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2015 Ford Mustang: First Drive Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Kristopher Affayroux September 2014

The first Ford Mustang went on sale in 1964. With it came a whole new type of vehicle: the pony car. In celebration of its 50th anniversary, Ford has introduced the all-new 2015 Ford Mustang.

Available since 2005, many would agree that the fifth-generation Mustang had grown old and fallen behind the Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger -- its two main competitors. While Ford has updated the car almost every year since its introduction, the reality was that the only way to really catch up to, and hopefully surpass, the competition was with a comprehensive overhaul.

Reimagined, not Reinvented

While the 2015 model is completely new, the familiar long nose, squat greenhouse, short deck lid and triple signal taillights just scream "Mustang." Set to be available in more than 120 countries, the new car has been freshened to appeal to a wider audience as part of Ford's One Ford global plan. The 2015 model is lower and wider than before, with its signature features refined for a more contemporary look.

Hop inside, and you'll see the same theme. It is still unquestionably a Mustang, but it's updated and more refined. The basic layout remains the same, but it's now even more focused on the driver. New toggle switches below the radio allow the driver to select driving modes that tune the engine, steering and stability settings. The shifter has been moved closer to the driver, and the cup holders have been moved farther away to improve ergonomics. Passengers will notice significantly more room thanks to the knee airbag that is packaged inside the glove box door -- an industry first.

Mechanical Upgrades

The two biggest -- and arguably most important -- features of the new Mustang are the 4-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost engine and the independent rear suspension. Finally replacing the outdated live rear-axle setup, the new suspension gives a much more controlled and almost supple ride during everyday driving. In performance situations, it allows for more speed with less braking during corners, which directly translates to more fun. It's easy to keep the Mustang planted, and it goes exactly where it's pointed -- something the previous versions always seemed to have trouble with.

For the first time since 1993, the Ford Mustang is available with a 4-cylinder engine option. The 2.3-liter turbocharged engine was designed specifically for the 2015 Mustang, produces 310 horsepower and is estimated to get better than 30 miles per gallon on the highway. Upgrading from the V6 to the EcoBoost engine will cost a little over $1,500, and it's well worth it. The 4-cylinder engine has more horsepower and torque than the standard V6, and it feels lighter and more tossable than the V8.

On the Road

We were able to experience both the V8 and EcoBoost models during our drive through the city and mountains in and around Los Angeles. We started out in the V8 model equipped with the standard 6-speed manual transmission. For 2015, the engine has been upgraded to 435 hp, and this is felt almost immediately. The selectable driving modes allow you to dial-in the exact driving experience you're looking for. While Normal mode is just perfect for the daily commute, toggling to Sport or Track modes brings this car to life. Unfortunately, the exhaust seems to be a little tame -- an issue that the huge Mustang aftermarket is sure to address.

The real surprise here is the all-new EcoBoost engine. Also equipped with the manual transmission, there is no delay in power delivery while waiting for the turbo to spool up. Although it can't compare to the muted V8's growl, the exhaust sounds very appropriate for the smallest available Mustang engine -- think of a deeper sounding Ford Focus ST. We happily observed 27 mpg during spirited driving in the mountains and down the famous Pacific Coast Highway.

More Safety Than Ever

Every 2015 Mustang comes with SYNC, keyless entry, track apps and push-button starting. There are numerous features focused on safety, and many of them will be available for the first time in the Mustang. Driver and passenger knee airbags are standard, as are curtain airbags for the fastback body style. A blind spot monitoring system with cross-traffic alert, a reverse sensing system and an adaptive cruise control are available options.

AutoTrader Says

Thankfully, the new 2015 Ford Mustang doesn't change the basic formula of what's worked for the past 50 years. Instead, it simply evolves those ideas to create the best Mustang yet. The new car is more refined, well-mannered and advanced than ever. Whether you're looking for a stylish and economical daily commuter, a weekend racer or even a top-down highway cruiser, the 2015 Mustang has something for you.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Ford Mustang: First Drive Review - Autotrader