If there is any justice in the world, the automotive age we are currently living in will be thought of by future generations as the age of the reborn muscle car, rather than the age of the ugly and unpleasant hybrid. These days, we are finally once again able to buy something from Detroit with a big V8 in the front, power going to back wheels, and a respectable time through the quarter mile. Not easy to pick a favorite, but we'll try.
We obviously won't waste your time comparing the V6 versions of these cars (even though some are actually quite good) as those clearly aren't muscle cars. We are also going to stay away from the super high-end SRT8 392 and GT500 models, with price tags in the early Porsche numbers. That means you'll get all the big power numbers with just the right amount of sophistication, meaning very little. The decision for most buyers will be between the Mustang GT 5.0, the Camaro SS and the Challenger R/T.
In terms of straight line speed, the Challenger can't quite keep up. It's slower to 60 and in the quarter mile than either of the other two. Between the Camaro and the Mustang it's more complicated. The Mustang is faster to 60 by the exact same 0.2 seconds that the Camaro beats it in the quarter mile. So if speed is the only thing that matters to you, those two are pretty much deadlocked. None of these cars have interiors that you would want to describe as pleasant, but the Challenger's is especially bad, and the Camaro's is especially difficult to see out of.
When it comes to exterior styling, all three (again) follow pretty much the same formula, an updated version of the old style. This isn't a bad thing, but there is one thing that needs to be said about the Camaro, and that is Transformers. Thanks to that movie, I just can't take the Camaro seriously. Every time I see one I expect it to be driven by some stammering nitwit who is totally undeserving of his inexplicably hot girlfriend. Whoever it was at GM who thought that an association with Shia LaBeouf would help drive sales of a muscle car needs a stern talking to.
I know I'm not the only one who feels this way, but the Camaro really is quite a good car for those who can get past what I call "the LaBeouf factor". Handling is best in the Mustang, although in the straight lines which these cars will usually travel in, the Challenger will give you the most comfortable ride. The best all around car of the three is definitely the Mustang. In the old days, of course, this wouldn't have mattered. Picking a muscle car had more to do with brand loyalty than anything else, but these days, who knows?