Will Next Gen American Muscle Happen? Here's What's Next for the Mustang, Challenger and Camaro
In the last decade or so, fans of V8 American performance cars have had it very good.
From Coyote-powered Mustang GTs and exotic GT350s, to tire-smoking Scat Pack and Hellcat Dodges to Camaros that push the envelope of track day performance—the current generation of muscle cars (or pony cars if you prefer) has been outstanding for enthusiasts.
But have we passed the peak? Are we reaching the end? The signals are mixed.
We are currently living in a strange time: gasoline performance cars have never been more hyped up, with demand easily outstripping supply, but at the same time automakers are making no secret their plans to convert to electric power and away from internal combustion.
With that in mind. We thought we would check in on an update on where the Mustang, Challenger, Camaro currently stand and what we know about next generation models.
Future of the Mustang
Given Ford’s recent focus on electric vehicles, including the Mustang Mach E electric crossover, one might think that the days of the traditional gas-powered Mustang coupe are numbered.
Fortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. In fact, the Mustang is really the only one of these three cars that we know for sure has a new generation in the works.
Camo'd prototypes of what is almost certainly the next generation Mustang have been spotted recently, and with the current car having been around since the 2015 model year, a debut is likely within the next year.
Based on the spy photos and other leaks, it looks like the platform of the next Mustang won't be too different from the S550, and the Coyote V8 and EcoBoost four-cylinder engines should both be carrying over.
But there are some rumors about new tech Ford may be introducing to the car, including a possible hybrid model, all-wheel-drive and even a manual transmission with an electric clutch that could be operated by hand. Time will tell if any of those features are added for production.
Overall the outlook for Ford fans is good. And while we don’t expect the next generation Mustang to be a massive leap from the current car, that's not a bad thing by any means. And the fact that we know a new generation gas Mustang is coming at all is comforting.
Future of the Challenger
The fate of the Dodge Challenger is surrounded by both mystery and lot of interest. There are couple reasons for this. First, the Challenger is easily the oldest of this trio, first appearing back in 2008.
And despite its age, the upgrades Dodge has done to this car over its lifespan have brought it to new levels of success, with the Challenger recently overtaking the Mustang in sales figures (with the Camaro a distant third).
Needless to say, Dodge now has a large fanbase for this car that didn't really exist a decade ago, so there's a lot riding on the future of the model. And Dodge has confirmed that the current Challenger is on its way out, with production scheduled to wrap up by 2024.
This doesn't necessarily mean the Challenger is dead as a model, as the car was long overdue for a redesign anyway. But Dodge has been tight-lipped about whether or not it will be succeeded by a next gen model.
We do know that Dodge has basically defined itself as the muscle car brand, and that it currently has at least one fully electric "muscle car" in the development, as well as a plug-in-hybrid of some sort.
What we don't know is if there will be a new, V8-powered muscle car to replace the outgoing Challenger (and Charger as well). There have long been rumors about the Challenger leaving its prehistoric LX platform behind for a smaller, lighter platform shared with Alfa Romeo, but at this point it's anyone's guess.
There's also a chance the next gen Challenger might not even use the Challenger name. The return of the Barracuda is another rumor that's been around for a while, but we'd be happy with anything that carries on the Hemi V8 muscle car for another generation.
For now we'll remain cautiously optimistic that Dodge isn't ready to kiss the V8 goodbye just yet.
Future of the Camaro
Where there's less optimism is the future of the Chevrolet Camaro. The current sixth-generation Camaro has always garnered mixed reaction, praised for its performance and handling in particular, but criticized for its awkward cabin, poor visibility and lack of practicality.
Interestingly, most of these things could also be said about the old fourth-generation Camaro before it left the market in the early 2000s. And from all we've heard it looks like sixth gen might be the end of the Camaro line (for now at least).
It appears that the 2023 model year be the last for the sixth gen Camaro (which has been around since the '16 model year) but the bigger story is that GM apparently has no plans to move forward with a seventh generation Camaro.
That's not especially surprising when you consider that Camaro sales figures have been on the decline for years, and there are any of number reasons why the car wasn't as popular as its rivals.
But with the C8 Corvette moving to its mid-engined platform without a manual transmission option, the idea of Chevrolet not selling a traditional front-engined V8 performance car or one with a stick shift is pretty disappointing.
With the Corvette now acting as an American supercar, you'd think there would a healthy demand for a more traditional Chevy V8 muscle car, whether its a next generation Camaro, a return of the Chevelle or Nova nameplate, or something else altogether.
With GM heavily invested in the development of electric cars and hyping up its plan to transition away from gasoline, we wouldn't be surprised to see the Camaro name return on an electric performance car in the next few years, but that its own can of worms.
For now if the scuttlebutt is true and the sixth-gen is indeed the end of the road for the gasoline Camaro and Chevy V8 muscle cars in general that's a little depressing.
Here's hoping we haven't seen the end.
More From Driving Line
- Want to hear more about what Dodge has been cooking up for its first "electric muscle car"? We've got the details right here.