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Sports cars have a relatively simple philosophy: engine up front, rear-wheel-drive, and pretty much everything else is subjective. Some drivers look for 800 horsepower leviathans with a 9-second quarter-mile time and enough torque to provide endless thrills. However, others revere feeling like they’re conducting a soothing backroad symphony of mechanical components.

When coming up with the best sports car of 2022, critics are in a heated disagreement. U.S. News and World Report think it’s the Ford Mustang, while Car and Driver believe it to be the Mazda MX-5 Miata. So, which is it?

2022 Ford Mustang 

Available Ice White Appearance Package on appropriately configured 2022 Mustang Mach-E and Mustang Coupe models.
2022 Ford Mustang | Ford

According to U.S. News & World Report, the 2022 Ford Mustang is the best sports car for 2022. And, depending on all the fun and exciting ways you spec a Mustang, you’ll be paying a starting price of $27,420 for the EcoBoost Fastback with a 310 horsepower 2.3-liter turbocharged inline-4 to a whopping $79,420 for Shelby GT500 with a road-shredding, supercharged 760-hp 5.2-liter Predator V8. The $52,000 difference is a bit disorienting, so let’s focus on the one that packs the most punch per dollar, the GT fastback, beginning at $36,285, per Ford.

With the 5.0-liter Coyote V8, buyers will fall in love with the growling soundtrack and shake any fear of not having enough power to blitz nearly anything from a standstill at the traffic lights. With 450 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque mated to either a shift-happy 10-speed automatic transmission or the fan-favorite Tremec T56 6-speed manual, 0-60 can be had in 4.1 seconds, which is likely to thrill any buyer with traditional, brutish American power.

Although it has well-bolstered seating, the interior is woefully plastic-y, with odd shiny finishes. Moving past the redundant gauges above the infotainment system, the Mustang features a gigantic trunk with a subwoofer hooked to the Bang & Olufsen stereo system. As for interior space? The Mustang gives just enough room to take your kids on a wild ride to school but more than likely not enough to have your adult-sized friends in tow.

Is the Ford Mustang a reliable car?

Mustangs aren’t the bog-standard, bargain-basement automobiles they were in years past. And while a lot of tech goes into Ford’s muscle car, it seems to cause issues with the sports car’s in-car electronics. Consumer Reports (CR) states the 2022 Mustang will have lower predicted reliability, a problem they’ve tracked since 2016.

Currently, there are two recalls on the Mustang. For some models, the front passenger knee airbag will deploy improperly, and the front-facing camera supporting driver-assist collision avoidance systems is out of alignment.

2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata 

Now, let’s talk about Car and Driver’s pick for the best sports car for 2022. For over 30 years, the Miata has combined the elegant simplicity of a classic British roadster with Japanese reliability. The latest generation MX-5 has its most powerful engine yet. The 2.0-liter I-4 develops 181 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque, and while that may not sound like a lot, remember it weights just 2,354 pounds in the soft top version—much less than the comparable GR86 or BRZ and 1,600 pounds less than the Mustang.  

Although there may not be a bellowing, shock-and-awe exhaust note from the back, drivers who love a good naturally-aspirated induction tune will salivate over the Miata. It’s no slouch either, chirping the tires in second gear on its way to 60 mph in just 5.6 seconds. A limited-slip differential also makes the Miata a hoot to kick out the backend in a tight corner.

The 2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata does have a lot of plastics in its interior, but the finish is second-to-none. Higher-priced models feature a premium Bose sound system, and even for the top-of-the-line Grand Touring trim level, you’ll only be paying $32,650 to start, per Mazda. You won’t have to worry about rear legroom because Mazda doesn’t bother putting in a back seat. Although there’s only trunk space for a few bags of groceries, storage space shouldn’t be high on the list if you’re driving a sports car.

Is the Mazda MX-5 Miata reliable?

The MX-5 Miata isn’t just one of the best sports cars available. It’s also one of the most reliable sports cars on sale today. With a reworked engine in transmission in 2019, CR states the ND-generation Miata is likely to prove more reliable than the average new car.

What is the best sports car to buy for 2022? 

The Ford Mustang and the Mazda MX-5 Miata are two different types of cars for two different types of people. Yes, they’re both sports cars, but each has a diametrically opposed set of values. While each has its drawbacks, fun isn’t one of them.

If you’re impressed by straight-line speed, buy the Mustang. If you like gripping the road feverishly around corners, buy the Miata.