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Ford Mustang vs. Chevrolet Camaro: Which Is Better?

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Chris O'Neill June 2018

Ford Mustang vs. Chevrolet Camaro -- it's a battle that's been raging for decades. Both have their diehard fans, but for someone who wants to dive into muscle-car ownership but hasn't yet chosen a side, the decision between the two can be a difficult one. We're here to help, though. Below is a comparison of the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro, in which we look at the engines and features offered by both and try to get to the bottom of just which one is the better buy in 2018.

For their current generations, both the Mustang and Camaro are offered in essentially three variations: an entry-level, fuel-efficient 4-cylinder, a more powerful "muscle car" model and then a super high-performance model.

2018 Ford Mustang

The 2018 Mustang offers two engine options:

A 2.3-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder making 310 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque

  • 21 miles per gallon in the city, 32 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg in combined driving (automatic)

A 5.0-liter V8 making 460 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque

  • 16 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined (automatic)

And two transmissions, a 6-speed manual and a 10-speed automatic with paddle shifters.

2018 Chevrolet Camaro

The 2018 Camaro offers four engine options:

A turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder making 275 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.

  • 22 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined (automatic)

A 3.6-liter V6 making 335 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque

  • 19 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined (automatic)

A 6.2-liter V8 making 455 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque (Camaro SS)

  • 17 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/20 mpg combined (automatic)

A supercharged 6.2-liter V8 making 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque

  • 13 mpg city/21 mpg hwy/15 mpg combined (automatic)

And three transmissions, a 6-speed manual, an 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters, and a 10-speed automatic with paddle shifters.

As part of the Mustang's midcycle refresh for the 2018 model year, Ford eliminated the V6 offering, and there was no high-performance variant offered for this model year, either -- but a new high-performance GT350 model is due for 2019. As a result, buyers are presented with a simplified 2018 lineup that gives them their choice of either the efficient-yet-powerful 4-cylinder turbo in the entry-level Mustang, or the more potent 5.0-liter V8 that comes in the Mustang GT.

The Camaro, on the other hand, offers a more diverse engine lineup, with four engines to choose from -- the result of V6 and high-performance variants still being offered for 2018. The Camaro's V6 splits the difference nicely between the 4- and 8-cylinders, making it a viable option, although we don't expect it to factor heavily into GM's plans for the Camaro going forward. In line with the Mustang, the main focus of this comparison will be on the base 4-cylinder and V8 SS models.

And that 10-speed automatic? It's the exact same transmission, codeveloped between GM and Ford. All automatic-equipped Mustangs now employ the 10-speed, while the only Camaro to come with it for 2018 is the ZL1; lesser trim levels get the 8-speed automatic. This changes with the refreshed Camaro that debuts for 2019, however, as all automatic 2019 Camaro SS models will feature the 10-speed as well.

Performance

On paper, the Mustang and Camaro are for the most part evenly matched. Both offer rev-matching technology with their manual transmissions, multiple manually selectable drive modes and adjustable exhaust notes.

The base-level EcoBoost Mustang goes from zero to 60 miles per hour in 5.3 seconds, while the V8 Mustang GT gets to 60 in right around 4 seconds flat. The Camaro is barely a tick slower -- or, should we say "less fast" -- achieving 60 mph in 5.4 seconds with the 4-cylinder engine, and in 4.4 seconds with the V8.

Both the Mustang and Camaro offer packages that add extra performance. Ford's, simply called the "Performance package," is available on both the EcoBoost and GT models. The Camaro's, dubbed the "1LE package," is only available on V6 and V8 models, ignoring the 4-cylinder model until 2019, when it will be made available for the base engine as part of the Camaro's refresh. Opt for the 1LE Performance package on the Camaro's SS trim level, and you're treated to GM's excellent Magnetic Ride Control suspension.

The current Mustang and Camaro have been pitted against each other on the track on numerous occasions. General consensus is that the Camaro handles slightly better and is a marginally better performer overall.

Fuel Economy

While you probably aren't interested in either of these vehicles for their fuel efficiency, it's something worth considering. Overall, comparing horsepower figures to fuel economy, you'll see that the differences are pretty incremental across the board.

The 4-cylinder Mustang and Camaro achieve essentially the same mpg figures, although the EcoBoost engine in the Mustang is considerably more powerful, giving it a leg up on the Chevrolet offering here.

On to the bigger engines, where the Camaro SS earns slightly better fuel economy figures than the Mustang GT while only giving up 5 horsepower and making 35 more lb-ft of torque, giving GM the slight nod for efficiency when it comes to V8 power plants.

Safety

When buying a new vehicle in 2018, drivers should expect the full suite of advanced driver-safety technology available on the market today, including blind spot monitoring, forward-collision warning with emergency braking, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams. The 2018 Mustang offers all these and more. The 2018 Camaro, on the other hand, offers only blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking sensors. Forward-collision alert will be added with the Camaro's 2019 refresh, but there's no mention of it gaining any of the other modern safety features available on the Mustang, putting it at a major disadvantage.

Interior Space

Both the Mustang and Camaro seat four … technically. That said, you won't want to be hauling around anyone over the age of 12 in either of their tight back seats. With 38.5 inches of front-seat headroom, the Camaro offers an extra inch relative to the Mustang's 37.6 inches, though the Mustang offers considerably more cargo room, with 13.5 cu ft. versus the Camaro's paltry 9.1. While both are low-slung muscle cars, the Camaro also takes a hit for having an especially cramped, dungeon-like cabin with poor sight lines that hamper visibility overall.

Interior Design & Quality

While neither the Mustang nor the Camaro forgets its heritage when it comes to design, the design of the Mustang's interior is a little more retro than that of the Camaro, a theme that by now feels tired on a vehicle packing so much modern technology. The Camaro, on the other hand, features a sleek, modern interior, and offers an available head-up display, a feature not offered on the Mustang. Both are available with heated and cooled front seats. Overall, the Camaro has a cleaner and more inviting interior, while the Mustang scores points for its digital gauge cluster and for having considerably better outward visibility from within.

Technology

Both the 2018 Mustang and Camaro offer a center-mounted touchscreen interface with modern infotainment systems featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and available Wi-Fi connectivity. That said, as a result of it having undergone a refresh for the 2018 model year, the Ford's infotainment system is slightly more modern, featuring the latest version of Ford's Sync system. The Mustang also offers a digital center gauge cluster, with an LCD screen replacing the traditional gauges.

The Camaro, on the other hand, still uses analog gauges, and as its refresh is coming for the 2019 model year, 2018 models feature a slightly older infotainment system.

Value

Since the beginning, cheap speed has been the main selling point of the muscle car, and in terms of performance, either of these cars is a great value. They offer great handling and acceleration, and both will hold their own against performance vehicles costing two to three times as much.

Autotrader's Advice

The bottom line is that either of these cars will put a smile on your face. A muscle car is an emotional purchase, and for that reason, if one speaks to you more than the other, that's probably the one you'll be happiest with. Still, these cars are so evenly matched that ethos aside, it's difficult to recommend one over the other. In terms of track times and performance, the Camaro likely wins by a small margin. But in reality, this probably won't factor into your day-to-day interactions with the vehicle, and with that said, the 2018 Mustang gets the nod overall, and likely still will once the updated 2019 Camaro goes on sale. Thanks to its slew of driver-assistance features, more open cabin with better visibility, and more modern infotainment system, the Mustang makes for an overall more compelling package that offers considerably more tech while still being just as much fun to take around the track.

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Ford Mustang vs. Chevrolet Camaro: Which Is Better? - Autotrader