2015 Ford Mustang vs Chevy Camaro SS 1LE vs Dodge Challenger HEMI 392 Scat Pack Shaker

Muscle Cars are Alive and Well

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Imagine a world without muscle cars.

Lucky for us, we don’t have to. Sure, there were a few times in the early 2000s where things looked bleak, but it’s 2015 and the muscle car isn’t just alive and well, but better than ever.

To prove it, three of the best bang-for-the-buck muscle cars currently on sale have been rounded up for a good old American shootout.

First up is the veteran Chevrolet Camaro. Having been on sale since 2010, the Camaro receives a complete overhaul for 2016, (sadly, that car didn’t arrive in time for this shootout) but that doesn’t mean the outgoing 2015 car is a slouch; especially in SS 1LE trim like we have here. Taking it on is the refreshed-for-2015 Dodge Challenger that’s now offered in full throwback 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker edition that features big power, big sound and a big presence

Of course, this comparison wouldn’t be complete without the all-new 2015 Ford Mustang GT. Wearing a new look and finally equipped with an independent rear suspension, the 2015 Mustang holds a distinct weight advantage over the other two competitors. And to make it perform even better, it comes equipped with the Track Pack.

So, three V8 ground-pounders, all vying to be king of the muscle cars. Who’s going to take it all? Read on.


2015-Dodge-Challenger-392-HEMI-Scat-Pack-Shaker-Main

3rd Place: Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker

Style for Days

If it’s personality you want, well here it is – the Challenger 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker. Stripes, scoops and a straight out of 1971 style, the Challenger is as classic a muscle car as you can get in 2015. Heck, it even has a foot-operated parking brake.

And classic muscle cars were all about excess, so it makes sense the Challenger has the most of nearly everything in this test. The most power, the most sound, the most space, the biggest curb weight, the highest as-tested price and the largest fuel consumption.

The latter makes sense, as the Challenger has the largest engine in the test. With 485 hp coming from a 6.4-liter V8, this monster overcomes it hefty curb weight that’s in excess of 4,100 pounds.

Still, for having the biggest, most powerful engine, the clutch engagement in the Challenger is fairly soft. But forget about that; let’s talk about easily the best aspect of this big Dodge – the sound. The noise coming out of the large dual exhaust pipes is intoxicating and something that every car should sound like.

2015-Chevy-Camaro-1LE-screen-1

A Blast from the Past in Every Way

Even with an upgraded high-performance suspension and large four-piston Brembo calipers up front, the Challenger has a tough time overcoming its extensive weight. Plus, with the skinniest tires in this test, the Challenger is not all that fond of changing directions or tackling corners.

This is more of a comfortable high speed cruiser than all around sports car. Just look at what’s included in here. Heated and ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel, the easiest to use infotainment system and the only car in this test with a usable rear seat. In fact, the Challenger can sit three people back there if needed while the other two can only take two bodies, and even then, that’s pushing things with the Mustang and Camaro.

SEE ALSO: 2015 Dodge Challenger 6.4 L Scat Pack Review

The seating position is higher in the Challenger than the other two cars and there is noticeably more head, hip and shoulder room behind the seat. The seat itself offers the least amount of lateral support, but will accommodate different body types easier than the Mustang or Camaro.

2015-Dodge-Challenger-392-HEMI-Scat-Pack-Shaker-03

Flashy, Comfortable and Pricey

But all this power, space and technology come at a cost. As tested, the Dodge almost breaks the $50,000 mark, which is a lot of money for Challenger that doesn’t say SRT on the back. That’s about $10,000 more than the Camaro and over $12,000 more than the Mustang.

With the 2015 refresh, Dodge made the otherwise forgettable Challenger once again a wholly relevant muscle car. Unique in its own way, the Challenger still comes up a bit short against the Camaro and the Mustang. But at least it’s in the game now and has closed the gap somewhat.

Fast Facts:

  • Engine: 6.4 L V8, 485 hp, 475 lb-ft. of torque
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, optional eight-speed automatic
  • US Pricing: 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker begins at $43,590 after destination charges,$49,770 as tested.
  • CDN Pricing: 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker begins at $51,690 after destination charges, $56,680 as tested
  • EPA Fuel Economy: 14 mpg city, 23 mpg highway
  • CDN Fuel Economy: 15.7 L/100 km city, 9.5 L/100 km highway
LOVE IT

  • Muscle car style
  • Glorious V8 sound
  • Spacious and comfortable
LEAVE IT

  • Weight
  • Price
  • Not as agile

2015-Chevy-Camaro-1LE-red-02

2nd Place: 2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE

A Track-Ready Brute

There’s an all-new Camaro on the way, so why the heck is this old dog here? Simply due to the number 1 and the letters LE. The 1LE package may be the most underrated performance package on any sports car right now. It transforms the Camaro SS from ordinary to extraordinary.

It’s one of those packages that’s more than the sum of its parts. Included are a shorter final drive ratio, wider tires and thicker stabilizer bars. This helps make the Camaro the most planted car in the comparison when powering through corners.

