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2015 Ford Mustang: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader November 2014

The all-new 2015 Ford Mustang marks the reinvention of an icon, but don't worry -- the Mustang's all-American goodness is still intact. Having said that, the new car certainly departs from tradition in some notable ways. For example, you can get a 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbocharged 4-cylinder under the hood if you want it, and the old-school solid rear axle is now a modern independent rear suspension. In the Mustang's world, these qualify as revolutionary changes.

But the GT still features an awesome 5.0-liter V8 that's up to 435 horsepower, and the interior is cooler than ever, with significant improvements in appearance and the quality of materials. On the outside, the Mustang has arguably never looked better, gaining some sophistication for 2015 while keeping its assertive grille, classic proportions and trademark 3-slat taillights. Is this the new face of American muscle? Time will tell, but one thing's for certain: The 2015 Mustang hasn't lost a single ounce of its famous mojo.

What's New for 2015?

The 2015 Mustang is an all-new model.

What We Like

GT model's awesome V8; fuel-efficient EcoBoost turbo four; sports-car handling; refined ride; stylish, high-quality interior

What We Don't

Tiny back seat

How Much?

$24,425-$46,995

Fuel Economy

The rear-wheel-drive 2015 Mustang comes with one of three engines. The base 3.7-liter V6 is rated at 300 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. The EcoBoost turbocharged 2.3-liter 4-cylinder cranks out 310 hp and 320 lb-ft. The GT's 5.0-liter V8 boasts 435 hp and 400 lb-ft.

All three engines can be equipped with either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automatic.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Mustang V6 at 17 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway with the manual and 19 mpg city/28 mpg hwy with the automatic. The EcoBoost Mustang coupe improves ratings to 22 mpg city/31 mpg hwy with the manual and 21 mpg city/32 mpg hwy with the automatic, while the automatic-only EcoBoost convertible gets 20 mpg city/30 mpg hwy. Predictably, the Mustang GT coupe drops to 15 mpg city/25 mpg hwy with the manual and 16 mpg city/25 mpg hwy with the automatic, with the GT convertible bringing up the rear at 15 mpg city/24 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 Ford Mustang is offered in V6, EcoBoost, EcoBoost Premium, GT, GT Premium and coupe-only 50 Year Limited Edition trims. Note that the Premium trims are only offered on the coupe, but the EcoBoost and GT convertible models share the standard equipment of their Premium counterparts.

The V6 ($24,425) and V6 convertible ($29,925) come standard with features such as 17-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, a limited-slip differential, keyless entry and ignition, a height-adjustable driver's seat, a tilt-telescopic leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 4.2-in central information display, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a backup camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, SYNC voice controls, Track Apps (a program that records performance data during track driving) and a 6-speaker audio system with two USB ports and an auxiliary audio input.

The EcoBoost ($28,995) adds the turbo engine, LED fog lights, a decklid spoiler and power front seats.

The EcoBoost Premium ($32,995) and EcoBoost convertible ($35,495) throw in 18-in wheels, leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 9-speaker stereo and the MyFord Touch 8-in central touchscreen.

The GT ($36,995) starts with the regular EcoBoost's features and adds the V8 engine, 18-in wheels, bigger brakes and electronically lockable front brakes for epic burnouts.

The GT Premium ($40,595) and GT convertible ($42,425) add the EcoBoost Premium's luxuries.

Finally, the 50 Year Limited Edition ($46,995), slated for a production run of just 1,964 coupes to honor the Mustang's 1964 debut, starts with the GT Premium's features and adds exclusive Wimbledon White or Kona Blue paint (no other colors are available), additional exterior chrome trim, unique 19-in wheels with Pirelli P Zero performance tires, 6-piston Brembo front brake calipers, 2-tone leather upholstery and various commemorative badges and flourishes.

