The year 2010 marked an important year for the American car industry and for car-lovers across the country alike. Back for 2010 is the famous muscle car rivalry between the big three auto manufactures that has not been seen since 1974. The Chrysler Corporation brought back the Dodge Challenger, General Motors brought back the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford had its Mustang. For 2011, the competition has been made even more fierce. The 2011 Mustang GT has gotten rid of its 4.6 liter V8 in favor of a much more powerful 5.0 liter V8. Likewise Dodge has introduced 3 new engines for it’s challenger including the new 6.4 liter 392 Hemi for the SRT8 model.
Although each of the 3 models come with 8 cylinder engines, the manufactures have each opted for their own style of engine. The all aluminum 6.2 liter LS3 motor that comes equipped in the Chevrolet Camaro is probably the simplest engine design of the group. It features the ever proven cam-in-block design that has been used primarily by American auto manufactures for ages. This engine uses a fixed camshaft located directly above the crankshaft and uses a series of pushrods and rocker arms to open and close the valves. The benefit of this design is that it is compact, allowing the engine to have more displacement without taking up as much external volume under the hood of the car. (Ever heard the term there’s no replacement for displacement?) The downside this configuration is that the air and exhaust passageways are somewhat obstructive, which by design, makes it less efficient than other types of engines. Another downside to cam-in-block engine design is that the extra reciprocating mass of the pushrods and rockers makes them more difficult to operate at a high rpm range. Make no mistake about it though; technology is not always better than simplicity. The LS3 Camaro engine makes a very healthy 426 Horsepower at 5900 rpm and 430 ft-lbs at 4600 rpm.
On the other side of the spectrum is Ford’s new and highly sophisticated 5.0 liter modular V8 nicknamed the Coyote. It is important to note that this engine is entirely new for 2011 and is not the same engine as the Windsor 302 which was also called the 5.0. This engine uses all aluminum construction and features a double overhead camshaft (DOHC) design that uses 4 camshafts located within the cylinder heads. The engine has 4 valves per cylinder for a total of 32 valves and features variable intake and exhaust timing. This design allows for larger and less restrictive passageways for the air/ fuel mixture and exhaust gasses to pass through, which allows the engine to “breathe better”. Also, by changing the camshaft timing relative to the crankshaft airflow characteristics can also be modified to improve both performance and fuel economy. This all translates into a high efficient, high revving engine that is optimized to make as much torque as possible at any given rpm. The downside to a DOHC engine design is that it isn’t as compact as an OHV engine and in order to make a practical engine that will fit under the hood of the car, displacement must usually be lessened. It’s pretty evident that the Mustang GT’s 5.0 engine has significantly less displacement then the Camaro SS’s 6.2 liter engine and the Challenger SRT8’s 6.4 liter engine. However, thanks to the level of technology and fine tuning, the Mustang GT’s engine is still able to produce a very respectable 412-hp at 6500 rpm and 390 ft-lbs of torque at 4250 rpm. Based on the performance results many automotive fans have argued that the Mustang’s engine is severely underrated from the factory. Horspower TV proved this theory right when they strapped the Ford 5.0 liter engine to a dyno and it made 465 horsepower and 413 ft-lbs of torque.
The 6.4 liter engine also called the 392 HEMI found inside the Dodge Challenger SRT8 is also newly revamped for 2011. The Challenger’s engine uses a cast iron block with aluminum heads with 2 valves and 2 sparkplugs per cylinder. This engine also uses a cam-in-block design with overhead valve design but it also features hemispherical shaped cylinder heads. Chrysler began manufacturing engines with hemispherical heads in 1960’s which gave them the “Hemi” nickname. The success of theses engines on the racetracks eventually led to the creation one of the most famous muscle car engines; the 426 HEMI. What makes the hemi unique is its valve train. It uses a cam-in-block engine design but instead of the intake and exhaust valves being located side by side, they are located across from each other and are angled inward. This allows the motor to use bigger valves but it also creates a less restrictive pathway with less bends for gasses to flow through. The Challenger engine also features variable valve timing to further optimize airflow and create a larger powerband. Hemi cylinder heads take up more space then a typical wedge heads but usually not as much as a DOHC cylinder heads. At 6.4 liters, the Challengers motor has the biggest displacement of the three engines, and it also makes the most power. It produces 475 horsepower and 460 ft-lbs of torque.
2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS
0-60 mph 4.7s 1/4 mile 13.0s @ 111 mph
2011 Ford Mustang GT
0-60 mph 4.4s 1/4 mile 12.7s @ 111mph
2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8
0-60 mph4.8s 1/4 mile 12.9s @ 110 mph
From a straight line acceleration performance standpoint the 2011 Mustang GT is the clear winner. It has both the fastest 0-60 time and 1/4 mile time. Remember, the true horsepower of the 2011 Mustang GT is much higher than the factory rating, by 53 horsepower that is!
Both the Camaro and Challenger have independent rear suspension as opposed to the Mustang which uses a conventional solid axle. A solid or live axle is better suited for drag racing application because it assists with weight transfer and improves traction which thereby allows the vehicle to accelerate quicker. The downside to a solid axle is ride comfort and handling. Ironically, the mustang defies this conception and still handles better than both of its counterparts which have IRS. Infact, the Mustang defies logic even further against the German Engineered BMW M3 which has a much more sophisticated suspension and costs nearly double!
Be Sure to Check out My other Automotive Articles
Corvette ZR1 vs Dodge Viper ACR