The horsepower wars are tightening among the Detroit Three, as the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger are getting bigger, more powerful, and yes, more fuel efficient.

That came into sharper focus this week as more information was revealed about the most insane Challenger ever – the 707-horsepower Hellcat – followed quickly by Ford's in-depth showcase of the 2015 Mustang in Dearborn.

It's shaping up to be a golden age for enthusiasts, and what's under the hood is becoming more important than ever.

The V8s
  • Right now, the 5.0-liter Mustang GT has the lead among Detroit's V8 muscle cars in the power department, though there's a caveat. The 435-hp output of the 5.0-liter 'Stang is ahead of the 6.2-liter LS3 V8 Camaro SS, which is rated at 426 ponies. It's also better than the 5.7-liter V8 Challenger R/T's 375 hp.
  • But, it trails the 6.4-liter V8 used in the 392 Challenger, which makes 485 hp. Blue Oval enthusiasts could argue the 392 is a sort of "Hellcat Lite," and not the GT's true competitor.
  • The tables are turned in the torque department, as the V8 Stang summons 400 lb-ft, which is behind the Camaro SS (420 lb-ft), the Challenger R/T (410 lb-ft) and the 392 (475 lb-ft).
  • Of course, we're just talking about the 2015 Mustang's competition, and since we don't know what's in store for the SVT-tuned example yet, we're leaving out any comparisons to the Camaro Z/28 and ZL1, as well as the previously mentioned, 707-hp Challenger Hellcat.
The V6s
  • Among V6s, the Camaro is the decided leader in power, boosting 323 hp, well ahead of the Challenger's 305 hp and the now-detuned Mustang, which dropped to an even 300 hp this year.
  • The Blue Oval does pack the most torque among six-cylinders with 280 lb-ft, just ahead of the Camaro's 278 lb-ft and the Challenger's 268 lb-ft.
The Wildcard
  • Of course, we're referring to Ford's EcoBoost inline four-cylinder, which pushes out 310 hp and an impressive 320 lb-ft from a turbocharged 2.3-liter mill. Neither Dodge nor Chevy have anything similar in their current muscle car lines, and if there are any undecided potential buyers in this died-in-the-wool segment, it could prove to be a game-changer.
Tipping The Scales
  • The turbo four is also the lightest Mustang and the lightest car among these offerings from Detroit, weighing 3,524 pounds. The V6 'Stang is just two pounds heavier though, which puts it well ahead of the V6 Camaro (3,702 pounds) and Challenger (3,834 pounds).
  • This trend continues among the V8s, as the Mustang GT is 3,705 pounds – just three pounds heavier than the lightest Camaro V6. The eight-cylinder Chevy comes in at 3,908 pounds, which is still lighter than the Challenger's weight of 4,082 pounds.
So those are the cold, hard numbers. Objectively there are definite winners and losers, depending on what you value in a sporting automobile. But in the end, this segment has always been about more than the numbers. If anything, spec sheets trivialize it. Muscle cars are about the visceral experience from behind the wheel. Pick your favorite, plunk down your cash and hit road. Who are we to tell you that you're wrong?



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  • 171 Comments
      tenspeeder
      • 5 Months Ago
      Just glad we still have these three choices to pick from. Buy what you want to drive.
      JayP
      • 5 Months Ago
      Mustang = Pony Car Challenger = Muscle Car
      fuzzyfish6
      • 5 Months Ago
      "But in the end, this segment has always been about more than the numbers. If anything, spec sheets trivialize it. Muscle cars are about the visceral experience from behind the wheel. Pick your favorite, plunk down your cash and hit road. Who are we to tell you that you're wrong?" This. The end.
        fuzzyfish6
        • 5 Months Ago
        @fuzzyfish6
        Unless you've talking about the hyper versions of these cars, since excess seems to be the name of the game. As a DD, I think a 6 speed Challenger R/T is my best bet. In Sublime of course.
      William
      • 5 Months Ago
      I have to say Mustang, simply because it is the only player remade for not only the real world, but the whole world.
      Carpinions
      • 5 Months Ago
      Well the Mustang naturally is going to appear strongest overall since it's now the newest. Oddly enough I think the Camaro is the one most in need of a new generation. The Challenger, while being very old, somehow seems quite fresh with all the new styling, colors, and wheels, and the Hellcat, to say nothing of the various special packages like the 392, the Scat, R/T, and SRT models. The Mustang surely will have special models at some point soon too, what with rumored SVT and Cobra editions, along with the guaranteed GT350/500 upgrades. Then there's the possibility of a new Bullitt, a new Boss, etc. etc. Those likely won't be out for a bit, though. But for now the Mustang appears to offer the fewest options. And personally I'll have to see that interior in person. Still am not sold on it and while the Challenger's interior is not exactly original interns of styling, it does appear to at least compete very well with the 2015 Stang's. The interior is another area where the Camaro just needs a new model, and is best left unspoken at this point. The Camaro's best selling points are the ZL1 and the Z/28, but those are pricey.
      RevenantDC5
      • 5 Months Ago
      "Of course, we're referring to Ford's EcoBoost inline four-cylinder, which pushes out 310 hp and an impressive 320 lb-ft from a turbocharged 2.3-liter mill. Neither Ford nor Chevy have anything similar in their current muscle car lines," I think you meant "Neither *Dodge* nor Chevy" here.
      mwstrick
      • 5 Months Ago
      It's really a personal preference. It's not always about horsepower. You have to ask yourself what is most important to you: appearance, comfort, fuel, hp/torque. Most muscle car fanatics appreciate all of them and enjoy talking with others about their cars.
      Army Casualty
      • 5 Months Ago
      This is rife with mistakes. Find someone who can proofread!
      LivetoDrive
      • 5 Months Ago
      Let me sum it all up: The new mustang: Stuck to its roots but now with a Euro flavor. Looks more upscale and classy The new Challenger: Best interior of the bunch. *if you could put it in the new stang you would have a no brainer* But the outside looks clean yet aggressive. The Camaro: Fisher-PRICE interior. Tacky "LOOK AT ME MOM" Exterior. The "i'm trying to hard" look. IMHO you can't go wrong with the mustang if you want that classy euro sports coupeee. But if you want some old school american muscle with a clean look and the nicest interior in a muscle car ever? Get the Challenger. Both cars are winners!!!
      AlgebraFrenzy
      • 5 Months Ago
      How did the Hellcat make us forget about the GT500 with 662 HP? Theres only a 45 HP difference.
      Bruce Lee
      • 5 Months Ago
      What I'm really curious about is just how much potential that Ecoboost 2.3L has in it. A little confused as to why the automatic Ecoboost is the lightest option-the automatic versions of the GT and the V6 both weigh more...why is the auto Ecoboost lighter than the manual? Nonetheless if it's easily and cheaply tunable to get the power up close to 400hp/lb ft the weight savings over the GT could make it quite the interesting track car.
        KaiserWilhelm
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Bruce Lee
        The aftermarket will certainly have fun with that motor. You're probably right on the money it could easily hit 400hp with intake/exhaust/tune.
      george
      • 5 Months Ago
      The EcoBoost tracpac is the modern SVT. Can't wait to drive one.
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