2020 Ford Mustang vs 2020 Dodge Challenger
  • Comparisons

2020 Ford Mustang vs 2020 Dodge Challenger

By Autolist Staff | September 10 2020

2020 Ford Mustang

2020 Dodge Challenger

Our User's Take

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2020 Ford Mustang score: 7/10

Highlights:
  • All models offer good-to-outstanding performance.
  • Unusual features for the muscle car class.
  • Decently spacious trunk.
  • Distinctive off-road models.

2020 Dodge Challenger score: 6.5/10

Highlights:
  • Unexpectedly spacious for a coupe.
  • Lots of engine options, with huge performance potential.
  • Easy-to-use controls.
  • Available all-wheel-drive.

How they stack up:

Safety Features:

Ford Mustang: 7/10

  • The Mustang is available with a Safe and Smart package that bundles adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking and forward-collision warning, and rain-sensing wipers – all features which are still somewhat unusual among this Ford’s American rivals. But it’s only available on Ecoboost and GT models of the coupe and convertible, leaving the more expensive, high-performance models without access to these driver assistance technologies. Nearly every version of the Dodge Challenger offers these features as an option, and the European competition offers more advanced versions of these systems.

  • The Ford Mustang received the second-highest rating of Acceptable in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) small overlap front crash test, but scored well in all other tests. In the same tests, the Chevrolet Camaro scored higher, but the Challenger was rated lower. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2020 Mustang its top five-star rating in overall tests.

Dodge Challenger: 5/10

  • The 2020 Challenger received four stars out of five in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) frontal crash test and rollover test. It also received a Marginal rating in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s small overlap front crash test.

  • That is worse than the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang performed, among the few coupes the agency has tested so far. However, most new vehicles have scored higher in this category than the Challenger.

  • Available driver assistance features include full-speed automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, and blind-spot monitoring. These technologies are considered relatively basic among new cars now, especially at the Challenger’s price.

  • It also lacks most active driver assistance items that prevent a collision in the first place, which is why it scored poorly in this category by the IIHS, too.

Value:

Ford Mustang: 7/10

  • Base Ecoboost coupe models are competitively priced with the Camaro and Challenger, and a bargain compared to an Audi A5 or Mercedes-Benz C 300 Coupe considering the standard horsepower. But it’s sparsely equipped, so an Ecoboost Premium at around $33,000 is the best bet, with leather upholstery and larger wheels. Convertibles add about $5,000, though, and V8 models can easily touch $50,000 with some desirable option packages.

  • High-performance GT350 and GT500 have high-level performance for a relative bargain, competing well with models from AMG and Porsche that can still cost at least $10,000 more to start. Just don’t expect German levels of refinement in the way they drive or the interior quality. Despite the available performance and amenities, Mustangs make most sense below $50,000.

Dodge Challenger: 7/10

  • All models are relatively well equipped for the price, with most V8 versions offering a generous amount of performance for the money. Consider that a Challenger R/T can be had with an automatic transmission and 375 horsepower for comfortably less than $40,000, and it makes the Camaro and Mustang look expensive. And even the V6 AWD models have something few coupes offer.

  • Some option packages with common options, however, are expensive. While equipment levels are good, desirable options can quickly inflate the price. And the visual upgrades vary widely in price.

  • The top-end Hellcat models, however, may not offer the quality of interior that an $80,000 vehicle would, so it’s worth considering how important the straight-line speed really is. For that price, some premium German coupes can offer similar levels of practicality, as well as better technology and more luxurious materials.

Efficiency:

Ford Mustang: 7/10

  • The four-cylinder 2020 Mustang Ecoboost with the optional 10-speed automatic transmission is rated at 21 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined by the EPA. The standard six-speed manual drops the highway rating to 30 mpg and the combined to 24 mpg.

  • Mustang GT models are rated as high as 16 mpg city, 25 highway, and 19 combined with the 10-speed automatic. The GT350 is rated at 14 city, 21 highway, and the GT500 falls to 12 mpg city, 18 mpg highway.

  • Convertibles and the Bullitt model drop fuel economy by roughly 2 or 3 mpg.

  • The automatic-equipped Ecoboost coupes are relatively fuel-efficient, given the performance on offer, and the GT variants are also competitive with corresponding models from Chevy and Dodge. However, the Europeans are slightly more efficient when it comes to the high-performance variants, and their turbocharged six-cylinder engines may mean lower fuel bills. As an everyday driver, however, only the Ecoboost models make much sense from an efficiency perspective.

Dodge Challenger: 6/10

  • The 2020 Dodge Challenger V6 rear-drive models are rated by the EPA at 19 mpg city, 30 highway, with a combined rating of 23 mpg. All-wheel-drive models fall to 18 city and 27 highway. That’s relatively on par with base model sporty coupes of this type, even those with turbocharged four-cylinder engines rather than the Dodge’s V6.

