2021 Ford Mustang vs. Dodge Challenger: A Matter of Preference

There are only a few classic American muscle cars. They offer a certain attitude and plenty of history. Two of the big ones are the Ford Mustang and the Dodge Challenger. What does each offer for the model year 2021? And is one better than the other? We take a look at an Autotrader comparison of the brand-new Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger.

Design updates for the 2021 Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger

Both the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger received updates for their 2021 models. The Mustang Mach 1 is a new limited edition. Also, last year’s Bullitt Mustang has been discontinued, as have the Shelby GT350 and 350R. And the Shelby GT500 boasts a new Carbon Fiber Track Handling package, which includes the best parts of last year’s two option packages. There are also four new paint choices: Antimatter Blue, Fighter Jet Gray, Carbonized Gray, and Grabber Yellow. For the Challenger, the 2021 model brings the new SRT Super Stock.

Autotrader likes that the 2021 Mustang offers quality materials in its interior. However, it doesn’t like that the Mustang has a “tiny back seat.” The 2021 Challenger has the benefit of a bigger rear seat, but it is also a larger car. However, Autotrader found the interior design to be “rather dull. The Mustang comes in two body styles: convertible and hard-top fastback. The Challenger doesn’t offer a convertible.

Both models offer multiple powertrain options

Choose from multiple powertrains on the 20221 Ford Mustang and Dodge Challengers. The Mustang boasts multiple V8 engine options and transmissions and offers sports-car handling. The Mustang’s engines include a 2.3-liter turbo I4, 5.0-liter V8, and 5.2-liter V8. The top engine comes in the Shelby GT500. For transmissions, the Mustang has a 10-speed automatic, six-speed manual, and seven-speed DCT.

The Challenger also has multiple V8 engine options. Autotrader finds it great to drive on the highway. The Challenger’s engines include a 3.6-liter V6, 5.7-liter V8, 6.4-liter V8, and 6.2-liter supercharged V8. Its top engine is available on the SRT Super Stock and SRT Hellcat. The Challenger has an eight-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed manual. Autotrader says the Challenger “represents the current state of the art in going fast in a straight line, and looks to continue doing so for years to come.” The Challenger also has available all-wheel drive.

Safety features in the 2021 Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger

Both cars offer plenty of advanced safety features, although Car and Driver says the Mustang has more available driver-assistance technology “than any rival pony car.” All of the 2021 Mustangs come with the Ford Co-Pilot360 suite of safety features. This provides drivers with a forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, dynamic brake assistance, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assistance, automatic high beams, and rain-sensing wipers, Autotrader reports. There’s also the new Smart & Safe bundle for EcoBoost and GT trim levels that can add adaptive cruise control and navigation.

All 2021 Challengers have the available Driver Convenience Group, which adds blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic assistance and convenience features. Adding the Technology package provides rain-sensing wipers and automatic high beams. Forward-collision warning and adaptive cruise control are available, but only with the automatic transmission. There are plenty of other performance and appearance packages available as well.

Deciding between the 2021 Ford Mustang and the 2021 Dodge Challenger


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The Ford Mustang continues to be an “American icon,” Autotrader says. It’s great for consumers who love American automotive history. It’s also among the few cars remaining on Ford’s lineup. Plus, the Mustang is smaller than the Challenger and easy to drive.

The Dodge Challenger is a modern muscle car offering a choice of mighty engines. It also boasts good safety and convenience features, along with optional all-wheel drive. And although it’s larger than the Mustang, the Challenger provides a more usable rear seat. Autotrader doesn’t pick a winner, so the decision comes down to preference.