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Test drive: Ford Mustang Boss 302

Jim just finished a week in the Camaro SS convertible, and concluded that he’d prefer the Ford GT. After my test week in the Ford Mustang Boss 302, I can say that while the Boss is, well, boss, the Camaro is still the car for me.

On paper, the Boss and the Camaro are about even. The Boss has 444 horsepower at 7,400 rpm, while the Camaro has 426 at 5,900 rpm. On the other hand, the Camaro has 426 pound-feet of torque at 4,600 rpm, while the Boss has 380 at 4,500 (though the Camaro does weigh more). The main difference between the two cars is that while anyone could like the Camaro, the Boss is a car that only an enthusiast could love. Ford tuned this thing for the track and it shows. Along with the monster power and pitch-perfect exhaust, the Boss handles like no muscle car should. It feels like a true sports car, and while the Camaro is a lot of fun to drive, you can’t pitch it into corners like the Boss.

More than anything, the Boss reminded me of my old 1974 Corvette. The resemblance isn’t there in terms of looks or performance (the Boss has my ‘Vette there), but the Boss actually felt like a car, not a conglomeration of software programs. It had an old-school mechanical feel that no other modern car I’ve driven could match.

But, as artificial as modern cars feel, they also spoil us. The Boss is great on an open, unblemished stretch of road, but I was driving it on pockmarked New England asphalt. Any road imperfection was translated through the entire cabin with kidney-shaking force force (thank the Boss’s old-school live rear axle for that). I only pushed the Boss on newly-paved roads because catching a pothole on a curve made the entire car jump. Thrilling? Yes. Safe? No. 

The day after an exhilarating but punishing day on New Hampshire’s back roads, I still had road noise buzzing in my ear, and opted to leave the Boss at home and take my husband’s truck for a trip to Maine. In pure driving terms, the Mustang Boss 302 is a better car than the Camaro SS convertible, but we do more in our cars than just drive. If you want a muscle car for track day, you’d be hard-pressed to do better than the Boss. But if you want a muscle car you can actually live with, go for the Camaro.

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