The Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger are frequently compared to one another, and for good reason. These three pony cars have been around since the 1960s and at this point have solidified their place in the winner’s circle.
Competition drives innovations and continual improvements. We are seeing the benefits of having good competitors in the Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger which have all seen significant improvements in recent years.
The Mustang and Camaro compare favorably to each other. Though there are differences, you’d be hard-pressed to select one “winner.”
There are significantly more differences between the Mustang and the Challenger.
Mustang vs Challenger: Exterior
We might be a little biased, but it’s hard to look at the front of the Challenger for too long. After a while, it begins to look like a petulant child, with a prominent Cro-Magnon unibrow pushing out over headlights that are surprisingly bright given how small and beady they are. Part of it is in the directionality of the Challenger’s nose and how much that makes it look like a pig from a certain angle.
The Challenger just doesn’t have a very pretty face, and no matter how you feel about the Mustang’s update and the sharper, harder lines, it’s hard not to declare it the unequivocal winner in the looks department.
Once you get past the Challenger’s front though, it does have some appealing features. Out of all the classic-inspired pony cars, the Challenger utilizes its heritage the most. The look of the car was always supposed to be a little bit between “menacing” and “fierce” and it does accomplish that. This is accentuated by the paint colors, which seem to challenge anyone and everyone to a fight. With colors like “White Knuckle” and “Destroyer Grey,” the Challenger seems confident in its ability to win.
On any of the versions of the Challenger’s many trim levels that sport a Hemi it comes equipped with a fully functional Shaker air scoop.
Dodge Challenger: Exterior
The Mustang and Challenger both draw considerably from their classic car counterparts, and both have integrated modern safety features and cleaner lines into their newer vehicles very well. They kept the heart of these vehicles intact even while carefully adding the features that make these new classics competitive in the modern market.
The Challenger and Mustang both have a controlled muscle car exterior. It’s the kind of look that seems at once luxe and at home on a drag strip.
The Mustang’s exterior is less street brawler and more shark-like than the Challenger’s. Between 2017 and 2018 the Mustang’s nose dipped down, which reshaped the rest of the front fascia. Though the Mustang’s new angles are hard, the overall effect of the rounded hood is mean but smart.
Ford Mustang: Exterior
2019 Mustang vs 2019 Challenger: Exterior
|Dimension||2019 Mustang||2019 Challenger
|| 197.9 inches
|| 57.2 inches
Mustang vs Challenger: Interior
The Mustang’s interior is incredibly nice for its class. It’s not just about the features (both cars have an abundance of wonderful features) but it’s how they feel and fit together, and the Mustang’s interior features have the kind of cohesiveness that you really see in the mid-to-late life cycle of each generation. Like an adolescent leaving behind their floppy hair and ill-fitting clothes, the Mustang has grown into itself, figured out where its infotainment can sit without disturbing the view of the road, and positioned its armrests exactly where you want them, and finally out of the way of the shifter.
Ford Mustang: Interior
The Challenger’s interior is equally appealing in terms of features, from the infotainment to the cushy seats. The Challenger even has the additional benefit of being able to squeeze one extra person in the back seat (as long as they’re relatively small and not prone to complaining about elbows and knees), making it a full five-seat vehicle instead of the typical four-seater found in most pony cars. With four people, the back seat feels significantly roomier than most pony cars.
The Challenger’s biggest advantage over the Mustang is its additional space. Not only can you bring along an extra passenger, but you can also haul more stuff in general. The cargo space on the Challenger is significantly larger (three cubic feet larger, to be precise) than it is on the Mustang. That said, neither is really a winner for cargo space.
Dodge Challenger: Interior
If you have a pony car, you can pretty much guarantee that your friends will never bother you with a call to come help them move, but they’ll all want a ride in your car.
The rest of the interior space has wins and losses for both cars; the Challenger has an extra two inches of headroom and the Mustang an extra two inches of legroom, but really in either vehicle, the front seat passengers are going to be comfortable.
2019 Mustang vs 2019 Challenger: Interior
|Dimension||2019 Mustang||2019 Challenger
|Front Seat Headroom
|| 39.3 inches
|Front Seat Legroom
|Back Seat Headroom
|| 37.1 inches
|Back Seat Legroom
|Cargo Cubic Volume
||13 cu ft
||16 cu ft
Mustang vs Challenger: Performance
Looks are great and comfort is nice, but the reason you’re considering either the Challenger or the Mustang is for performance.
We’ve combined the stats for the baseline of each model, as well as the specs for the Mustang’s upgraded GT and the Challenger RT. It should be noted that the Challenger has a lot of trim levels, including the Hellcat and Demon which are significantly higher rated than these, but there just isn't an even match up between every trim level. The 2020 GT500 and Hellcat stack up well against each other though.
At the baseline model, the Mustang wins across the board. It’s less expensive for a vehicle that has more torque, more horsepower, is lighter, and has better fuel efficiency thanks to the EcoBoost engine technology. It gets a little more interesting when we step up from the baseline to the more upgraded version of each, but only just.
The Challenger RT is less expensive than the GT, but it’s also heavier and has significantly less horsepower.
The only area where the Challenger really excels is straight acceleration, which has always been the Hemi’s strong suit and continues to be Dodge’s claim to fame. The Challenger Demon has the fastest quarter-mile time, which is definitely worth noting.
The Challenger accelerates well. And it accelerates quickly.
2019 Mustang vs 2019 Challenger
|Spec||2019 Mustang||2019 Mustang GT||2019 Challenger SE||2019 Challenger RT
||5.0L Ti-VCT V8
||3.6L V6 24-Valve VVT
||5.7L V8 Hemi
|| 305 hp
|Bore and Stroke
|Fuel Delivery System
High Pressure Direct Injection and Low Pressure Port Fuel Injection
|Sequential Multi-Point Injection
||Sequential Multi-Point Injection
|Base Curb Weight
||21 city/ 31 highway
||15 city/ 25 highway
||19 city/30 highway
||15 city/23 highway
Where the Challenger Excels
Dodge’s Challenger continues to be a challenger mostly due to the incredible number of trim levels and options made available by Dodge. You can currently get an AWD Challenger, or any number of absurd performance upgrades, all of which have names like Hellcat and Demon (which, if we’re being honest, is maybe a little much, but they are vehicles that perform incredibly, so they can get away with it).
The Challenger is all about offering a lot of options.
Where the Mustang Excels
The Mustang continues to offer a lot of car for the money and it stacks up favorably against the competition in every key area, from its attractive looks, safety and handling, and comfortable interior to the power and fuel efficiency that it’s able to offer.
The Mustang just has a lot going for it, and it is a tough vehicle to beat by the numbers alone.
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Sources: Car and Driver | Dodge | Ford