2010 Car Comparison: Chevrolet Camaro v Dodge Challenger v Ford Mustang

Last Updated: Sep 16, 2010

The Competitors
The 2010 Ford Mustang, 2010 Chevrolet Camaro, and 2010 Dodge Challenger are classic American sport coupes that capture the spirit of a bygone automotive era but boast contemporary engineering, impressive performance, and the latest in comfort and convenience features.

The Ford Mustang has enjoyed an uninterrupted run since its launch in 1964 as the original “pony car.” The Chevrolet Camaro, initially introduced for 1967 as a Mustang fighter; returns for 2010 after a time-out of seven years. The Dodge Challenger, which had a noteworthy first run from 1970-1974 and an undistinguished 1978-1983 reappearance as a rebadged Mitsubishi coupe, was reborn for 2009 as a throwback muscle coupe.

The 2010 Ford Mustang is a thorough update of the basic design that debuted for model-year 2005. Changes are evolutionary, with freshened styling, retuned suspension, and a few new features. It comes in coupe and convertible body styles and in V-6 base, V-8 GT, and superchargted-V-8 Shelby GT500 versions.

Wrapped in unabashedly retro styling, the 2010 Dodge Challenger comes as a coupe only and offers V-6 base, Hemi-V-8 R/T, and even-bigger-Hemi-V-8 SRT8 trim. Mechanically speaking, the Challenger it’s a shortened, two-door version of the Dodge Charger sedan.

The much-anticipated Chevrolet Camaro was revived for the 2010 model year with brawny styling that honors the 1960’s classic but with thoroughly modern mechanicals. The Camaro offers V-6 LS and LT models and the aggressive V-8 SS trim level. The 2010 model comes only as a coupe, but a convertible version is planned for 2011.

The Similarities

  • The 2010 Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger, and Ford Mustang have rear-wheel drive. Driving enthusiasts prefer rear-drive for its superior handling characteristics. Front-wheel drive concentrates the weight of the engine over the front tires. Rear-wheel drive better distributes the powertrain’s mass over the length of the car, and doesn’t require the front wheels to both steer the car and propel it. Thanks to advanced chassis-control technology, modern rear-drive performance cars can hold the corners without the high-speed skittishness that inspired such melodramatic 1960’s pop tunes as Dead Man’s Curve.
  • Each of these cars has a base V-6 engine: a 304-horsepower 3.6-liter in the Camaro, a 250-horsepower 3.5-liter in the Challenger, and a 210-horsepower 4.0-liter in the Mustang.
  • All also offer V-8s: a 6.2-liter in the Camaro that generates 400 horsepower with the automatic transmission and 426 with the manual, a choice of a 376-horsepower 5.7-liter or a 425-horse 6.1-liter in the Challenger, and a 315-horsepower 4.6-liter in the Mustang.
  • All three offer manual transmissions to please driving enthusiasts, with automatic gearboxes also offered for those who would rather not work a clutch.
  • All deliver fairly tenacious handling, albeit with a rougher ride than found in most sedans. Each complements the higher performance of their top V-8 models with enhanced steering, braking, and suspension systems to help rein in the added power.
  • All include antiskid stability control and head-protecting curtain side airbags for safety’s sake.
  • As is the case with most coupes, backseat room in all three is at a premium and rear-seat access is difficult if you’re not limber.
  • Pricing helps heat up competition among this trio. Base price range for the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro is roughly $23,000-$34,000, for the Dodge Challenger it’s around $23,000-$42,000, and for the Ford Mustang is about $22,000-$37,000. Note that the Shelby GT500, essentially a specialty model, starts around $47,000.

The Differences

  • The Dodge Challenger is the most retro looking, with styling that fairly accurately channels the 1970s original. The Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang incorporate heritage-flavored elements inside and out but present them in a modern form. Camaro is the least retro-looking of the three.
  • The manual transmission in the Camaro has six speeds, the manual in the Mustang and Challenger has five. The top-line Mustang Shelby GT500 and Challenger SRT8 model are manual-transmission only, with the Ford’s a six-speed and the Dodge’s a five-speed. Camaro’s manual is the stiffest-shifter of the three, but is the only one to include a Launch Control feature to maximize drivetrain performance in tire-smoking takeoffs.
  • The automatic transmission in the Camaro has six speeds and includes steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters for manual operation. Challenger and Mustang have five-speed automatics; the Challenger’s affords manual-shift mode via the gear lever. Ordering automatic in the Dodge or Ford doesn’t alter power ratings but ordering a Camaro SS with automatic costs its V-8 26 horses.
  • Camaro and Challenger have modern independent rear suspensions for optimal balance of ride and handling. Mustang has a solid rear axle design that’s less costly than an independent rear suspension but not as sophisticated.
  • The Camaro SS is the only one whose antiskid system – in this case, GM’s StabiliTrak system -- includes an adjustable Competitive/Sport mode to accommodate racetrack-type maneuvers.
  • Mustang may have the edge in cabin styling and novel features. Camaro’s interior is functional and comfortable, at least for front seat riders. The Challenger’s interior feels like an afterthought in terms of design and execution, with an abundance of budget-grade materials and parts-bin dials and switches.
  • Camaro comes standard with GM’s OnStar information and safety communications system; a complementary one-year subscription is included.
  • Mustang counters with an available Ford/Microsoft Sync system for hands-free operation of multiple media, including cell phones, iPod or other USB audio device, and navigation system.
  • The Mustang coupe is the only one to offer an optional glass ceiling that covers nearly the entire roof with a tinted clear panel. It’s also the only one with a cabin-illumination system that allows owners to change hues as desired; Ford calls the option MyColor.
  • As in most sporty-two doors, cargo space limited in the Camaro and Mustang. The Challenger’s 16.2 cubic-foot trunk is large by coupe standards, though loading is hampered by its awkward trunklid opening.

The Winner
The Chevrolet Camaro. This aggressively styled coupe successfully blends old and new in an affordable, performance-packed package appealing to both young buyers and nostalgic Baby Boomers. Its base V-6 is as powerful as many V-8s, announces its presence with a throaty exhaust note, and handily beats the base powertrains in the Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang. The V-8 Camaro’s SS likewise out-muscles the V-8 Mustang GT and the Challenger R/T. To match it in a Challenger, you have to step up to the Challenger SRT8, which costs thousands of dollars more than the Camaro SS. Handling is reasonably good in the base Camaro, excellent in the SS, though at significant sacrifice in ride comfort.