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2017 Ford Mustang: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2017

The 2017 Ford Mustang hasn't changed much from 2016. It didn't need to. The machine that sparked off the whole pony car scene back in 1964 has evolved into the finest it's ever been.

Even the interior of this generation (the sixth) sees a major improvement in quality. And the suspension has finally caught up with the modern world. Previous generations used a live rear axle, which could never approach the refinement and precision of an independent rear suspension, which the current Mustang now has.

The exterior design is sophisticated while keeping its assertive grille, classic proportions and trademark triple-slat taillights. Despite such modernization, though, the 2017 car hasn't lost one drop of that Mustang mojo.

What's New for 2017?

Lightning Blue, Grabber Blue and White Platinum Metallic Tri-coat are new paint finishes for the regular Mustang. Those first two hues and Ruby Red Metallic are also available on the Shelby models. The GT350 receives the previously optional Track package (adaptive suspension, aluminum strut tower brace, rear spoiler, and coolers for the transmission and differential) as standard equipment. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto bring smartphone integration.

What We Like

Awesome V8; fuel-efficient EcoBoost turbo four; sports-car handling; refined ride; stylish, high-quality interior; fearsome Shelby versions.

Want We Don't

Tiny back seat.

How Much?

$26,085 to $63,245

Fuel Economy

The rear-wheel-drive Mustang range starts with a 3.7-liter V6 making 300 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. The Environmental Protection Agency rates this engine at 18 miles per gallon in the city, 27 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg combined when paired with the 6-speed manual transmission or the 6-speed automatic.

The EcoBoost's turbocharged 2.3-liter, 4-cylinder develops 310 hp and 320 lb-ft. With the manual transmission, consumption is estimated at 22/30/24 mpg (21/28/24 mpg with the Performance Package). The automatic version returns 21/30/24 mpg (Performance Package: 20/28/23 mpg).

The convertible returns 21/27/17 mpg (manual); 20/28/23 mpg (automatic).

The GT's 5.0-liter V8 throbs with 435 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque, while achieving 15/25/18 mpg (manual) in the coupe (Performance Package: 14/23/17 mpg), or 15/24/18 mpg (auto). The GT convertible manages 14/23/17 mpg (manual) or 15/23/18 mpg (auto).

A bespoke V8 propels the Shelby GT350, turning a 5.2-liter displacement into 526 hp and 429 lb-ft. It only comes with a 6-speed manual transmission and is estimated to achieve 14/21/16 mpg, if anyone really cares about that.

Standard Features & Options

The 2017 Ford Mustang is offered in V6, EcoBoost, EcoBoost Premium, GT, GT Premium trims as a coupe or convertible. There's also the coupe-only Shelby GT350/GT350R.

The V6 ($26,085) and V6 convertible ($31,585) come standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, limited-slip differential, keyless entry/ignition, xenon headlights, LED sequential taillights, dual exhaust system, height-adjustable driver's seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel with tilt/telescope adjustment, rearview camera, 4.2-in screen, self-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice controls, Track Apps (a program that records performance data during track driving), 6-speaker audio system with two USB ports and auxiliary input, plus the MyKey system with parental controls for geo-fencing, speed limit, stability control, audio volume, radio content, seat belt reminders and low fuel warnings.

EcoBoost ($27,095) brings the turbo engine, 18-in alloys, LED fog lights, rear spoiler and a 6-way power-adjustable front seats. EcoBoost Premium ($32,890) and the EcoBoost Premium convertible ($36,595) have heated/cooled/leather-covered front seats, heated side mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, drive mode selection, upgraded infotainment system, 9-speaker stereo and an 8-inch touchscreen.

The Pony package includes 19-in alloys, dedicated front fascia design, side stripes and mats bearing the Mustang's pony logo.

The GT ($34,095) echoes the regular EcoBoost's features but with the V8 engine, bigger brakes and electronically lockable front brakes (Ford says they're to help warm up the rear tires, but people will use them for burnouts). The GT Premium ($38,095) and GT Premium convertible ($43,595) add the EcoBoost Premium's inventory.

