2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 vs. 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 - On Road

A. J. Mueller

2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 coupe

MSRP (with destination): $54,995

6.2-liter OHV supercharged V-8
Horsepower: 580 @ 6100 rpm
Torque: 556 lb-ft @ 3800 rpm

6-speed manual


20-inch aluminum wheels
285/35YR-20 Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar G:2 front tires
305/35YR-20 Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar G:2 rear tires

FUEL ECONOMY (city/highway/combined):
14/19/16 mpg

4120 lb

Doors/Passengers: 2/4
Cargo: 11.3 cu ft
Legroom (front/rear): 42.4/29.9 in
Headroom (front/rear): 37.4/35.3 in
Towing: N/A

Victory Red/Black

HID headlights
Aluminum hood w/painted carbon-fiber hood insert
Magnetic ride control
Limited-slip differential
Dual-mode performance exhaust
Brembo disc brakes
Stability and traction control
OnStar w/six-month trial subscription
Rear parking assist
Rearview camera w/rearview mirror monitor
6-way power adjustable front seats
Heated front passenger seats
Folding rear seats w/pass-through
Auxiliary gauges w/boost read-out
Tilt-and-telescopic steering column
Head-up display
USB port
SiriusXM satellite radio w/one-year subscription
Rear spoiler
Fog lights

Suede microfiber package- $500
Exposed carbon-fiber weave hood insert- $600
Solid dark gray stripe- $470
20-inch bright aluminum wheels- $470
GGT- $1300

6-speed automatic transmission- $1185
Power sunroof- $900
Audio system subwoofer- $1065

2013 Ford Shelby GT500 coupe

MSRP (with destination): $54,995

5.8-liter DOHC supercharged V-8
Horsepower: 662 @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 631 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm

6-speed manual


19-inch aluminum front wheels
20-inch aluminum rear wheels
265/40YR-19 Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar G:2 front tires
285/35YR-20 Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar G:2 rear tires

FUEL ECONOMY (city/highway/combined):
15/24/18 mpg

3852 lb

Doors/Passengers: 2/4
Cargo: 13.4 cu ft
Legroom (front/rear): 42.4/29.8 in
Headroom (front/rear): 38.5/34.7 in
Towing: N/A

Grabber Blue/Black

3.31:1 final drive ratio
Aluminum hood w/air extractor
Automatic HID projector headlights
Quad rear-exit exhaust system
Shaker audio system
Sport bucket seats
Air conditioning
SiriusXM satellite radio w/trial subscription
Electrically assisted steering
Capless fuel filler
Brembo disc brakes
Carbon-fiber driveshaft
Stability and traction control
Launch control system
Manual four-way driver’s seat

Performance package- $3495
Torsen differential
Painted forged-aluminum wheels
Bilstein adjustable dampers
Unique rear springs, instrument cluster, and shift knob
SVT Track package- $2995
Engine oil cooler
Differential and transmission coolers w/pumps
Leather Recaro seats- $1595

Glass roof- $1995 Electronics package- $2340 Heated front seats- $295

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justin bouche
 well to summarize, the ZL1 is the handling focused "modern" age muscle car. while the GT500 is old school straight line muscle car. 
the GT500 lacks
brakes, sophisticated suspension, proper dampening, refinement, and daily drivability. 
the Zl1 lacks
visibility (you have to be a confident driver), straight line performance (compared to its competitors), and weight (its hella heavy).
randy pobst did manage over 1 second lap time faster with the GT500 while chris harris managed a 2 second faster time with the Zl1 over a GT500. 
so the GT500 can be faster (for one lap) in the hands of a professional driver. but to 99% of us (and chris harris) the Zl1 will be faster (by a lot).
so it comes down to better handling or better straight line.
and honestly you can have much more fun throwing a car into a corner on your favorite back roads, scenic drive, or highway "dodging". then trying to use 662 HP in straight line. the sad part is that you can approach the limits of handling on public roads of the  GT500... which is scary in a very bad way. 

