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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A red 2017 Chevy Camaro ZL1 is shown driving on a race track.

The 4 Most Powerful Performance Cars You Can Find Used

Do you have a need for speed? As a car enthusiast, you know that speed usually comes at a premium in the automotive industry, but there’s a way around paying top-dollar to satisfy your need for speed. All it takes is visiting your used car dealer and some creative shopping to get behind the wheel of a powerful car. So, which models should you shop for and why? Here’s a closer look at a few of the top-performers you’ll want to look for on the used lot that will undeniably get your heart pumping with what’s under the hood.

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 (650 Horsepower)

The 2017 Chevy Camaro ZL1 starts our list with its astonishing power and rich history in the Chevy lineup. Making its official debut in 1969, the Camaro was designed to give drivers the adrenaline-packed power that was typically restricted to the racetrack. So, what makes the 2017 Camaro ZL1 a great purchase? Loaded with features and packing a heavy punch, the Camaro is a great value that can easily handle itself at top speeds.

Powered by an LT4 supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine and either a 6-speed manual transmission with Active Rev Match or a 10-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission, the Camaro ZL1 delivers a jaw-dropping 650 horsepower. This impressive power doesn’t come at the cost of performance with 11 heat exchangers that cool the engine to ensure the ZL1 is always ready for the road ahead and Brembo brakes that deliver incredible stopping power even at high speeds. These features, along with the ZL1’s exclusive Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires, add to the car’s impressive performance that takes it from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.4 seconds, an 11.5-second quarter-mile, and a top speed of nearly 200 mph.

The ZL1’s interior is exactly what you’d expect from a performance-focused sports car. Recaro front seats come standard, as does a suede flat-bottom sport steering wheel with a shift knob. You’ll also have access to an 8-inch color touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, as well as an available 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot that keeps you connected wherever the road takes you.

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon (840 Horsepower)

Hell on wheels for all the right reasons, the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is the next speed demon on our list, and for good reason. With a 9.65 second quarter-mile time at a top speed of 140 mph, the Demon is the fastest production drag car ever built and was officially banned by the National Hot Rod Association for being too fast for the drag strip. After all, it reaches 0 to 60 mph in just 2.3 seconds and delivers the highest g-force acceleration of any production car.

The Demon’s power comes from its supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI Demon V8 engine under the hood. Delivering 840 horsepower, this is the secret behind the Demon’s impressive front wheelie. That’s right – the Demon’s power launches it to life with the sports car setting the world record for the longest wheelie from a standing start at 2.92 feet, which makes it the first production car to achieve such a feat. This wheelie-inducing power is courtesy of the Demon’s Torque Reserve, another first in a factory-produced drag car. The tool optimizes the engine’s airflow and delivers immediate acceleration at launch.

Equipped with street-legal Nitto drag radial tires, the Demon is all about performance and allows you to customize the car to perform exactly how you want. This customization is achieved through Performance Pages and Drive Modes. The Performance Pages give you real-time data on the Demon’s performance from reaction time and coolant temperature to vehicle speed, oil temperature, and battery voltage. The Drive Modes allow you to customize this performance by selecting between Auto (Street) Mode, Drag Mode, and Custom Mode.

A red used 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is parked on a track.

2020 Shelby GT500 (760 Horsepower)

No list of performance cars will ever be complete without the inclusion of the Shelby GT500. The 2020 model is especially notable since it’s the most powerful street-legal Ford ever produced. This power comes from its hand-built supercharged 5.2-liter V8 engine and TREMEC 7-speed dual-clutch transmission that delivers 760 horsepower and 625 lb-ft of torque. This power is also what pushes the GT500 to a 3.4-second 0 to 60 time and an 11.3-second quarter mile.

Outfitted with track-ready Michelin tires and Brembo brakes, the Shelby GT500 is lighter than its predecessors, offering quick acceleration and responsive handling for an adrenaline-packed experience behind the wheel. You can enhance the Shelby’s handling even further with the available Handling Package or the Carbon Fiber Track Package. The Handling Package adds a spoiler with a Gurney flap and adjustable strut top mounts, the latter of which is a necessity on the track since it allows you to adjust the camber of the wheels. The Carbon Fiber Track Package pushes the Shelby’s limits even further by adding 20-inch carbon fiber wheels and wider 11.5-inch rear wheels. The package also reduces the weight by eliminating the rear seat and adding an adjustable carbon fiber GT4 track wing and splitter wickers with an integrated dive plane for better aerodynamics.

The interior of the Shelby GT500 is just as exceptional as its exterior and what’s under the hood. Designed with racing in mind, the Shelby GT500 cockpit is outfitted in premium materials like a carbon-fiber instrument panel and suede door panel inserts with accent stitching. The racing seats and safety harnesses offer the utmost comfort and safety when you’re behind the wheel, while the 12-inch full-color instrument cluster gives you all the info you need within eyesight. You’ll also stay connected with the 8-inch SYNC 3 touchscreen display, which offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration as well as SiriusXM satellite radio.

2019 Tesla Model S Performance (778 Horsepower)

You might be surprised by the addition of a Tesla to the list, but the Model S earned its place by delivering 778 horsepower and 841 lb-ft of instant torque. Equipped with Tesla’s largest 100 kWh battery pack, the Model S is proof that you don’t need a supercharged V8 engine to deliver top speeds. The Model S can reach 0 to 60 mph in just 2.4 seconds with what Tesla calls “Ludicrous Mode.”

The Tesla’s incredible speed and capability are just as surprising as its minimalist interior that drastically differs from the cockpit design found on the other sports cars on our list. At the heart of the interior is an oversized touchscreen display that gives you access to all the vehicle’s functions. Rather than knobs and buttons, you can use the screen to sync your smartphone, access the climate control, and more. This gives the Model S a truly modern aesthetic that pairs well with the power it delivers under the hood – and unlike the other two-door sports cars on this list, the four-door Model S offers plenty of comfort for your family and friends as well.

A blue used 2019 Tesla Model S is driving down a road.

Do You Have a Need for Speed?

“I feel the need… the need for speed.” This famous line from the classic film Top Gun rings true even in the automotive industry, where many drivers can’t help but satisfy their need for speed. While performance cars typically boast higher price tags thanks to their performance-focused components, you can easily sidestep paying full price for a sports car by shopping at your local used car dealer. In doing so, you’ll discover your need for speed is within reach, even if it means leaving your trade-in in a cloud of dust.

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