Auto Corner: 2011 Ford Mustang - 30 MPG and Supercar Performance

24 July 2011   John Dickerson
2011 Ford Mustang exceeds expectations in quality, mileage and performance.

Arguably the best-looking Mustang in years, Ford’s 2011 Mustang inherits the aggressive lines of original 60’s Mustangs. It also inherits the original muscle car’s attractive price-performance combination.
I’ve never been a fan of 6-cylinder Mustangs. Until now. The “base” 2011 Mustang packs a V-6 with 305 horsepower, earns up to 31 mpg on the highway, and starts at just $22,000.

For those who aren’t auto nerds, let me put those numbers in perspective. Two years ago, a favorite Audi of mine boasted a fuel-hungry Lamborghini V-10. It ran from 0-60 in 5.2 seconds. The “base” 2011 Mustang is faster, gets better mileage, and costs about the same as a loaded Civic.

{sidebar id=29}Or you could look at it another way. A 2009 Mustang GT, with a large V-8, ran to 60 in 5.1 seconds. Now the lowly V-6 Mustang, starting in Hyundia and Kia price range, makes the same sprint in the same time. Even more incredible, the same car is good for 31 miles per gallon on the highway – almost on par with my golf-cart-like 1995 Honda Civic.

I was raised in Michigan, on a diet of Detroit muscle cars. Never could I have imagined the day that I recommend a V-6 in a Mustang. But, with gas prices what they are, and with Ford’s incredible new engine, I find myself saying that – even if you value performance, you must give the V-6 pony a test drive. It will surprise you.

If the new V-6 Mustang is that good, then is the V-8 stang even better? Why, yes it is. Ford has finally resurrected the 5.0 V-8 that so many of us loved in the late 80’s. The resurrected power plant is about twice as powerful and far more efficient, delivering a mind-boggling 412 horsepower and churning out 26 mpg highway. Not bad when you consider the V-8 Mustang GT starts at $30,000.

Frankly, and I don’t say this lightly, the new Mustang GT competes almost neck-to-neck with the world-class, standard-setting BMW M3 – a near super car that costs about $70,000. Personally, I would take a loaded Mustang GT and pocket the other $40,000. I might even be seriously tempted to save more dollars and opt for the sumptuous new V-6.

How fast is the V-8 Mustang? Well, it will get you to 60 miles per hour in a Lamborghini-like 4.6 seconds. For a car to cost less than $35,000 and be this fast, well, it’s just unthinkable.

The newest Mustang – unlike some of its predecessors – is not an unrefined wild horse. Ford has worked magic on its rear-drive chassis. Somehow the newest Mustang brakes and handles with an almost German quality. She’s really something.

Those who are just sick for performance – and who also have extra bucks lying around – can step up another notch above the Mustang GT, to the Shelby GT500. For about $20k more, it trims another half-second off the 0-60 time.

How do I begin to explain the GT500? Well, let’s just say it had me giggling out loud, like a little girl, over and over – as I fishtailed through first and second third gears. The result was a NASA-worthy thrill ride of G-force in all directions. If you can afford it, the Shelby GT500 is a no brainer.

For the rest of us, the new V-6 and V-8 Mustangs offer unrivaled performance for the price. They also come standard with a new sophistication and comfort that truly makes them both a best buy in their category.

© Copyright 2011, John Dickerson