Mention the words “muscle car” and there’s no doubt two erstwhile competitors will come to mind: Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang. In fact, the two sporty coupes have fought it out for most of the last four decades. The only time Mustang reigned supreme was during Camaro’s seven-year hiatus (2003-2009). Chevy finally resurrected the Camaro for the 2010 model year – and came roaring back in sales. But Mustang rose to the challenge, amping up horsepower in both V6 and V8 models for the 2011 model year. While it’s almost impossible to deter aficionados from their favorite, for the rest of the buying public, which one comes out on top in a head-to-head new car comparison? Let’s take a look.
Both muscle cars debuted in the mid-1960s. Ford launched the Mustang in 1965, based on the platform of the compact Falcon and, for two years, enjoyed no marketplace competition. That all changed in 1967 when Chevrolet debuted its own pony car, the Camaro, which was based on the upcoming redesigned 1968 Chevy Nova.
Fast-forward to 2011 and the two sporty cars are still duking it out for dominance. Sales-wise, the Camaro seems to have leaped ahead – at least, for now. As for the rest of the attributes in the new car comparison, you be the judge.
The 2011 Chevrolet Camaro is a four-seat coupe available in V6-powered LS, 1LT and 2LT trim levels, and V8-powered 1SS and 2SS trims. There’s also an RS package (available on all trims except LS). Styling-wise, Camaro is unchanged from the 2010 model. New for 2011, Camaro V6 gets a bump in horsepower from 304 to 312. In addition, OnStar is standard and the 2LT and 2SS trims now include a head-up display.
Ford Mustang, which received a significant face-lift last year, continues into 2011 model year with only subtle styling changes. As before, there are numerous Mustang models to choose from, ranging from: V6, V6 Premium, V6 Convertible, GT, V6 Premium Convertible, GT Premium, GT Convertible, and GT Premium Convertible. But the big news is Mustang’s two all-new engines (more about that below).
What about pricing? Starting manufacturer’s suggested retail prices (MSRPs) are fairly reasonable for what you get. Chevrolet Camaro MSRPs range from $22,680 for the V6-powered LS to $34,295 for the V8-powered 2SS. Ford Mustang MSRPs range from $24,490 for the V6 to $38,195 for the GT Premium Convertible. There’s also the race-worthy and track-ready 2011 Shelby GT500 that starts at $49,495 and Shelby GT500 Convertible that begins at $54,495. What, no Camaro Convertible? That’s coming in spring 2011 with MSRPs ranging from $29,150 to $39,650.
One point separates sporty cars from all the rest and that’s performance. To be a hit with consumers looking for exhilarating driving at affordable prices, any would-be contender has to deliver superb performance, stellar handling, and an overall driving experience that’s at least compelling, if not seat-of-your-pants awesome. Both Camaro and Mustang have their strong points in this new car comparison.
Camaro: Aside from what some reviewers refer to as its “drool-worthy” exterior design, Chevrolet amped up the horsepower equation in the V6 to 312 (from 304 in 2010). That’s a 7-horsepower advantage over the Mustang V6. In V8 form, Camaro again wins the horsepower war, boasting 426 horses to Mustang GT’s 412. Specifically, Camaro’s engines include: 312-hp 3.6-liter V6 that delivers 278 pound-feet of torque and the 426-hp (with manual transmission) 6.2-liter V8 that provides 420 pound-feet of torque. Six-speed manual transmission is standard on both, while a six-speed automatic with Tapshift is optional. Note that the automatic transmission-equipped SS delivers 400 horsepower. EPA fuel economy for Camaro’s powerplants comes in at 17 mpg city/28 mpg highway (V6) and 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway for the V8 (16/25 for automatic).
Mustang: Ford outfits 2011 Mustangs with two new engines, both employing twin independent variable camshaft timing (TiVCT) and cold air induction. This allows the engines to deliver more power, greater low-end torque off the line, and increased fuel efficiency. There’s the new 305-hp 3.7-liter V6 engine that provides 280 pound-feet of torque and achieves EPA-estimated city/highway fuel economy of 19/31 mpg with available automatic transmission (19/29 with manual). Then there’s the smoking 5.0-liter V8 in Mustang GT that pumps out 412 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque – and still achieving EPA-estimated fuel economy of 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway (automatic) and 17/26 (manual). All engines are mated to six-speed transmissions (manual or automatic).
