The Ford Mustang has been an American automotive icon since its launch way back in 1964 (and a half). Even through catastrophes like the Pinto based Mustang 2, the Ford loving populace always remained loyal to their favorite pony car. Unless, of course, you had a mullet and then you no doubt felt biologically compelled to own a Camaro.
All kidding aside, the 2010 Mustang was facing a serious competitive threat from the newly re-launched 2010 Camaro in the form of its 300 horsepower base 3.6 liter engine. For the model year 2010 the Mustang was still making do with a geriatric V6 engine that was best left to rental fleets or people who didn’t really care about driving.
But thankfully the product planners at Ford saw this eventuality on the horizon and created the “all-new for 2011” 3.7 liter 305 horsepower/280 horsepower V6 engine for “basic” Mustangs. Except there is nothing basic about this Mustang as it just might outrun a 2010 V8 GT at a red light drag race.
Thank heavens that Ford saw fit to shoehorn a new 5.0 liter 402 horsepower V8 under the hood of GT models to keep the traditionalists happy. But is there any real need to buy the 2011 Mustang GT over the V6 powered Mustang? With over 300 horsepower and fuel efficiency of 19 city/31 highway, it really is hard to justify the added expense of the V8. But is that enough to make the V6 variant a “true Mustang?”
Pleasingly retro while still managing to include modern styling touches, the current generation Ford Mustang coupe keeps subtly evolving in appearance thereby inhibiting the ability of the design to age too quickly. As an aside, I think that the silly “Transformers” inspired Camaro already looks painfully dated so this can be a tricky business to get right.
What more can I say? The 2011 model is easily one of the sexiest Mustangs that Ford has ever seen fit to build. I might say the “sexiest” but I don’t want to get buried under an avalanche of hate mail for a comment like that. Even though I think it just might be true.
Interior Design, Quality and Utility
Whereas the exterior may be highly recognizable, the level of fit and finish and interior quality found in the 2011 Mustang will shock anyone who hasn’t been in a Ford lately. All dashboard panel gaps fit with laser sharp precision while most of the controls you routinely touch have a pleasing movement and tactility.
Even the shift lever for the six-speed manual is optimally designed for expediting downshift maneuvers. Okay, the shift lever just looks and feels cool, alright? And even though my very modestly equipped V6 Mustang didn’t have a leather wrapped steering wheel, I eventually got over that initial shock and horror by discovering leather doesn’t NEED to cover the steering wheel, dashboard and seats. I know, it’s hard to accept at first but it’s true.
The Mustang is a very comfortable cruiser for two adults in the front seats but the back perches are best left to kids. If you need a muscle car with more back seat room you might want to check out the Dodge Challenger. Trunk space, however, is ample at 13.4 cubic feet.
Features, Pricing and Fuel Economy
The basic 2011 Ford Mustang like the one I drove starts at $22,145 and that price includes air conditioning, cloth bucket seats, power windows, power door locks, cruise control, AM/FM/CD player with aux-input jack, 17-inch alloy wheels and features “olefskin” soft touch plastic in the construction of the dashboard. Let’s just hope the dash is not made out of the remains of an animal or person named “Olef” and leave it at that.
EPA fuel economy figures for the new 3.7 liter V6 are 19 city/29 highway for the six-speed manual (only six-speed automatic V6 Mustangs pass the EPA’s magic 30 mpg mark). Due to the way I drive I never get anywhere near the EPA’s magic mileage estimates so my reading of 19 miles per gallon during the test sounds about right.
Fun to Drive
The two things that are new for 2011 (the 3.7 liter V6 and 6-speed manual transmission) are honest to goodness revelations when compared to their forebears. They also afford the driver more than enough power for burnouts or freeway passing maneuvers.
While the 3.7 liter 6 cylinder engine does make a lot of its power high in the rev range, you will rarely need to push the motor that hard thanks to the ferocious nature of the 2011 Mustang V6’s off the line acceleration. Yes, the V6 in the Mustang is now a performance engine so stop the presses and alert the staff in Hell that is will no doubt be snowing quite soon down there.
The new six-speed manual for the 2011 Ford Mustang comes under special focus thanks to its very unique “short shift throw” design that can only be described as Miata-like. Gone are the days of stiff clutch legs when sitting in traffic with a Mustang stick shift.
The ride can still be jittery over potholes, expansion joints and speed bumps but that is just something you expect from a Mustang or any real sports car. And even though the Mustang still keeps soldiering on with the live axle rear suspension design, this same said feature makes it easier (for me at least) to keep control via throttle inputs during tricky cornering maneuvers. If anything, the 2011 Mustang is a very “catchable” car even if you do something outrageously stupid.
So the 3.7 liter V6 has plenty of power, the new manual transmission is great yet I am sure you are still wondering if you should buy a V8. Well, people do associate Mustang with V8 and the 3.7 liter 6-cylinder lacks the typical Ford V8 rumble. The 3.7 liter V6 actually can sound a bit thrashy when you hit redline but thankfully there is little need to spend much time there.
How Dog and Kid Friendly is It?
Although the coupe model I tested is no doubt more family friendly than the Mustang convertible, attempting to put a dog or car seat in the back row of this muscle car is still an exercise in futility. I am sure the interior would hold up fine to canine abuse and would make cleaning up all manner of baby spew a no hassle situation. But don’t you think a 2011 Mustang deserves to be babied a bit more?
If I were to buy a 2011 Mustang coupe as a rational purchase, I would go for the V6 but as I do love creature comforts I would order the “Premium” variant. This opens the vault to all of Ford’s delicious options like Sync, navigation, high quality leather in a wide array of hues and the upgraded Shaker audio systems.
This way I can probably even keep the MSRP for a well equipped V6 at or near $30,000. But if money is no object and this toy is the realization of a life’s worth of hard work? Those are the occasions when you buy the V8. Besides, you only live once.
Vehicle Tested: 2011 Ford Mustang V6
Base Price: $22,145
Price as Tested: $25,780
Options on Tester: 3.31 Axle Ratio-$395, Security Package-$395, Performance Pack (Includes: strut tower brace, upgraded front sway bar and SVT rear swap bar, unique front springs, electronic stability mode control with sport function, 19-inch black painted aluminum wheels, summer tires, Performance Friction brake pads)-$1,995
Engine: 3.7 liter V6 engine
Power: 305 horsepower/280 lb. feet of torque
Transmission: Six-speed manual
0-60: 5.6 seconds (estimated)
EPA Economy: 19 city/29 highway
As Tested Economy: 19 miles per gallon
Required Fuel: Regular Unleaded
Trunk: 13.4 cubic feet
Crash Test Ratings: (Front: Good-IIHS)
(Side Impact: Average-IIHS)
Rollover-Five stars (NHTSA)
Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles bumper to bumper
5 years/60,000 mile powertrain
Final Assembly Point: Flat Rock, Michigan
Vehicle Provided by: Ford Motor Company