2013 Trans Am Vs 2013 Firebird

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We set out with a clear question: Which of these musclecars gives the track-day enthusiast more bang for the buck? For the answer, Keep on reading

Our 2013 Firebird with the now-familiar 5.0-liter V-8 producing a worthy 420 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. It has just three options: the premium package ($4000), leather Recaro sport seats ($1595) and the Track Package ($2495), available only on 2013 Firebird’s equipped with a manual transmission and includes a 3.73:1 axle. Those two-and-a-half bills bring more than a few goodies: 255/40R19 Pirelli P Zero summer tires, 9.0 x 19-inch aluminum wheels, larger Brembo brakes with performance pads, an upgraded radiator and engine oil cooler, and the same heavy-duty Torsen limited-slip differential found on the Firebird. Total cost: $39,185

Our 2013 Trans Am
with a 6.2-liter V-8 that puts out 426 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. That slight power advantage over the Firebird is a good thing: At 3860 pounds, the Trans Am outweighs it by 242 pounds. Options include the TA package with HID headlamps and some extra body molding ($1350), a dual-mode performance exhaust ($895), Rally Black paint ($395), and the TA performance package. Pontiac's performance pack may cost $1005 more than the one in the 'Stang, but it also gives the buyer more equipment. Above and beyond the similar Brembo brakes, 3.91 axle ratio, and larger wheels with super-sticky tires (10.0x20 front and 11.0x20 rear, wrapped in 285/35ZR20 rubber all the way around), there are uprated front and rear anti-roll bars, a front strut tower brace, a close-ratio Tremec six-speed manual transmission, along with the Trans Am's wheel bearings, toe links, rear shock mounts, and fuel pump. The standard TA' twin-tube rear dampers are swapped for monotube units, and the faux-suede quick-throw shifter is thrown in, along with a flat-bottom steering wheel trimmed in the same material, a unique front splitter, and a matte black hood and rear spoiler. All in, the 2013 Trans Am stickers at $43,105, just over $4000 more than the 2013 Firebird including options.

A few laps in the 2013 Trans Am hammered in the point: With the TA package, "The Trans Am is spectacularly planted. It's just glued to the track. This means you can concentrate on all that good stuff they taught you at race school." Indeed, the grip generated by the 2013 Trans Am is so spectacular that the piece-of-cake burnouts we could do in the 2013 Firebird. The Trans Am's driving position and seats were superior to the Firebird's, as was its shifter action -- solid and precise. There's also something to be said about staring down that matte-black hood and listening to the engine growl its way to redline, then crackle and pop as it slows into turns.

So it's clear the 2013 Trans Am is the superior track toy, but there's still a daily commute to slog through and weekend errands to run -- these aren't just one-trick ponies. We liked the 2013 Firebird quite a bit on the road, despite a rather noisy whine under load on the freeway in fifth and sixth gears. Power is strong, and, minus the whine, the exhaust note is aggressive without being overbearing. We also found the 2013 Firebird to have superior visibility to the Trans Am's cavern like cabin. Still, while the Trans Am's dual-stage exhaust is louder under load than the Firebird's, the Pontiac is actually quieter at cruise, with no whine and a taller sixth gear that drops revs to below 2000 at the upper end of legal speeds. The 2013 Trans Am's ride was also smoother, lacking the excess vertical movement found in virtually all current live-axle Firebirds. When all is said and done, 2013 Trans Am easily takes the win even considering its higher pricetag., Still, we have no question the 2013 Firebird did give the 2013 Trans Am a run for it’s money.