Two iconic American muscle cars are on hand at the Los Angeles auto show: the long-awaited 2010 Chevrolet Camaro, which can be preordered now and will hit dealerships next spring, and the redesigned 2010 Ford Mustang, which debuted at the show. So how do these two sports cars — both throwbacks to an earlier time in terms of design but possessing modern technology underneath — measure up to each other? Let's run through the requisite categories.
Chevrolet was wise not to tinker too much with the Camaro’s design, which was a hit when it debuted in concept form at the 2006 Detroit auto show. The production Camaro is low-slung and muscular, like the Mustang, but features sharper angles overall and a gaping black grille that gives the coupe a little more aggressiveness than the Ford. None of these observations matter all that much, however, as muscle car fans will more than likely separate themselves according to brand allegiance.
Winner: Toss up
The Camaro joins the fray with some heavy-hitting engines to back up its intimidating looks. The base one is a 300-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 that features direct injection. The fabled SS trim level fans the flames in this competition with its 6.2-liter V-8, which makes up to 422 hp and 408 pounds-feet of torque. Both engines come standard with a six-speed manual, but a six-speed automatic transmission is optional.
Ford's Mustang was starting to look a little outgunned in the muscle car horsepower wars, as its standard V-6 produced 210 hp and its optional V-8 generated 300 hp for 2009. For 2010, Ford only bumped the V-8's horsepower rating to 315 hp, thanks in part to a cold-air induction system. Five-speed manual and automatic transmissions are offered with both engines.
While the numbers say the Camaro has a big advantage in the engine department, the edge doesn't look quite as large when you take vehicle weight into account, as the Camaro is about 300 pounds heavier than the Mustang. Even so, muscle cars are all about power, and the more the better.
Chevrolet has concocted a striking design for the inside of the Camaro that's unlike anything else in its lineup. Elements with a unique spin include the supplementary center-console gauges, audio system and air-conditioning controls, and the gauges. The interior also features uncommon types of trim, like the available red door and dashboard accents.
With the Mustang, Ford has given the interior a more premium feel with the use of upscale soft-touch dashboard trim and a revised layout for the buttons in the middle of the dash, and the car is available with classy features like an aluminum shift knob. Despite the improvements, the Mustang's cabin doesn't offer the visual excitement of the Camaro's, which comes out ahead in this category.
The Camaro has all the basic amenities you'd expect to find in a modern sports car, like air conditioning, a CD stereo, cruise control and keyless entry, but it doesn't come with any features that offer something unique in the marketplace. The Mustang, by comparison, offers a whole host of features.
Available Mustang features include Ford's Sync entertainment and communication system that allows you to control portable music players and Bluetooth-compatible cell phones with voice commands. It can also have Ford's new navigation system that uses Sirius' Travel Link technology to provide occupants with weather and traffic information, as well as sports scores and local gas prices. In addition, the Mustang's available MyColor feature lets you customize the gauges' backlighting color, and there's an optional glass roof for the coupe.
We'll have a fuller picture of these cars after we've had a chance to drive them, but on paper it looks like the new Camaro has the edge over the Mustang. If you're a muscle car fan, let us know in the comments which one you'd take.