After a cosmetic redo in 2010 that brought upgraded interior materials and a less retro exterior featuring a more streamlined nose and tail with LED sequential tail lamps, the 2011 Ford Mustang completely overhauled its powertrain lineup and added key ride, handling, noise attenuation and aerodynamic improvements.

Though the Mustang keeps its traditional live rear axle, Ford engineers worked on the shocks, anti-roll bars, and spring and bushing rates to improve the car's rough-road body control, responsiveness and stability. Both the new 3.7-liter V6 and 5.0-liter V8 see substantial increases in performance and fuel economy over their predecessors.

The Mustang remains an evergreen used car choice due to its popularity, resale value and readily available parts and service.

What We Like

Uprated power of V6 and V8 engines for 2011; quieter interior; decent outward visibility; improved ride quality and handling balance

What We Don't

Front seats lack support; too much body roll on turns with base suspension; no telescope feature on steering wheel; car lacks side-curtain airbags

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The Mustang has all-new V6 and V8 engines for 2011. Additionally, a new standard 6-speed manual transmission and optional 6-speed automatic replace the previous year's 5-speed gearboxes.

A 305-horsepower, 3.7-liter V6 supersedes last year's 210-hp, 4.0-liter V6 as the base engine in V6 models. With four valves per cylinder and dual independent variable valve timing, the new 3.7 V6 is more efficient than its predecessor, generating 280 lb-ft of torque (up 40 lb-ft) on regular fuel. It also has an impressive Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 19 miles per gallon city/31 mpg highway (an increase of 3 mpg city/7 mpg hwy) with the 6-speed automatic.

Standard in the Mustang GT is an all-new 412-hp, 5.0-liter Coyote V8 that replaces the 315-hp, 4.6-liter 8-cylinder in 2010 models. The 5.0 V8 also has a dual overhead camshaft design with four valves per cylinder and dual independent variable valve timing. Torque is up to 390 lb-ft from 325 on the old 4.6-liter while running on premium fuel. Fuel economy jumps, as well, with the 5.0-liter EPA-rated at 17 mpg city/26 mpg hwy with the 6-speed manual (an increase of 1 mpg city/2 mpg hwy).

Standard Features & Options

The 2011 Mustang is available in V6, V6 Premium, GT and GT Premium trims.

Base V6 equipment includes air conditioning, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel, remote keyless entry, a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo, 17-inch alloy wheels, stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes, limited-slip differential, dual exhausts and power doors, windows and mirrors. Convertibles feature a power-operated soft-top and a glass back window with a defogger.

GT models get the V8, plus front fog lamps, a rear spoiler, Sport mode for the stability control system, automatic headlamps and 18-in alloy wheels.

Choosing the V6 Premium trim not only adds standards, such as leather upholstery, a power driver's seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and an 8-speaker premium audio system, but also makes available optional automatic air conditioning, a navigation system, heated front seats, a back-up camera, DVD audio with steering-wheel controls and a power passenger seat.

The GT Premium trim puts V8 power and all of Mustang's best pieces together, throwing in a 10-speaker Shaker premium audio system.

An optional V6 Performance package adds the GT's stiffer suspension and bigger brakes, 19-in Pirelli P Zero summer tires, a 3.31:1 final-drive ratio and Sport mode for the standard stability control system. Stand-alone options include 3.55 and 3.73 rear-axle ratios.

Optional on the GT is a Brembo brake package consisting of calipers, rotors and wheels from the Shelby GT500.

Available on the GT Premium is the California Special Edition, featuring a pedestal rear spoiler, side scoops, a GT500-like rear diffuser, a billet grille, a unique front fascia with lowered fog lamps, interior upgrades, and various stripes and decals. Another GT Premium option is the Mustang Club of America Special Edition, also with the billet grille, side stripes, low-mounted fogs, a unique rear spoiler and 18-in gray-painted wheels. Freestanding GT Premium options include side scoops, a hood scoop and rear-quarter-window louvers.

Pricing

Except during wintery weather, when their powerful engines and rear-wheel drive make them less suitable for driving under low-traction conditions, Mustangs are hot commodities on used-car lots. Provided they are clean and not loaded up with aftermarket add-ons, Mustangs hold their resale value well, particularly GT models with the 5.0-liter V8. Considered stylish and sporty but with better gas mileage, V6 models are popular, too, but manual-transmission V6 Mustangs are underappreciated and a used-car bargain.

To get a good idea of the 2011 Mustang's price range, investigate the used-car values on the Kelley Blue Book website. You can also search the AutoTrader listings to see what models are for sale in your area.

Recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not announced any recalls for the 2011 Mustang.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

NHTSA didn't rate the 2011 Mustang for frontal or side impacts but did give it a 5-star rating for rollover performance.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2011 Mustang Good ratings for moderate-overlap front impacts and head restraints. It also rated the 2011 Mustang convertible Good in side impacts but gave the coupe only an Acceptable rating.

Ford Motor Company covered the 2011 Mustang with a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty with roadside assistance and a 5-year/unlimited-distance corrosion perforation warranty.

Ford-certified pre-owned cars can't be more than five years old or show more than 80,000 miles. Every certified pre-owned Mustang undergoes a 172-point inspection. Those that pass receive a 12-month/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and powertrain coverage extending seven years from when the car was first sold or reached 100,000 miles, whichever occurs first. Also included is a vehicle history report and roadside assistance.

Other Cars to Consider

2011 Chevrolet Camaro -- It's bigger and heavier, and thick roof pillars make it hard to see out of, but the Camaro carries its weight well due to 4-wheel independent suspension and precise steering. 2011 Camaros lack a nav system and rear camera but offer OnStar connectivity and XM satellite radio.

2011 Dodge Challenger -- Think of the Challenger as a coupe version of the Dodge Charger, one with a decent-size rear seat and trunk. It's muscular when equipped with HEMI V8 power. Although V6 versions have increased power for 2011, the extra weight and size of the Dodge make it feel ponderous and clumsy compared to the Mustang.

AutoTrader's Advice

V6-powered Mustangs used to be for buyers who prized sporty looks and nimbleness but not necessarily the sharp handling or sound and fury of a muscular V8. That changes with the 2011 Ford Mustang and its 305-hp V6, which is both quick and rated at up to 31 mpg on the highway. The sleeper of the year may be the V6 with the Performance package and the new short-throw manual shifter.

Still, it's hard to ignore the timeless appeal of the new 412-hp V8, complete with a rumbling V8 soundtrack and iconic 5.0 badges. As long as there are warm summer nights and streets to cruise on, the Mustang GT will always be in demand. Just be wary of heavily modified cars. Go for a Ford-certified pre-owned car when available.

Find a Ford Mustang for sale

author photo

Ron Sessions first plunged into automotive journalism to support his aging fleet of patina-rich Alfa Romeos and Volvos. He has since huddled with all four major U.S. auto enthusiast magazines, launched a 4WD adventure magazine, and penned a Nissan Z car coffee table book and three Camaro restoration titles. Ron resides near the Motor City.

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