In the old days (1960s and 1970s), the only people who bought V-6 powered Mustangs and Camaros were secretaries. Back then, they weren't called administrative assistants, but these positions were always filled by women, usually younger. By association, the V-6 Mustangs and Camaros became known as secretaries' cars, or more simply, "chick cars."
Guy thought they were wimpy, and chick cars were. Their performance was anemic. But the girls thought base Mustangs and Camaros were cute, and that was enough. They sold in huge numbers.
Fast forward a few decades. My how things have changed. I'll probably get hate mail from secretaries, administrative assistants and PETA (they'll jump on me just for the fun of it). Secretaries' cars have changed too, and the 2010 Ford Mustang and 2010 Chevrolet Camaro with V-6 engines aren't chick cars any more.
I've just spent a week with each car here in TheCarConnection's Detroit office, and can provide some genuine insights into their real-world use and practicality.
First, we'll cover the basics, but if you want a super-quick overview, head to our new Car Compare tool.
To start off, both the Mustang and Camaro are front-engine, rear-wheel drive, four-seat coupes. The Mustang offers a convertible version, and GM said that it still plans on introducing a Camaro Convertible, but that's still almost two years away.
2010 Chevrolet Camaro V-6 RSEnlarge Photo
Style: 2010 Ford Mustang vs. 2010 Chevrolet Camaro
If ever there were an American automotive icon, the Ford Mustang would be it. With more than 9 million Ford Mustangs produced, it seems you can't go anywhere without noticing the pony car. With the 2010 Ford Mustang, Ford has given its trademark coupe and convertible a significant visual refresh while still keeping those instantly recognizable classic Mustang lines. Paying hommage to the 1969 Mustang in a modern manner was the right thing to do.
The 2010 Mustang changed inside when it changed outside. The new style is a total hit. The materials and detailing of the design are top flight.
Reaction to the 2010 Camaro's exterior are just as positive as the Mustangs. The design is not as retro, and always seems to elicit a "Wow" from pedestrians. Unfortunately, the interior is widely regarded as a miss. It's just too plain, and it seems to lack character once you look beyond the squared off main instruments and the silly little quartet of instruments at the front of the center console. And compared to the Mustang's, it looks much less expensive. Initially, the narrow windows and low roofline also restrict your view out, but that's something you get used to with miles.
Powertrains: 2010 Ford Mustang vs. 2010 Chevrolet Camaro
While both models are powered by six-cylinder engines, these two motors couldn't be more different.
Base 2010 Chevrolet Camaro LS and LT editions use the 3.6-liter direct-injected V-6 that was first seen in the Cadillac CTS. It's a fine motor producing a V-8-like 304 horsepower with 29-mpg EPA-rated highway fuel economy that rivals some four-cylinder cars. City mileage for the V-6 six-speed manual is 17 mpg, and 18 mpg for the six-speed automatic.
Especially at upper engine RPMs, the Camaro's V-6 feels exceptionally powerful while it remains refined.
The 4.0-liter engine is the 2010 Mustang traces its lineage back to the 1990s and Ford's Explorer SUV. It produces only 210 horsepower. While this seems like a huge difference, and it is, the V-6 Mustang doesn't feel as slow as you'd expect it to. The engine's power is delivered in a linear manner that sometimes makes you wish you had bought the Mustang GT with the 4.6-liter V-8.
The Mustang offers two five-speed transmissions with the V-6, an automatic and a manual. Mileage for the V-6 manual is 18 mpg city, 26 mpg highway (16/24 for the automatic).
In this section, the Camaro comes out on top without question.
Mustang = 1
Camaro = 1
So the score is tied so far. Stay tuned for at least one more entry on these two modern pony cars stack up. Chances are, it won't be even by the time we're finished.
By the way, if anybody has insights on a V-6 Challenger, feel free to post below...