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Pony Power: 2016 Dodge Challenger vs. 2016 Ford Mustang

2016 Dodge Challenger SHAKER Grille

If you manage to find a 2016 Dodge Challenger for sale in Miami, then you are about to become a part of history. If it’s an SRT Hellcat trim, then you will be driving the fastest muscle car ever built. Obviously, that makes other big names in the muscle car world like Ford a bit upset, so they attempted to retaliate. However, they couldn’t even come close to touching the insane amount of raw and unbridled power the Hellcat trim has, or match its ungodly speed. It doesn’t matter if it’s the heaviest muscle car on the market, when matched up against the Mustang GT350R, the SRT Hellcat wipes the track with it.

While it’s quite obviously dominating the muscle car market in the higher trim levels, how is it doing at the base-level and mid-level trim? These are also important comparisons to make, since the entry levels are much less expensive than the SRT Hellcat, and are most likely the ones you will most often encounter on the road. Ultimately, most Dodge Challenger consumers will opt for whichever model will give you the most bang for your buck.

 

Base-Level Trims: Challenger SXT vs. Mustang V6 Fastback

2016 Dodge Challenger SXT Plus

The 2016 Dodge Challenger SXT comes in at a base price of $26,995. That price gets you a legendary design, with a true muscle car look and feel, making it an automotive icon in motion. It has a rectangular and strong looking front end, with powerful muscular curves that run over the surface of the body. That classic design is going to turn some heads when you drive it down the road, but doesn’t have the roar of a V8 or a Hemi.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you won’t find a strong engine ready for action under the hood. The 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine puts out a modest (for a muscle car) 305 horsepower and 268 lb-ft of torque. It’s the right amount for the price, and just enough to get some corner-hugging action, but not enough to get yourself into too much trouble. According to data gathered by Edmunds, the Challenger SXT equipped with this engine is able to do 0-60 mph in 6.4 seconds. Considering its weight and size, that’s not too shabby. Even more impressive is the fuel economy, which is an EPA-estimated 23 mpg combined.

 

Mustang V6 Fastback

 

2016 Ford Mustang V6 Fastback

The 2016 Ford Mustang V6 Fastback comes in at a price of $24,145, and has that classic look just like the Challenger. When you look at it, you immediately know it’s a Mustang. Even if the horse logo was wiped off it, the Mustang would remain unmistakable. But, this is about the performance of these vehicles, not their looks. Still, it’s important to note they were both able to retain their original designs to pay homage to their predecessors, while managing a modern twist.

Since that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the engine specs. The Mustang’s 3.7-liter Ti-VCT V6 engine is able to put out 300 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque — only slightly less than the Challenger. It’s also only able to get an EPA estimated 21 mpg combined, which is two mpg less than the Challenger. On the speedier side of things, the 2016 Mustang V6 is able to land 0-60 mph in 5.9 seconds. It went through the same Edmunds real-world testing the Challenger went through, and is 0.5-seconds faster.

While the Mustang is 0.5-seconds faster, and over two grand cheaper, the Challenger beats it in fuel economy, horsepower, and torque. The only reason the Mustang is faster? The Challenger’s heavy nature. Taking all of this into account, I think a tie is fair. At this trim level, more bang for your buck could be about which one has a better blend of power and efficiency. Besides, the higher torque in the Challenger means more tire squealing action at the start line.

 

Mid-Level Trims: Challenger R/T Shaker vs. Mustang GT Premium Fastback

2016 Dodge Challenger R:T Scat Pack

Moving onto the mid-level trims of the two models, the 2016 Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker proves to be some stiff competition for the Mustang GT Fastback Premium. The R/T Shaker has a starting MSRP of $34,995, and comes equipped with a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engine that dishes out 375 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. The performance of HEMI engines are legendary, which is why this Challenger had a 5.8-second 0-60 mph sprint in Edmund’s testing paired to a standard six-speed manual transmission. It’s able to return 17 mpg combined with the manual transmission, a low number that’s expected from a HEMI V8 engine.

2016 Ford Mustang GT Premium Fastback

The 2016 Mustang GT Fastback Premium comes in at a starting MSRP of $36,395, and has a 5.0-liter Ti-VCT V8 engine putting out 435 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque paired to a six-speed manual transmission. Compared to the Challenger, it gets 19 mpg combined and can hit 0-60 mph a full second faster than the R/T Shaker. While it’s able to beat the Challenger, it comes at a cost: almost an extra two thousand dollars. Shaving off a second might be worth it on the track for an extra two grand, but a hard expense to justify when it comes to weekend fun.

Besides, no one would be on the track with the R/T Shaker or GT, when the Hellcat and GT350R are the absolute best performance-oriented options. In a more bang for your buck scenario, I’m going to have to give this round another tie — because an extra second isn’t worth two grand more for most of us.

 

Top-Level Trims: Challenger SRT Hellcat vs. Shelby GT350R

2016 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

While it was a neck and neck scenario before, when these two titans go up against each other, it proves to be a no contest situation for the Challenger. The 2016 Challenger SRT Hellcat has a massive 6.2-liter Supercharged Hemi SRT Hellcat V8 engine that puts out an insane 707 horsepower — effectively making it the most powerful muscle car ever built. It has an equally insane 0-60 mph time of 4.1 seconds flat, and puts every other muscle car on the market to shame.

2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R

The 2016 Mustang Shelby GT350R can’t even come close, and it’s 5.2-liter V8 puts out a measly 526 horsepower in comparison, with a 4.3-second 0-60 mph time – two full seconds slower than the Challenger. While the SRT Hellcat comes in at $64,195, which is just under two grand less than the Shelby GT350R, it’s worth the money to gain almost an extra 200 horsepower, along with being two seconds quicker in a 0-60 mph contest.

The base trim and mid-level trims might be up for debate, but when the best trim each automaker has to offer goes at it? The Challenger is undoubtedly the winner. Plus, the Challenger gets bonus points for doing almost just as good (and better) than the Mustang without the newfangled technology found on Ford’s engines. Proving that heavy, old-school muscle is still alive and well today.

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