ALSO SEE: 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Review

The wide 285 mm sticky Goodyear Eagle F1 supercar tires makes the Challenger look like it’s on bicycle tires. The Camaro has grip for days and suffers the least amount of body roll. Anyone who thinks heavy muscle cars can’t handle a corner needs to go for a ride in the SS 1LE as nothing could be further from the truth. The Camaro loves twisty roads and doesn’t wallow through them like the Challenger, nor is it as twitchy as the Mustang.

Mustang-Camaro-Challenger-16

Built for Performance

At 3,900 pounds, the Camaro splits the difference between the Challenger and the Mustang weight wise. It may have the lightest steering, but feel and precision are arguably better than the ‘Stang’s. And the Camaro is also the easiest car to heel-toe shift.

The 6.2-liter V8 may make the least amount of power, but at 426 hp, we’re only talking 9 less than the Mustang, and the Camaro does make 20 more pound feet of torque than the Ford. It hustles the Chevy around with great authority and sounds fantastic at high rpm thanks to the dual stage exhaust system. Plus, power really comes on as the revs increase.

SEE ALSO: Five-Point Inspection: 2014 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE

If you’re looking for an all-out performance vehicle, the Camaro 1LE is your car.

But if a more balanced package is sought after, the Chevy doesn’t quite cut it. There are no adjustable settings other than traction control, as the 1LE is in hardcore mode at all times. Its missing luxuries found in the other cars like heated seats, adaptive cruise control and a navigation system. It has easily the worst interior design with the poorest fit and finish. But at least where it counts, proper materials have been used. The steering wheel, gear shifter and seat inserts all feature faux-suede for maximum grip.

2015-Chevy-Camaro-1LE-back-side

No Compromises, No Excuses

The rear seat may be marginally better than the Mustang’s, but still pretty useless. Headroom is the tightest up front, the sightlines are the worst here and the Camaro has by far the stiffest ride.

If it were my money though, I’d still pick the Camaro SS 1LE for its outright performance and fun to drive factor. But a lot of people aren’t willing to sacrifice quite as much comfort and sophistication in the name of performance as I am, which keeps the Camaro down in second place. But rest assured Chevy fans; the new Camaro is just about here and early reports suggest it has taken care of a lot of the current Camaro’s short comings.

Fast Facts:

  • Engine: 6.2 L V8, 426 hp, 420 lb-ft.
  • Transmission Six-speed manual, optional six-speed automatic
  • US Pricing: 2015 Chevrolet Camaro 1SS 1LE begins at $38,000 after destination charges, $39,995 as tested.
  • CDN Pricing: 2015 Chevrolet Camaro 1SS Sport Package begins at $44,815 after destination charges, $45,415 as tested.
  • EPA Fuel Economy: 16 mpg city, 24 mpg highway.
  • CDN Fuel Economy: 15.0 L/100 km city, 9.9 L/100 km highway.
LOVE IT

  • Performance
  • Fun to drive
  • Sound
LEAVE IT

  • Interior design
  • Fit and finish
  • Comfort

2015-Mustang-GT-10

1st Place: 2015 Ford Mustang GT with Track Pack

Modern Day Muscle

The Mustang’s new look has drawn some criticism and like it or leave it, compared to the other two cars here, it’s a bit underwhelming. The Mustang’s Track Pack doesn’t bring the same visual flair and personality that the Scat Pack or 1LE packages do. Guess that’s to leave room for the GT350 and other upcoming special editions, but Ford could have added a little more Muscle car style to the 2015 Mustang.

The rest of the car though is pretty great. The 5.0-liter V8 may be the smallest of the bunch, but it still pumps out 435 hp and 400 lb-ft. of torque. And with the lowest curb weight of just 3,705 pounds, the Mustang is still fast in a straight line. But missing from that speed is the sound. The stock Mustang GT is too damn quiet. It should have more sound for a muscle car. It needs less intake tube generated noise and more bellowing V8 exhaust note.

But let’s move on from my love for disturbing the peace. The Mustang’s clutch requires surprisingly little effort and has the smoothest engagement point of the trio. By adding the Track Pack, offset tires are installed, 255 mm wide up front and 275 mm in the rear. These tires, plus the light weight, help the Ford negotiate corners with impressive speed. And if sliding sideways is your thing, the Mustang is the most tail happy of the trio.

2015-Chevy-Camaro-1LE-red-lots

Luxurious and Fast

The steering is adjustable, requiring heavy effort in the sport setting and offers a decent amount of feedback. When it comes to stopping, nothing touches the Mustang with its six-piston front Brembo calipers squeezing 15-inch rotors.

SEE ALSO: 2015 Ford Mustang GT Review

Inside, the Mustang has the best overall driver position in terms of comfort and support. The interior is well finished and mixes a blend of modern and retro elements. The track pack includes track apps that feature various performance gauges as well as the burnout-inducing line lock control.

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Performance Bargain

The 2015 Ford Mustang resides somewhere between the hardcore Camaro and supple Challenger, striking a good balance between comfort and performance. What’s more, it’s also a relative bargain with the lowest as tested price of just $37,680, yet offers the most refinement.

