Mustang vs. Camaro: Part 2

20160731_inq_carseat31z-a
The 2016 Mustang: Superb handling, terrific sound, but a worrisome reliability rating.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro 2SS Coupe vs. 2016 Ford Mustang GT Coupe Premium: Midsummer muscle show.

Prices: The Mustang came to $43,865 as tested, while the Camaro totaled $47,590.

Marketer's pitches: The Camaro is "Reengineered. Redesigned. Rewarded." The Mustang is "Four engines. One soul."

Conventional wisdom: From my reviews of the 2012 models: "I'd call the Camaro best suited for wide boulevards and highways. It's the automotive equivalent of a Bruce Springsteen song. . . . But if I had my choice, based on driving pleasure and looks, it's Mustang Boss 302 all the way."

Reality: New looks, new rides.

Where we are: Last week we took a long, hard look inside and outside the muscle-car contestants. This week, we go for a ride.

(And I pause to note an error in the Mustang's 0-to-60 time in last week's edition; see "Up to speed," below.)

Under the hood: The long, contoured nose of the Mustang houses an efficient powerplant. The 5.0-liter V-8 creates 435 horsepower, while the Camaro requires 6.2 liters of volume to create 455.

The Camaro weighs in at 3,685 pounds with the automatic. The Mustang is 3,729 pounds.

Both vehicles also come with turbocharged fours; I've tested the Mustang EcoBoost and found it to be plenty fast and fun, with the bonus of getting 26 mpg. I imagine the Camaro would match up just fine.

Up to speed: General Motors says the Camaro reaches 60 in 4 seconds flat. The Mustang will take a depressingly long 0.3 seconds more, according to Car and Driver.

Out on the road, the difference becomes actually more apparent than one might think. In back-to-back tests, Sturgis Kid 4.0 and I agreed that the Camaro really pins occupants to the seats.

Shifty: Much to my chagrin, both cars came with shiftable automatic transmissions - although I guess I would have been chagrinnier without the shiftability. But manuals are offered; previous incarnations on both models shifted well.

The Mustang automatic is a six-speed with paddle shifters, while the Camaro's eight-speed can be controlled by stick-shift motion as well, which I prefer.

On the road: Chevrolet has made the Camaro more nimble, as advertised. I found the previous generation to be a wide beast on the road, fun to drive but a little hard to handle and difficult to see out of.

Ford offered top-notch handling in the previous Mustang, and I'm glad to see it hasn't fouled it up. Now both vehicles are as fun on the winding side roads as they are on the straightaways.

Keeping one's cool: One Camaro shortcoming, though, becomes evident during open-throttle maneuvers and hard cornering. The Mustang still goes in a straight line when pushed hard, while the Camaro zigs and zags ever so slightly under hard acceleration. Far less pronounced than before, but still there.

During corners, I could push the Mustang right to its limit, feeling the back end slide out and then recapturing control right where I wanted it. The Camaro never gave me this assurance, although it was improved over the 2012 model.

Getting comfy: The Camaro's tight quarters affect the Driver's Seat as well. Cupholders located next to the seat are awkward to reach and best used for propping your elbow when shifting gears. No good phone tray - and a flat wireless charger - means phones have a tendency to disappear during hard acceleration or cornering.

Play some tunes: The sound from the Mustang was phenomenal, up there with the best I've heard. The Camaro is just B+. I located the USB port inside the console only after a real hunting expedition.

The Mustang touchscreen was the easiest Ford product I've had yet. The Camaro has only a single volume dial, and thus changing stations can be a bit challenging.

Or don't: The exhaust sound from both vehicles is phenomenal. I had been partial to the Mustang, but now the Camaro sounds really awesome too. So this is a tie.

Keeping an eye out: The Camaro sits very low. The windows are short and squat, and visibility, while improved, remains difficult. The Mustang windows are taller and the driver is afforded a better view all around.

Still, changing lanes in either vehicle requires extra caution.

Fuel economy: Both vehicles averaged 18 mpg in a week of show-offy driving.

Where they're built: The Camaro comes to us from Lansing Grand River, Mich., the Mustang from Flat Rock, Mich.

How they're built: The Mustang garners a "poor" rating from Consumer Reports, 48 percent less than average, while the Camaro's rating is "fair."

In the end: The Camaro wins for people who really don't need a backseat and who are fine with straight-line acceleration. The Mustang offers superb handling while satisfying a need for speed.

ssturgis@phillynews.com 215-854-2558