With Ford's commitment to the Mustang legacy, the rear wheels still sit on a live axle, but the front wheels use an independent suspension. Less in line with that legacy is the electric-power-steering system, but this feature should help the fuel economy, an aspect of the car that needs all the help it can get.
Tuning for this steering unit is too much on the power side. The wheel turns a little too lightly, even at speed or when taking turns forcefully. It doesn't make the driving experience as engaging as the big engine would suggest.
CNET's car was also equipped with a Brembo brake package, a $1,695 factory option. Rather than gaudy red calipers, the ones for the Mustang GT are a dusky black with a small, red Brembo logo. The Brembo package takes the front brakes from two pistons to four, increases the size of the rotors, and adjusts the suspension for more aggressive driving. The Brembo brakes allow for good modulation, making it easy to drag the Mustang GT down to an appropriate speed for upcoming turns.
Minus MyFord Touch
The Mustang model has not yet been updated for Ford's latest round of cabin tech, the MyFord Touch system. But as we saw in the , that system needs further development. The Mustang GT can be had with Ford's older generation hard-drive-based navigation system, which works much better than the newer system.
That navigation system integrates traffic, weather, and a variety of data services through Sirius Travel Link, such as gas prices and movie times. CNET's review car did not come with this option, merely showing the more basic radio display. However, its iteration of Sync, standard in the Mustang GT, includes Sync Services, an offboard telematics system that includes turn-by-turn directions.
Sync includes a Bluetooth phone system that works very well, downloading a paired phone's contact list and making it available through voice command.
The Mustang GT's console contains a USB port, which works with any USB storage device or an iPod cable. This Sync-enabled music source lets you request music by name with the voice command system, again something that works exceedingly well. Other automakers are only starting to catch up with this functionality.
As CNET's car lacked the hard-drive-based navigation system, there was no onboard music storage. But the car included Bluetooth streaming audio, satellite radio, and a CD/DVD slot. The Bluetooth streaming-audio interface is limited, showing no song information on the radio display, but letting you skip forward tracks with the stereo controls.
Ford equips the Mustang GT with an audio system by Shaker, the stock system using a 500-watt amp with eight speakers. That system can be upgraded to the Shaker 1000 system, with 1,000 watts.
The base system, though powerful, isn't very good. There is no depth to music, the speakers hammering out all nuance and flattening the timbre. Layers get lost in a generally muddy middle frequency. Bass does not come through with any kind of sharp edge. The sound quality is average for cars, but audiophiles will find a lot to be desired.
The 2011 Ford Mustang GT is great fun to drive, and shows excellent styling. The car is a looker, and its big engine makes an impressive sound under acceleration. But its EPA fuel economy requires a driving style that takes all the fun out of it. Expect real-world fuel economy in the midteens, which also means shortened driving range.
Although not part of the muscle car mystique, Ford's standard and available cabin tech for the Mustang GT are very good, offering a set of very useful features with the navigation system. Sync remains one of the best technologies for integrating phones and MP3 players. The Shaker audio system is a letdown, but could probably be improved through a set of aftermarket speakers.
|Model||2011 Ford Mustang|
|Power train||5-liter V-8, six-speed manual transmission|
|EPA fuel economy||17 mpg city/26 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||15.4 mpg|
|Navigation||Hard-drive-based with traffic|
|Bluetooth phone support||Standard|
|Disc player||MP3-compatible single-CD/DVD|
|MP3 player support||iPod, Zune, others|
|Other digital audio||Onboard hard drive, USB drive, Bluetooth streaming, auxiliary input, satellite radio, HD radio|
|Audio system||Shaker 500-watt eight-speaker system|
|Driver aids||Backup camera|
|Price as tested||$36,675|