Consumers with a yen for sharp-handling muscle cars that are easy on the wallet have two great choices in the 2011 Chevrolet Camaro and its counterpart, the 2011 Ford Mustang. We’re not talking about the brute force of the V-8s here. This is all about the V-6 powered models. They’re less expensive, but no less compelling--especially if you’ve waited for these two erstwhile competitors to amp up their game.
Before you start wondering why the Camaro and Mustang appear in Family Car Guide, let’s step back a bit and consider that all families are not equal. That is, some families are one adult plus two children, or just two adults, or just two children (of driving age, of course). This reporter owned three successive Camaros while raising two adolescent (and then teenage) children--with no complaints mind you! While my choice was the Z28, it was still a Camaro. I never had a problem stuffing in luggage or snacks, or heard people complain about getting in and out of the back seat. Are you kidding? Camaro perfectly fit my wants and needs.
2011 Chevrolet Camaro
2011 Chevrolet Camaro
Back to today’s versions of these two cars. After a hiatus of seven extremely long years (Camaro died in 2002), Chevy resurrected the nameplate for the 2010 model year. Die-hard Camaro fans salivated to get behind the wheel once again. And the pony car wars began anew with Ford’s Mustang--which, by the way, has been in continuous production for more than 40 years (since its 1964 introduction). Camaro got its start in 1966 as a 1967 model.
Styling in the 2011 models is a subjective consideration, and you’ll never convince long-time Mustang owners that Camaro is more attractive or vice-versa. Each car has its unique look--and that’s perfect for good competition. You want uniquely identifiable products. Both deliver.
Horsepower is a huge factor, whether it’s the V-6 or V-8 models. Here, the Camaro wins out in raw numbers: 312 horsepower in the 3.6-liter direct-injection V-6 versus Mustang’s 305 horsepower in the all-new 3.7-liter V-6. Want a good throaty rumbling sound from the engine? Reviewers say Mustang’s powerplant offers that, thanks to its naturally aspirated engine.
As for fuel economy, again, it’s pretty close, but Mustang wins out. The manual-transmission Mustang achieves an EPA-estimated 19 mpg city/29 mpg highway (optional automatic is better on the highway at 31 mpg). Camaro’s V-6 gets 17 mpg city/28 mpg highway with the 6-speed manual transmission.
Handling is a toss-up. While Mustang is 300 pounds lighter than Camaro, both are adept performers in this area. Camaro features a 52/48 front-to-rear weight ratio--just the right kind of balance for a sports car. Some reviewers give the nod to Mustang. Maybe they’re right.
Price-wise, both are good deals. The base Camaro manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) starts at $22,680, while the V-6 Mustang MSRP begins at $22,145.
All things considered, it might be a good idea to take a very long test drive in both--and then make your decision.