Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
You'll Like The 2011 Ford Mustang If...
While its strongest appeal will be to the Mustang faithful, the latest iteration of this American icon now has the look, feel and features that should make it worthy of consideration by anyone shopping for a sporty, rear-drive two-door. The SYNC audio system and the V6’s impressive fuel economy are two huge selling points unmatched by the Mustang’s competitors.
You May Not Like The 2011 Ford Mustang If...
Those who demand the biggest horsepower numbers without stepping into far-pricier Shelby GT500 territory will find the Chevrolet Camaro SS packs a bit more punch under its hood than the Mustang GT. As in the past, limited head/leg room relegate Mustang’s aft quarters to a de facto kids-only zone.
For 2011, the Mustang receives two new engine choices: an all-aluminum 3.7-liter V6, and a 5.0-liter V8. Both engines can be fitted with a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions, while the V6 models receive as standard a limited-slip differential. The 2011 Mustang receive a new electrically assisted power steering unit and improvements to its suspension, frame stiffness and interior NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) levels.
If the Mustang holds a superior advantage over its arch-rival, the Chevrolet Camaro, it’s inside the cockpit. Classic design themes are interwoven with upscale details such as a one-piece soft-touch dash set off by brushed aluminum and bright-chrome accents. A new instrument cluster includes a 160-mph speedometer and the center stack has a more logical and usable layout for the audio, heat/air-conditioning controls and standard displays – or the eight-inch color touch screen that’s included with the optional navigation system. New features include the addition of a driver’s message center and the availability of Ford’s MyKey programmable vehicle key. Additional attention has been paid to sound proofing, including new door seals and thicker glass. The Mustang’s front buckets offer better comfort and support than the Camaro, while the rear bench – a 60/40 fold-down in the Coupe but fixed in the Convertible – is scaled for small to mid-size kids.
Last year’s redesign saw a two-year Mustang makeover that began with the car’s exterior. A complete re-skin put a finer edge on the Mustang’s classically proportioned design while resurrecting several historical elements. The more aggressive bodywork includes a power-bulged hood and cleaner, crisper individualized fascia treatments highlighted by an integrated headlamp/turn-indicator unit that revisits the 1970 Mustang and mid-’60s-era sequential tail lamps updated with LED bulbs; 2011 also sees the return of the fabled 5.0-liter badge boldly attached to the GT’s front fenders. A revised grille insert serves as a backdrop for a more stylized galloping pony emblem as well as prominent fog lamps in GT models, which also boast a subtle rear spoiler. New safety features include integrated blind spot mirrors in the side-view mirror housings. The V6s come with 215/60 all-season tires on 17-inch aluminum wheels while the V8 GTs get 235/50 rubber on 18-inch alloys.
Ford did an impressive job of remaking the Mustang’s dynamic character for 2010 with a series of well-measured tweaks to the existing suspension setups and tuning elements culled from the Bullitt model. For 2011, Ford finishes the job with two-new engines and transmissions. The new 3.7-liter V6 develops an impressive 305 horsepower, yet somehow manages to earn an EPA highway rating of 31 mpg when equipped with the six-speed automatic. The V6 is refined, quiet and more than capable of making the Mustang’s performance match its looks. Those requiring the loud growl and neck-snapping punch of a V8, however, will be satisfied with nothing less than the new 412-horsepower, 5.0-liter V8. And, Ford’s new six-speed manual no longer feels like something pulled from an old Ranger pickup truck, providing smooth gear transitions and an easily engaged clutch. Recalibration of the springs, shocks and anti-roll bars interact to create a package that’s more comfortable in cruise and more capable in the corners, with better steering feel, quicker overall responses and greater predictability. Complementing this re-mix is a properly restrained and driver-selectable AdvanceTrac stability system that offers a less-restrictive Sport mode on GTs and confidence-inspiring four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes.
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a base 2011 Ford Mustang V6 Coupe opens slightly under $23,000; the Premium V6 starts closer to $27,000; an entry GT pushes just past the $30,000 mark; and the Premium GT commands about $34,000. Choosing a Convertible will add about $5,000 to each of those figures, although the unique glass roof option ($1,995) now provides an interesting and more-affordable alternative. To make your best deal, be sure to check its Fair Purchase Price on kbb.com which shows what others in your area are typically paying for their new Mustangs. As for resale, the Mustang V6 is expected edge out the Chevrolet Camaro V6 and Dodge Challenger V6, while the Mustang GT trails just behind in overall five-year residual values.
