Parking garages may be chock full of crossovers, SUVs and family sedans, but plenty of new-car shoppers still prioritize hot performance and muscular styling over practicality.
How else can you explain the fact that Ford sold more than 61,000 Mustangs last year? That number, though down from over 72,000 sales in 2019, was still enough to keep Ford’s pony car ahead of its primary rivals.
The Mustang — which has been in production since 1964 — easily outsold its longest-running rival, the Chevrolet Camaro. Chevy moved just under 30,000 Camaro coupes and convertibles last year. It was a closer match against the Dodge Challenger, which sold under 54,000 units in 2020.
Part of the Mustang’s success is due to the breadth of its lineup. A base coupe starts around $28,000 and still provides 310 horsepower from its V6 engine. That’s more power than any Mustang made in 2005. From there, the range adds convertibles, turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, honkin’ V8s, retro-style Bullit editions, and three flavors of pavement-slaying Shelby versions. A new Shelby GT350R with everything runs about $80,000, which gives the Mustang the biggest spread between base and fully loaded in the Ford lineup.
The Camaro range isn’t quite as extensive, though it comes close. However, the comparatively cramped interior can make the two-door Chevy a tough sell for daily drivers. Additionally, Chevy’s latest Corvette certainly stole some of the Camaro’s thunder — or at least the rumble from its exhaust.
And the Challenger, which went into production for the 2008 model year, is remarkable for its resiliency. Then again, the Challenger tends to be more heavily discounted than its rivals and it offers nearly 800 horsepower in top Hellcat Redeye form. Even though most Challengers sold have more modest underhood power, there’s undeniable appeal in driving a car that looks like the monster of muscle cars.