The Ford Mustang has been the icon of American performance since its 1964 introduction, popular for its bold style, rear-wheel drive performance and affordable price. The Mustang started the ponycar genre, and now, after 40 years of competition with the Camaro, Firebird and others, it's the only one left.
The new Mustang represents a clean-sheet design, riding on an all-new platform. It's faster, more agile and better looking than ever. It rides smoother, The interior is beautifully done.
The Mustang V-6 Deluxe coupe comes well equipped for less than $20,000. The Mustang GT boasts a new multi-valve, overhead-cam V8 that produces 300 horsepower and is available with a Tremec five-speed manual or an automatic.
Nothing says modern American sporty car better than this new Mustang. Its long hood and short rear deck capitalize on 40 years of Mustang history. The new Mustang features classic design cues that have defined Mustangs since the 1960s: C-scoops in the sides, three-element taillamps and a galloping horse badge in the center of the grille. Its menacing shark-like nose is reminiscent of the 1967 model.
The new Mustang is based on a modified version of the platform that underpins the Lincoln LS, the Jaguar S-Type, and the Ford Thunderbird, but with a new three-link live-axle rear suspension installed in place of the IRS under the luxury cars in order to keep the price down (the original idea was to offer the IRS as standard equipment, but it will likely be on the Cobra version when it comes). Ford reasons that more Mustang fans will favor the solid-axle rear suspension for their recreational track days and drag racing.
Everything under the car has been upgraded substantially from previous Mustang levels: bigger brakes by nearly 20 percent, completely new front and rear suspension designs that yield much quieter, smoother ride as well as much more precise steering and harder cornering, two new engines, two new transmissions, and a large-diameter (2.5 inches from end to end) performance exhaust system. There's nothing left of the old Mustang but the logos. Optional anti-lock brakes bundled with traction control give any driver much more of a fighting chance in bad situations.
Both new engines are mounted to their bodies with hydraulic engine mounts, which absorb and counteract vibration and pulsing, and the combination of the engine and transmission bolted together, is stiffer than previous designs, which should also add to quietness. The car absolutely bristles with other new technologies.
The Mustang heritage of low-cost performance and flashy styling has not been compromised one iota by putting the new car on the platform that Ford used to call the CDW. By adapting lots of ideas and components from luxury cars like the Jaguar S-Type, Lincoln LS, and Thunderbird that were previously built on the CDW model, they have given the Mustang a whole new level of sophistication that no Mustang before it ever had. We know, because we've driven every generation since the original debuted n the spring of 1964.
The interior of the new Mustang is sporty and crisp and beautifully done. There's a very heavy dose of 1967 Mustang interior design, with two distinct right and left pods. Because of the longer wheelbase and larger overall size, there is a lot more hip, leg, elbow and shoulder room inside this Mustang that in any previous generation Mustang.
In addition to the slick new interior decor, the new Mustang has the industry's first color-changeable instrument panel display, with 125 color schemes to choose from. It's easy to use, it's spectacular, and it works beautifully to brighten up your day, and especially your night, as you drive. And, speaking of brightening, there is more shiny metal on the interior, including the vent rings, steering wheel spokes and other bits, and on sunny days, that can cause some vision and glare problems for the driver.
We found the front bucket seats to be comfortable, supportive and retentive in hard corners, and in general, the interior looks like it belongs in a much more expensive car. There is an interior upgrade package that adds red leather seats, red door inserts and red floor mats on cars with appropriate exterior colors. Another package adds real aluminum trim to the interior for one more customization step.
The basic sound system that comes with the car is pretty darn good, but in this day and age of pervasive music, there has to be more, more wattage, more speakers, more power. To back that up, Ford offers not one but two optional AM/FM/CD changer systems, one with 500 watts, and one with, are you ready? 1000 watts of power, both systems with subwoofers in the doors, and the 1000-watter with two more subwoofers in the trunk.
The old Mustang, a modified, stiffened and welded version of the 1979 Fox platform, was about as stiff as wet rope, but this new all-steel Mustang body and chassis unit is a claimed 31 percent stiffer than the recently departed SN95 Mustang, which should improve ride quality, noise and handling.
It doesn't look it, but the new Mustang has a wheelbase that is a full six inches longer than the outgoing model, and that makes all the difference. The ride has smoothed out, and the remaining harshness is of a completely different order. The new rear suspension uses coil springs and a lightweight three-link design with a Panhard bar and other locators to keep things constant.
