We've long maintained that we live in the best era of automotive history to date. Today's vehicles are safer, more efficient, faster, more powerful and more controllable than ever before.

Need proof? In an age dominated by talk of ever tighter fuel economy regulations, buyers now have access to a staggering number of vehicles with more than 500 horsepower. Just 10 years ago, if you wanted to bring home a showroom stock vehicle with that kind of power, your options were limited to either the Ferrari 575M or the Lamborghini Murcielago. Now there are over 70 models with that kind of grunt on tap.

All told, there are over eighteen brands with at least one 500+hp model for sale in their ranks right now. Even better, those dyno numbers are being accomplished with smaller, more fuel-efficient engines. While most of the big-power vehicles come from European brands like BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, General Motors and Ford have also entered the fray lately. Chrysler will do the same with the company's soon-to-be-unveiled SRT Viper.

Interestingly enough, buyers have an even loftier horsepower goal to look toward these days. Of every car sold in the U.S., just 13 produce more than 600 horsepower.

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