The muscle car has become much more than simply a gas-guzzling, roaring monster of a car that causes too much pollution and scares the daylights out of poor, unsuspecting passengers. It has become an American icon. The muscle car has been around for more than fifty years, and it just keeps gaining steam in the popularity polls. Advances in technology have made them sleeker, more efficient, more powerful, and much quieter, but no less desirable. Luckily, there are still a few out there that can be had for a decent price as well. If this is a topic that peaks your interest, take a look at the best muscle cars available for under $25,000.

1. 2011 Ford Mustang Coupe        New Model MSRP: $22,310

The Mustang is arguably one of the most revered muscle cars ever made, and the new models are flying off the lots just as fast as the old ones. The base model is the only one you’ll find for less than $25,000, but it still offers plenty for the money. The 3.7L V6 engine pumps out 305 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. of torque, and you have the choice of a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. The cabin maintains a very retro design with good materials quality, and unlike previous versions, the V6 model is no longer running the snail’s pace that Mustang lovers became accustomed to.

2. 2011 Dodge Challenger Coupe        New Model MSRP: $24,995

The Challenger offers the biggest change over its historical ‘60s and ‘70s predecessors. Body roll has been nicely toned down, and the ride comfort is compliant with many larger family sedans. While the suspension tuning of the base model is slightly floaty, handling has vastly improved over previous versions. The trunk provides 16.2 cubic feet of space, which is a huge increase over competitors and even bests many full-size models. The interior remains functional with a touch of nostalgic flair. The 60/40-split-folding rear seat also possesses a fold-down armrest for the added comfort of rear passengers.

3. 2011 Chevrolet Camaro Coupe        New Model MSRP: $23,200

The most restyled of the new-age pony cars, the Camaro is also the most drastically redesigned. The 3.6L V6 is good for 312 horses and 278 lb.-ft. of torque, making it very competitive with the Mustang for bragging rights at the track. However, stepping into the interior of the vehicle is where you’ll see the biggest gap between competitors. The Camaro is loaded with hard plastics and rough edges, not to mention a retro design that makes it look like someone at Chevy was trying a little too hard to be impressive. Outward visibility is also compromised with the high-arcing hood and narrow side and rear windows.

4. 2011 Dodge Charger        New Model MSRP: $25,395

The Charger actually comes in slightly above the required $25K limit, but most will be able drive one home for under that mark if their haggling skills are anywhere near average. The nicest part about the base model is that the 3.6L V6 also comes with a flex-fuel option. The interior has been stylishly updated over earlier models, replacing several hard plastics and substandard materials. The 15.4 cubic-foot trunk is simply average for this class, but the recalibrated suspensions does offer an impressive feel for such a heavy vehicle. The price, however, needs to come down to be competitive with the leaders in this category.

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