Some of the higher trims' features are available as options on the others. A Performance Package (coupe only) adds unique 19-in wheels with summer performance tires, auxiliary gauges (including a boost gauge for the EcoBoost), a sport-tuned suspension, a larger radiator, bigger brakes, a performance rear axle, a more permissive stability-control system and aluminum interior inlays. Other options, depending on the trim, include a 12-speaker Shaker audio system, a navigation system, rear parking sensors, driver memory settings, adaptive cruise control with forward-collision warning, and a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert.

Safety

The 2015 Mustang comes standard with anti-lock disc brakes, stability control, seven airbags for the coupe (front, front-side, driver-knee and full-length side-curtain) and five airbags for the convertible (which lacks the side-curtain airbags). A backup camera is also standard, as is the MyKey system with parental controls for speed limit, stability control, audio volume, radio content, seat belt reminders and early low-fuel warnings.

A blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert is available, and the optional adaptive cruise control feature includes a radar-based forward-collision warning system that alerts the driver to potential collisions and prepares the braking system accordingly.

Behind the Wheel

During our interior evaluation, we found the 2015 Mustang to be quite simply the nicest muscle car ever built. There's nothing crude in here -- just rich materials, attractive gauges, supportive seats and even cool metallic toggle switches for certain functions. The optional Recaro bucket seats are form-fitting and fit for the track, though they might be a bit tight for broader passengers. The one real bummer is the back seat. We're not saying that a sport coupe needs to have room for 6-footers back there, but the Mustang's not a small car by any means -- yet, even for kids, its back seat is a squeeze.

On the road, the standard V6 is actually quite quick in its own right, with a burly exhaust note to boot. The new EcoBoost turbo 4-cylinder delivers impressive refinement and a healthy wallop of midrange torque, but it tapers off toward redline, and the reedy 4-cylinder sounds during acceleration seem incongruous in a Mustang. If you can swing it, the GT's delectable V8 remains the clear winner, pounding home its 435 hp with a quick-revving character and impeccable manners that remind us more of European performance engines than old-school American iron. The new 6-speed manual shifter lacks the bolt-action, precise feel that we prefer (perhaps they'll work out the kinks as production continues), though it's still a blast to run any Mustang through the gears. The 6-speed automatic is a bit of a relic -- the Challenger, for example, now features an 8-speed automatic -- but it's smooth enough, and it doesn't hesitate when you ask for extra thrust.

In corners, the EcoBoost Mustang is the clear winner -- thanks to its superior balance that is provided by its lighter engine. Driven back-to-back with the EcoBoost, the GT feels relatively nose-heavy. It's a subtle difference, though, and taken on its own merits, the GT is still a wonderfully agile car. In every Mustang, the retuned steering is palpably quicker and more accurate, and the new independent rear suspension does a great job of both smoothing out bumps and staying settled over uneven urban streets. The Mustang's mix of athletic handling and pleasant ride compliance makes it one of the most livable high-performance cars on the market. Outward visibility is very good, too -- an increasingly rare attribute these days.

Other Cars to Consider

BMW 2 Series -- The new Mustang is more sophisticated than ever, and that brings the suave 2 Series into play. You won't find a burbling V8 here, but you will find razor-sharp handling, equal or better interior quality and superior maneuverability.

Chevrolet Camaro -- A new Camaro is in the works, but the long-running current model continues to offer head-turning style, ripping V8 acceleration and track-ready handling when properly equipped.

Dodge Challenger -- The Challenger is greatly improved for 2015, with much better handling than before, but it's still the largest and most cumbersome of the muscle-car trio. The 6.4-liter V8 is a thing of beauty, though.

Used Porsche 911 -- Yes, it's true, you can find an early 997-generation Porsche 911 (2005-2012) for the price of a loaded Mustang GT. You'll be assuming a lot more risk in terms of maintenance costs, but if you can swing an extended warranty somehow, the Porsche should be an intriguing alternative.

AutoTrader's Advice

The EcoBoost model has been getting a lot of press, but if you ask us, the Mustang still feels best with the 5.0-liter V8 under the hood. If you can resist the GT Premium's luxuries, you can drive home in a very well-equipped Mustang GT for under $35,000, and that's an outstanding value.

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2015 Ford Mustang: New Car Review - Autotrader