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2012 Ford Mustang GT
2012 Ford Mustang GT | $38,699
A classic American muscle car with the longest pedigree of our five picks. The Mustang exudes power and the big V-8 engine under the hood delivers. "I think the Mustang is the way to go if you want raw power," says Mohamed Bouchama of the site
Despite the obvious appeal to the testosterone crowd, the Mustang is actually a big hit with the ladies and the bestseller on our list. The GT comes in either a six-speed automatic or manual transmission. Both versions deliver surprisingly good fuel economy, especially on the highway. The car also comes with standard FordSYNC, the company's voice-activated, in-vehicle communications and entertainment system.
Reliability is the only sore point for our experts: there have been a worrying number of complaints from buyers who opted for the manual transmission, says Jack Baruth, a race car driver and blogger for thetruthaboutcars.com website.
Best deal: It was a real horse race, but all three of our experts put the Mustang ahead by a nose. Despite some concerns with the manual transmission, the car delivers big performance for a reasonable price.