Rematch: 2010 Ford Mustang GT vs 2010 Chevrolet Camaro V-6

September 4, 2009
2010 Chevrolet Camaro 2LT -- Run to the Sun

2010 Chevrolet Camaro 2LT -- Run to the Sun

2010 Chevrolet Camaro 2LT -- Run to the Sun

2010 Chevrolet Camaro 2LT -- Run to the Sun

2010 Ford Mustang GT Convertible -- Run to the Sun

2010 Ford Mustang GT Convertible -- Run to the Sun

2010 Ford Mustang GT Convertible -- Run to the Sun

2010 Ford Mustang GT Convertible -- Run to the Sun

2010 Ford Mustang GT Convertible -- Run to the Sun

2010 Ford Mustang GT Convertible -- Run to the Sun

2010 Ford Mustang GT Convertible -- Run to the Sun

2010 Ford Mustang GT Convertible -- Run to the Sun

2010 Chevrolet Camaro Coupe and 2010 Ford Mustang Convertible -- Run to the Sun

2010 Chevrolet Camaro Coupe and 2010 Ford Mustang Convertible -- Run to the Sun

Some rivalries just keep on. And just as Coke and Pepsi fans continue to stand their ground, so do pony-car fans. We just brought you fresh driving impressions on the bargain-priced 2010 Ford Mustang V-6 Coupe, which for about $25,000 will get you head-turning looks all around, a pretty lengthy list of standard features (including very nice mag-look alloys), and distinctive pony-car attitude.

That 'attitude' we're talking about—to those who have never had the privilege of owning a Mustang, Camaro, Firebird, or the like—means that it’s not completely civilized in every respect. The back end hops around a bit when the pavement turns rough, gearbox sounds are ever-present, and the engine’s seriously old-school. But all that’s okay for $25k, especially in a car that makes that sort of style statement, right?

Back to this talk of rivalries: At the Run to the Sun—an annual ride-and-drive touring event for those of us in the Pacific Northwest who write about cars—TheCarConnection.com recently drove a 2010 Ford Mustang and 2010 Chevrolet Camaro in very different forms. Now, if $25k seems like a great deal on a pony car, $40k—which the sticker price approached for both of the cars on that drive—is pushing into a completely different class that gives pony up a new meaning.

One of them was a 2010 Ford Mustang GT Convertible Premium, with just a few options including heated seats, a security package, and bright machined 19-inch wheels, totaled $39,710. The Mustang, in Grabber Blue, with two-tone Charcoal Black and Grabber Blue leather, looked quite stunning.

At the same event, we drove a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro 2LT Coupe. This V-6 Camaro was optioned to the brim, with the ridiculous 21-inch polished wheel package, which costs $4,680 and includes Z-rated tires, a $2,265 ground effects package (officially a dealer-installed option), remote vehicle start, a sunroof, a body-color engine cover, compact spare, and beautiful Red Jewel Tintcoat paint, which together with the wheels made the Camaro look like it was ready to go run the Woodward Dream Cruise rather than race along Cascades mountain roads.

We weren't able to go back and forth between these cars enough to call it a real comparison, but the real surprise came when we hopped behind the wheel of the Camaro. It’s fast. While the Mustang V-6 Coupe we drove is fast enough to give you a little bit of a thrill, the Camaro V-6 is pin-you-in-your seat fast. Torque output feels similar between the two cars just above idle, but the Camaro’s direct-injected 3.6-liter V-6 quite simply packs a wallop over the Mustang’s Cologne V-6. Car and Driver timed the Camaro V-6 at just 5.9 seconds to 60 mph with a manual; that’s only about a half-second behind the Mustang V-8. With the automatic, the Camaro’s V-6 became increasingly urgent yet still refined all the way up to about 7000 rpm in each gear, while it was just as happy lugging along.

Here’s where it becomes interesting. The V-6 Camaro isn’t quite as fast as the V-8 Mustang GT, but it’s quite close; even though it's a bit heavier than the Mustang, the Camaro's six speeds and long powerband shine when you open it up on a straightaway. And yes, Chevy fans like to taunt Ford fans with the fact that last year’s Mustang GT made less power than this year’s Camaro V-6. True, but the Mustang GT has an uproarious V-8 character that’s hard to beat.

That’s the one feature—a good ‘ol V-8—that makes either of these vehicles a little more appealing in their more expensive Mustang GT or Camaro SS forms. In the Mustang’s case, it handles quite a bit better as a GT (all GTs for ’10 get the set of suspension improvements formerly incorporated as part of the Bullitt package), with the GT just much better planted and harder to fluster in corners.

Both V-6 versions are more efficient, though. EPA ratings are 18 mpg city, 29 highway with the six-speed automatic, whereas our test Mustang V-6 rated at 18/26 and the Mustang GT Convertible was at 16/24. In the V-6 Mustang we got 22 mpg in a week of driving; we’ll be in the V-6 Camaro for a week soon again and will report back—especially with some feedback on the Camaro’s controversial interior.

What’s the point here? You don’t have to have a V-8; unless you’re drawn to the character and sound of the larger engines, you’ll probably be happy with the V-6—especially in the 2010 Camaro. But the differences this year, the year that the Camaro came back from a slumber, are more pronounced than they're likely to be next year, when the ol' rivalry is expected to heat up with a couple of more powerful new engines on the way for the Mustang.

As a jump point for the continued pony-car debate, you’ll want to check out our Car Compare results: 2010 Chevy Camaro vs 2010 Ford Mustang. Then revisit our overview pages on the 2010 Camaro and 2010 Mustang for the full reviews plus the latest pictures, specs, and comments.

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