The new 4.0-liter V-6 engine has more technical sophistication than any previous Ford V-6. It is a very solid performer in urban, exurban and suburban duties, and the ratios in the automatic seem well matched to the available torque. When the automatic transmission gets into overdrive fifth gear, the engine goes quietly into economy mode until called upon for a lane change, a pass, or an uphill charge. But it's still a large-displacement V-6 and it sounds more muscular at full throttle than any previous Ford V-6 engine.
The V-6 Deluxe is the most popular model; Ford says that for every three GTs sold, it will sell seven of the V-6 versions. At this low price, we were particularly impressed with its power, torque, acceleration, and general road manners, including its pretty, rorty exhaust note. Interestingly, while it has 90 horsepower and 80 foot-pounds less grunt than the V-8 and rides on smaller tires, the V-6 seems slightly more eager to turn and more agile than the nose-heavy GT V-8 (the GT weighs about 150 pounds more, and almost all of it is on the front tires).
The Mustang is relatively heavy, and the brakes are a whopping 15 percent larger than the old brakes; they really work well in high-speed highway driving situations, as we found out on our test drive in Los Angeles. If you want ABS, you will automatically get, and pay for, traction control, which has a dash-mounted off switch for special situations, like racing, for instance.
The GT is a 300-horsepower, five-speed pavement-ripper for about $25,000. The new three-valve V-8 engine features both variable camshaft timing and electronic throttle control, with a new set of smarter, faster-acting engine electronic controls. It will run 0-60 mph in about 5.5 seconds, it will outbrake a large number of sporty cars with its big new brakes, and it handles better on canyon roads that any previous Mustang except the Cobra, with a minimum of body roll and a large portion of tire grip.
It looks mean, and it drives mean, with 320 pound-feet of torque, a slick shifter, a brawny, loud exhaust note, and one of the world's largest aftermarket networks, including Ford's in-house parts company, Ford Racing Technology, for those who want even higher performance.
The Mustang has been so popular for so long that, over time, it simply blew the old Barracuda, the Challenger, the Camaro, the Firebird and the AMC AMX and Javelin pretenders right off the street. It started the ponycar genre, and now, after 40 years of street and track competition, it's the only one left.
There is nothing else that says modern American sporty car better than this new Mustang. Its combination of high style, performance, and handling with a light touch can't be beat for this kind of money, and early indications are that the quality should be far better than any previous Mustang. Ford is planning on building about 175,000 of these a year, and we think they're shooting low. Way low.
New Car Test Drive correspondent Jim McCraw filed this report from Los Angeles.
Build and price your dream Ford Mustang in just a few easy steps.
|Build & Price|
2014 Ford Mustang$68,775 | 11 mi
2013 Ford Mustang$21,763 | 34,781 mi
2013 Ford Mustang$21,963 | 34,683 mi
2013 FORD MUSTANG$22,368 | 34,449 mi
2013 Ford Mustang$29,433 | 9,675 mi
2013 Ford Mustang$46,800 | 3,268 mi
2012 Ford Mustang$20,179 | 37,197 mi
2011 Ford Mustang$17,983 | 30,417 mi
2010 Ford Mustang$15,995 | 108,839 mi
2010 FORD MUSTANG$18,777 | 45,014 mi
2008 FORD MUSTANG$11,975 | 92,228 mi
2007 Ford Mustang$10,988 | 73,225 mi
2007 Ford Mustang$33,951 | 29,661 mi
2007 Ford Mustang$34,963 | 3,107 mi
2007 Ford Mustang$37,963 | 2,815 mi
2006 Ford Mustang$9,995 | no mileage
2006 Ford Mustang$14,995 | 73,681 mi
2006 Ford Mustang$15,991 | 73,131 mi
2006 FORD MUSTANG$18,487 | 76,478 mi
2005 Ford Mustang$6,999 | 135,076 mi
2003 Ford Mustang$7,990 | 108,206 mi
2002 Ford Mustang$4,981 | 164,191 mi
2001 Ford Mustang$6,988 | 93,615 mi
2001 FORD MUSTANG$9,961 | 53,335 mi
1998 Ford Mustang$12,789 | 64,750 mi
1994 Ford Mustang$6,985 | 171,578 mi
1994 Ford Mustang$19,999 | 24,016 mi
1993 Ford Mustang$15,990 | 57,319 mi