Challenger This: Who's Got the Greatest Bang for the Buck?

Justin Berkowitz
by Justin Berkowitz
challenger this who s got the greatest bang for the buck

Judging by list prices, ignoring the presence or absence of any other options and any thoughts of political correctness, which U.S.-spec vehicle offers the most horsepower per dollar? I always assumed it was the 300 horsepower Ford Mustang GT, which clocks in at about $26k. Nope. Its $/hp ratio is $86 per pony. It's a good buy, but not the bang-for-the-buck champ. Remember: lowest $/hp wins.

Pontiac G8 – 360 horses – $83/hp

Dodge Magnum SRT8 – 425 horses – $89/hp

Dodge Caliber SRT4 – 280 horses – $82/hp

Chevy HHR SS – 260 horses – $88/hp

Shelby GT500 – 500 hp – $86/hp

But it's when you get into the trucks that the money-power ratio comes into focus.

Nissan Titan – 317 horses – $82/hp

Toyota Tundra – 381 horses – $81/hp

Yup, the true power mongers however are pickup trucks. The Mopar option is the Dodge Ram 1500, which brings you a 340 horsepower Hemi for only $25k– a fantastic ratio of $73/hp. But the crown goes to… the Ford F250 Super Duty, equipped with a 362-horse 6.8-liter V10. Listing at $24,175, that's a $67/hp combo. Screw the Dodge Challenger ($89/hp) rebirth. The muscle car champ is still a Ford truck.

Justin Berkowitz
Justin Berkowitz

Immensely bored law student. I've also got 3 dogs.

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4 of 21 comments
  • TriShield TriShield on Feb 06, 2008

    cretinx has the right idea.

  • Esldude Esldude on Feb 06, 2008

    Well, to include gearing with weight vs. hp and all of its effects like traction as well, how about 0-60 or 1/4 mile times vs. price. These being old boring measures I guess don't generate the buzz of an article like this. And what was the point btw? Just trying to praise trucks? If you want something different, like muscle or subjective feel of power I think acceleration will still make the best deal. Maybe quickest 25 mph to 75 mph time. Or for muscle, fastest top gear acceleration from 50-70 mph like some mags partial to V-twins use.

  • UnclePete UnclePete on Feb 07, 2008

    Running the calculation, my '06 Pontiac GTO gets $78/hp based on sticker, and about $70/hp for what I paid OTD. Sweet!

  • Aardappel Aardappel on Feb 10, 2008

    I have done this computation before, with a spreadsheet of 2006 specs I have. The formula I came up with is: pow(HP/weight, 1.5)*price sorted to the lowest number. The "1.5" is really an arbitrary number, the higher it is, the less important price is factored in. So for every buyer that number needs to be different depending on what you can afford. If you put it to 1.0 (i.e. straight weight per hp per $), then everyone be driving an aveo, so that would not be very informative. Here is the list based on the above formula, best first (name, price, HP/weight): 2006 Ford Mustang GT Deluxe Coupe 25140 11.5 2006 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe 43690 8 2006 Suzuki Aerio Sedan Base 13999 17.2 2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 64890 6.2 2006 Chevrolet Aveo Special Value Sedan 9350 22.9 2006 Nissan 350Z Coupe Base 27650 11.2 2006 Mazda MAZDA3 i 4-Door 13710 18 2006 Saturn ION 2 Sedan Manual 11925 19.9 2006 Suzuki Aerio Sedan Premium 14999 17.2 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8 35320 9.8 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution RS 28679 11.3 2006 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE 23600 12.9 2006 Kia Rio Base 10770 21.8 2006 Nissan 350Z Coupe Enthusiast 29350 11.2 2006 Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V 18300 15.5 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix GXP Sedan 27330 11.9 2006 Mazda MX-5 Club Spec 20435 14.5 2006 Chevrolet Impala SS 26330 12.3 2006 Kia Spectra LX 12895 20