Plus, the Ford’s main short comings, engine sound and exterior flash, can easily be fixed in the aftermarket. It isn’t as easy to strip a few hundred pounds from the Challenger or add a dose of refinement to the Camaro.

So, chalk up a win for the Mustang in this round. But the muscle car wars are alive and well in 2015 and we sense it’s only a matter of time before there will be yet another rematch.

Fast Facts:

  • Engine: 5.0 L V8, 435 hp, 400 lb-ft.
  • Transmission Six-speed manual, optional six-speed automatic
  • US Pricing: 2015 Ford Mustang GT with Performance Package begins at $35,790 after destination charges,$37,680 as tested.
  • CDN Pricing: 2015 Ford Mustang GT with Performance Package begins at $42,799 after destination charges, $44,649 as tested.
  • EPA Fuel Economy: 15 mpg city, 25 mpg highway
  • CDN Fuel Economy: 15.2 L/100 km city, 9.3 L/100 km highway
LOVE IT

  • Refinement
  • Comfort
  • Performance
LEAVE IT

  • Could use a bit more power
  • Where’s the V8 noise?
  • Conservative styling
  • craigcole

    Ford’s 5.0-liter is just soooo damn good, though the 6.4-liter Hemi is damn fun as well.

  • Joe

    Ford’s love it and leave it are switched

  • Mike Schlee

    You are correct. It’s been fixed. Thanks!

  • Mike Schlee

    I wouldn’t kick any of these V8s out of bed.

  • Sami Haj-Assaad

    Camaro should have won. The 1LE is my favorite thing ever. I like it more than chocolate, cheese, wine, bananas, coffees, friends, gadgets, laughter, eye-sight, head phones, laptops, keyboards, typing, lights, desk phones, wires, erasers, notepads, drones, model cars…

  • Mike Schlee

    Kung-Fu?

  • Sami Haj-Assaad

    I was really just naming things around my desk.

  • Dave Foley

    Small point. the CDN highway milage numbers must be off. Just looking at Challenger VS Camaro, in EPA numbers (23 vs 24), the Camaro gets better mileage. But in l/100k, the Challenger is better. (9.5 v 9.9) Remember, in metric, lower in better.

    That said, it really is hardly a difference. I’d bet the actions of ones own right foot would have more impact on actual mileage than anything. Haha!

  • Jay Zackery

    Robrobinette estimations:
    CSP and MGT: both 12.5 1/4 mile
    CSS: 12.8 1/4 mile

  • Don Falloon

    The Mustang does fall short in the dress-up category compared to its rivals here, apparently content to leave that to the aftermarket while they focused on the GT350. Ford allowed a number of aftermarket manufacturers the opportunity to spec the Mustang ahead of its release (pretty much SOP nowadays) and there were plenty of add-on goodies available from day one. Good compo.

  • JGinLA

    My 1LE has heated seats and navigation if that’s what you’re basing the score on.

  • libsarescum

    This is a “Muscle car” shootout?! Who gives a F about EPA ratings on muscle cars?. Where are the 0-60, 1/4 mile ratings, top speed, etc, etc. Next you will tell us which is the most dog friendly, or can store more grocery bags?

  • Compare the Gen6 2016 Camaro to the Mustang and it is an entirely different outcome.
    Better exterior
    Better Interior
    More HP and Torque on the SS 455/455 than the GT

    435/400 and better mileage

    0-60mph 4.0 sec, 1/4 mile 12.3sec

    Domination at the track

    I have a 2013 ZL1, and when GM comes out with a Gen6 ZL1 I will be upgrading.

  • ksdad

    Were is the cold hard performance data? Screw this subjective B.S. BTW, Bring on the Hellcat.

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  • Max Uhmum

    The Hellcat is a different beast indeed – I suspect it would be put up against the GT500?

  • iamcurious

    None of us are going to change our minds to suit others, BUT, I did my street racing several decades ago. I was a Mustang/Cougar fan for 40+ years. 3 years ago, I defected to the Mopar camp and bought a 2013 R/T Challenger (white, like Kowalski’s). It’s the faster car in the world, in looks, and plenty fast enough to suit me!

  • SP Shaker 🐝

    Challenger>Camaro>Mustang

  • Luis Garcia

    Sorry but only one of those vehicles is even close to a true muscle car and that is the Challenger. It’s built on a shortened full-size frame while the other two are built on compact frames. Dodge also treats the Challenger like a muscle car (despite it originally being a pony car) while Chevy and Ford treat their respective vehicles exactly like their classifications in the 60s, as pony cars meant to be more compact and sporty than muscle cars.

  • Bill

    I own a 2013 Challenger SRT, 392 with auto trans, its stock with the 255 rear tires and it turns in the low 12s, 4 sec 0-60 and its getting faster all the time. It will run with the Chevy or Ford any day and you can be comfortable doing it. I test drove the SS before I got the Dodge, it was too small inside and the only way you could check the gauges was to project the to the windshield. Never been found of Ford so I didn’t test it, but I would never trade my Dodge for either of them. PS I paid under 45K for it brand new.

  • austin syms

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