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2017 Ford Mustang: A Maturing Thoroughbred

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 6/28/2017 TONY MARKOVICH
2017 Ford Mustang GT 5.0 6MT

Overview: The Ford Mustang’s face is familiar here at the Car and Driver office. We just wrapped up a 40,000-mile long-term relationship with a 2016 5.0-liter GT, and for the most part, it was a hit. This latest generation of Ford’s pony car debuted for the 2015 model year—the nameplate’s 50th anniversary—and incorporated a standard independent rear suspension, which reflected a shift toward a more capable sports car rather than a straight-line muscle machine. It has simmered nicely and will present a fresh visage as part of a mid-cycle refresh for the 2018 model year, which we’ve already seen. For 2017, this Ford continues in six forms, excluding the high-performance Shelby models.

The Mustang is offered as either a sleek fastback coupe or as a form-deleting softtop convertible, and each is available with a choice of three engines and two transmissions. The 3.7-liter V-6 makes 300 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, the turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost inline-four makes 310 ponies and 320 lb-ft of torque, and the 5.0-liter V-8 cranks out 435 hp and 400 lb-ft. Whereas the turbo four in the archenemy Chevrolet Camaro is its base engine, Ford flips that order, making the V-6 the starter Mustang (at least for the rest of this selling season—the V-6 will be dropped from the lineup next year). Ford offers a six-speed manual or a six-speed SelectShift automatic with any of the three engines.

Upon its introduction, the 2015 model landed on our 10Best Cars list. The Camaro and the latest Mustang Shelby GT350 have pushed these regular Mustangs off that list for the past two years, but they remain great overall packages. For this review, we drove a GT Premium with the $1795 Shaker audio-system bundle, the $2995 GT Performance pack, the $1595 leather Recaro sport seats, and the $295 backup sensors. The final MSRP was $44,775.

2017 Ford Mustang GT 5.0 6MT© Michael Simari 2017 Ford Mustang GT 5.0 6MT

What’s New: Little shifted on the Mustang order sheets this year. The 2017 model year saw the deletion of the LED turn signals incorporated into the hood vents after only one year of production. Conceptually, they were a fun and cool nod to old Mustangs but proved to be mostly useless and all but invisible. Also, Ford no longer offers the 3.55:1 limited-slip rear axle with the manual gearbox on the V-6 convertible and has introduced an all-season tire as standard for 20-inch wheels. Summer tires now are optional.

Switching up its paint palette, Ford dropped Competition Orange, Guard (green), Deep Impact Blue, and Kona Blue as optional colors and added Lightning Blue, Grabber Blue, and a $495 White Platinum Tri-Coat option. Premium trim-level Mustangs painted Race Red also get a new red and black interior, the only change in the cabin for this model year.

Prices also changed. The tab on EcoBoost models went up $550, the V-6 editions increased $1040, and the 5.0 GT iterations jumped $800 (and the Shelby GT350, considered a separate entity, skyrocketed by $7050). A few option prices changed, too, including the GT Performance package increasing $500, the 3.55:1 limited-slip rear axle going up $100, and the spare wheel and tire costing $60 more. Shifting metrics resulted in a slight fuel-mileage downgrade per the EPA, lowering various Mustangs’ ratings by 1 mpg due to a change in testing methodology.

2017 Ford Mustang GT 5.0 6MT© Michael Simari 2017 Ford Mustang GT 5.0 6MT

What We Like: Ford’s global-minded Mustang is a well-rounded package that encourages daily use, so long as the typical number of occupants in the cabin doesn’t exceed two. For a sports coupe, it’s easy to get into and out of, the upright seating position provides good sightlines, and it’s not overly large to the point that it’s troublesome to park. The independent rear suspension delivers a much more comfortable ride compared with the previous live-axle model. The exterior design also is a fantastic blend of retro, beauty, and aggression. The historic references such as the three bars in the headlight housing are small but significant, the long hood and wide track help give it a ready-to-pounce stance, and the fastback roof swoops down toward distinctive textured taillamps.

Styling and livability are two clear points in the Mustang’s favor over the Camaro. The latest Chevy pony car debuted a year after the Mustang—riding on underpinnings it shares with the Cadillac ATS—and beat the Ford in a comparison test. The Chevy is frankly better to drive in basically all iterations, but the Ford is no slacker and is easier to live with.

2017 Ford Mustang GT 5.0 6MT© Michael Simari 2017 Ford Mustang GT 5.0 6MT

What We Don’t Like: Of the numerous Mustangs we’ve tested, one recurring complaint has been seat comfort with the optional Recaros. A few folks have found the bolsters too big, others thought the seats were too stiff, and many whined about the absence of heating and cooling functions. As expected in this type of vehicle, the rear seats aren’t suitable for adults.

And while the Mustang looks aggressive, it lacks something in the aural department. The belligerent exhaust note of the Camaro SS is a tough act to compete with, but the 5.0-liter Mustang doesn’t even come close, especially at lower revs. Higher on the tach, it does sound good, but we’d like to hear more burble, more scream, more similarity to the GT350’s spine-tingling roar. The mechanical clunking from the manual transmission models also can be annoying; the stick’s feel and feedback is great, but sometimes you may find yourself asking, “Why does it sound like that?”

Verdict: A design icon that’s comfortable commuting or grand touring, while also packing the potential for much more.


VEHICLE TYPES: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe or convertible

BASE PRICES: V-6 coupe, $26,085;

EcoBoost coupe, $27,095;

EcoBoost Premium coupe, $31,095;

V-6 convertible, $31,585;

GT coupe, $34,095;

EcoBoost Premium convertible, $36,595;

GT Premium coupe, $38,095;

GT Premium convertible, $43,595

ENGINE TYPES: DOHC 24-valve 3.7-liter V-6, 300 hp, 280 lb-ft; turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve 2.3-liter inline-4, 310 hp, 320 lb-ft; DOHC 32-valve 5.0-liter V-8, 435 hp, 400 lb-ft

TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic with manual shifting mode


Wheelbase: 107.1 in

Length: 188.3 in

Width: 75.4 in Height: 54.3–54.9 in

Passenger volume: 82–85 cu ft

Trunk volume: 11–14 cu ft

Curb weight (C/D est): 3500–3900 lb


EPA combined/city/highway: 17–24/14–21/23–30 mpg


2016 Ford Mustang GT Manual

Zero to 60 mph: 4.3 sec

Zero to 100 mph: 10.3 sec

Zero to 130 mph: 18.0 sec

Zero to 150 mph: 25.4 sec

Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 4.9 sec

Top gear, 30–50 mph: 9.3 sec

Top gear, 50–70 mph: 8.8 sec

Standing ¼-mile: 12.9 sec @ 112 mph

Braking, 70–0 mph: 156 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.94 g

Curb weight: 3782 lb

C/D observed fuel economy: 20 mpg


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