  • The Challenger R/T models are rated at 16 city and 25 mpg highway with the automatic transmission, and 15 mpg city and 24 highway with the manual transmission. R/T Scat Pack versions fall one mpg across the board. And the Hellcat models are rated at 13 mpg city and 22 highway, or 21 mpg with the manual transmission.

  • Similar Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang competitors have relatively competitive fuel economy numbers.

Driving Experience:

Ford Mustang: 7/10

  • No Mustang wants for power. Even the base 2.3-liter models are energetic, with 310 horsepower and abundant torque available from low revs. And the V8 models are extremely powerful, starting with the GT’s 460 horsepower and climbing to the extremely potent GT500’s 760-horsepower supercharged engine. All but the GT500 come with a six-speed manual as standard.

  • The Mustang is more agile than the Dodge Challenger, and likely neck-and-neck with the Chevrolet Camaro, making it convincing as a sports car. All of its performance versions neatly match up with the Camaro, too, but the Mustang also boasts novel features such as expensive dampers and a limited-slip differential on more powerful models. A Porsche Cayman may still run away from the Mustang in the corners, but it’s not as one-sided of a fight as it may have been in the past. Watch for the ride on models with stiffer suspension and big wheels, though.

Dodge Challenger: 6/10

  • No Challenger wants for power, not even V6 models, and it’s hard not to ignore the three V8 choices. Even skipping the outrageously powerful Hellcat models gets you the R/T or R/T Scat Pack models, which have plenty of power and can be equipped with a six-speed manual. That said, the Challenger is about straight-line performance. Its sheer size doesn’t do it any favors, but it’s more set up for the highway than aggressive race tracks. The Camaro and Mustang, with their smaller shapes and tightly sprung suspensions are more suited for the track and will leave the Dodge in the dust – in the corners.

  • Some versions of the Challenger are comfortable on the street, but models with larger wheels, thinner tires, and more aggressive suspension setups, like the Hellcat, lose composure over road imperfections. Some models are equipped with adaptive suspension systems, but they’re mostly set up for the track and don’t allow the ride to settle down enough. Ultimately, the Challenger isn’t the most refined car to drive, nor the most dynamic in the handling department. If anything, it’s a throwback to an old American muscle car that favored straight lines.

Tech Features:

Ford Mustang: 7/10

  • Unusual for the class, features like ventilated seats and a fully digital, 12-inch TFT configurable instrument cluster are available on the Mustang, even for below $40,000. Magnetic adaptive dampers are also unusual for a vehicle at this price, but even the base model can be equipped with them. The FordPass Connect system also comes on the Mustang, which allows control over basic vehicle functions – locks, engine start, fuel status – as well as the ability to pay for fuel or parking from a smartphone app. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are optional on base Ecoboost and GT models, but standard on models equipped with the Sync 3 touchscreen.

  • Not all of that tech is well-sorted, though. The gauges can be a little gimmicky considering the information that is actually presented, and it could take some time flipping through menus and personalizing settings to make it display all of the information that’s necessary at a given time. Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system has some large icons and is mostly responsive, but not everything is well organized. Chevrolet and Dodge offer better systems for similar money.

Dodge Challenger: 7/10

  • The Challenger’s UConnect infotainment system and climate controls are relatively easy to use. Touchscreen icons are large, and the physical buttons for common functions such as volume and temperature make it easy to make settings changes while driving.

  • A seven-inch touchscreen is standard, but many get an 8.4-inch version, and built-in navigation is available. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity is included. A nine-speaker audio system with 506 watts is optional, while V8 models have the option of an 18-speaker system.

  • Options include blind-spot monitoring, rain-sensing wipers, automatic high beams, and high-intensity discharge headlamps. Even among muscle cars, these are relatively prevalent. The Mustang even offers a configurable digital instrument panel and adaptive cruise control with forward-collision warning, both increasingly common on new cars costing as much as a V8-powered Challenger.

Style & Design:

Ford Mustang: 7/10

  • Unusual for the class, features like ventilated seats and a fully digital, 12-inch TFT configurable instrument cluster are available on the Mustang, even for below $40,000. Magnetic adaptive dampers are also unusual for a vehicle at this price, but even the base model can be equipped with them. The FordPass Connect system also comes on the Mustang, which allows control over basic vehicle functions – locks, engine start, fuel status – as well as the ability to pay for fuel or parking from a smartphone app. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are optional on base Ecoboost and GT models, but standard on models equipped with the Sync 3 touchscreen.

  • Not all of that tech is well-sorted, though. The gauges can be a little gimmicky considering the information that is actually presented, and it could take some time flipping through menus and personalizing settings to make it display all of the information that’s necessary at a given time. Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system has some large icons and is mostly responsive, but not everything is well organized. Chevrolet and Dodge offer better systems for similar money.

