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The Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro are two of the most popular muscle cars. Both tout plenty of advantages for speed enthusiasts. However, these iconic American sports cars are weak in one area involving child safety.

How did the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro perform in safety testing?

The 2023 Ford Mustang received the highest grade of “Good” in most Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tests. The evaluations include moderate overlap front on the driver’s side, roof strength, head restraints and seats, and side impact. The 2023 Mustang received an “Acceptable” rating in one area, the small overlap front on the driver’s side. The IIHS reports, “The dummy’s position in relation to the door frame, steering wheel, and instrument panel after the crash test indicates that the driver’s survival space was not maintained well.” 

The 2023 Chevy Camaro also earned “Good” ratings in the small overlap front, side impact, head restraint and seat, and moderate overlap front crash tests. Its only “Acceptable” rating was for roof strength. The IIHS measured a 3.70 strength-to-weight ratio for the Camaro’s roof, while the Mustang’s roof measured 4.43 despite weighing five pounds more than the Chevy. 

However, both popular muscle cars received a “Marginal” rating for their LATCH systems. (“LATCH” stands for “lower anchors and tethers for children.”) “Marginal” isn’t as bad as a “Poor” IIHS rating, but it’s worse than “Acceptable” and “Good.” The IIHS determined the Mustang and Camaro had lower LATCH anchors that were too deep in the seats to access easily, and they required too much force to attach.

Muscle cars are far from family vehicles. Still, securing child car seats in the Mustang and Camaro might prove frustrating.

As for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ratings, the 2023 Mustang earned a perfect five stars in all areas. That includes the overall frontal crash, side crash, and rollover evaluations. The NHTSA shows one recall for the 2023 model, regarding a loose bolt in the transmission. The issue could cause the vehicle to roll away despite being in the “Park” position. 

The 2023 Camaro, which has no recalls filed with the NHTSA, also received an overall five-star safety rating. However, it earned only four stars in the frontal crash tests. 

Is the 2023 Ford Mustang a good muscle car?

Front angle view of red 2023 Ford Mustang
2023 Ford Mustang | Ford

The 2023 Ford Mustang has plenty to like, including responsive handling, multiple engine options, and supportive front seats.

This affordable muscle car starts at $27,770 and offers fastback hardtop coupe or soft-top convertible body styles in all trims (EcoBoost, EcoBoost Premium, GT, GT Premium, and Mach 1) except the base GT and range-topping Mach 1. Those two models are available only as a coupe. 

Under the hood of the base model lurks a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 310 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. Upgrading to the high-performance package bumps the output to 332 hp. The GT packs a 5.0-liter V8 producing 450 hp and 410 lb-ft. And the Mach 1 has the same engine as the GT but boosts the horses to 470 hp. All trims come with a six-speed manual transmission as standard, but buyers can choose a 10-speed automatic. 

Other features include 17-inch wheels, a limited-slip rear differential, and rain-sensing wipers. The interior has a 4.2-inch center screen, six-speaker audio system, Wi-Fi hotspot, and keyless ignition.

How does the 2023 Chevy Camaro compare?

A dark-gray metallic 2023 Chevy Camaro
2023 Chevy Camaro | Chevrolet

2023 Dodge Challenger Shoppers Are Most Interested in 1 Trim

Starting at $26,400, the 2023 Chevy Camaro is an worthy Mustang alternative. Chevrolet’s popular muscle car boasts agile handling, potent V6 and V8 engines, and easy-to-use controls.

Shoppers have eight trim levels to choose from. They include the 1LS, 1LT, 2LT, 3LT, LT1, 1SS, 2SS, and awesome ZL1. All except the base model offer coupe and convertible body styles (the 1LS comes as only a coupe).

The base engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 275 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Some trims get a 3.6-liter V6 generating 335 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque. The most powerful are a 6.2-liter V8 producing 455 hp and 455 lb-ft and a supercharged variant harnessing 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. In addition, the base model offers a choice of a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission. A 10-speed automatic is available on other trims.

Notable features include 18-inch wheels, keyless entry, a power adjustable driver’s seat, a six-speaker audio system, and a leather steering wheel. 

Both the 2023 Ford Mustang and the 2023 Chevy Camaro are excellent American muscle cars despite their IIHS LATCH ratings. That drawback is minor when you consider neither is meant to be a family hauler.