The great debate: Camaro vs. Mustang vs. Challenger

Let me cut right to the chase: the great thing about classic muscle cars was how damn honest they were. What you saw was what you got. These things were built for speed, but they weren’t trying to be all fancy about it like a Ferrari. Take a common man’s car, drop in a big ol’ V8, and lay some rubber. Then add some muscle car parts if you got bored. That’s all there was to it. I still can’t get enough of ‘em.

Now look at what we’re dealing with these days. You’ve got traction control to keep our tires from spinning. Computer screens in the dashboard, because God forbid we have to sit somewhere for a while without some gadget to stare at. And don’t get me started on all these safety standards that keep getting in the way. Hell, you can’t even hang your arm out the window anymore because the doorsill’s too high.

But stop the presses, because they got these so-called modern muscle cars nowadays, right? Chevrolet Camaro SS, Dodge Challenger R/T, Ford Mustang GT. All-American coupes with big V8s, just like the classic muscle cars we drove back in the day.

Well, I got to wondering whether they could make an old gearhead smile, so I went down to the dealerships to find the best muscle car on the market. Manual transmission, windows down, foot to the floor. Put these things through their paces. Not that anyone’s asking for my opinion, but here’s how I figure they stack up.

3. 2013 Chevrolet Camaro SS

Chevy CamaroTo me, there’s not much that’s “retro” about this Chevy. Yeah, you can get a four-pack of gauges inside like the old cars had, but from the outside, the 2013 Camaro looks like a Hot Wheels car my son played with growing up. The original ‘60s Camaro was beautiful. This one’s a cartoon character.

Don’t get me wrong, the power’s still there. Big time. Wood the throttle and you’ve got 426 horses to play with. The exhaust sounds like it can barely breathe, but you can still find plenty of muscle car parts in 2013. I’m thinking a nice cat-back Flowmaster would do the trick.

But you’d still have to crane your neck to see out of this thing. Visibility’s terrible, and the doorsill is at my shoulder. Wham bam, no thank you, ma’am.

2. 2013 Dodge Challenger R/T

Dodge Challenger Muscle CarNow we’re talkin’. This thing’s huge, just like Challengers used to be. It sounds great right from the factory; love that V8 burble out the back like old school muscle cars. The ride’s super smooth, unlike the overly stiff Camaro. You can even fit adults in the back, and there’s plenty of room for their stuff in the trunk.

So why isn’t it number one? Simple: I like a car that I can toss around a little. Just think about the movie Bullitt. Remember how McQueen was in a fastback Mustang, and the guys chasing him were in a Dodge that took up half the road? I don’t need to tell you which car had the upper hand. The new Challenger’s an honest muscle car, that’s for sure, but I want something that’s at home in tight corners, too.

1. 2013 Ford Mustang GT

Ford Mustang GTI keep telling people I’ll never buy a new car again, but tell you what, this modern Mustang muscle car had me thinking twice. You gotta hear the noises this V8 makes, first of all. They say that Ford did something funny with the intake to make it sound better, and you know what, I don’t even care. I could listen to this thing run toward redline all day.

But the best thing about the 2013 Mustang muscle car is that it’s a sports car, too. See, even the sportiest Mustang muscle car from the ‘60s was happiest when the road was straight. But this new one, my goodness, it’ll go around a corner with the best of ‘em. It’s smaller than the other two, so that helps, and the visibility’s better as well.

Truth is, the Mustang’s still got an electronic throttle, electric power steering, and a whole bunch of other unnecessary stuff that gets between me and the road. Those are rental car parts, not muscle car parts. I don’t think this Ford could ever really win my heart.

But if you ask me what’s the best muscle car today for getting an old car guy’s heart pumping, the answer’s clear. Now that I’ve driven one, I’ll always give a nod of respect when I see a new Mustang GT drive by.

 

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Comments

  1. Personally, I think the Mopar wins hands down. The mustang and camaro resemble their brothers but the Mopar nailed it. Far as power goes even tho can get a rousch Stang or LS camaro both super charged, the Mopar can be had with a viper drivetrain. Add to that a super charger and you have something that not only looks the part but blows away its heritage…. My only question is when is Mopar goin to come out with a factory max wedge again? Since the original hemi wasn’t even a good street engine and was often blown away on the street by max wedges.

    • scott Cutright says:

      LS Camaro is the base V6. Nothing Dodge makes comes close to the ZL1 or the z28. I have a 2014 2LT RS v6. 323hp stock. Added a custom throttle body KN cold air intake, dual mode exhaust, and a tune and putting out 358hp now. Challenger RT with Hemi v8 only putting out 374 its also a heavier car.

  2. Todays muscle cars are wannabes. The older ones were so individual you couldn’t confuse them with anything else, the biggest plus, we could work on them ourselves. If something broke or you wanted to modify it, you did, not some dealership mechanic. New rims, chrome whatever, you took off the old rims and chrome and had them done but you put them back on. These wannabes will never be as great.

  3. Chris Kreschollek says:

    This is a good article. I wanted a 69 Camaro in high school, but often wonder if I had the money for a new car which one I would choose.

