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Camaro tops Mustang in dependability solidifying its dominance in the pony car class

J.D. Power and Associates rank Camaro highest in its class in durbility, Camaro outsells Mustang, and seems to be pulling ahead in the comparison tests.

The Camaro Mustang rivalry is one of the best in the automotive world and Camaro seems to have nosed ahead lately. In its recent dependability study the Chevy Camaro was first in its category. That category being the one that Mustang started back in the 1960s. We like to call them “pony cars” but J.D. Power and Associates calls these cars “midsize sporty” cars. Call them what you will, there really are no other rear-drive affordable coupes selling in any numbers even close to the Mustang and Camaro.

There are some Chrysler products that are in and out of contention, but calling them midsize is a stretch. Hyundai has the excellent Genesis coupe, but that vehicle is not available in V8 format, the configuration which defines this segment.

The J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study looks at cars 3 years old to determine how reliable they have been in comparison to their peers. In the Midsize sporty car category, pony car class to the rest of us, the Camaro was at a distinct disadvantage heading into this match up. The Camaro was all new three years ago and the Mustang was not a new vehicle that year. Thus the Camaro had the wind in its face as it joined this contest. However, in the end the Camaro prevailed. This is starting to be a trend for Camaro.

In a recent slew of car magazine contests the Camaro is doing quite well. The folks at Chevy and Ford either on purpose, or by coincidence create many close match-ups of the Camaro and the Mustang. The head to head matchups should be taken lightly. There is not very much comparison shopping from brand to brand between these two rivals. Like a man is either a Ginger or Maryann guy, car enthusiasts are generally either a Camaro or Mustang fan.

And please don’t let me give you impression we at Torque News make the mistake of thinking that only guys buy these cars. We not only know the sales of these ponies are just as often, if not more often, to woman than to men, we know a lot of enthusiast women who own amazing mustangs. One dental professional we know has an extremely rare 1960s Mustang Hertz car worth close to the value of a nice beach house. She is not alone.

That said, the Mustang Cobras do sometimes take the win in matchups with Camaro ZL-1s, but not often. The Camaro SS 1LE recently beat the Mustang GT Track Pack in a Motor Trend head to head comparo lapping Willow Springs fully 3 seconds quicker than the Mustang.

Magazine comparisons are created to sell magazines. We suspect the wins and losses may have more to do with keeping readers interested than in which car is the better consumer choice. However, cars are meant to create revenue and the Camaro is winning that race hands down. In decades past the Mustang used to outsell the Camaro. In fact, the Camaro was discontinued for a while due to lack of buyer interest. Our own Patrick Rall is the go-to guy at Torque News for sales numbers on muscle cars and he reports on the sales of the Camaro-Mustang-Challenger trio monthly.

Not only has the Camaro sold more units than the Mustang this past month, it has sold more cars than the Mustang in 2012 overall, 2011 overall, and 2010 overall. If that isn’t the deciding factor in deciding which is the better car we don’t know what is. Tell us below what you think is the better car and why.


Tre Deuce (not verified)    February 14, 2013 - 10:44AM

For the last several years I have been in the market to replace my 328Is. I have extensively tested the Camaro and Mustang, also the Challenger, but it was eliminated early on. I'm not a Ford man or Chevy guy, I like cars.

Where the Camaro is like an old shoe when you get in and drive it, the Mustang is a bit difficult with shifting issues with the manual tranny and a general lack of composure. Note, no automatics Camaro's were tested.

Where the Camaro is smooth through corners and holds line even in the rough, the Mustang is like a buckboard and needs constant attention and sometimes major adjustments .

Where the Camaro feels sporty, the Mustang with its upright seating feels like a sedan.

Where the Camaro feels and looks sporty, is well mannered and fresh, the Mustang just feels old. When you get out of a new Mustang and get in your old 328is and drive home and you feel like you just got into a better car that you would rather drive, that is telling.

I have rented a Mustang convertible the last two years in Vegas for ten days when I attend the Viva Las Vegas show, fun, but the Mustang, really has a big problem on Vegas's smooth streets, because of its front suspension tuning. It really upsets when hitting expansion joints and going over speed bumps. The reaction is is harsh and noisy and very annoying . This year I have an SS Camaro convertible reserved. Thanks Hertz

Another thing that is annoying, The Mustang V-6 won't go past 112 MPH. Not an issue for some, but the Camaro will run up to its full potential with out interference from the program limits. If I buy a car capable of 150MPH, I want that potential on tap. The Mustang gets to 112 MPH in a big hurry, so don't worry about that, it scoots to the computer controlled limit.

Both of the cars, in any form, are bargains. So pick your flavor.

Me, I'm waiting to see what Ford brings to the table with the 2015 Mustang, if I don't buy a FRS/BRZ in the meant time.

John Goreham    February 14, 2013 - 12:53PM

In reply to by Tre Deuce (not verified)

You are spot on. I found the Mustang exactly as you did. Having driven a lot of these pony cars including the ZL-1 Camaro, I don't know why people buy the stick shift cars. They are slower, the shifting is crude, and not at all fun like shifting a BMW, or any Honda product. Worst of all, if you let a pal drive your car, and they miss a shift and strip the synchros, then what? Pony cars really are not competitors to any BMW, though they would like to be. The BMW is more refined, but dramatically higher in price for the same performance. Frankly, it is different performance.
I tried so hard to like BMWs, but I can't get past the run-flats. Where I live in New England tire damage is a real issue all year long. My tire pro has shown me the BMW rim and run-flat tire damage first hand. The car mags are full of BMW rim damage stories as well. A friend bought an Infiniti G convertible about the same time I bought my similar car. His Infiniti with run-flats has been towed home with tire damage. I’ve had better luck so far. So even though I buy cars that compete with the 3, I always buy cars with conventional tires and some kind of spare in the trunk. I just don’t want to see Jethro winch my baby up onto the flatbed by the front suspension links because I hit a pothole and damaged a sidewall.
I just can't get over it.

Tre Deuce (not verified)    February 14, 2013 - 2:19PM

In reply to by John Goreham

Hi! John,

A little misunderstanding here...I like manual tranny's and wouldn't buy anything else in a sporty car. The Camaro's and Mustangs I tested and commented on were all V-6 manuals, the rental Mustangs were V-6 auto's. I have tested the the V-8 manual models. The Camaro manual shifted like butter compared to the Mustang, even though they are essentially, the same transmission. The Mustang V-6's were all equipped with the V-6 'Performance Pkg'. Recommended!

My my 328is was a stock 96', except for tire and wheel upgrades, with just under 200,000 miles on it when I was testing the Ponies last year. It is a manual with 17" BBS and Continentals. It is now M5 powered and is essentially a show car, so I need a new trip car with a new warranty, the reason for looking at the Ponies, and because I can't step up to the price of a new BMW-3/4 coupe. I'm looking at the V-6 Camaro's and Mustangs, also the Gen Coupe and FRS/BRS.

The Camaro or Mustang for $22-$24,000 with 300+ HP ... what a deal, especially when you can find a big year end discount.

As for run flats. Any low side wall tire will have that problem. Find a smaller diameter wheel and compatible tire to gain more absorption/deflection tire section, but keep the overall diameter.