The 2012 Ford Mustang keeps the same exterior styling, interior design and running gear as the 2011 model. A new selectable steering option allows drivers to choose the desired level of power assist.

Added to the 2012 Mustang lineup is a new, limited-production Boss 302 model featuring a 444-horsepower version of the 5.0-liter Coyote V8, plus handling and retro styling accents.

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

What We Like

Healthy output V6 and V8 engines; less bulky than Camaro or Challenger; decent fuel economy; hot new Boss 302 model

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 all-new V6 and V8 engines and 6-speed transmissions introduced for 2011 continue in 2012.

A 3.7-liter V6 remains 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 305 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque on a diet of regular fuel. It also has an impressive Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 19 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway with the 6-speed automatic. Manual-transmission models receive a 19 mpg city/29 mpg hwy rating.

Standard fare in the Mustang GT is the 412-hp, 5.0-liter Coyote V8. The 5.0 V8 also has a dual overhead camshaft design with four valves per cylinder and dual independent variable valve timing. Torque is a robust 390 lb-ft. The GT 5.0-liter V8 is EPA-rated at 17 mpg city/26 mpg hwy with the 6-speed manual and 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy with the automatic. A special, high-revving version of the 5.0-liter is used in the Boss 302 and it generates 444 hp at a lofty 7,400 rpm. Premium fuel is recommended for the 5.0-liter V8.

Standard Features & Options

The 2012 Mustang is available in V6, V6 Premium, GT, GT Premium and Boss 302 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 412-hp version of the 5.0-liter 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 backup 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 Mayhem 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.

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

Boss 302 models run with the special 444-hp 5.0-liter V8, a short-throw 6-speed manual gearbox, lowered suspension with adjustable damping, firmed-up steering effort and black 19-in aluminum wheels wrapped with summer tires. A large front splitter, C-shaped side graphics and a black or white roof complete the look. Optional are Recaro seats and a torque-sensing limited-slip differential. A special Laguna Seca track version drops the suspension further, adds aero aids, deletes the back seat and adds a rear cross-car brace.

Pricing

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. Due to their limited production numbers and high, enthusiastic demand, Boss 302 models command higher prices and are hard to find.

To get a good idea of the 2012 Mustang's price range, investigate the used-car values on the Kelley Blue Book website. You can also search the AutoTrader listings to see which models are for sale in your area.

Recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a recall for the 2012 Mustang. The recall was due to an incorrectly calibrated transmission range selector, which caused some cars to not go into reverse or illuminate the reverse dash telltale or backup lamps.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

NHTSA gave the 2012 Mustang coupe four stars for frontal and side impacts and a 5-star rating for rollover performance. It didn't rate the 2012 Mustang convertible.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2012 Mustang Good ratings for moderate-overlap front impacts and head restraints. It also rated the 2012 Mustang convertible Good in side impacts but gave the coupe only an Acceptable rating.

Ford Motor Company covered the 2012 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

2012 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. 2012 Camaros lack a nav system and rear camera but offer OnStar connectivity, XM satellite radio and 580 supercharged horsepower in the awesome ZL-1.

2012 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 more than acceptable power, 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. But the 2012 Ford Mustang's 305-hp V6 is both quick and rated at up to 31 mpg on the highway. The sleeper of the year may be the V6 with the Mayhem package.

Still, it's hard to ignore the timeless appeal of Ford's potent 5.0-liter V8, either in 412-hp GT guise or 444-hp Boss 302 tune. Mustang 5.0 V8s have evergreen appeal. As long as there are warm summer nights and streets to cruise on, the Mustang GT will always be in demand. The Boss 302 is a limited-run collector car that's worth salting away and saving for special occasions. Always 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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