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2018 Ford Mustang vs. 2018 Chevrolet Corvette: Which Is Better?

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author photo by Eric Brandt August 2018

The Chevrolet Corvette has been America's sports car for more than 60 years, and the Ford Mustang has been an American icon in its own right for more than 50 years. Despite being compared often, however, the Corvette and the Mustang have about as many differences as they do similarities.

Both cars are better than they've ever been from an engineering and technological standpoint. As good as the classics are, these 2018 models can deliver performance that's unmatched by their predecessors. They're also, in many ways, more comfortable and more driveable than ever.

If both of these cars are on your shopping list, there are a few key differences you should know about. Let's take a look at what makes the Corvette and the Mustang different and which one is better.

Exterior

Since these two cars have different seating configurations, they have different profiles, proportions and styling. While retro/modern styling has been a staple of American performance cars since the 2000s, it's something that was never really adopted by the Corvette. Now in its seventh generation, the 2018 Chevrolet Corvette has a bold, aggressive look that's unlikely to remind you of anything from the past.

The 2018 Ford Mustang, however, does rely on some of its past for aesthetic inspiration. It has the familiar "Coke bottle" side profile reminiscent of the 1960's pony car that made the "Mustang" name an icon. Facelifted for 2018, this Mustang has a new front end that seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it update. Other styling updates are minor, and the total package is a retro-inspired car with a look that's decidedly American and modern.

Interior

The inside is where the biggest differences between the Corvette and the Mustang come to light. The first thing you'd probably notice if you were to step into both of these coupes is that the Mustang has a back seat and the Corvette doesn't.

The Chevy Corvette has always been a two-seater sports car, while the Mustang offers a measure of practicality with two back seats. Mind you, this isn't a particularly roomy back seat with only 30.6 inches of legroom. That's less than Ford's smallest car, the subcompact Fiesta. So while the Mustang does have the practicality advantage over the Corvette by having four seats, the back seat isn't a place where adults would want to spend much time.

Other than that, the Corvette has a more driver-focused cockpit, and it's generally more luxurious with higher quality materials. The Mustang's interior is a bit more of a simple, no-nonsense layout that still manages to look modern and pack in a lot of technology.

Variants

The Corvette and the Mustang both have so many variants that are significantly different from each other that they could almost be their own models. The entry-level Corvette is the Stingray, which is affordable without being much of a compromise. It's for driving purists who like their sports cars nice and simple or just for anyone looking for a great bargain on a luxury sports car.

From there, you can upgrade to the Corvette Grand Sport. The Grand Sport is in the sweet spot between the standard Stingray and the track-focused Z06. The Corvette Grand Sport has the same excellent V8 engine as the Stingray, while incorporating some of the aerodynamic bits of the Z06 that add to both the styling and performance of the car.

The Corvette Z06 is what Chevy calls "an expression of pure performance." It packs a supercharged V8 under the hood and more aggressive styling than the Stingray that's more than just for show. The Z06 has the distinction of offering true supercar performance while being relatively affordable compared to its rivals.

The 2018 Ford Mustang takes a different, somewhat simpler approach than the Corvette. Starting at a much lower price point, the entry-level Mustang is the EcoBoost model. The Mustang EcoBoost is for the driver who wants the attractive styling of the Mustang, but who also wants a daily driver that returns good fuel economy.

To upgrade to V8 performance, you can go with the Mustang GT, which offers more than just a more powerful engine. All 2018 Mustang GTs come standard with Track Apps that you can use on the track to monitor things like acceleration times, lap times and even G-forces. The Mustang GT is for drivers who want muscle car performance they can use both on and off the track.

Finally, there's the Mustang Shelby GT350 and GT350R. The Shelby variants are carryovers from before the 2018 facelift for the Mustang but are still sold as 2018 models. That doesn't mean they're a compromise because these Shelby cars offer thrilling performance. These are true track cars that are for serious driving enthusiasts.

Mechanicals and Performance

Now that we've covered the basic levels of these two American performance cars, let's talk about the actual performance. The base engine in the Corvette is the 6.2-liter LT1 V8 that makes 460 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque. This engine achieves 0-60 miles per hour in less than four seconds in both the Corvette Stingray and the Corvette Grand Sport.

The supercharged 6.2-liter LT4 V8 in the Z06 turns up the heat with 650 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque, and it can propel the Corvette to 60 mph in three seconds flat. The LT1 is already a great engine, and the LT4 is a significant upgrade, giving the Corvette more track-ready performance.

The 2018 Ford Mustang has three engines available and a little more performance variety than the Corvette. A Corvette wouldn't be caught dead with fewer than eight cylinders under the hood, but the rules are a little different for the Mustang.

The base engine in the Mustang is the 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbocharged inline four. Don't let its lack of cylinders fool you, this turbo four makes 310 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. Obviously, those numbers are a lot lower than the base engine in the Corvette, but they are still pretty impressive for this Mustang's price range.

When you upgrade to the Mustang GT, you get the 5.0-liter Coyote V8 which makes 460 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. That's the same horsepower number as the Corvette LT1, but the cheapest Mustang GT is still quite a bit more affordable than the cheapest Corvette.

The Mustang Shelby GT350 and GT350R are powered by the 5.2-liter Voodoo flat plane crank V8 which is still smaller than the smallest V8 in the Corvette, but makes impressive performance numbers of 526 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque.

The Ford Mustang and the Chevy Corvette take different approaches to performance, and one isn't necessarily better than the other unless you're strictly looking at power and torque ratings. Clearly, the Corvette has a higher performance ceiling than the Mustang, with the Z06 making more than 100 horsepower more than the GT350. But the Mustang shines on the lower end, with the Ecoboost and the GT both having much lower costs of entry than any Corvette.

Pricing

Seating might be the biggest difference between the Mustang and the Corvette, but the next biggest difference is the pricing. The 2018 Ford Mustang has a starting MSRP of just $25,680, while the most affordable 2018 Chevy Corvette is $55,495.

The big price gap comes not only from the engines in the base models of these two cars being much different, but also because the Corvette is marketed as a luxury sports car and the Mustang is more of a sports coupe for everybody. The Mustang has a much lower low end of the price spectrum, and the Corvette has a much higher high end.

The Mustang GT starts at $35,190, which makes it a fantastic value for a V8-powered American performance car. That's about $20k less than a Corvette that makes the same amount of horsepower. It can also be argued, however, that the Corvette is also a good value for the level of luxury it offers.

If you want to upgrade to the track-ready Mustang Shelby GT350, it will set you back at least $57,240, which isn't far off from the Corvette's starting price. So for the price of a low-end Corvette, you can get the hottest Mustang available with better performance numbers than a comparably priced Corvette.

Compared to the Mustang, the price of a Corvette can get very high very easily. Upgrading to the Corvette Grand Sport costs at least $65,495, which might make it the best value of all the Corvettes for splitting the difference between the Stingray and the Z06. For an expensive track toy, you can get the Corvette Z06 for $79,495.

Conclusion

Which car is a better value is debatable, but the Mustang and the Corvette are in quite different price brackets. If you have a high budget and you're looking for true supercar performance or just a nice weekend car, then a Corvette is a great value for you. However, if you want a more practical performance car that is closer to the average new car transaction price that you can use every day, then the Mustang is a good buy. Which car is better for you depends on your budget and whether or not you require a back seat.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2018 Ford Mustang vs. 2018 Chevrolet Corvette: Which Is Better? - Autotrader