Oftentimes, when people are shopping for a vehicle on a budget, they opt for a base model because they think it’s all they can afford. But that’s not always the case.
The truth is, if you’re smart about the way you build your vehicle of choice, you can actually get a lot more for your money. And if you are split between two models, a great way to help you decide between them is to set a budget and see how much equipment you can get on each for that amount of money.
To prove this, we used Ford and Chevrolet’s configurators, set a budget of $32,000 and tried to find out which American pony car is the best value for the money: the 2017 Ford Mustang EcoBoost or the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro V-6.
Photo via Ford
2017 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Fastback (starting MSRP $25,920)
We know, it has half the number of cylinders you probably want under the hood of your Mustang. But before you grab your pitchforks, hear us out. There’s no way we could get a V-8 and keep it under budget, so our choice was between the V-6 and the four-cylinder EcoBoost. And considering the 2.3-liter turbo in the EcoBoost produces 310 horsepower, whereas the 3.7 V-6 makes 10 horsepower less, it was a pretty easy decision.
Photo via Ford
Packages: Enhanced Security Package ($395), EcoBoost Performance Package ($1,995)
The Enhanced Security Package is very practical, as it comes with a locking steering column, locking center console, anti-theft system and wheel locks. The EcoBoost Performance Package, however, is less practical and more for our enjoyment. With the performance pack, the 3.31 limited-slip differential is upgraded to a 3.55 LSD, we get 19-inch black aluminum wheels, oil and boost pressure gauges, summer-only tires, upgraded front springs, bigger brake rotors with four-piston calipers, a specially tuned chassis, specially tuned traction control system, a larger radiator and upgraded rear anti-roll bar.
Options: All-weather floor mats ($95), Recaro cloth sport seats ($1,595), full-vehicle cover ($321), interior light kit ($249), cargo area protector ($100), sport pedals for manual transmission ($130)
Most of the options we selected are to keep our Mustang in pristine condition, but the Recaro seats and sport pedals are to make it more performance-oriented. The pedals prevent your feet from slipping off and the body-hugging Recaro seats provide excellent lateral support.
The total MSRP — with $900 destination charge and $250 cash back — of our 2017 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Fastback in Grabber Blue: $31,450.
Photo via Chevrolet
2017 Chevrolet Camaro Coupe 1LT with V-6 (starting MSRP $31,950)
Unlike the Mustang, the Camaro’s power output falls off a small cliff to 245 horsepower when you opt for the four-cylinder engine. As a result, we selected the 335-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 in the base level 1LT trim.
Photo via Chevrolet
Packages: RS Package ($1,950), Heavy-Duty Cooling And Brake Package ($485), Winter/Summer Floor Mats Package ($270)
The RS package comes with 20-inch aluminum wheels, all-season run-flat tires, a rear spoiler and high-intensity LED headlights. With the heavy-duty cooling and brake package we get four-piston Brembo brakes, an extra-capacity cooling system and external engine oil cooler.
Options: Sport pedal kit ($155)
As is the case in the Mustang, we opted for metal sport pedals to prevent our feet from slipping off and causing an accident.
The total MSRP — including $995 — of our 2017 Chevrolet Camaro Coupe 1LT: $31,950.
Although the Camaro boasts a 25-horsepower advantage over the Mustang, we still feel the Ford represents a better value. We were able to load our EcoBoost Mustang with tons of options and packages, many of which improve the vehicle’s performance. And after all, the point of a pony car is to get a high-performance car for a low price.
Thumbnail photo via Chevrolet