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The Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger are two of only a few muscle cars still in production. However, 2023 is the final model year for the iconic Challenger as we know it. Despite its impending demise, the Challenger has one significant advantage over the Mustang. That’s because 2023 Dodge Challenger owners say the car gives them a better driving experience than Mustang owners say of Ford’s pony car.

Here’s why the Challenger provides a great driving experience.

The 2023 Dodge Challenger and 2023 Ford Mustang focus on performance

A 2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye blasts down a runway.
2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye | Stellantis

Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger owners have plenty to appreciate. However, performance is these cars’ strong suit.

The standard Challenger packs a 3.6-liter V6 making 303 hp. It also has rear-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Then there’s a 375-hp 5.7-liter V8, paired with six-speed manual transmission. Shoppers can also choose a 484-hp 6.4-liter or a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 with varying maximum outputs.

As for the 2023 Ford Mustang, it offers fewer trims and engine options. However, the powertrains are more fuel-efficient than those of the Challenger, one of the reasons Mustang owners love their cars. The entry-level 2023 Mustang has a 2.3-liter inline-four engine generating 310 hp. It also has a standard six-speed manual, but buyers can upgrade to a 10-speed automatic.

Perhaps the most iconic version of the celebrated pony car is the Mustang GT. The 2023 GT packs a 460-hp 5.0-liter V8 engine. However, the most powerful is the Mach-1, harnessing 480 hp.

But 2023 Dodge Challenger owners report a better driving experience

According to J.D. Power, 2023 Dodge Challenger owners have a better experience driving their cars than Ford Mustang owners. The Dodge muscle car earned a 96 out of 100, while the Mustang has an 85. Both are solid numbers, but the market research firm considers a score of 91 or higher as “best” and a rating from 81 to 90 as “great.”

J.D. Power determines the driving experience rating by collecting and analyzing survey responses about owners’ feelings about various aspects of their vehicles. Perhaps the most important factors are performance, comfort, design, and technology. Of course, functionality and safety also play a part in the rating. However, J.D. Power points out that newer or more recently redesigned cars often score better.

Notably, the Dodge Challenger didn’t return to the market until 2008, whereas the Ford Mustang has never seen a significant gap in production.

The Challenger and Mustang are otherwise evenly matched

A Dark Highland Green 2020 Ford Mustang Bullitt drives through a tunnel.
2020 Ford Mustang Bullitt | Ford

Besides 2023 Ford Mustang owners reporting a less positive driving experience than Dodge Challenger owners, these sports cars are pretty evenly matched in the other J.D. Power categories. Regarding quality and reliability, both models have a “great” rating, with the Challenger scoring an 85, while the Mustang got an 84. The same is true for resale value, as the Challenger has an 83, and the Mustang has an 82. Both scored only an “average” dealership experience rating, which has nothing to do with the cars but with customer service.

The Challenger and Mustang are America’s most popular sports cars. Until recently, Ford’s muscle car was the best-selling sports car in the United States, but Dodge recently took the top spot. That explains why they’re the most talked-about rivals and have been for quite some time.