Now that the 2015 Ford Mustang has been revealed for all to see, the comparisons can begin. And when you're comparing the Mustang to its competition, there's only one true rival: the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro.
On the track or in the showrooms, the Mustang vs. Camaro fight has been going on for more than four decades now. There were times when it looked as if the battle would fizzle out in an emissions-choked standoff, but technology stepped in to save the day. The latest models now deliver more power, cleaner emissions and surprising efficiency.
But exactly how close do these iconic pony cars match up in their latest iterations? We crunched the numbers to find out.
The Mustang Creates a Category of Its Own
The Ford Mustang got things started with its introduction in 1964. It had modest roots in the Falcon sedan, but its styling made up for it. An optional 289-cubic-inch V8 with up to 271 horsepower helped its cause as well. The Mustang was an immediate hit, so much that Chevrolet knew it had to counter with a stylish, fun-to-drive coupe of its own.
The Chevrolet Camaro debuted just three years later using the same formula: sedan roots, a stylish design and optional V8 power. It was an instant hit as well and the race has been on ever since.
Over the years, the two cars remained popular even when oil embargoes choked their performance and consumer tastes shifted to larger vehicles. The Mustang has been a staple in Ford's lineup, receiving so many redesigns that the new 2015 model is the 10th-generation model depending on how you count.
The Camaro has largely kept pace even if it's only in its fifth generation. A short hiatus from 2002-'10 gave the Mustang the market to itself for a number of years, but renewed competition since 2010 has made the rivalry more intense than ever.
Essentially the Same Size
The latest Mustang was designed to appeal to more than just the American market. With that in mind, many expected a smaller size, but that didn't materialize. With an overall length of 188.3 inches and a wheelbase of 107.1 inches, the 2015 Mustang is roughly the same size as the previous model. It's still smaller than the Camaro, though, which measures 190.4 inches in length and stretches out over a 112.3-inch wheelbase.
In terms of width and height the two cars are as close as ever. The Mustang sits at 54.4 inches high and 75.4 inches wide, while the Camaro is 0.2 inch lower and 0.1 inch wider.
One important area where the Mustang has grown is between the rear wheels. An extra 3 inches of rear track width makes it nearly an inch wider at the rear than the Camaro, while the Mustang's front track is still well more than an inch narrower than the Camaro's.
Aluminum fenders were used to shave some weight off the Mustang this time around. Unfortunately, they don't offset weight gains elsewhere, as the 2015 Mustang is expected to weigh roughly 100 pounds more than the outgoing model. Official specs haven't been released yet, but that would still leave the Mustang GT about 200 pounds lighter than the Camaro SS.
We figured the new Mustang would stick with its traditional V6 and V8 engines, and sure enough, they're part of the package. The base 3.7-liter V6 has been detuned slightly, however, with projected ratings of 300 hp and 270 pound-feet of torque. The 5.0-liter V8 is projected to deliver "more than" its current 420 hp thanks to a few minor upgrades.
Compared to the Camaro SS, the Mustang should be right on top of it. The current Camaro SS is rated at 426 hp, so don't be surprised if the 5.0-liter V8 delivers more than 430 horses to make sure it stays ahead.
Where the Camaro has an advantage is its V6. Rated at 323 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque, it easily tops the Mustang's base engine. Ford knew that, of course, so it added one more option for the Mustang: a midrange 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.
Official horsepower figures haven't been released yet, but Ford estimates that the new four-cylinder will deliver at least 305 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. That would put the Mustang squarely above the base Camaro in terms of torque, not to mention the weight advantage of the small engine.
Both the Camaro and the Mustang offer six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions, so in the war of gears, there is no victor.
Interiors Matter, Too
Possibly the Mustang's biggest advantage over the current Camaro is outward visibility unencumbered by styling compromises. Expect that advantage to continue into the new 'Stang, which has a more upright cabin thanks to A-pillars that are moved slightly rearward. It, too, should avoid the Camaro's "tank-slit" forward view.
The Mustang will forgo the current retro-style gauges in favor of instruments with a modern font. Both cars will offer tilt-and-telescoping steering wheels, though only the Mustang will come standard with keyless entry. The Mustang, however, will make adaptive cruise control available: a feature that isn't currently offered on the Camaro. Recaro seats will be a trim-level-dependent option on both cars.
The current Camaro's trunk aperture is small enough to inhibit carrying bulky items the trunk would otherwise easily accommodate, which can be a hassle. Though it's too early to know the 2015 Mustang's cargo capacity, expect wider rear haunches and lower liftover height to work to its advantage.
There is no clear winner here. The only fact that remains evident is that the Mustang vs. Camaro battle is as strong as ever — even if the latest strike comes from Ford.