2010 camaro ss vs 2010 ford mustang gt vs 2009 dodge challenger r/t comparison test drive

It’s been five years since Ford re-introduced the 2005 Mustang. Now that Dodge and Chevy have brought back the Challenger and Camaro, we decided to get them together for a musclecar throwdown.

2009 Dodge Challenger R/T vs. 2010 Ford Mustang GT Premium (Photograph by Ture Lillegraven)

SAN DIEGO – It’s been five long model years since Ford introduced the retro-cool 2005 Mustang and kicked off the second coming of the musclecar wars. Dodge answered with the 2008 Challenger and now, the 2010 Camaro is in production and generating a massive buzz. Three historic icons of American performance-finally-in the metal and on the street. So we decided to get them together for a first round, rubber roasting, musclecar throwdown.

But this test was unlike most of our comparisons. It was a logistical puzzle that involved testing a Camaro SS in Detroit and running numbers on the Mustang GT and Challenger R/T in California. Timing was so tight, and the Camaro SS was in such high demand, we had less than three short hours to gather all three manual transmission cars together in the same place at the same time. So we were unable to compare the real-world fuel economy of the three or perform our usual handling tests. But we did manage to test the more expensive Dodge Challenger SRT8 in Michigan too, just to see if Dodge’s quickest could take on the Camaro.

Yet even with these extraordinary testing circumstances, we did spend enough time in each car to get a sense of how they stack up. Speed junkies read no further. If you want to know which is the quickest of this new breed of American muscle-it’s the Camaro SS. That is, until the more expensive 540 hp Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500 arrives later this year.

But the modern musclecar is about more than just pure speed. It’s about the visceral sensation you get from behind the wheel, the emotions these vehicles deliver when you lift the garage door on a Saturday morning and

yes, it’s about practicality, refinement and handling on real roads too. So which one of the three takes the musclecar gold medal in this early match-up? Let’s find out.

2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS
Base Price: $30,995 | As Tested: $35,000 (est)

2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS (Photograph by Ture Lillegraven)

The six-speed manual, 3.45:1 geared 426 hp Camaro SS was the quickest car of the group by a wide margin, stomping 60 mph in 4.9 seconds and running through the 1/4-mile in 13.0 seconds at 111 mph. That speed is particularly impressive considering the Camaro SS weighs almost 3900 pounds. On the road, the V8 has enormous torque and can pull away from lesser cars from less then 2000 rpm on the freeway. At idle the big 6.2-liter rumbles ever so slightly. And we like that. Still it takes full throttle and some revs to really hear this motor sing, so a more aggressive exhaust tuning is needed. Back at the track, the SS stopped from 60 mph in an incredibly short 107.8 feet. Credit that particular number to the serving tray size, 14-inch front and 14.4-inch rear Brembo brakes.

If you’d like to get a taste of the Camaro’s handling right now before it arrives in dealerships this April-give a Pontiac G8 GXP a spin. The Camaro is built on an evolution of that same GM global rear-drive chassis engineered and tuned in Australia. Creating a Camaro from those bones was no easy task. The front wheels were pulled forward, but the overall wheelbase (112.3-inches) is shorter than a G8’s by more than two-inches.

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2010 camaro ss vs 2010 ford mustang gt vs 2009 dodge challenger r/t comparison test drive