Test Drive: 2011 Ford Mustang

Westlake Village, Calif. ?
There is probably no car in American with better name recognition than the Ford Mustang.? With nearly 10 million sold over the last 48 years, everyone has a Mustang story or some memories of the original ?pony car,? including me.

Over the years, Mustang has evolved and matured but the 2011 model takes a giant leap forward with the introduction of two of the most sophisticated engines Ford has ever offered.

Both the new V-6 and V-8 Duratec engines use Ford?s new Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) to produce not only outstanding output but also industry-leading fuel economy.? The engines also have a new 10,000-mile oil change interval.? The standard transmission is a six speed manual, with an optional ($995) six-speed automatic.

The V-6 Mustang is the first car ever to have 305-horsepower and while achieving 31 mpg fuel economy.?? I averaged 30.3 mpg myself during a fuel economy contest.? I drove slightly more conservatively than normal but had to stop for nine red lights during the competition.? In normal highway cruising, I bet I could hit 34 or 35 mpg.? That?s especially amazing when you consider this Mustang accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds.

?This new V-6 engine really speaks to what Mustang is all about,? said Barb Samardzich, Ford vice president of Global Powertrain Engineering. ?It produces power everywhere in the rev range and loves to be pushed hard. The Duratec 3.7-liter builds on our promise to use advanced technology to deliver both power and fuel economy.?

Of course, the star of the herd is the new 5.0-liter V-8.? The 5.0 name may be retro, but at 412 horsepower, the V-8 engine not only makes the 0 to 60 mph run in about 4.7 seconds it?s the best sounding GT yet.? In addition, for those who have the desire to be environmentally responsible, it gets an EPA fuel economy rating of 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. ?Wow, fast, efficient and great sounding!

The Mustang is equipped with a new Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS) that improves fuel economy and delivers a quicker response.? The steering effort is tighter at highway speeds and lighter at low speeds, which is especially helpful when parking.? EPAS is designed to help the driver compensate for crosswinds, road imperfections and to eliminate ?shimmy? at higher speeds when a tire gets out of balance.

As in the past, the Mustang is available as a coupe or convertible, with a V-6 or V-8 and in a base or premium trim level.? Pricing starts $22,995 for the V-6 coupe and V-8 powered GT starts at $30,495.? The convertible version of each is $5,000 more, and the premium trim level adds $3,700 to the V-6 and $3,200 to the V-8.? A fully optioned GT convertible will have a bottom line price in the high $40,000s.

A couple of notable options are the Brembo brake package ($1,695) and the electronics package ($2,340) that includes the Dual-Zone Automatic Air Conditioning, Voice-Activated Navigation System w/Sirius Travel Link and HD radio.

Even though I am not a fan of muscle cars, I fell in love with 2011 Ford Mustang.? The styling and performance is outstanding, I found it easy to drive, and it brought back many memories of my youth.



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