Some features of the higher trims are available as options lower down. A Performance Package (coupe only) adds 19-in wheels of a different design with summer performance tires, auxiliary gauges (including a boost gauge for the EcoBoost), sport-tuned suspension, larger radiator, bigger brakes, shorter gearing, performance rear axle, stability control system with a higher threshold and aluminum interior accents. The GT's version has Brembo brakes up front and a Torsen (torque-sensing) limited-slip differential.

Depending on the trim, other options include 20-in wheels, 12-speaker Shaker audio system, navigation, rear parking sensors, driver memory settings, adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning and a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert.

Brembo brakes and a Torsen diff are standard in the 2017 Mustang Shelby GT350 ($55,745), which also comes with Recaro seats and an adaptive suspension. Heated/cooled power-adjustable front seats are an option.

The GT350R ($63,245) brings its own aero kit, plus 19-inch wheels made from carbon fiber. It also saves weight by ditching the rear seat, infotainment system, air conditioning and tire inflation kit. These features can be reinstated by choosing the Electronics and Technology packages.

Trunk space in the coupe is 13.5 cubic feet. The convertible's trunk accommodates 11.4 cubic feet.

Safety

The Mustang comes standard with anti-lock disc brakes, stability control, seven airbags in the coupe (front, front side, knee and full-length side curtain) and five airbags in the convertible (which lacks the side curtain airbags).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given the coupe a full five stars across the board. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has been similarly impressed, giving the coupe its top score of Good for the tricky moderate-overlap front impact test and the same accolade to the convertible for side impact protection.

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 pre-loads the brakes.

Behind the Wheel

There's nothing rough, just classy materials, attractive gauges, supportive seats and cool metallic toggle switches. Optional Recaro bucket seats are form-fitting and perfect for the track, but tight for broader types. And while no one expects a sport coupe to accommodate 6-foot passengers behind the front row, the back seat is a squeeze even for kids.

The standard V6 is quite quick, accompanied by a rich exhaust note. The EcoBoost 4-cylinder turbo delivers impressive refinement and a healthy punch of mid-range torque, but it tapers off toward the redline. And the reedy sound of a 4-cylinder under acceleration seems out of place in a Mustang.

The GT's V8 is a winner, delivering its 435 hp with a quick-revving and progressive character. The 6-speed manual shifter lacks the desired bolt-action feel, but it's still a blast to run any Mustang through the gears. The 6-speed automatic is really a bit of a relic. The Dodge Challenger, for example, now features an 8-speed automatic. But this unit is smooth enough and doesn't hesitate to kick down.

It's in the corners where the EcoBoost has the advantage, thanks to superior balance from a lighter engine. In comparison, the GT feels relatively nose-heavy. The distinction is subtle, though, and the GT is still wonderfully agile.

A more obvious difference is in the GT350, where energetic acceleration is only matched by reassuring braking and confident handling.

The steering in every new Mustang is noticeably quicker and more accurate than the previous generation, while the independent rear suspension does a great job of both smoothing out bumps and remaining settled. Even the GT350 is surprisingly civilized in this respect. The mix of athletic handling and compliant ride makes this one of the most usable high-performance cars.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 BMW 2 Series -- The Mustang is more sophisticated than ever and that brings the 2 Series into play. No burbling V8 here, but razor-sharp handling, equal or better interior quality and superior maneuverability make up for it.

2017 Chevrolet Camaro -- Superb. Absolutely worth considering if shopping for a Mustang.

2017 Dodge Challenger -- The Challenger is much improved, especially its handling, but it's still the largest and most cumbersome of the traditional muscle car trio. However, it does have a proper rear seat and that 6.4-liter V8 is beautiful.

Used BMW M3 -- Another iconic car with a perfect mix of high speed and fine handling. If Steve McQueen had driven an M3 in that "Bullitt" car chase, it would have been a lot shorter.

Autotrader's Advice

This is a Mustang, a major part of American car culture. So despite the affordability of the V6 or efficiency of the EcoBoost, it really needs a V8 for the full experience.

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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.
2017 Ford Mustang: New Car Review - Autotrader