the Challenger’s exclusivity that helps set it apart.
But so does the iconic nasty-boy styling, which Dodge wisely left intact the past decade. The base V6 engine is no slouch, but the libidinous 485-hp V8 in the R/T Scat Pack model packs a wallop. That exhaust roar alone sounds like you just woke the Hulk and he’s not happy about it.
There are other Challenger versions, including a 707-hp SRT Hellcat and upcoming 840-hp SRT Demon announced at last month’s New York Auto Show, but these bruiser cruisers come with much heftier price tags.
By comparison, the R/T Scat Pack is a bargain ride. It’s also surprisingly firm but pleasant, even on long road trips. The responsive steering helps, as does the relatively quiet interior.
Braking and acceleration are both strong yet very smooth. And on a car this large and heavy, there’s bound to be some body roll. But there’s also plenty of legroom, a fairly roomy backseat and a humongous trunk, perfect for anyone who doesn’t travel lightly.
Despite the retro look outside, the modern cabin boasts brushed aluminum trim, an easy-to-use touchscreen/smartphone interface and optional 18-speaker Harman Kardon stereo. Perhaps the biggest complaint is the limited rearview visibility, but that’s why Dodge offers a rearview camera, blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert system.
INFINITI Q60 RED SPORT 400
Mpg: 20 city/27 highway
0-to-60 mph: 4.5 seconds
For a bit less power but a lot more luxury, there’s the Infiniti Q60. The racy, rousing Red Sport 400 is the high-performance model. With sexy, svelte-like sheet metal, this souped-up coupe is more akin to the Flash than the hulking Dodge Challenger. It’s still lightening fast, with a 400-hp V6 turbo that comes with optional all-wheel drive.
But sadly, there’s no fun-loving manual transmission like there is in the Challenger. That’s a bummer, but not exactly a deal breaker. On the upside, the Q60’s body roll is practically non-existent and the braking is nonpareil for a coupe at this price. In the cabin, the space-age dash is full of dramatic curves, and the door panels are so perfectly sculpted they look good enough to be in a MOMA exhibit.
It’s also as silent as a museum inside, thanks to the sublime sound insulation that cancels out any outside noise. High-end amenities include heated steering wheel, 360-degree parking camera, air-filtration system and auto-dimming outside mirrors.
Along with the latest safety features, the Q60 also comes with a blind-spot intervention system that steers the car if the driver doesn’t heed its warnings (control issues perhaps?) and a collision/braking system that can detect pedestrians or potential accidents ahead.