Just one year after we gave the 2010 Chevy Camaro an All-Star award, the Ford Mustang brings home the prize for 2011. This is just the latest chapter in the punch-for-punch pony-car battle that has been going on for the better part of forty years. This year's knockout blow came when Ford brought the 5.0-liter V-8 back from the dead, but even Vanilla Ice knows that the new "five point oh" isn't the only engine that the frequently revised Mustang has going for it.
The base 2011 Mustang's very capable, very impressive V-6 makes 305 hp, gets 31 mpg on the highway, and starts at less than $23,000. Although the V-6 is suitable for many buyers, it's the V-8-powered GT and the supercharged Shelby GT500 that get our enthusiast blood pumping. With 412 hp and 550 hp, respectively, it's nearly impossible to keep a big, fat grin off your face-and points off your driving record-when you're behind the wheel of either of these ponies. The GT gallops to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds-not too shabby for a $30,000 car. The hot-rod GT500 does it about half a second quicker.
Despite all this new performance, the Mustang still uses one of the oldest technologies in the business: a live rear axle. But, honestly, Ford pulls it off just fine. The Mustang's nimble chassis, lighter weight, and close-ratio transmission give it a clear advantage over the heavier, less fluid Camaro on a curvy road. The Ford's cabin is much nicer, too, compared with the unattractive plastics that plague the Camaro.
This pony-car fight is certainly not over, and with the Z28 model on its way, the Chevy Camaro isn't down for the count. But we can definitively say that this round goes to the Mustang and that it is well-deserving of a 2011 Automobile Magazine All-Star award.
- Mike Ofiara, Road Test Coordinator
BASE PRICE RANGE: $22,995-$54,495
ENGINES: 3.7L V-6, 305 hp, 280 lb-ft; 5.0L V-8, 412 hp, 390 lb-ft; 5.4L supercharged V-8, 550 hp, 510 lb-ft