Which to Buy: Ford Mustang vs. Chevrolet Camaro

Used Mustang or used Camaro? Two cars for driving enthusiasts who hear the call of the open road.

Ford Mustang vs Chevrolet Camaro | CarMax

November 2016

What car enthusiast doesn’t enjoy a good head-to-head showdown between two great American pony cars? In this article, we’re tackling the timeless question of Chevrolet versus Ford, and which of their muscular, sportier cars is better. If you’re looking for a used Ford Mustang for sale or a used Chevrolet Camaro, read on for a comparison of these two iconic cars.

For years, the Camaro and Mustang performed very similarly in expert reviews. Over decades of production, most reviewers say the choice ultimately depends on what you’re looking for in a new or used sports car.

Historically, the Mustang has outsold the Camaro and is often cheaper, too. The more recent Mustangs feature praiseworthy interior design, more trim options, and a superior quality feel. However, the 2016 Mustang falls a few gallops short of the 2016 Camaro when it comes to power and overall performance. The new-generation Camaro is a bit quicker than the Mustang, but its interior design and limited visibility make driving one more challenging for a day-to-day commute.

PRICE

Price is one of the most important factors in a purchasing decision. If you’re looking for a used Mustang or Camaro, costs will differ based on vehicle condition, included features, and your geographic area. So take these figures as a baseline estimate.

The Camaro

The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro comes in two models: the base Camaro and the Camaro SS, both of which can be ordered as a coupe or convertible in the standard LT/SS and upgraded LT/SS trim levels.

The base model Camaro starts at $25,700 and includes a turbocharged 2.0L, four-cylinder engine that puts a lot of power—275 horsepower—through a six-speed manual transmission. If you upgrade to the LT trim for $29,800, you’ll also get heated and cooled front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a Bose® seven-speaker audio system.

For muscle car enthusiasts who want the ultimate pony car experience and have deeper pockets, the best option here is the Camaro SS, which starts at $36,300 and boasts a powerful 6.2L V8 engine. If you want a bit of luxury along with your power, the SS has an upgraded trim model which costs around $41,300 and comes with heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, a heads-up display, and wireless smartphone charging.

If you’re looking at older model Camaros, you’ve got a wide range of available styles and features available to you, and prices vary widely. The 2015 Camaro ranges from $18,998 to $50,998, with an average cost of $25,153. The 2014 model costs between $16,998 and $49,998, with an average cost of $23,873.

The Mustang

The 2015 Ford Mustang was an impressive machine, and the 2016 model delivers on a few noticeable interior and exterior improvements. The base model 2016 Ford Mustang costs about $24,145 and includes a 3.7L six-cylinder engine with 300 horsepower and either a six-speed manual transmission or the optional six-speed automatic with paddle shifters.

The base model Mustang is less expensive than the basic trim Camaro, and has many more trims to choose from in both coupe form (Ford calls them fastback models) or as a convertible.

One of these models is the EcoBoost Fastback, which bumps the price to $25,645 and replaces the standard engine with a turbocharged, 2.3L four-cylinder engine. The EcoBoost model has an upgraded interior that includes six-way power seats up front and active noise-canceling technology. The next model in the Mustang food chain is the $32,395 GT Fastback, which features a 5.0L V8 engine, larger brakes, and a limited slip rear differential. Then are the two best-performing Mustangs, the Shelby GT350 for $47,795, and the racing enthusiast’s dream—the Shelby GT350R for $61,295, both of which are powered by a 5.2L V8.

Older-model Mustangs still offer plenty of bells and whistles for any pony car enthusiast. Costs vary depending on included options, but here are some averages from CarMax sales floors: the 2015 Mustang ranges from $18,998 to $40,998, with an average cost of $27,682. And the 2014 Mustang costs $14,998 to $57,998, with the average cost of $21,186.

WEIGHT AND PERFORMANCE

Weight is important when it comes to higher-performing cars, because it can affect a lot of different performance factors. In previous years these vehicles have weighed roughly the same amount. But that’s changed with the newer models, and this is where the 2016 Camaro has an edge on the 2016 Mustang.

