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Web Review; Camaro vs Mustang- Ad Agency Edition

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On: Thu, Sep 24, 2009 at 12:09PM | By: John Welch

Web Review; Camaro vs Mustang- Ad Agency Edition

I decided it was time to review a website from a more pedestrian, 'every-man' car company. Over the last several weeks we have reviewed the Porsche 911 GT3 website, the Mercedes SLS AMG website, and other high-end digital brochures. Though fun to play around with, these sites are not incredibly realistic, considering all of these cars topped six figures once I had optioned them to the gills. Options I found to be completely necessary, thankyouverymuch.

So, name a car us poor folk might actually be able to afford, some day in the distant future? Scrolling around our blog, there has been a lot of news about GM, some good, some not so good. Most of it, honestly, is not so good. What better example of a Red-State, Go- Fearing Man-Car than the Chevy Camaro? Uhm, the Ford Mustang, if for no other reason than its advanced age and lack of prolonged gaps in its production cycle. While the Camaro was axed in 2002, Mustang production has soldiered on continuously, uninterrupted since 1964.

So whose website is shiny and tempting enough to make me take out that second mortgage? Read on . . .

The Pony Car Wars (to use a term gleaned from one of those awful Spike completewastesoftime TV shows) are more complicated than "Who has the largest V8?!" Most Camaros and Mustangs are sold with V6s, single exhaust, and an automatic. I refuse to go with the automatic, and most car companies have come up with semi-convincing faux dual-exhaust. Even four-cylinder Mazda 6s sport two muffler cans. Those two problems rectified, I decided to mock up V6 variants of each car. Any company can build a big silly Flash-soaked website for their halo-car. I wanted to see what they came up with for the mass-produced, profit-generating V6s.

Some points will be awarded for the most powerful car, the cheapest car etc., but I'm reviewing their websites, not the actual cars, so those qualities count for only so much. Does the website lag behind my inputs? Is it confusing? Does it display all of the car's available options? Who has sweeter options? These are the questions I'm more concerned with.

Chevy Camaro, living up to the GM standard: Eh, oh geez. This isn't starting out that well. First of all, my deep-seated worry that Chevy might do something special for their V8 models was sadly misguided. The 'Build Your Own Camaro' page lists all five of the Camaro variants, from the cheapest V6 (starting at $22,680) all the way to the 2SS (starting at $33,745). It's painfully obvious that the pitiful demonstration-animation displayed before entering the 'Build Your Own' page was intended to encompass all Camaros, even though there are significant differences between the size and architecture of the three available engines (the V8 supplied with an automatic transmission is detuned from 426 bhp to 400, increasing the life of the transmission). Being GM's hottest product currently, you would think that they would put a little more effort into its webpage. We are talking about GM, so who knows what they're thinking!

In keeping with my formula, I select the cheapest Camaro available, the V6 LS. The first thing I notice is that it is equipped with what appear to be steel wheels, similar in design to the 15 inchers attached to my first vehicle, a 1992 Chevy S-10. I liked those rims, tough looking and silver rimmed.

The next page is well laid out, if a little boring. It displays my Camaro, with controls to rotate the car 360 degrees. There is no way to view your interior or interior options. That's a big no-no. If there are interior options I would like to see examples, personally.

With the Mad Max rims, it seems to me that 'Victory Red' is going to be the best color choice. There is no shade of green and I'm sick of dressing out white cars. Underneath the image of the Camaro is an option sheet. Most pages run you through a detailed, step-by-step procedure to move you from option group to option group. Not Chevy; they have everything displayed on one page! The model of efficiency! And boring as all hell.

There are plenty of options; for the exterior I select the 'Black Hood and Hockey Stripe' package, $510. That's it. There are other stripes, ground effects, and a wing available, but I would never order any of that crap in real life, so why add it to the total here? Inside I've chosen grey cloth seat trim (because I live in Florida and black would really suck during daylight hours) and carpeted floormats, a whopping $60. The interior options don't really extend beyond that. I don't want an overpriced car cover, the spare tire is also overpriced and adds unwanted weight. The 'body-color painted engine cover' would be sort of unique, but it isn't worth the $285 Chevy wants for it.

All in all, I'm not that impressed. The Camaro isn't given the high-faluten' treatment it deserves. Chevy is still answering to its bean counters, and it shows on their website. I was able to kill only a solid five minutes slapping my Camaro together, and that is just unacceptable. The car came to $24,275 after the destination charge. For the performance and boulevard prominence, that is a whale of a deal. The Camaro looks good too, with steel rims that endear themselves to me more and more each time I lay eyes on them and the matte-black Hockey/Hood Stripe combine to give the Camaro some well deserved curb appeal. Too bad I have no idea what my interior looks like, and considering the lack of interior options, really don't care. That is not a good attitude to have when contemplating spending 6/8ths of what I make every year . . .

