I feel like I’m about to start a war. At least, that’s what it would have felt like six or seven years ago had I had the gall to put a comparison test like this together. Why has this changed? Sadly, in a way, the Camaro is dying a slow death. No, General Motors has not decided to pull the plug on their famous pony car, it is you, the buying public, that has shied away from the Chevy.
This situation has pushed GM to rethink the Camaro, endow it with multiple facelifts (again for 2020?) and even poll customers to find out what they can do to reignite the collective flame that once burned hard for the car. Meanwhile, Ford’s riding the wave of success with successive versions, powertrains, body styles and special editions. The Mustang has recently made its official way to some European markets where it’s found many a new owner.
Is the Ford Mustang, the soon-to-be last remaining car in Ford’s North American catalogue, that much better than the Chevrolet Camaro?
Which is more enjoyable to drive?
The short of this answer is that the Ford Mustang is effortless to drive generally speaking. The Chevy Camaro is far more of a chore.
Ford figured something out a long, long time ago: not all Mustangs need to be sporty, they only have to look the part. The current 6th generation ‘Stang is the poshest ever and while purist may complain about this, Ford’s prepared GT350s, Bullitts, and GT500s for them to purchase. In fact, it is thanks to customers buying “regular” Mustangs that the driver-focused cars are possible.
The Chevrolet Camaro is never relaxing; one cannot simply cruise with the Chevy and enjoy the scenery. And yet, for the real driving enthusiast, the Chevy provides sharper steering response and a far more dynamically involving drive right out of the box.
In both cases, option packages transform the cars into momentous performance machines. Chevy’s SS 1LE Track Performance Package and Ford’s GT Performance Package Level 2 include serious improvements for those looking to properly exploit the power provided by the V8.
Once off the track however, the Mustang will cosset all the way home. The Camaro’s chassis cannot be dialed completely down, despite also sporting magnetic dampers.
Answer: the 2019 Ford Mustang
Which is more fuel-efficient?
Here, the result matters little, really. However, the two cars are initially powered by boosted 4-cylinder engines. Although both are fuel-efficient alternatives, their real-life fuel-economy advantage is not that great over the popular V8s.
On paper then, the Mustang’s 4-cylinder is better on gas while the Camaro’s V8 requires less black gold. Do we call it a tie? No. Over the years and after many road tests, the Chevrolet returns slightly better numbers.
Answer: the 2019 Chevrolet Camaro
Which is more spacious?
Both of these vehicles are destined for households that are either without kids or, alternatively, also have a Ford Escape or Chevy Equinox in the driveway. Even so, in a pinch, it’s good to know that your friends… can always take the bus.
The Camaro and Mustang are designed to accommodate front passengers in reasonable comfort. The Mustang offers more appendage room, and better visibility. As such, the Ford seems far airier, and thus more comfortable.
Both have back seats destined for infants that somehow do not require baby seats or adults without legs. Then there’s the trunk. The Camaro’s is nearly useless.
Answer: the 2019 Ford Mustang
Which has the better value?
As GM’s experiencing difficulties moving their pony car, they are currently (October 2018) far more generous incentive-wise than Ford.
As a used car, both retain a reasonable resale value. As expected, there are more Mustangs available, and there are more potential buyers for them. Expectedly, there are fewer Camaros, and fewer buyers.
The bottom line here is that buyers in this segment are typically shopping for one or the other, and not both. Specific editions, such as the 50th Anniversary Mustang or a 2015 Z/28 tend to hold on to their value and in some cases, such as a 2013 Boss, they have already begun to appreciate.
Answer: it’s a tie
Which would we recommend?
As we’ve just said, if you’re in the market for a Chevrolet Camaro, you can probably come up with all the reasons as to why you’ll never buy a Ford, and vice-versa.
Having said that, we do have preferences, and they vary. Mustangs are a dime a dozen – they’re everywhere, on rental fleets and all over the streets. That factor alone pushes us towards the Chevy. The Camaro’s design is striking and everything but conservative. Its polarizing lines divide while the Mustang’s retro-cool shape please 5-year-olds, and 85-year-olds.
While we love the Camaro SS 1LE, ZL1 and Z/28 (having driven them all), we tend to prefer Ford’s special Mustangs. In fact, and it’s quite simple really, the conclusion is that the 2019 Mustang Bullitt is the only one you should buy. To take it one step further, the 2018 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker with a 6-speed manual is the most emotionally-packed, sufficiently fast and loud pony-car we should all have!
But seriously, although the 2019 Ford Mustang is a far more modern, refined and better driving car than both the Challenger and the Camaro, get the one you want. Period.