Release date 08/31/2009
YONKERS, NY — The freshened Ford Mustang outpointed two other reincarnated muscle cars—the Chevrolet Camaro and the Dodge Challenger—as well as the new Hyundai Genesis Coupe in Consumer Reports’ tests of six sporty cars and coupes in the October issue.
The Mustang received a Very Good overall road test score of 78, outpointing the Camaro which received a Very Good 71, and the Challenger, which received a Good 53 points. CR’s engineers found the Mustang’s 2010 freshening makes it an even more balanced and satisfying driver’s car than ever before.
“The Mustang topped this group by delivering strong acceleration, communicative steering, and the most agile handling,” said David Champion, senior director of CR’s Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Connecticut.
The new Camaro shares basic underpinnings with the Pontiac G8 sedan. The Challenger is based on the large Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger rear-wheel-drive sedans. The Hyundai Genesis Coupe received a Very Good test score and is distinct from the rest of the group. It is loosely based on the Genesis luxury sedan and is powered by either a turbocharged four-cylinder or V6 engine, in contrast to the muscle cars’ V8s.
CR also tested the redesigned Nissan 370Z two-seat coupe, an agile sports car which received a Very Good test score, and the updated and improved 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX, which also received a Very Good test score.
Prices ranged from $38,565 for the 370Z to $26,088 for the WRX. The Mustang has average reliability and is Recommended, as is the WRX. The other models are too new to have reliability data for CR to Recommend them. CR only Recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on CR’s Annual Car Reliability Survey of its more than seven million print and web subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test.
Full tests and ratings of the sporty cars test group appear in the October issue of Consumer Reports, which goes on sale September 1. The reports are also available to subscribers of www.consumerreports.org. Updated daily, ConsumerReports.org is the go-to site for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information.
In everyday driving, the Mustang corners with agility and the highway ride is civilized. The Ford Mustang GT premium, ($34,725, Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price as tested), is powered by a 315-hp, 4.6-liter V8 engine that delivers strong acceleration and gets 20 mpg overall in CR’s own fuel economy tests. The engine has a deep burble that is pleasing to listen to. The five-speed manual transmission shifts smoothly and accurately. Braking is Very Good. The 2010 freshening brought upgraded interior materials and better fit and finish.
The Camaro provides blistering performance and handles capably, but its girth undermines its agility. The Chevrolet Camaro 2SS ($35,425, MSRP as tested), is powered by a 426-hp, 6.2-liter, V8 engine that delivers very strong performance and 18 mpg overall. The engine sounds great when the throttle is punched. The six-speed manual transmission has a good feel. Braking is excellent. The interior is nicely finished despite gaps around the instrument panel and some cheap plastics.
With exhilarating straight-line acceleration, a brawny V8, and stock-car styling, the Challenger recaptures the character of the American muscle car. The Dodge Challenger R/T ($36,600, MSRP as tested), is powered by a 370-hp, 5.7-liter “Hemi” V8 engine that delivers strong performance and 18 mpg overall. The optional six-speed manual transmission shifts well with a pistol-like grip that fits snugly in hand. Whatever wind and road noise there is, and it’s not much, is overwhelmed by the invigorating engine growl. Braking is mediocre and it has a big car feel rather than a sports car. The well-assembled interior has a nicely padded dash and nostalgic horizontal seat stitching.
The Genesis Coupe has agile handling that makes it fun to drive, which is unusual for a Hyundai. The Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Grand Touring ($28,375, MSRP as tested), is powered by a 306-hp, 3.8-liter V6 engine and gets an impressive 23 mpg overall. The V6 engine smoothly hums under acceleration. However, the interaction of the six-speed manual transmission’s shifter and heavy clutch make it a challenge to get smooth shifts. Braking is very good. The interior is nicely finished, although it’s not luxurious like the Genesis sedan’s.
The WRX’s ride is taut yet controlled, and the car is steady yet compliant on the highway. The Subaru WRX ($26,088, MSRP as tested), is powered by a 265-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers very strong acceleration and gets 24 mpg overall. It’s well matched to a five-speed manual transmission. In everyday driving, the WRX engine has the manners of a typical four-cylinder with mileage to match. Braking is excellent. Interior plastics are all hard, but the interior is well-assembled.
Redesigned for 2009, the two-seat 370Z is shorter and better finished than its predecessor, the 350Z. Great handling and braking are high points of the 370Z, as is abundant power. The cabin is cramped and noisy, it’s hard to see out, and the stiff ride is wearing over time. The Nissan 370Z Touring ($38,565, MSRP as tested), is a real sports car with quick handling and lots of grip. It is powered by a 332-hp, 3.7-liter V6 engine that gets 23 mpg overall, but on premium fuel. The six-speed manual transmission’s short-throw shifter has a good feel. Braking is excellent. The interior has exceptional fit and finish.
With more than 7 million print and online subscribers, Consumer Reports is one of the most trusted sources for information and advice on consumer products and services. It conducts the most comprehensive auto-test program of any U.S. publication or Web site and owns and operates a 327-acre Auto Test Center in Connecticut. The organization’s auto experts have decades of experience in driving, testing, and reporting on cars. To subscribe, consumers can call 1-800-234-1645 or visit www.consumerreports.org.