The biggest disadvantage in the GT500 it's his rear axle suspension, it urgently needs an IRS (probably on next model.) And why FORD installed a heavy clutch like the one's on a Commercial Truck, that you will hate it on a stop and go traffic. I agree that the Camaro ZL1 is the best day to day Muscle car with a great handling that will put a smile on your face. Probably the only place that you will enjoy the GT500 will be on the 1/4 mile track.
shaker281, the LS-9 and LS-A are the same engine block but the LS-9 has the bigger blower, different intercooler, different cam and is fortified for the extra power. If the LS-A fits under the Camaro hood I'm guessing that the LS-9 would probably fit. I'm guessing Chevy would have to do some tinkering to make it fit and maybe some strengthening to the drivetrain but I'm thinking they could do it. It still wouldn't have the same power to weight as the GT500 but it would be pretty close.Either way, both the GT500 and ZL1 are incredible bargains for the performance. It comes down to preference. As I said in another comment, I'm not sure which I'd get if I was putting down the money. In the twisties the ZL1 would be more fun, in town the GT500 would be more fun.
Another thing to remember is the engineering that goes on behind the scenes. The Camaro is pieced together from a Holden V8. Cadillac CTS-V suspension and brakes, Corvette engines and the interior of a Chevy Uplander. This allows it to be cheap as the development costs are reduced, they are using mass produced parts. That also means they are limited to what is in their parts bin. What Ford has done is BUILT a muscle car, new engine, brakes, tweaking an old suspension to the point it can keep up with an IRS system, albeit with bit more elbow grease. All this without taking a dime of our bailout money. And not only keeping it in line with the pricing of the GM product but bettering it in true day to day performance. Oh yes..and 20% better fuel economy. Both are good cars, but when it comes to my money. Ford has my vote for the previously posted and above reasons.
Anyone who thinks the LS-9 and LS-A are "the same basic engine" must think Peewee Herman and The Rock are the same basic guy, after all they share 99% of the same DNA. If the 1969 COPO Camaro was the king of all competition due to it's massive power advantage, what does that say about the 2013 GT500? And to Rocky, SYNC had some software glitches when they introduced MYTOUCH, that has since been resolved. It is still light years ahead of GM's current system. The Camaro's MRC helps it stay a tick ahead of the GT500 on a short one lap road course. But, muscle cars are about raw power and the Ford is still King Of The Road in this category. Anyone who ever drove muscle cars in the sixties and seventies knows that their raw edgieness is part of their appeal!
I even read the car and driver article, they call the ZL1 a sports car. This is where I think these people have it incredibly wrong. The GT500 is not a sports car. The Camaro was not a sports car. These are supposed to be muscle cars. If I wanted to spend $55K on a sports car, I would buy a 2010 Nissan GTR and blow both of these cars out of the water. On the track, in almost every category the GTR would own these cars. This is where I differ to you this mag and C&D. I bought a muscle car in the GT500. The Camaro, if its categorized as a "sports car" should be pitched against the M3, RS5, C63, GTR..etc... Then we would see a true comparison. But as Muscle cars, traffic light performance (so to speak), ferocious power, loud, in-your-face presence is what a muscle car is. The GT500 rules. The words quiet on the highway, soft over bumps, automatic...do not belong in the category.
Rocky1974: It has Ipod connectivity reminiscent of what BMW used in 2008, the Sync system is by far the most advanced North American ICE system available. Navigation must be something very recent as my friend purchased the SS 6 months ago and it wasn't even on the options list.2005 Mustang had the MYCOLOUR ambient lighting system. Even the seats in the SS are the same as the ZL1. The SS seats are at best rental car quality, whereas the Recaros or even the base french stitched leather have better support and prescence than the Camaro. GM's interiors have always been a very weak point in their cars. The Camaro is no different.
EMMDEE-You are the one that didn't do your research. The audio system in the Camaro is perfectly capable of selecting songs from an I-POD. I don't have any experience with Ford's SYNC/MY-FORD-TOUCH systems, but I know that they have been so troublesome that they've knocked Ford to near the bottom in quality rankings for two years in a row. No need for a TOM-TOM in the Camaro. Navigation is available now. And I believe that the Camaro was the one that introduced ambient lighting to this segment
