Image courtesy of Ford
What do you get when you have a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, a Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye Widebody and a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500? The ultimate muscle car comparison.
The Camaro ZL1 and the Challenger Hellcat are established players in this space, but the arrival of the GT500 resets expectations from modern muscle cars. The ZL1 1LE is a hardcore racetrack-oriented beast, while the Hellcat Redeye has the bragging rights of 800 hp and comfort for the daily commute. What does the GT500 add to this trio? Watch and find out.
Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
The Shelby GT500 is a high-performance version of the Mustang coupe available in a single trim level. Essentially, a track-ready, street-legal Mustang, it has many performance features not available on the standard-issue car. The expansive fenders contain wider wheels and tires to stick the car to the road better, while the front grille sized like a New York City sidewalk grate helps cool the hard-working supercharged V8 engine. The rear spoiler and assorted lower and side winglets also aid in directing airflow to press the car to the ground. The Shelby GT500 appears well equipped to reassert itself as the top horse in the stable. Ford developed a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission specifically for this engine and fitted huge 16.5-inch-diameter front brake rotors clamped upon with six-piston calipers. The adaptive suspension can adjust to various modes, including settings for track-day heroics or drag-race showdowns.
Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye
There aren't a lot of vehicles we consider to be muscle cars. The 2019 Dodge Challenger, with its outlandish horsepower and classic styling, certainly qualifies. Muscle cars are also known for their lack of practicality, but the Challenger bucks that trend by making fewer sacrifices in everyday usability thanks to its large trunk and relatively spacious rear seats. The new 797-hp SRT Hellcat Redeye is basically the retired Demon but with a slightly detuned V8 and less drag race-specific hardware. There are also some changes in the supporting trims. All-wheel drive is now available on the base SXT, the Widebody treatment is offered on the R/T Scat Pack, and a new dual-snorkel hood increases Hellcat output by 10 hp. Some trims also come with fewer standard features and corresponding price drops. Even without these latest changes, the Challenger would have remained one of our favorite vehicles in any class. It doesn't have the corner-carving chops of the Camaro or the Mustang, and we're quite fine with that. Not many cars have this kind of sinister style or performance that won't break the bank or overtly compromise your daily drive. The Challenger may not be as fast or as responsive as the Mustang or Camaro, but it's always a hoot to drive. The Dodge's sheer size makes in-town maneuvering a bit tough (the wide-body fenders don't help), but meaty tires and upgraded suspension help with handling and body roll.
Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
The 2019 Chevrolet Camaro has been refreshed, with new fascias, front and rear lights, and some tweaks to trim-level equipment. But the only quality-of-life improvement is the upgrade to Chevy's newest and quickest infotainment system, the aptly named Chevrolet Infotainment 3. Nothing that makes the Camaro a tremendous performer and rewarding car to drive has changed, but nothing that makes it an unappealing choice for daily living has changed either. Spend any time behind the wheel of a Camaro, and you'll quickly realize it's sharper and more purposeful than its American muscle-car rivals, especially when equipped with the 1LE package — an assortment of performance upgrades meant to improve handling, steering and braking. For 2019 models, Chevy has expanded the 1LE offering, making it available with all three engine options, including the turbocharged 2.0-liter. Unfortunately, the downside of the refresh is what didn't change. The Camaro still has a worthless back seat, minimal storage space, terrible outward visibility and some ergonomic problems. In many ways, the Camaro feels like the odd man out in the American muscle-car trinity. The Dodge Challenger has stayed true to form and is basically a rolling couch you can equip with a 797-hp V8. The Ford Mustang, meanwhile, has turned into a solid all-arounder with broad appeal for coupe buyers. But the Camaro has become a true sports car with all the ups and downs that entails, essentially abandoning the traditional muscle-car traits except high-output V8 engines.