The Camaro’s composition changed a great deal since the previous generation, and those modifications have lowered the weight by several hundred pounds. The new, sixth-generation Camaro uses the Cadillac ATS platform to slim down to 3,672 pounds, compared to the Mustang’s 3,825 pounds. In the upgraded V8 models for both vehicles, the Camaro’s weight advantage gives it superior power and 0-to-60 mph performance.

The Mustang hits the 60 mph mark in 4.6 seconds, and it covers the quarter mile in a swift, 12.9 seconds (at 110 mph). The Mustang’s output numbers are impressive, but they come up a bit short compared to the Camaro’s. The Camaro roars out of the gate and hits the 0-60 mph mark in a lightning-fast 4 seconds, and its quarter-mile time is a mere 12.4 seconds at 114.6 mph.

The 2015 and 2014 models perform well, but they’re not quite as impressive.

The 2015 Camaro streaks to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and hits the quarter mile mark in 13 seconds. The Mustang is right in line with the Camaro when in GT Fastback trim—it reaches 60 mph in a mere 4.4 seconds and passes the quarter mile mark in 13 seconds. However, the Mustang’s EcoBoost model is significantly slower: 0-60 mph in 6.1 seconds and a quarter mile time of 14.6 seconds.

The 2014 Camaro is essentially as quick as the 2015 models, and hits 60 mph in 4.5 seconds while covering the quarter mile in 12.9 seconds. Meanwhile, the 2014 Mustang races to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, and speeds past the quarter mile mark in 13.2 seconds.

FUEL ECONOMY

Muscle cars aren’t known for their fuel efficiency; they’re all about power and speed, and that comes at a cost. But the Mustang and Camaro both perform well enough to fend off any despair about gas-guzzling.

The 2016 Camaro has a 19 gallon gas tank and gets up to 22 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway. The Mustang, similarly, gets up to 22 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway, but it only has a 16-gallon tank.

The base model 2015 Camaro still has a 19-gallon tank, but only gets 19 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. The 2015 Mustang has a 15.5 gallon tank and gets a superior 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. For 2014 models, the Mustang holds 16 gallons of fuel and gets 19 mph in the city and 31 mph on the highway. The 2014 Camaro, with its 19-gallon tank, gets a similar 19 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

INTERIOR

When you’re driving a sports car, its road-handling manners are of upmost importance—but its interior appointments are important, too. Expert reviews from Motor TrendU.S. News & World Report, and AutoBlog say both cars’ interiors are thematically appropriate, but neither is excessively luxurious.

The Camaro

The Camaro's interior and cabin are its weakest points, especially when you consider poor visibility due to a small windshield and windows. Also, the rear-seat passengers are in for a tight ride; reviews all point toward cramped space in the back seat. But Camaro’s seats are comfortable enough, with cloth upholstery and eight-way power adjustments for the driver. 

Camaro’s infotainment system is an added plus, with a well- designed, seven-inch touch screen, optional satellite radio, and a Wi-Fi hotspot with two USB ports. Upgraded trims also sport a wireless phone charger.

The Mustang

Reviewers unanimously agree that the Mustang’s interior space and design layout edges out the Camaro’s. The Mustang's materials feel more comfortable and upscale even those found in other sports cars that cost the same amount. Plus, the Mustang’s windows are large enough that visibility, although not great, isn’t a hassle. Ford's infotainment center also gets high marks because of its crisp screen and a built-in app that lets drivers record performance data and lap times.

The Mustang’s audio features are another plus; the sound system can be controlled using voice commands. Keyless entry, Bluetooth®, and two USB ports are also standard on the Mustang.

Still looking for a used, sporty car that’s right for you?

A list of used, American sporty cars to be considered by enthusiasts wouldn’t be complete without the Dodge Challenger and the Dodge Charger. And for those drivers who’ve got a bit more spending money in their budget, there’s the mighty Chevrolet Corvette



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