redbloodedxy-More slanted writing from non-professionals. If you don't like this one, you're going to hate the Edmonds comparison test. These guys were relatively nice to the GT500 compared to those guys at Edmonds. Anybody that buys either one of these cars is not worried about gas milage. That cartoonish styling you're talking about is exactly the reason the Camaro has been kicking the Mustang's butt in sales for the last threes years. You obviously didn't read the article anyway, because you ragged on the Camaro for being an automatic. It was a stick. In the first installment, the fact that they kept missing third gear, in the Camaro, was the only thing that kept the GT500 close. If had of been an automatic, it would have embarrassed the GT500 even worse.
I just love how when a car loses a competition it's a big conspiracy, at least to the people that like that car... Yes every magazine has let every single competition be decided by bribes. O ya, except when you like the results...We've also never been to the moon, the CIA killed JFK and aliens are walking among us right now. My neighbor's one of them!Also none of the professional drives used by these magazines can drive worth crap. Everyone on the forums can out drive them... SVTTIM is going to take the GT500 and beat an Indy driver in a ZL1 even though the Indy drive was 3/4 second a lap quicker in the ZL1. Sure he's a pro drive but SVTTIM will show him!Styling is subject, some say the Camaro is cartoonish, some say the GT500 is. Difference of opinion. This article actually said the ergonomics (peddles to steering wheel) were better in the ZLI. They must be wrong..And I also prefer manuals, but real race cars use actually use automatics. Indy, F1, Le Mans, Rally Cars, etc...
More slanted writing from professionals! Automobile: How much is Gov't. Motors paying you? The article never mentions the Camaro's horrible gas mileage, cartoonish styling, bad ergonomics, or that cheesy plastic piece of crap covering the motor in Freudian fashion. Instead, you guys write about the Mustang's brute force off the line as if it were some kind of problem. Really ?? The GT500 is a marvel of engineering at a bargain price -- a terrific package! Real race cars have manual transmissions! Anybody can drive the girl-a-matic Camaro and look good -- big deal.
I'd love to mash these cars into one perfect car... I prefer the Camaro's exterior but the Mustangs interior. I've always thought Mustangs sound better from factory than Camaros.The Mustang walks away from the Camaro on a straight but loses in the corners.. If you could match their strengths into one car you'd have an amazing machine!One simple fix for the Camaro is Chevy just needs to swap the LSA with the LS-9 and they'd be a lot closer on the straight! Considering they're the same basic engine that shouldn't be to hard!
Oh yes...I would like to add, that noise. A muscle car is about the noise. The ZL1's exhaust is good but the Mustang is Legendary!The ZL1 sounds more european, where they are excellent but no sense of drama. A muscle car is all about drama and making your knees weak.The GT500 delivers that in spades.
I must say that the technical and mechanical review of these vehicles are excellent. However, I have just bought a GT500 and the reason I didn't go with the ZL1, is primarily, the ZL1's interior really is dank, dark and bland. I thougth I was sitting in an AZTEK for a bit. The GT500 interior feels rich, exciting and more comfortable, especially with the Recaro seats. Plus, I don't need to carry around a TOMTOM or have issues selecting songs from my IPOD. The SYNC system is fantastic. Finally, the little touches, such as the ambient lights and the door mirror reflectors, make it a very special experience. Therefore this test is not as well rounded as I would have hoped for. Going around a race track once a year and possibly being challenged or being the king at the lights are one thing, but when you have a car that is great inside and out for a somewhat reasonable price. You have got something special. Sorry Automobile magazine, you have not done such an all encompassing job as you may think.
Credit to Chevrolet and their magnetic ride suspension. Others who have compared the two have agreed that it drives much better. Looks are objective, and I feel that the ZL1 looks far more aggressive than the sad-looking GT500. But, to each their own. Ford has done a fantastic job with the new GT500 as well. Both are amazing cars and we should be thankful that these types of cars can still be built.

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