  4. Have you ever seen Bullit? The Mustang chases the Dodge Charger R/T and never caches it, look it was a movie so it was in the script, but they had to fix the Mustang several times to complete the chase, they did nothign to the Charger.

    • And just a side note… None of these cars are muscle cars. They are Pony cars. Muscle cars, there at this time is only one modern Muscle Car and thats the Charger R/T-SRT8. Pontiac had the G8 but we all know what happened to that brand.

      • 68SuperBee says:

        You are SO correct. These are “pony” cars. I picked up an issue of Muscle Car Review and there were only a couple muscle cars even in the magazine. How disappointing.

  5. Just got the 2014 mustang gt/cs Friday night. It’s amazing!

  6. 5PointOh says:

    I have to say Mustang wins, then its a camaro then challenger. These were the 3 cars i was stuck between buying but after i found out how heavy and slow challenger is, that was out. Camaro is nice and strong but blindspots were a b*tch. I chose the 13 Stang because it was fastest, powerful, and best MPG. I won races with 2011-2012 Camaro SS and i beat my bro who has a 2012 Charger SuperBee

  7. did not have the challenger but did have the cuda (copy of challenger) and have driven the new and loved both. definitely the mopar over the others.

    • Ummm, you have it completely wrong @ken. The Challenger was a copy of the ‘Cuda. The ‘Cuda came out first. Plymouth redesigned the car for 1970. It was going to be all new compared to the older Barracuda models. When Dodge got wind of this, and seeing sales of Mustangs and Camaros, they had a fit. They craved to be the performance division of Chrysler. So they demanded that they be allowed to do their own ‘ponycar’. Plymouth had to give them the design of the new Barracuda, which Dodge then modified and came out with their copy, the Challenger.

  8. Well I purchased a 2013 mustang GT, Wow I love it ! Great power , been getting about 20.5 mpg so far , can’t wait to put the Amsoil in it to how much it helps . The ride is smooth for a sports car and corners good also,I hope to run it at the Good guys track event in Nashville next week !

  9. Gary Schreffler says:

    I purchased a 2013 Mustang GT Premium Convertible, dressed up in Deep Impact Blue. This car is a flat-out beast. Added a cold air intake and a racing throttle, and a few other goodies, and then GT500 style axle-back mufflers (awesome sound, no more drone), and it flat-out hauls the mail!!! But the amazing thing, to me, is that when I am in my week-day commuter mode, I average 25.3MPG for my GT. (I did buy a tuner, and optimized the computer for both economy and performance). On the weekends, I swap tunes, and who cares about MPG??!!! Great car, great performance, great looks.
    I could not be happier!!

  10. Karen Griego says:

    I just bought a new 2013 Camero and your review is incorrect and it looks slightly biased. The new Camero is quick with a touch of a toe. I happen to be a senior citizen who raced the old and the new. I don’t have any trouble with the size or getting into this sweet little ride. No it isn’t the old but all the perks really make it a fast car with loads of extras and wonderful modern technology. Mine is sleek black and stealth and will kick lots of buts as soon as I put on enough miles on the engine.

  11. Karen Griego says:

    PS. Who buys a big V8 for gas mileage?

  12. Bought a 2013 camaro 6 cyl. stick. the drivetrain is made here in usa. I got turned off to the mustang when I found out their trans was made in China. I did some research and found out they were grinding in gears and popping out of gear occassionally. I spoke to a dealership salesman about it and he told me that car parts come from all over the world, but he didn’t disagree about the problem with their trans. It’s a shame, because the mustang was my 1st choice.

  13. So what’s better a 2012 camaro or a 2012 challenger?

    • scott Cutright says:

      Depends, want raw horsepower with good brakes and handling the Camaro SS or LZ1. My 2014 Camaro 2LT RS v6 with KN CAI new throttle body, and dual mode exhaust has only 20hp less than the Challenger RT.

      • But it still sounds like an old Chevy S-10…
        I’ll take my 2013 R/T Challenger over that wound up V6 any day.

  14. I love Mustangs and owned one every 4 years from 96 until 2002 but after driving the Challenger R/T I changed my mid. Yes the Mustang is faster and lighter, but it’s practically a two seater and no trunk space. The Challenger is also a rides nicer. I’m a avid biker and I can fit my mountain bike in the trunk and still have plenty of room for at least two suit case and then some. So I guess your decision will depend on the functionality of the car. As I said, I’m a die hard Mustang lover and was even on my way to purchase the 5.0 when it came out and on my way to get my Mustang stopped at the Dodge dealer and the rest is history.

  15. I test drove the 2013 dodge challenger rt and the car is so
    Badass. It has power nice interior navy is in the right spot
    The one I drove had an air intake, but it’s just for looks so I think they goofed there. Why you say. Because what they charge for it. You think it would atleast function. Like the mustang. This car had 20′s. There nice but the ride is a bit stiff. With less air between your rim and the pavement you will feel the pothole so to speak. Your going to pay more when you go to replace them one day as well. The dealers and managers are so fun to deal with when you go to find out what they cost this is what can make or break the deal. You love the car. You want the car, but when it comes to price overall and the way your
    treated with their tactics it can be such a bummer. Then
    you go home to your old piece of shit and say ahh fuk it.
    I’ll keep my old one. Anyone know what I mean.