All 2011 Ford Mustang variants are impressively packaged. Even the base V6 comes with air conditioning, power windows/locks/mirrors, keyless remote entry, AM/FM/CD stereo with AUX input, and cruise control plus anti-lock brakes (ABS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), front/front-side airbags, and Ford’s SOS Post-Crash Alert system. The Premium versions add leather upholstery, trim enhancements, an upgraded instrument cluster with MyColor variable lighting, Shaker 500 audio system with SYNC and SIRIUS Satellite Radio, power driver’s seat and a split/folding rear seat on Coupes. The GTs bring a 412-horsepower, 5.0-liter V8 engine, automatic headlamps, rear spoiler, fog lamps, a black-chrome pony grille badge, and cloth instead of synthetic material on the Convertible’s power top.
Key extras for the base V6 are a six-speed automatic transmission, Security Package (Active Anti-theft System and wheel locks) and a convertible soft boot, while the GT Premium offers the California Package that adds a chrome billet grille, side scoops and 19-inch wheels. The V6 Premium offers the base-level upgrades plus the V6 Performance Package, which brings a strut tower brace, larger anti-roll bars, 19-inch black painted wheels, recalibrated electronic stability control, performance brake pads and a 3.31 rear axle ratio. The GT trim offers the Brembo Brake Package that adds Brembo front brakes, recalibrated stability program and 19-inch wheels surrounded by P255/40R19 summer tires. HID bi-xenon headlamps, a glass roof (Coupe), a back-up camera and several packages – including the Electronic (Navigation with SIRIUS, HD Radio and dual-zone auto climate control) and Comfort (leather-trimmed heated front seats and a six-way power passenger seat) – are available on both Premium variants.
3.7-liter V6Unless you absolutely revel in the idea of having a V8, the new 3.7-liter V6 is more than enough engine, producing horsepower and torque figures that surpass the output of many previous generation Mustang GTs!Comprehensive Interior UpgradesBetter quality and enhanced features make it a much nicer world inside every 2011 Mustang. Highlighting the mix are a new one-piece soft-touch dash and more finger-friendly controls that are further complemented by variable interior ambient lighting and selectable MyColor illumination for the instrument cluster on Premium models.
Under the Hood
Two new engines anchor the non-Shelby portion of Team Mustang. The base trim is powered by an all-aluminum 3.7-liter V6 engine featuring dual overhead cams (DOHC) and Twin-Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT). The result is a V6 that produces 305 horsepower, yet delivers fuel economy comparable to some four-cylinder cars. The new six-speed automatic features a ‘Hill Mode" function that extends longer gear operation on uphill climbs and provides additional engine braking upon decent. Ironically, Ford does not offer a manually selectable shift program on this transmission, and odd omission in this category. Stepping up to the new 5.0-liter V8 (also equipped with Ti-VCT technology) brings a big boost in both horsepower and torque, pumping out 412 horsepower and 390 lb.-ft. of torque. Our time in the Mustang GT produced zero-to-60 runs under five-seconds, which is about a second better than the 2010 model.3.7-liter DOHC V6305 horsepower @ 6500 rpm280 lb-ft of torque @ 4250 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy 19/29 (manual), 19/31 (automatic)5.0-liter DOHC V8412 horsepower @ 6500 rpm390 lb-ft of torque @ 4250 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy 17/26 (manual), 18/25 (automatic)
An icon of Ford’s lineup since the mid-’60s, the rakish Mustang receives the second half of a comprehensive two-year makeover that elevates its horsepower, chassis dynamics and overall bad boy attitude. Feeling the heat from Chevrolet’s recently resurrected Camaro, both Coupe and Convertible Mustangs have been substantially beefed up this year, offering the choice of base and premium trims, all-new V6 or V8 (GT) engines and a choice between a new six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. A formidable roster of standard and available equipment, and some slick new options should help the original pony car gallop on at an even faster pace as it vies for buyers who might also be considering the likes of the Dodge Challenger, Hyundai Genesis Coupe and Chevrolet Camaro. Completing the Mustang range is the 540-horsepower supercharged Shelby GT500, reviewed separately.