With summer approaching at a brisk pace (less than a month away, thank God), some of us will be looking for a car to enjoy during the summer, and perhaps after that as well (others of us who aren’t so fortunate may be stuck without a car, or even worse, with our parent’s minivan). With Chevrolet, Ford, and Dodge each having recently released or redesigned their signature pony cars (the Camaro, the Mustang, and the Challenger, respectively), those whose tastes run into the classic American Muscle car realm have plenty of reasons to be drooling at the mouth now. However, they have a tough call to make – which pony car is king?
The Ford Mustang is the only car which has been in continuous production since inception out of this group of pony cars – and is the reason for the name “pony” car. With the 2011 version of the Mustang set to come out this summer, Ford Motor Co. is ahead of its competitors. The 2011 Mustang GT features a 5.0 liter V8 engine which pumps out a massive 412 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque. When coupled with the fact that the Mustang is the lightest car in the group, that is enough to give it the fastest 0-60 time, making it in a brisk 4.6 seconds. Pulling a bit over .9 g on the skidpad, it is also the most maneuverable of the lot, and also gets the best gas mileage of the group, with EPA estimating 17 city / 26 highway mpg. Be ready to shell out about $33,000 for this car.
The Dodge Challenger, while having been out of the running the longest (since 1983), came back in 2008 with a bang. The Challenger features the most retro, hearken to the olden-days look out of the three pony cars. However, it suffers in performance. Even though 2010 Challenger SRT8 it features a 6.1 liter HEMI V8 which produces an impressive 425 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, it is the heaviest car of the group, and this shows in its performance. The Challenger takes 0-60 in 4.9 seconds, pulls a bit less than .9 g on the skidpad, and has an EPA estimated mpg of 14 city / 22 highway. This pony car will cost you over $40,000 after the gas guzzler tax.
The Chevy Camaro is the newest returnee to the group, having just come back in 2009 with the 2010 version, and it shows. The Camaro SS features the most aggressive styling of the group, and with a 6.2 liter V8 that throws 426 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, it rips from 0-60 in 4.7 seconds, and pulls right around .9 g on the skidpad. EPA estimates a 16 city / 25 highway mpg, and the SS will set you back around $32,000.
If you look at just the statistics, the Mustang is a clear winner, but by slim margins, as all these cars have very similar performance. However, pony cars aren’t all about quick quarter miles and crazy burnouts – they’re also about looking awesome, and this can be a deciding factor. In my opinion, the award for best looks goes to the Camaro SS, hands down, but many retro fans are willing to throw down the extra moolah for the looks of the Challenger SRT8 as well. Whichever one may be your favorite, any of these cars are sure to give you a thrilling ride.