Back of the book entry: While Camaro V6 tops the spec charts vs Mustang V6, the ‘stang weighs less, thus making fairly identical straight-line performance. Many reviewers say that the Mustang is a better car to drive around corners.
Camaro: All Camaro trims come standard with dual-stage front and side impact airbags for front-seat occupants, and head-curtain side impact airbags for all passengers. Four-wheel disc brakes, four-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS) and Stabilitrak electronic stability control with traction control are also standard. Reviewers have complained about visibility issues from the driver’s seat, but this is a fairly common muscle car sticking point. A strong selling feature for 2011 is rear parking assist, standard on 2LT and 2SS (and available on 1LT). A full suite of OnStar services (including roadside assistance, automatic crash response, stolen vehicle assistance, emergency services, remote door unlock, hands-free calling, and vehicle diagnostics) is available for the first six months – and includes Turn-by-Turn Navigation. The 2011 Chevrolet Camaro has yet to be tested by the federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). But the 2010 model, which is virtually identical, earned four of five stars in frontal impacts and a perfect five stars in driver side crashes. Camaro also earned a five-star rating in rollover tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not tested the 2010 or 2011 Camaro.
Mustang: Standard safety features include AdvanceTrac electronic stability control, all-speed traction control, front and rear ventilated disc brakes, four-wheel ABS, dual-stage front airbags, and front-seat side airbags. To improve driver visibility issues, Ford added small insets on both side mirrors to open up the field of view and help eliminate blind spots. A rearview camera is available on Mustang V6 Premium and GT Premium. Located in the rear spoiler, the rearward image is displayed on Sync’s 8-inch screen (or in the rearview mirror in Mustangs without Sync). In NHTSA testing for the 2010 model (the 2011 Mustang has not yet been tested), Mustang Coupe and Convertible earned a perfect five star rating in frontal and side driver testing and in rollover protection. In side rear passenger testing, the agency gave all Mustangs a four-star rating, while noting a safety concern on convertible models. The IIHS gave the 2011 Mustang Coupe and Convertible a “Good” rating in frontal offset tests, while in side-impact testing, the Coupe earned an “Acceptable” and the Convertible a “Good” rating.
Interior and Special Features
Camaro: Despite cramped head and legroom in the backseat, the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro is filled with enough standard and optional features that are sure to delight consumers. These include Bluetooth connectivity, in-dash CD player with auxiliary input jack and MP3 playback, and USB port. New for 2011, Camaro has an optional head-up display system. Trunk space, however, is the least in the class at 11.3 cubic feet. There’s also a high liftover and small opening that hampers stuffing things in the trunk.
Mustang: Reviewers are mostly satisfied with Mustang’s four-passenger interior, albeit with some reservations about its ergonomic quirks and cramped backseat. But they all rave about the long list of standard and optional features. Note that the V6 Premium is a better bet for quality than the base V6. Standout features include color-changing illumination system and Ford’s Sync infotainment system. Opt for premium trim and get leather seats, Sirius Satellite Radio and a split-folding rear seat, among other goodies. If you’re looking for cargo space, there are 13.4 cubic feet in the coupe and a scant 9.6 cubic feet in convertible Mustangs.
Summing it Up
In this new car comparison pitting the 2011 Camaro vs. Mustang, suffice to say that neither muscle car is everyone’s choice for a daily driver. That said, however, both have much to offer consumers who yearn for a distinctive sporty car that delivers on its promise. Horsepower is one consideration, along with nimble handling, eye-catching style, and reputation – of course.
Camaro vs. Mustang Comparison Table
|Specifications||Chevy Camaro 2SS||Ford Mustang V8|
|AVERAGE FUEL USAGE||20.0 mpg||22.5 mpg|
|POWER||426 hp||412 hp|
|TORQUE||420 ft-lbs.||390 ft-lbs.|
|ACCELERATION (0-60)||4.6 seconds||4.8 seconds|