Motor Trend sub-captions their comparison as “The Comparo We’ve Waited 35 Years to Write.” The rest of us call it “The Comparo We’ve Waited 5 Years to Read.” That’s right, we have all been waiting for this since the 2005 Mustang came out. The Big Three (not so big anymore) in a Pony Car shootout.
There were no surpises in the outcome of the test. But you should read it. It adds up about right. I would put the Challenger in second place for myself. But I am older and actually do care about back seat room with two sons growing faster than weeds.
The Camaro wins the comparison for all the right reasons. And I am a Camaro fan myself having owned a 93 Camaro and a 67 Camaro. If I was really in the market for one of these it would be a hard choice between the Camaro and the Challenger. Here are my points:
Camaro - Definitely the performance champ, but more important than this comparison test is the performance from the V-6 Camaro. Motor Trend tested all 4 Camaros (V-8 manual/auto & V-6 manual/auto). The V-6 Camaro is the runaway hit compared to the other car’s V-6 offerings. I would love a V-6 Camaro with an auto. A quick enough, nimble enough car with lots of style. It would be fast enough for driving on the street (the only place I drive) and would make a great car to pass on to one of my sons when they are older.
Challenger - I think the Challenger wins in the styling department… on the exterior. The interior is blah, and that is a big concern. I drove an SRT8 version and can attest to the fact the car is BIG. I also had my son get in the back seat of a R/T at a car show and the back seat is livable. I would definitely get the 5.7 Hemi R/T. A very fast cruiser on the street, where I do my driving. I firmly believe the Challenger equipped with a Hemi will be the highest valued car in 25+ years. It will be made in lower volume than the other Pony/Muscle cars, and none of the others have a great sounding name for their engines. Yea, it’s got a HEMI! That sounds a lot better than, Yea, it’s got a LS3.
Mustang - I really like the Mustang, and it only took Ford 5 years to listen to me about the sequential taillights. Apparantly they did exactly what I predicted back in 2003 with the styling. Yes, I said 2003. I predicted long before the ’05 Mustang hit the streets that they would add styling queues from the 69-70 Mustang at the first redesign of the then new Mustang. The bulge in the quarter panel and the headlight change are right from the 69-70 model Mustangs. Unfortunately the Mustang is not in the same class as the other cars. The lack of independent rear suspension and the cheap feeling interior are just too much for an aging 45 year old man. I want more sophistication in a mid $30K car than the Mustang provides. I have driven my brother-in-law’s 05 Mustang Convertible a few times and it feels cheap. This worked in the 60′s, but it doesn’t work for us old-timers reliving our youth. I could see getting a Bullitt edition Mustang, but at that price the other two are more compelling and have a better chance of becoming future classics. Well, they all have the same chance, it’s just that I think the others will be worth more in V-8 trim in the distant future than the Mustang (Shelby editions do NOT count).
That’s my basic take on this. I will probably go into more detail in a formal article on my web site in the near future. I should just test drive each car at a dealer and declare for myself which is the best Pony/Muscle Car of the 21st Century.