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Mustang verses Camaro: Back-to-back shoot out with real consumers!

December 29th, 2011

In their latest review of the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro, the experts at Consumer Reports preferred the Mustang over the Camaro.  All well and good.  But, what do real consumers have to say after a hands-on, back-to-back comparison of Mustang, Camaro, and 4 other sport coupes?  To find out, we invited over 100 sport coupe owners to a test facility to conduct a detailed drive and static evaluation of each of the cars.  For this shoot-out, we used the high volume V6 versions of the Mustang, Camaro, Challenger, and Hyundai Genesis coupe.  We had each segment owner rate the cars on 135 different attributes.  Then, we tabbed up the results to present you with their clear consensus findings.  The short story?  Real sport coupe owners disagree with the experts at Consumer Reports.

Here in a nutshell is what we learned from sport coupe owners.

Second Runner Up:

The darling of the Consumer Reports review, the Ford Mustang, performed reasonably well with consumers.  The 5th generation of the model that invented the pony car in 1964, Mustang claims 3rd place for overall vehicle among 6 vehicles tested.  However, it scored well behind the top two cars.  Mustang’s strengths were reflected in above average scores for exterior styling, visibility, engine sound, interior noise, and fuel economy.  With the 2nd lowest comparably equipped price after the Hyundai Genesis, Mustang tied Camaro and Challenger for the top value-for-the-money score.   Respondents also like its customizable ambient lighting.  But Mustang rates only average across 10 of 15 summary measures, including acceleration, handling, ride, and braking.  It received no best-in-class summary scores.  Overall, Mustang was seen as plainer and less upscale than the top two coupes.

First Runner Up:

Re-launched in 2008, the 3rd generation of the original 1970 Dodge Challenger tied with Camaro for the top overall vehicle score.  From an objective standpoint, Challenger is the clear winner, rating best-in-class in 10 of 15 summary categories, including front and rear seat room and comfort, interior storage and controls, trunk, braking, ride, engine sound, and interior noise.  Consumers score it above average for interior and exterior appearance, acceleration, and handling.  Challenger has few weaknesses, receiving only one below average rating out of 135 total measures. Challenger is the clear winner for those who need to make their sport coupe work with a family as a daily driver.  However, for those seeking a more personal sports car as a second vehicle, Challenger simply felt too big, being seen both inside and out as more of a 2-door version of a family sedan than a true sport coupe.

The Winner, by a Nose:

Re-launched in 2009 after a 7 year hiatus, the 5th generation of the original 1966 Chevrolet Camaro tied with the Challenger for top overall vehicle.  However, Camaro was the clear winner in purchase consideration, with 40% indicating they would definitely consider buying it, verses Challenger’s 29%.  Camaro earned top scores for exterior and interior appearance, and above average for front row comfort, interior controls, trunk, acceleration, handling, ride, and interior noise.  Despite having the 2nd highest comparably equipped price behind the Nissan 370Z roadster, Camaro tied Challenger and Mustang for top value-for-the-money.  Rear seat comfort, visibility, trunk opening size, and maneuvering in small areas were weaknesses, scoring below average.  Overall, respondents describe Camaro as more upscale than Mustang, more personal sports-car-like than the larger Challenger, and more innovative than both.

To get all of the insights our consumers had, click here.