Dashboard - 2010 Dodge Challenger 2-door Coupe SRT8
Angular Rear Exterior View - 2010 Dodge Challenger 2-door Coupe SRT8
2011 Mustang GT 5.0
All things being considered both cars are nice to look at from a style point of view. Each wears a nicely sculpted body and performance oriented rims and tires. The 2010 Dodge Challenger SRT8 is definitely the bulkier of the two with the slab side designs that are the quintessential MOPAR of the muscle car era. The looks aside, let us get down to business. Both cars are well matched in the performance category, while Ford has the edge in the affordability column. The Mustang GT comes equipped with a 5.0-liter (new for 2011) V8 pushing 412 horsepower to either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission. The Dodge Challenger SRT8 has a larger 6.1-liter HEMI V8 that is rated at 425 horsepower and is only available in an automatic transmission. The major difference being the lack of availability of the manual transmission in the SRT8 configuration, something that makes quite a difference on the track side of things.
Out on the track both cars exhibit exceptional acceleration and were able to top 110 mph on the back straightway of the High Plains Raceway (HPR) where we were running our hot laps as part of the Rocky Mountain Driving Experience. Of the two cars we found the 2010 Dodge Challenger to be the more well mannered car, in fact, it seemed so well mannered that it was hard to tell we were pushing the car through the sweeper and s-curve portion of the track. The Challenger also exhibited a slightly softer ride and more body roll through the corners, but was very sure footed even when dipping into the torque with the traction control off. The 2011 Mustang GT seemed to get the adrenaline flowing at a more rapid pace due to the 6-speed manual and live rear axle setup that can kick the tail out when you put the hammer down coming out of a corner. That said the Mustang seems tighter in the suspension and more connected to the road. One grip we have about both cars is the transmissions—the Mustang’s gearbox throw is a little wide for track use making 3rd and 4th gear harder engage when you aren’t used to the car and the Challenger needs a quicker response time for the gear changes.
Bottom line—the Mustang is less expensive at an entry-level price of $29K for the basic GT and $33K for the Premium GT, while the Challenger SRT8 stickers for a base MSRP of $41K. Answering the question at hand, the 2011 Ford Mustang GT was more fun on the track due to the tighter suspension and manual transmission. That said, if you had to live with one of these cars everyday, the more expensive SRT8 attracts more attention, especially in bright yellow with black stripes, and is more comfortable with more interior space and a little bit more give in the suspension. If I had to choose one it would be the Mustang because I can’t live without the manual transmission in the sports car and I don’t like the idea of loosing the SRT8 badging to get it in the Dodge.
For more information on the Rocky Mountain Driving Experience see my earlier article on the Preproduction Suzuki Kizashi Turbo.