2019 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE vs. 2019 Ford Mustang GT Performance Pack Level 2


El Presidente
May 23, 2007
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2019 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE vs. 2019 Ford Mustang GT Performance Pack Level 2

2nd Place:
Ford Mustang

Highs: Relatively roomy interior and trunk, *fantastic brake feel.
Lows: Easily roasts its pricey *Michelins, uneven road surfaces and standing water give it panic attacks.
Verdict: The better vehicle of the two, but not the better pony car.

The Ford lost this comparison test by only three points. That’s close. But that’s not how it felt to our two voters. There was never a circumstance when our drivers wouldn’t have preferred to drive the Camaro instead of the Mustang.

On long expressway slogs, the Mustang’s Cup 2 tires sang loudly and caused the PPL2 to tramline aggressively. Its terrain-tracking combined with an inability to deal with water-covered pavement made the car a nervous wreck through construction zones in the rain. The PPL2’s stiff suspenders also made it more susceptible to freeway hop than the Camaro. But, hey, this is a performance-focused car, right?

Right. And so, naturally, the Mustang PPL2 feels more at home on winding roads. In fact, were it not for the presence of the Camaro, we would have been really smitten with the Ford. Predictably, the Cup 2 tires provide massive grip. On our 300-foot skidpad, we saw an average of 1.13 g’s. But maximum grip isn’t everything. The Mustang’s steering feels a little light and springy in action. Its shifter engagements are pleasant enough, but the throws are *longer than those of the Camaro’s six-speed. No such issue with the PPL2’s brake pedal, which is perfectly firm and allows the driver to neatly tailor braking force to a given situation.

The Mustang’s 460-hp DOHC 5.0-liter V-8 makes five more horsepower than the Camaro’s larger-displacement engine. To reach its peak horsepower, the Mustang needs an additional 1000 revs over the Camaro (7000 versus 6000). But it’s really the torque output that defines the differences between these two engines. At 420 pound-feet, the Ford is 35 down compared with the Chevy. And it takes the 5.0-liter a couple hundred more rpm to get there. On the road, it felt like a much larger deficit. It’s relatively easy to get caught out in the Mustang. Trying to exit a corner in a high gear is a low-thrust downer. The Mustang’s driver really has to work the engine to get the most out of it. Have a look at the results of the 5-to-60-mph test, which is designed to be more indicative of what owners will feel on a day-to-day basis: The Ford trails the Chevy by a half-second. It might not sound like much, but it feels like a lot.

That the Mustang PPL2 didn’t get creamed in the final scoring is in part because we prefer its styling to that of the demented-face Camaro. And while it has its moments of silliness, the Mustang’s interior isn’t the ergonomic atrocity that the Camaro’s is. Also, those tires give the Mustang a slight advantage in braking and roadholding, but the differences are so slight as to be purely academic. The replacement cost, however, isn’t. The Mustang’s tires are about $400 apiece versus $280 and $310, respectively, for the Camaro’s front and rear rubber. And while the Mustang’s fat tires poke out the sides of the car, the 19-inch wheel package doesn’t fill the wheel wells. It’s not the hunkered-*down look you want from a pony car. But, hey, at least you can see out of the Ford.

1st Place:
Chevrolet Camaro

Highs: Precise, feelsome steering; ass-kicking V-8; daily-driver ride quality.
Lows: That damn interior again, botched facelift.
Verdict: A sports car with the bellow of a muscle car. A muscle car with the finesse of a sports car.

If you think you’re tired of reading our complaints about the Camaro’s cramped, cheap interior and pitiful outward visibility, just imagine how we feel writing those things over and over again. Please, Chevy, correct this on the next-generation car (assuming there is one). Pretty please.

But here we go again: The Camaro’s cabin design is ridiculous. The materials are substandard. Every secondary thing that you need to reach, such as a map pocket or a USB port, is inexplicably behind your back or at such an awkward angle, like the mirror adjusters and navigation screen, that you grow resentful of the car. And why do we have to feel so cramped in such a large car?

Okay, with that out of the way, there isn’t much else to dislike about the Camaro 1LE. Its ride quality is good enough that even older enthusiasts won’t complain. Despite an aggressive suspension tune and sticky tires, the 1LE doesn’t tramline. It is a drama-free straight shooter when you want it to be, such as on the expressway drives that lead to fun roads.

Once on those roads, the Camaro excels. It’s not exactly playful. It is instead precise. The steering system is a no-slack, hyperlinear control device. And though it’s wearing narrower front tires than the Mustang, the Camaro 1LE has immediate and certain turn-in. Its somewhat less aggressive Goodyears help the 1LE deliver 1.11 g’s on the skidpad, stop from 70 mph in 140 feet, and claw through the slalom at 45.3 mph. Those numbers effectively match the Mustang’s. The difference is that the Camaro never feels as though it’s breaking a sweat while performing those feats.

But it’s the powertrain that truly allows the Camaro to pull away from the Mustang. It might be the waning days for big-displacement, naturally aspirated V-8s, but we’d be happy to drive this small-block into the sunset. It sounds *positively furious basically all the time, regardless of drive mode. We might dial down the programmed-in popping and cracking on overrun, at least in the less sporty modes. But, generally, we don’t mind our V-8s being a little outspoken. And even with relatively tall gears in the six-speed manual, the V-8 seems always at the ready to deliver as much thrust as you might desire.

The 1LE is a holistic performance-car package; it’s just the car’s packaging you’ll have to overlook.


Well-known member
Aug 19, 2004
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Mount Prospect
I feel like this is the story of every Mustang vs. Camaro comparison since I've been a kid. Camaro outperforms the Mustang.....but sitting inside a Camaro is miserable...more people end up buying Mustangs.

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