Ford Mustang, good car, better website: First off, just finding the Mustang Builder was an exercise in annoyance. There is no direct link; Ford would like you to become very familiar with all of the crazy new tricks the Mustang has up its sleeve. Pretty seat stitching, pretty ambient lighting, pretty gauges,blah blah. After much blind clicking I was finally able to link to Ford's 'configurator', through an almost hidden 'Build and Price' icon at the top right hand corner of whatever random screen I was on. This is where the annoyance began to give way to sublime enjoyment. The Ford page is a thousand times slicker then Chevy's right off the bat. Number two, the V6 Mustang, though way down on power, (210 v.s. the Chevy's 304 bhp. Ford claims that the 2011 Mustang V6 will churn out 310 bhp; we'll see . .. ) is priced from a rock-bottom $20,995 for the coupe. The convertible (not yet offered in a Camaro flavor) runs just five grand more, at $25,995.

The Ford site is setup how I like a car-fantasy site to be set up. It guides you through option packages and doesn't lump them all together on one screen. First we have 'Rapid Spec-101A' which is a fancy name for an appearance package featuring a clumsy-looking wing and some stripes for the bottom of the door sills. Nothing screams "V6 Mustang" like those gawd-awful stripes. I decline this option, chose 'Rapid Spec-100A', and move on to exterior colors. This is another area where Ford has neglected to guide the viewer, you have to find the 'Exterior' button at the top of the screen and move on by yourself. I assume this lack of flowing continuity causes Ford General Support lines to ring off the hook.

There is only one set of wheels offered, and they're ugly. To be expected from a base-model pony car, but I found the Camaro's cheaper solution much more intriguing. The Mustang's base rims are boring and look too small by comparison. There are no further exterior options besides a set of 'security' lug nuts, $395 to protect rims no one would want to steal in the first place. I select the 'Sunset Gold' paint job, not my first choice but the red I wanted to go with came with a $300 premium. Ouch. On to the interior; let's hope I actually get to view a mock up!

My choice for interior fabric color was again influenced by the searing UV death wrought by the Florida sun. Unfortunately I'm not able to get the 'Sunset Gold Metallic' paint job with the 'Stone' (read gray) interior. No explanation, just a dialogue box informing me that I will have to select a different exterior color, or deal with a black interior. Hmm, strange. That might have been a deal-killer for some people. That concludes the interior options, though you are actually presented with a representation of your future driving quarters, not something we can say for the cookie-cutter Camaro site.

Ok, now I want to choose my accessories. Finally, we are getting into all this 'ambient lighting' and 'espresso machine disguised as an ashtray' crap Ford was shoving down our throats when first we arrived at their site. Uh-oh, there are no accessories, just another unexplained dialogue box instructing me to "Please contact my dealer for more information about the accessories available for this model." Eff that; there have been so many speed bumps on the way to optioning my now-white Mustang that I don't even care anymore. Learn to deal with Gen-Y attention spans, Ford, or you're screwed!

All said and done my Mustang came to a total of $21,845. That is nearly three grand cheaper than the Chevy, but I wouldn't get exactly what I wanted, kind of the point in buying a new car, dontcha' think? Ford couldn't offer the exterior color and interior fabric I preferred, couldn't list any of the much-hyped accessories (which might not be available on a Mustang this cheap. Ford doesn't bother telling you that; they would rather attempt to trick you into calling a dealer, not a mistake I'm going to make . . .), and frankly those rims are atrocious. Simply distracting to the eye, and very much dwarfed by the car's body work. The cheapo steel wheels on the Camaro work much better.

During this timeless battle of Chevy v.s. Ford, Mustang v.s. Camaro, Cheap Crap v.s. Cheaper Crap, the Camaro V6 stands head and shoulders above the Mustang V6 in the content and looks department. For $3,000 more (what do you care, you're financing for six years anyway, sucker) you get visual flare the Mustang just can't match. Whereas the differences between a Mustang V6 and its V8 counterparts are drastically apparent, the Camaro V6 and V8 are almost identical. That may rub some SS owners the wrong way, but the vast majority of these cars will be V6s, and, frankly, they deserve to look the part. If I was going to buy one of these cars, it would be the Camaro.

This was a website review, not a car review. The Camaro may win, based on my extremely jaded and snobby auto-opinion, but Ford wins the website war. If I wasn't knowledgable, and I didn't have pre-concevied notions about which car I'd prefer going in, then the Ford site is the one most likely to seperate me from my hard-earned mullah. The interface is much slicker, the graphics and images much more alive. It takes a second to find the 'car builder', but once you do it turns out to be a much more involved experience than the Chevrolet site. Frankly, there is no comparison.

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