Dodge Challenger: 7/10

  • Like most coupes, the Challenger puts style before anything, and it does to great effect. All models, even the base V6 ones, get alloy wheels and aggressive looks. Then the V8-powered R/T, R/T Scat Pack, SRT Hellcat, and SRT Hellcat Redeye supercharged models offer so-called “Widebody” models for an even more aggressive stance. There are a number of add-ons on each trim level, from different wheels and paint choices to graphics and blacked-out hoods. The new 50th Anniversary packages enhance that even more.

  • As usable as the Challenger’s controls are, the interior quality is subpar for its segment. Hard, cheap plastics abound, and the metal-look finishes aren’t convincing. Even for $40,000, the interior feels low-rent, and the top-level $80,000-plus models seem like a poor value if interior refinement and execution is a high priority. The dark interior and small windows make it claustrophobic, too. The Mustang, at least, offers somewhat better materials, but the Challenger can’t compete with coupes from Audi or Mercedes-Benz that cost similar money.

Practicality:

Ford Mustang: 6/10

  • Even though it has four seatbelts, the Mustang is a four-seater in name only. Deeply sculpted rear seats and a sloping roof make the coupe cramped, even for kids. Convertibles are only slightly better with the roof off, even though it’s among the more spacious four-seat convertibles on the market. Coupe buyers looking for a usable rear seat will be much better served by the Dodge Challenger, while convertible shoppers may find the Audi A5 a better bet for a rear seat that’s remotely adequate for adults. In fact, the rear seat is best used to expand cargo space.

  • The Mustang coupe’s trunk is smaller than the Challenger’s by a good margin but holds far more than the Chevrolet Camaro’s, and cargo space about the same as the German coupes. It’s also about what most compact sedans offer. But the shape is slightly odd and liftover high, meaning it’s awkward to load some items such as suitcases. The convertible’s trunk is only slightly smaller, though, which is unusual among its rivals. And the rear seats fold down to fit longer items. All Mustang models are rear-wheel-drive, unlike the Challenger which can be had with all-wheel-drive on V6 models, and the Audi A5, which comes with all-wheel-drive on all models.

Dodge Challenger: 8/10

  • The Challenger shines when it comes to coupe practicality. Aside from high-end Bentley or Mercedes-Benz models, there are few two-door vehicles on the market today that offer a sense of practicality and power like the Dodge. Almost in the style of old American cars, its large exterior provides a spacious interior for a family – sort of.

  • There is space for five passengers, and while two in the back seat are more likely to fit, they will at least be far more comfortable than in the back of a Camaro or Mustang, or even some compact sedans. There’s reasonable headroom, too, and a chance putting car seats back there won’t be too painful of a process.

  • The trunk measures 16.2 cubic feet, which puts some midsize sedans to shame. Better still, the rear seats fold down to accommodate long items – such as skis if you opt for the all-wheel-drive models. While other coupes offer folding seats, the Challenger’s space is hard to beat. It makes fewer concessions to style than most coupes.

Cost of Ownership

2020 Ford Mustang

2020 Dodge Challenger

Annual Fuel Costs

$2,339
15k miles at $2.183/gal
$2,183
15k miles at $2.183/gal
Fuel Economy

12 mpg (miles per gallon)
City
13 mpg (miles per gallon)
City
18 mpg (miles per gallon)
Highway
21 mpg (miles per gallon)
Highway

Safety

2020 Ford Mustang

2020 Dodge Challenger

NHTSA Crash Test Results

Overall
Overall
Safety Features

Standard
Autonomous Braking
Standard
Autonomous Braking
Standard
Blind-Spot Warnings
Standard
Blind-Spot Warnings
Standard
Adaptive Cruise Control
Standard
Adaptive Cruise Control
Standard
Lane-Keep Assist
Standard
Lane-Keep Assist
Standard
Cross-Traffic Alert
Standard
Cross-Traffic Alert

Interior

2020 Ford Mustang

2020 Dodge Challenger

Interior Features

Standard
Leather
Standard
Leather
Standard
Moonroof
Standard
Moonroof
Standard
Heated Seats
Standard
Heated Seats
Standard
Keyless Entry
Standard
Keyless Entry
Standard
Climate Control
Standard
Climate Control
Technology

Standard
Apple Carplay
Standard
Apple Carplay
Standard
Android Auto
Standard
Android Auto
Standard
Satellite Radio
Standard
Satellite Radio
Standard
Bluetooth
Standard
Bluetooth
Standard
Navigation System
Standard
Navigation System

Under the Hood

2020 Ford Mustang

2020 Dodge Challenger

Powertrain

Transmission
Transmission
RWD
Drivetrain
RWD
Drivetrain
Drivetrain

N/A
Horsepower
N/A
Horsepower
N/A
Torque
N/A
Torque
N/A
Cylinders
N/A
Cylinders