As two of the oldest Titans in the muscle car battle, the Ford Mustang GT and Chevrolet Camaro SS have always been rivals. Similar early on in their history, the two took different directions in the early 1980s with the Mustang F-body introduction.
Camaro SS owners could always claim more horsepower, while in 1994 the fourth-gen Mustang, in all forms, claimed a new exterior and stylishly rethought cabin. Fast-forward to 2012 and the spec charts are finally evening out.
That leaves open-minded buyers with one question: which of the two old boys to choose.
|Vehicle||2012 Ford Mustang GT||Advantage||2012 Chevy Camaro SS|
|Engine||Gas V8, 5.0L/302||Camaro||Gas V8, 6.2L/376|
|Horsepower||412 @ 6500 rpm||Camaro||426 @ 5900 rpm|
|Max. Torque||390 @ 4250 rpm||Camaro||420 @ 4600 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||17 MPG city / 26 MPG hwy||Mustang||16 MPG city / 24 MPG hwy|
|Curb Weight (MT)||3,603 lbs||Mustang||3,849 lbs|
|Head Room (front)||38.5"||Mustang||37.4"|
|Shoulder Room (front)||55.3"||Camaro||56.9"|
|Leg Room (front)||42.4"||-||42.4"|
|Trunk Space (cu-ft)||13.4||Mustang||11.3|
After an eight-year hiatus, the Camaro SS returned with all the hell fire we remembered, but that was 2010. While it’s tough to complain about the car’s 426-hp naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8, those power ratings have been stagnant for three years.
That’s all the harder to swallow as we watch the 2012 Mustang climb closer to matching those numbers since the storied 2010 Camaro’s return to competition. At the time, the Mustang made a measly 315 hp, but bumped it up the following year to a 5.0-liter V8 making the 412 we see in the 2012 model.
Both cars come with a standard six-speed manual, though the style versus aggression mentality still seems evident between the two while shifting. Shorter, more calculated throws categorize the Mustang, while longer, jarring shifts give birth to the Camaro’s throaty V8 roar.
Those sensibilities translate inside and out on both cars as well. Despite only being about two inches longer at 190.4 inches, the Camaro just feels bigger than the Mustang. That probably has just as much to do with the long, square body style of the Camaro as it does the Mustang’s tighter, more ergonomic cabin. The poor outward visibility on the Camaro doesn’t help either.
Regardless of which choice wins, you’re bound to notice the gobs of torque both cars have. From a stoplight, both beg to go like a dog that hasn’t been walked all day. After you’re rolling, you might appreciate optional features on the Mustang like Microsoft Sync, which will crank the music on voice command — living out that high school dream.
Speaking of retro moments, the Camaro SS retains its styling reminiscent of the legendary ’68, but also has a more modern overall look than the ‘Stang.
When it comes to handling, the Camaro has a more modern fully-independent rear end, though the Mustang feels surprisingly more nimble, despite it’s solid rear axle, due to a curb weight that is several hundred pounds less.
For 2012 the Camaro SS gets a backup camera built into the rear-view. Similarly, the 2012 Mustang GT is essentially a direct translation of last year’s model but with an adjustable steering effort setting. 2013 cars will come with an optional Track Apps package that will let you measure your own 0-60, ¼ mile times, braking distances and g force.
Both cars achieve the same 17 mpg during city driving but the Camaro SS is more efficient on the highway with 28 mpg versus the Mustang GT’s 26. The Camaro also has a larger fuel tank that allows for better cruising range.
Those numbers are derived from the base manual, but there is an optional six-speed automatic transmission, though it sacrifices fuel economy.
At the $29,710 base price tag, the Mustang GT doesn’t come with standard leather seating, then again the Camaro doesn’t either and it costs $31,095.
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