2006 Dodge Charger R/T, 2005 Ford Mustang GT, and 2005 Ponitac GTO 6.0

Randy G
Driver Side Interior View

It turns out that our modern muscle cars are best at these speeds as well, especially if a manual transmission is involved. For example, the GTO has a reputation for terrible wheel hop under fierce acceleration, but the explanation is as simple as a rear suspension with semitrailing arms that's overwhelmed by 400 lb-ft of torque, and it takes a launch at a paltry 1700 rpm to get an optimum 0-to-60-mph time of 5.1 seconds. The Mustang's four-link, solid rear axle is surprisingly well located and simply chatters under brutal torque loads, but here again, a launch at 1900 rpm is required to convert its 320 lb-ft of torque into a run to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. On the other hand, there's no drama from the Charger's five-speed automatic as it takes you to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds.

Of course, the real racing on Woodward took place not only on the boulevard itself but also on the access roads and concrete lanes of nearby I-75, then only partially completed. Out there, high-powered Mopar Hemis and Royal Bobcat-equipped Pontiacs had plenty of room to run. The new Charger, Mustang, and GTO also need room to run, as they're near-150-mph vehicles.

Front Headlight View

The Charger R/T tips the scales at 4134 pounds as a result of its Mercedes-engineered chassis components and a heavyweight V-8, yet it handles speed without a quiver of fright, shrugging off bumps and steering gently nose-first through bends. The Dodge's stability control is always on duty, though, and its gentle but persistent intervention will quickly overheat the brakes, which don't have much bite to them, anyway.

Side Emblem View

The Mustang GT also takes the path of stability during fast driving, its understeer making it incredibly predictable though not exactly lively or entertaining. A strong chassis structure and the thoroughly developed solid rear axle put the relatively sticky 235/55WR-17 Pirelli P Zero tires to good use. The numb, light-effort steering is a little slow to react, though, and it's another factor that makes this 3516-pound car seem heavier than it really is. On the other hand, the five-speed gearbox is brilliant, its short throws and defiantly mechanical gear engagement helping to get the most from the high-winding SOHC V-8.

The GTO's six-speed manual transmission doesn't meet the Mustang's standard, as the shift throws are long and the gate location is uncertain, although the actual gear engagement is crisp and clean. The GTO steers brilliantly, and you can place the car just where you want it. Once you put the hammer down, though, the GTO winds up on its semitrailing-arm rear suspension in a disconcerting way, as if it were getting ready to hop sideways across the road. Somehow, the 245/45WR-17 BFGoodrich G Force T/As always stick to the pavement, but it's clear the car shows a different personality that depends on whether you're smooth with the steering or you prefer to work the rear tires.

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