In the world of muscle cars, there’s no greater rivalry than Mustang versus Camaro. Since the late ‘60s, Camaros and Mustangs have lined up at dragstrips across the country to see just which V8-powered beast is the fastest, the most powerful, and the best looking.
Since then the cars have changed substantially. Both cars are larger, safer, and more technologically advanced than ever before. Both now come with smaller, 4-cylinder engines to save on gas while still providing more power than anything seen in the ‘60s. And both cars have supercharged V8s to provide even more power than anyone in the ‘60s could have ever dreamed.
Because of this, there are now more trims, options, and packages for both the Mustang and Camaro than perhaps any other car on the road. But one thing has always remained true with both cars: somewhere in that dense morass of available engines, there’s a big, honking, naturally aspirated V8 just waiting to be unleashed.
On the Camaro, it’s the SS. On the Mustang, it’s the GT. But which V8-powered muscle car is better?
If you were to simply compare engines, the winner would be hard to tell. The Mustang GT comes with a 5.0-L Coyote V8 that pumps out 460 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. That edges out the Camaro SS by just 5 hp, with the Chevy getting 455 hp from its 6.2-L V8. But the Camaro has better torque with 455 lb-ft pressing tangentially on its crank.
Both cars make zero to sixty in about 4 seconds, although the Camaro’s extra torque will be the one that you feel a bit more.
Both cars also come with either a 6-speed manual transmission or the option of a new 10-speed automatic. The automatic is without a doubt the better option (and the only option for achieving that 4-second zero to sixty time), although it does add an extra cost to either vehicle.
Strangely enough, it’s actually the exact same 10-speed automatic transmission in both cars. Ford developed the highly efficient 10-speed and gave it to GM in a technological sharing agreement. This makes one of the rare instances where both a GM and Ford car share a transmission, so any differences in performance can’t be blamed on the gearbox.
Despite the larger engine, it’s actually the Mustang that has worse fuel economy. Not that fuel economy is all that much of a concern when dealing with big, V8-powered muscle cars, but it's one of the few hard edges that the Camaro SS can claim over the Mustang GT.
So if there’s little difference under the hood besides fuel economy and 5 measly horses, what about inside the cabin? Here is a different story, with the Ford taking a more conservative approach to the Camaro’s more lively cockpit.
Both cars have 8-inch infotainment displays in the middle and both have analog instrument clusters behind the wheel, but that’s where the similarities end. The Mustang’s interior looks like something out of an F-150, while the Camaro’s is more streamlined and modern, with recessed switches, an Alcantara-covered steering wheel, and circular vents down low near the shifter to keep your hand cool. It certainly won’t be for everyone, but the Camaro seems to be embracing the future while the Mustang is desperately trying to not offend anyone.
One thing that the Mustang can claim over the Camaro is visibility. The Camaro’s window line is extremely high, making it difficult to see over the hood or out of blind spots. Even with an 8-way adjustable seat (2 more than the Mustang), shorter drivers might find the Camaro to be uncomfortable to drive in.
At base, the Mustang GT costs $35,355, while the Camaro costs $37,995. The Camaro comes with a few nice features to justify the $2,500 premium, such as stock Brembo brakes, an Infotainment that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and more USB slots. However, things change dramatically once you start adding performance packages.
Spend a good $7,000 more and you can give both the Camaro and Mustang fancy magnetic ride suspension, sway bars, larger Brembo brakes, and a host of other goodies. The Camaro gets RECARO racing seats and heads-up display, while the Mustang gets Michelin Sport Cup 2 Tires, larger 19-inch wheels, and even further suspension refinements that make the car handle not like a big, lumbering muscle car, but like a legitimate sports car.
And unlike the Camaro, the Mustang has an available driver assist package that provides it with adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping, and automatic high beams. The Camaro gets some of these driver assist features on the 2SS trim, but that increases the base price to $43,000 and doesn’t include all the fancy racing goodies from the 1LE performance pack.
Ultimately, which car you prefer will really boil down more to personal taste than any real difference in performance. We think that if you’re willing to spend $50,000 tricking out your ride, the Mustang has the Camaro beat, but if you’re looking for as cheap a V8 as possible, the base Camaro is the car to get. Either or, you’ll have plenty of fun turning dead dinosaur juice into noise.