In the annals of American rivalries, the Camaro–Mustang face-off is as significant to car buffs as the Yankees vs. Red Sox tradition is to baseball fans.
For nearly five decades, the two vehicles have battled, clawed and fought for the title of best American muscle car. The bulk of the competition has played out in Detroit, where engineers from Ford and Chevy obsessively tweak everything from the cars’ appearance to those zero-to-60 times. With the recent rollout of the sixth-generation Camaro and sixth-generation Mustang, the Motor City rivalry is more relevant—and intense—than ever.
Powerwise, the 2016 Chevy muscle car (pictured below) enters the race with a slight edge over Ford’s new pony (above). The Camaro, the reigning five-year sales champ of the two, starts with a 275-horsepower two-liter turbo model and scales up to a 335-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 and even a 455-horsepower LT1 6.2-liter V8. The Mustang stable includes a new 310-horsepower 2.3-liter eco-boost engine, a 300-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 and a 435-horsepower five-liter V8.
After having a chance to test-drive new models of both the Camaro and the Mustang, it’s clear that performance has improved substantially all around, most noticeably in how stable and nimble the cars feel on the road. It’s the exterior designs that will be the deciding factor for most buyers. The sixth-gen Mustang, first unveiled in 2013 as a 2015 model, was designed as a more modern spin reminiscent of the classic Ford fastbacks from the 1960s. The sixth-gen Camaro makes its debut this year as a 2016 model; the team behind it stuck with a slimmer, more chiseled take on the previous body.
We’re betting that most new buyers will opt for the fresher-faced Mustang over the angular Camaro. But diehard fans of both cars will find more than enough American muscle under the hood to cheer about in their new players, which is likely to fuel the debate over which one is better for years to come.
2016 FORD MUSTANG GT
Engine: 5-liter V8 | Horsepower: 43 5
Torque: 400 lb.-ft. | Zero to 60: 4.5 sec.
MPG: 15 city/25 hwy. | Price: $32,300 base
2016 CHEVROLET CAMARO SS
Engine: 6.2-liter V8 | Horsepower: 455
Torque: 455 lb.-ft. | Zero to 60: est. 4.5 sec.
MPG: est. 16 city/25 hwy. | Price: $37,295 base
For more of Playboy’s car coverage, check out Playboy Garage.