  16. Martin Lomen says:

    JG Gearhead, it was 2012 when you wrote this, why dint you test drive the 392 challenger all Naturally Aspirated. the car puts both the camaro ss and the mustang gt to shame; throw a twin screw supercharger on it, and it makes the shelby and ls camaro look like molested school boys. and for your info, Steve Mcqueen’s Bullitt was specially built because the factory fast back couldn’t outrun the all mighty 440 charger, its a fact, look it up my friend. Mopar or No car :)

    • JG Gearhead says:

      Why no Challenger 392? Because it plays in a different league price-wise. The Camaro SS and Mustang GT start around $30,000, as does the Challenger R/T, so they are natural rivals. But the Challenger 392 is over $40,000. Apples and oranges, my man! Thanks for the comment!

      • Well…it appears I am in the minority…I drive a 2011 Camaro. Sure I like all 3 but chose the Camaro..maybe because I am different and like to be the under dog…hey…wait a minute……hasn’t the Camaro….ahmmm….outsold both the Mustang and Challenger each year since 2010? …..no…. can’t be. LOL.

        • Alaskasportsman says:

          Uh no… the mustangs have always outsold the camaro and the challenger. #1 selling sports car in US. Check your facts Matt.

  17. I bought a 2013 Challenger R/T and it is time to play a little with 1200 miles under it’s belt. I had a 1970 Challenger in ‘70 and after I got through most of the manufacturing defects, I loved it. In 2011 for my birthday, I went to ford first and took out the Stang GT. Then to Chevy for the Camaro and ended with the Challenger. Camaro did nothing for me. Hard to see out of. Could not stand looking at instrument panel. .. Ford was the most fun. Perfect sound, fantastic retro dash, great handling in curves and love the power. Challenger felt like I was sitting in my old one but with all the modern stuff. Love the power. Two or three seconds slower doesn’t matter. Love the room the others don’t have. I can fit my road bike in the trunk. The Challenger for ’13 handles the curves better than the ’11. I read they made changes and it is true. Finally, I knew that if I had a Stang, every time I saw a Challenger, I would drool. These three are Pony cars as Albee above pointed out. The muscle cars were the GTX, GTO, Chevelle SS, Torino, Road Runner…

  18. Well I test drove all ( v8s) and the GT mustang blows them away. Great 6 speed, tons of torque. Outside they all look good, Challenger Srt8 looks best. Camaro is ugly dash and horrible blind spots. The Dodge looks great but is just to big. Mustang just rocks, simple interior, wicked 2&3rd gear and in grabber blue, everyone compliments me on my car. Add a Borla exhaust and disable sound tube and its near perfect. The tech package has its faults, but as driver car it is nasty.

    • Alaskasportsman says:

      Not really… there’s plenty of videos of the 5.0 destroying the challenger too. There’s a lot to take into consideration before you make a claim that one is better than the other. I recently watched a stang gt smoke an srt8 challenger!

  19. Yet again someone who dosent own either car , I own a gt 500 and a srt supercharged and it don’t put the Shelby to shame both tuned putting down close to 700hp to the crank, its comes down to a coin flip, love both cars next is a vette , love American muscle

  20. scott Cutright says:

    Lol. The camaro v6 has as much HP as the challenger rt. Not much muscle. And camaro beats the mustang any day on the track.

    • Mark lincoln says:

      What? I don’t know where you got your info but you are wrong, the mustang most definitely out performs the camaro hands down

  21. Mark lincoln says:

    I don’t know where you got your info, the mustang definitely out performs the camaro hands down

  22. William Crenshaw says:

    I would have to go with the v6 camaro they have a good amount of hp and there way lighter then any charger or challenger which gives them a edge but I’m sorry we might have more hp than a mustang but the Mustang will wear are ass out on torque!!!

  23. Well, when were talking style, i think its the Dodge challenger that wins it. (opinion) the dodge challenger really just sticks with american muscle. The Camaro looks like a sports car more than a muscle car, but dont get me wrong, it still looks good. The mustang models like the 2014 mustang GT is good but the 2015 mustang is just a bunch of european bundled up into a car. the challenger sticks to american muscle and i love it.

  24. TEAM R RACING says:

    I have a new 2014 mustang GT, my brother owns a 2013 challenger r/t, we ran twice yesterday with the mustang winning both races very easy. Mustang by far fastest of the two.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Advanced Auto Parts Bloggers choose the Mustang over both the Charger and Camaro: But if you ask me what’s the best muscle car today for getting an old car guy’s heart pumping, the answer’s clear. Now that I’ve driven one, I’ll always give a nod of respect when I see a new Mustang GT drive by. [...]

  2. [...] Advanced Auto Parts Bloggers choose the Mustang over both the Charger and Camaro: But if you ask me what’s the best muscle car today for getting an old car guy’s heart pumping, the answer’s clear. Now that I’ve driven one, I’ll always give a nod of respect when I see a new Mustang GT drive by. [...]

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