American Muscle

So bad they’re good, muscle cars are back in 2009 in a big way.

For the first time in decades, the Ford Mustang is facing competition on all fronts. The reborn Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger both join it in a segment that’s all about style and speed.

Forget for a moment all of the goody two-shoes environmentally conscious cars Washington wants the Detroit 3 to build: These are the ones that look best in the commercials and get shoppers into showrooms. They may not sell in huge numbers, but you can’t pay for the kind of pride they bring to a brand’s image.

More important for the accountants, all of them are new this year, and in hot demand, so the ones they do sell may not need all the profit-poaching rebates and incentives the more mundane metal needs to move.

No. 3: Powerful Efficiency