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2013 Camaro SS 1LE vs 2013 Mustang GT Track Pack - A Closer Look

Unsurprisingly, a Camaro vs. Mustang comparison grabs a lot of attention. Motor Trend's recent comparison of the 2013 Camaro SS 1LE and the 2013 Mustang GT Track Pack (full article: 2013 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE vs. 2013 Ford Mustang GT Track Pack) has fans of each car fighting in the comments section. I'm hoping a closer look at the results and the review could clear some of the air, although I know it won't mean anything to the diehard fans.

The Camaro has been winning reviews lately. Most comparison tests between the ZL1 and 2013 Mustang GT500 crowned the ZL1 as the winner. Although the GT500 is faster in all aspects, it is less composed and loses lead as time and laps go by due to brake fade. The Camaro ZL1 also beat the Boss 302 LS because, while the Boss 302 LS is more fun on the track, the power advantage and suspension tuning of the ZL1 propelled it to a win on the track and the magnetic shocks give it a more comfortable ride on the road. The Mustang still had one comparison to win though; the Mustang Boss 302 vs the Camaro SS 1LE.

When Motor Trend tried to do that comparison, Ford declined to provide a Boss 302. They said that the Boss is a stand alone model and even gets its own engine while the 1LE package is simply an option package that is added to a standard Camaro SS, much like the Track Package for the Mustang GT. As a result, Ford provided a Mustang GT Track Pack. Regardless of the reason why Ford declined, the Mustang GT with the Track Pack is the underdog because the 1LE package was clearly put together by Chevy to have a model to go against the Boss 302 and the Mustang lost another battle.

Looking at the acceleration tests, it is clear that the two are very even matched in terms of acceleration:

2013 Chevy Camaro SS 1LE:

0-30 mph:                  1.8 s
0-40 mph:                  2.4 s
0-50 mph:                  3.2 s
0-60 mph:                  4.3 s
0-70 mph:                  5.4 s
0-80 mph:                  6.8 s
0-90 mph:                  8.3 s
0-100 mph:              10.2 s
Passing, 45-65 mph:  2.0 s
1/4 mile:                   12.7 s @ 111.8 mph

2013 Ford Mustang GT Track Pack:

0-30 mph:                  1.7 s
0-40 mph:                  2.6 s
0-50 mph:                  3.3 s
0-60 mph:                  4.4 s
0-70 mph:                  5.5 s
0-80 mph:                  6.8 s
0-90 mph:                  8.4 s
0-100 mph:              10.2 s
Passing, 45-65 mph:  2.0 s
1/4 mile:                   12.7 s @ 111.9 mph

On the track, however, the story is different. The Camaro pulls a 3.07 seconds lead, which is a lot, especially on 1.55 mile laps. The first issue is braking. It takes the Mustang 110 ft to get from 60-0 mph while the Camaro does the same deed in 101 ft despite being over 200 lb heavier. The second issue is apparent after looking at the numbers at the end of the first section of the track and acceleration numbers. In a straight line, both cars are neck and neck with identical 1/4 mile times and almost identical trap speeds. However, on the first straight, the Mustang has a top of speed of 102 mph while the Camaro goes up to 104 mph.

It is important to note that the Camaro doesn't only achieve a higher top speed, but it achieves it a little later down the straight. Based on that and the almost identical straight line acceleration performance, I can assume that the Camaro didn't out accelerate the Mustang. Instead, the driver (Randy Pobst) was able to stay on the power longer in the Camaro while having to lift off the throttle earlier in the Mustang. This probably means that he was feeling more confident in the Camaro but had to set up for the turn a little earlier in the Mustang. Problem? The Mustang is less stable. In the review, it was described as having a squirmy rear end and too much body and suspension movement. It is clear that the Mustang also has less grip as the Camaro consistently pulled more lateral g's in the corners. This is unsurprising, since the Camaro has 285 wide tires at all four corners while the Mustang has to do with only 255's.

All of this results in the Camaro taking the win and, with over 3 seconds a lap lead, it is quite the beating to the Mustang. But How did the Mustang lose? It is over 200 lb lighter, can keep up on the straights and has been compared by Motor Trend to a BMW M3 and lost by less than a second which should mean that the Mustang isn't bad around corners, and that was even before some 2013 model year upgrades. Well, it isn't bad. It's actually far from it. The Camaro is just dialled in that good. Although it is heavier, it has better weight distribution so it's easier to balance, it has an independent rear end, which is much better at keeping the rear end in check, and now it has the 1LE package which was put together with one goal in mind - to beat the Boss 302 - and it did just that, which is impressive with more weight and less power.

Mustang fans should be happy, though, not just Camaro fans. In fact, they should be proud. The Mustang has been the handling champ for 2 years while the Camaro was being criticized for too much understeer and lack of agility. Ford was the first to step up the handling game with the 2010 Mustang GT and then it gave it a stout engine to match - the Coyote - for the next model year. And even though the Mustang was already the better track car, that wasn't enough for Ford.. They pushed the envelope even further and introduced the Boss 302 and Boss 302 LS - arguably the best handling Mustangs and some of the best handling and most fun to drive cars on the road, despite being stuck with a live rear axle.

This comparison is also not the end of the story for the Mustang. There are a few things to make out of this about it:

1- It can keep up on the straights so the engine does not need work to keep up with the Camaro on a track.
2- It needs more rubber/wider tires.
3- It has a great, agile chassis but a lot of movement so more grip means even more movement. Body movement has be addressed before the grip issue is fixed.
4- It needs more stopping power (and more rubber could be enough fix that issue).

With endless aftermarket options for the Mustang, owners should have no trouble turning the performance up a notch. More damping, some front and back stiffening and more rubber and a 5.0 Mustang Track Pack should have no trouble keeping up with a Camaro SS 1LE on a track. The same can be said about Camaro owners wanting to push them even further. Both Mustang and Camaro fans should be proud of how capable they are off the showroom floor and, with street cars, the Mustang will always have the weight advantage and the Camaro will always have the more compliant rear suspension. If you are not loyal to either nameplate, go test drive each and I am sure you will be happy with at least one and be able to pick the platform you want to work with.

Think you can't live with either shortcoming? Wait until the next generations come out which should be out in 2 years or less. The next Camaro is going to utilize GM's new lightweight Alpha RWD platform and the Mustang is supposed to ditch the solid axle and gain an independent rear end.

Source: Motor Trend


  1. I love the Camaro SS, I work at a South New Jersey Chevy and I get to see and drive them all the time. The acceleration is unbelievable compared to the six cylinder model. The SS is just a great car and while comparable to the mustang in terms of performance, It outclasses the mustang in style.

    1. I agree, I drove both of the V6 and V8 models and the difference was great, not just in performance but good old V8 noise.


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