11 Powerful Vehicles Under $50,000

Torque provides the pull that moves trailers and hauls vehicles between work sites, but it is also the cranking force that sends smaller cars firing out of a standstill. Much of the equation depends on the weight of the vehicle in question in relation to its torque quotient, measured in pound-feet.

In the interest of finding the best torque-to-weight ratio of vehicles in different price classes, Auto Blog crunched the numbers and came up the top 11 from the current and past model-year crop. There are some surprises in the list, but recall that the measurement used is pounds of weight per pound-foot of torque, so smaller electric vehicles now have a chance in what used to be the stomping ground of only muscle cars and heavy-duty trucks.

Here are the best 11 torque-to-weight ratios in vehicles below $50,000.


11. 2015 Volvo S60 T6 R-Design ($43,550)

With 325 horsepower and 354 pound-foot of torque pulling its sub-3,700-pound curb weight, this Volvo sport sedan puts up an impressive 9.966 ratio, good for 11th best among vehicles in production. It uses a 3.0-liter six-cylinder turbo engine to generate that force, giving a brand known for safety a powerful machine available in its 2015 roster. An S60 T6 R-Design can shoot from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.4 seconds. The high crash-test scores the S60 received proves Volvo hasn’t forgotten its reputation for security along with its quest for power.

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10. 2014 Chevy SS ($43,475)

Packing GM’s powerhouse 6.2-liter V8 engine capable of 415 horsepower and 415 pound-foot of torque, the Chevy SS has a lot of muscle to pull its four-door sedan frame down the road. Its 9.578 pounds per pound-foot of torque make it a worthy car on either road and track, capable of shooting from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in 4.7 seconds, according to Chevrolet. In terms of pull per pound, the SS has enough to crack the top 10 under $50K.

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9. 2015 Chevy Camaro SS ($34,500)

The 6.2-liter V8 makes even more thunder in the 2015 Chevy Camaro SS. Its 2015 model is capable of producing 426 horsepower with 420 pound-foot of torque. That formula gave the Camaro Super Sport an edge over its brand rival with 9.305 pounds per pound-foot. Chevy’s testing on the Camaro ran the 0 to 60 sprints in 4.7 seconds, matching the Chevy SS quote, but there is no mistaking the two of these cars on the road. Camaro’s reputation and muscle-bound looks precede it.


8. 2014 Dodge Charger SRT ($47,385)

American muscle cars always hold prominent positions on the horsepower-per-dollar meter, and the most torque-per-pound list also features a number of Detroit automakers (in one case, with an Italian parent company). Fiat-Chrysler’s first entry is the Dodge Charger SRT from the 2014 model year. Featuring the 6.4-liter Hemi V8, drivers have access to 470 horsepower and 470 pound-foot of torque. Factor in the Charger SRT weight and it comes to a ratio of 9.272 pounds per pound-foot.

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7. 2015 Ford Mustang GT ($32,100)

The new Ford Mustang GT will likely show up on countless auto lists in the coming years. Ford made good on its promise to increase the power specs of its new generation of 5.0 pony cars, with the 2015 GT checking in with 435 horsepower and 400 pound-foot of torque. Motor Trend tests from September has the new GT hitting 60 miles per hour from a standstill in 4.4 seconds, so there is good use of its 9.263 pounds per pound-foot torque ratio. For those curious about the Ecoboost Mustang, its ration of 11.013 pounds per pound-foot of torque make the turbo ‘Stang tops in the class under $26,000.


6. 2014 Ram 2500 ($38,295)

On the utility end of the spectrum, drivers looking for exceptional torque-to-weight ratios will find their answers in the top U.S.-branded pickup trucks on the market. The first checking in is the 2014 Ram 2500 with its 9.095 pounds per pound-foot of torque. Power comes from the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 that can produce 410 horses and 429 pound-foot of torque. Compared to the weight of the truck, that’s a terrific amount of pull capacity at a price price under $40K.

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5. 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT 392 ($45,995)

Fiat-Chrysler recently placed last among major automakers in fuel economy, and its many powerful automobiles on this list explain why. Take the 2015 Challenger SRT 392 and its 8.907 pounds per pound-foot of torque. This explosive retro beast houses Dodge’s 6.4-liter Hemi capable of 485 horsepower and 475 pound-foot of torque. With this level of pull, there is no question what direction Dodge is headed with its 2015 line. With its quarter-mile in the low-12-second range, it is difficult to find a more thrilling muscle car on the market.

Chevrolet Spark EV

4. 2015 Chevy Spark EV ($27,645)

Electric vehicles have access to instant torque that allows them to power instantly off the line. If the race were from o to 30, little go-cart rides like a Smart Electric Drive or Chevy Spark EV will typically outrun muscle cars. In the case of the Spark EV, there is 327 pound-foot of torque in this very small package, enough for a ratio of 8.765 pounds per pound-foot. Even with a fraction of the horsepower muscle cars on this list produce, the Spark EV can hit 60 miles per hour from a standstill in 7.2 seconds.


3. 2014 Ram 3500($39,070)

As is often the case with sales stats, big pickup trucks end up crowding the winner’s circle of torque-to-weight ratios. In the 2014 Ram 3500, the ratio of 8.631 pounds per pound-foot of torque placed third among vehicles under a starting price of $50,000 . Using a 6.7-liter Cummings turbo diesel engine, the Ram 3500 of 2014 produces a maximum 850 pound-foot or torque (a towing capacity of 30,000 pounds). Only the heaviness of this massive truck kept it out of the top spot.


2. 2015 Chevy Silverado 3500HD ($42,000)

In the latest line of Chevy Silverados, the Duramax 6.6-liter turbo diesel V8 has the power to churn 765 pound-foot of torque, giving Chevy the edge over Ram at 8.596 pounds per pound-foot. The 2015 Silverado 3500HD follows on the footsteps of the 2014 that topped J.D. Power’s Initial Quality list for heavy duty pickups. As an equipment-towing machine or load hauler, it has few peers on the market in the price range. GMC Sierra heavy-duty models pack the same level of power.

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1. 2014 Ford F-250 Super Duty ($39,525)

To pull the top spot on this list, Ford pulled off a remarkable feat in torque-to-weight ratios in its 2014 F-250 Super Duty line. A 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 turbo diesel engine is the propelling force, offering up a maximum 400 horsepower and 800 pound-foot of torque. This brute strength has little problem moving the 6,589 pounds the F-250 brings to the scale. At a ratio of 7.662 pounds per pound-foot of torque, the F-250 is the only vehicle to get below 8.0 under $50,000. In fact, it takes the six-figure Mercedes E63 AMG to top that ratio.