When the latest Ford Mustang sprang to life in 2015, the newest version of the pony-car classic took some big strides into the modern era. Did it gallop? We wouldn’t pun that badly, but the ‘Stang rolled over on its pony-car roots, dumped its live axle for an independent rear end, and brought turbo 4-cylinder into the mix—and did it all very well.
The latest Mustang is the best Mustang ever, and that’s before we even talk about the ferocious GT350.
For 2017, the Mustang changes little, and returns as a coupe and as a convertible, in base, GT, and Shelby trim.
We give it a 7.3 out of 10, a clear winner at the mainstream level versus the Camaro and Challenger, for lots of good reasons. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Ford Mustang performance
Most of the Mustang’s evolution happened under its skin. Its turbocharged inline-4 available is an epic shift in how Ford defines performance, and the Mustang doesn’t come out badly for it. The inline-4 delivers strong performance even though it underwhelms in its soundtrack. Of course we’d skip the base V-6 and shift attention right to the GT’s intensely strong 435-horsepower V-8; it hustles best when it’s amped up with a Performance Pack that includes a Torsen limited-slip rear end, summer tires, Brembo brakes and extra body bracing.
Fuel economy is above average, but don’t say we didn’t warn you about the GT350’s gas habit.
Much has happened since the previous Mustang with respect to steering and ride comfort, and credit goes primarily to a wider track, a new independent rear suspension, and lots of engineering effort toward eradicating all the roughness. This car simply outclasses the previous ‘Stang, with exemplary control, tracking, and stability.
True power deviants should inquire about the Shelby GT350 in polite tones. The GT350 introduces a flat-plane-crank 5.2-liter V-8 makes the most of the Mustang’s finessed chassis dynamics—and introduce a series of aero and chassis upgrades, including Ford’s first application of MagneRide damper technology. It’s a stunning track car, not quite as friendly on the road as a Camaro SS, but trackable to your wallet’s limits.
The Mustang Convertible is as sunny as ever, especially with the Performance Package. Its insulated cloth top has a sleek profile and blots out of a lot of road noise.
With the sixth-generation Mustang’s debut for the 2015 model year, Ford showed it could give its iconic pony car modern moves while preserving its heritage cues. But the changes weren’t radical. All the traditional Mustang cues were mashed into the new pony car, and with a low and wide stance, the Mustang’s pretty and graceful canopy rests on muscular haunches. Yet some of the details are a little soggy—the tilted taillight panel, the hashmarks that hashtag the headlamps.
In the 2016 Mustang, more heritage cues reappeared—most notably, hood-vent turn signals and various California, Pony, and Black Accent Packages. A painted-black roof option is now also available on turbo and V-8 Mustang GT models.
All that means there are more chances to individualize the Mustang, which with its recent redesign became better detailed inside and out. It’s not just a little more plush, but more technical and advanced—and in some forms, it’s become a luxury coupe of the highest order.
Inside, the cabin is solidly laid-out and more youthful than just about any other luxury coupe—and richer-looking than the Camaro’s cabin. There is a distinct aviation-inspired theme, while large, clear instrumentation puts vehicle information right in front of the driver in the roomier cabin, and improved ergonomics and tactile switches and knobs provide better control.
Ford Mustang safety and features
The Mustang is still a 2+2 at heart; but it’s nearly the size of a Ford Fusion and far, far more usable inside than a Camaro. Front-seat room is generous and not just for the segment and the great Recaro seats are bound to be a popular upgrade over the standard sport seats. The back seats are token gestures, but that’s pretty much what we expect here; and as for the trunk, it’s good enough for weekend bags, but we wouldn’t call it generous. In all, it’s enough car for a long weekend for two, for sure.
The Ford Mustang has earned limited “Good” ratings from the IIHS, and the Coupe earns five-star scores across the board from the federal government. Its list of high-tech features includes driver-adjustable stability, steering systems, throttle and transmission systems; standard Bluetooth and a rearview camera; and options for blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and a forward-collision warning system.
Base V-6 models don’t offer much in the way of fun options; you’ll have to pay into the turbo-4 to get bigger wheels and tires and a Performance Pack—and the latter, with its stiffer chassis tuning, stronger cooling, Torsen differential, six-piston Brembo front brake calipers, and appearance upgrades is what you want if you don’t think of your Mustang as a cruiser.
Pricing may creep up on you with V-8 models, where when you add the Performance Pack and options like Shaker Pro audio, a mid-$20,000 pony car can turn into a $40,000 sports car. That may sound on the high side for a Mustang, but we’re truly asking whether we’d rather be behind the wheel of a Mustang GT or a $65,000 BMW M4, which is very telling.
Ford’s new Sync 3 infotainment reboots our general opinion of infotainment systems in sports cars—it’s good enough to pay for—but the ultimate gift to Mustang fans? Launch control and line lock. The former lets anyone knock off impeccable 0-60 mph times, while the latter enables NHRA-grade smoky burnouts.