By Patrick Rall
When I ask most DodgeForum members “what is your favorite modern muscle car”, there is a good chance that the quick (and obvious) answer would be the Dodge Challenger. However, I know quite a few DF members who either already do own a Camaro or Mustang and others who would buy one of those two rather than the Challenger for a variety of reasons – I wanted to use the Question of the Week feature to see what other members think.
If you were to buy a new muscle car right now, would it be the Dodge Challenger, the Ford Mustang or the Chevrolet Camaro? Mind you, I’m not talking about some magical program where you get to pick one for free – I’m talking about buying and making payments and using it as your daily driver.
The Dodge Challenger is offered in eight different configurations but there are three basic drivetrain and body setups with varying goodies packed around those to make up the different trimlines. The base Challenger with the 305hp Pentastar V6 starts at $26,295, the mid level Challenger R/T with the 375hp 5.7L Hemi V8 starts at $29,995 and the 470 horsepower Challenger SRT8 Core starts at $39,995.
The comparable base model Ford Mustang with the 305hp 3.7L V6 starts at $22,200 with a manual transmission or $23,395 for the automatic transmission model while the Chevrolet Camaro V6 with 323hp starts at $24,245 with a manual transmission and $25,445 for the automatic transmission. In other words, the Challenger is comfortably the most expensive muscle car in base V6 form even though it is the worst in terms of performance. Also, the fact that the Challenger V6 is not available with a manual transmission alienates any prospective buyer who insists on banging their own gears.
When you step up to the least expensive V8 models from the three American automakers, you have the Challenger R/T with 375hp, the Ford Mustang GT with 420hp and the Chevy Camaro 1SS with 426 horsepower. When equipped with a proper manual transmission, the Challenger R/T starts at $29,995 while the Mustang GT starts at $30,900 and the Camaro SS starts at $33,535 so while it is substantially less powered than the Mustang GT or Camaro SS – it is also the least expensive.
When you get to the top of the line packages for each of the American muscle cars, the 470hp Challenger starts at just $39,995 while the Shelby GT500 Mustang starts at $54,800 and the Camaro ZL1 starts at $55,250. This makes the Challenger SRT8 much, much less expensive than the other two but it also has much less power (the Mustang GT500 has 662hp, the Camaro ZL1 has 580hp) so the Challenger SRT8 is better compared to the slightly less powerful and slightly less expensive Mustang GT and Camaro SS than the far more expensive GT500 and ZL1 models.
One other big factor that leads some Dodge lovers to opt for the Mustang or Camaro is the simple fact that there is no Challenger convertible. Mustang and Camaro buyers can opt for the base V6, the mid level V8 models (GT and SS) and the top of the line performance models (GT500 and ZL1) with a convertible top so those who definitely want a droptop are likely to scratch the Challenger off of the list before they ever step foot in a dealership. There is also the fact that Ford and Cherolet both offer specialized handling packages for their mid level V8 trimlines including the Mustang Boss 302 and the Camaro SS 1LE while Dodge has nothing comparable to those two limited production muscle cars.Loading ...
So with these factors in mind, click here to head into the forum to tell us which of the three American muscle cars you would buy today.