2011 Ford Mustang Long-Term Road Test - Audio & Technology
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2011 Ford Mustang Long-Term Road Test

Audio & Technology

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2011 Ford Mustang GT 5.0: Radio Balance

March 20, 2012

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I always check the radio settings in a test car because we here have different tastes. Bass, mid, treble: that's personal preference based on musical tastes. But the sound balance is a different matter.

It's not unusual in our test cars to find the sound Fader biased to the rear. I don't understand this at all, and discussed this with the only real audiophile here and he, too, didn't get it.

When I checked the stereo in our long-term 2011 Ford Mustand GT over the weekend, I found the sound Balance biased to the right. And not by a little, either. This was truly baffling. Even more confusing, the Fader was in the neutral position. But to extend this Fader illogic: if one were to always Fade the radio to the rear, then the Balance should also be biased to the right, right?

I suppose whoever does this doesn't understand that most, if not all, factory sound systems are tuned to the driver's position with all settings in neutral.

But whatever, that's the beauty of the modern car: driver customizable features and settings (including HVAC) can be tailored to the individual driver's tastes. Even if they don't make sense.

What's your stereo sound settings?

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 22,400 miles

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2011 Ford Mustang GT 5.0: Mud

March 14, 2012

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There's not much about our Mustang that sucks. Let me think for a second.

Thinking.

I'm at a loss.

Actually, the audio sucks. It's consistently the Mustang's only real disappointing trait, for me anyway. It's not unlistenable. But there's very little adjustment. You can't boost bass without elevating the more obnoxious bands of midrange, and when you do, the speakers simply reproduce a hollow, low-end buzz with minimal definition. And this is without the boom-boom Shaker box enabled.

Fortunately, the Mustang fix is easy. Skip the Shaker system, run something like a JL Audio CleanSweep OEM interface (taps off the factory head unit, SYNC, etc.), upgrade to decent coaxials and better door subs, and add a 10-inch sub and a small amp to power it in the trunk. Done.

The OEM interface boxes typically include an EQ scheme or presets, but they're stuck in the box and usually not customizable. Get crazy, live a little and spring for a multi-band EQ mounted in the glovebox or trunk.

The Mustang's faults are few. SYNC works OK, Bluetooth pairing is a pain (probably not an issue for a single owner/driver), and not everyone will tolerate the stiff ride. And even with the crap audio system, the 5.0 is one car that doesn't require a stereo to hear great music.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ 22,600 miles.

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2012 Ford Mustang GT 5.0: Mark's Ford Touch

February 14, 2012

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My drive into the office gives me plenty of time to daydream. A lot of times, that's when I come up with something to blog about. This morning, I was pondering out long-term Mustang's center stack.

I think it's a bit of a mess. Without the touchscreen navigation, the whole thing looks a bit dated and cheap. I also think there are too many buttons and their placement is far from intuitive. We've already determined that MyFord Touch isn't quite ready for prime time, so instead of adding to the chorus of displeasure, I thought I'd give it a spin.

How about we replace the whole thing with a big touchscreen?

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2011 Ford Mustang: Backup Camera on a Muscle Car?

January 06, 2012

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Seems a bit counter intuitive doesn't it? I mean, come on, it has a six-speed manual hooked to a 412 horsepower V8 and it helps you parallel park? Welcome to the modern muscle car.

Truth is, it's quite helpful. Our Mustang isn't the easiest car to see out of, so anything that helps shed a little light on the situation can't be all bad. I squeezed into a space last night that barely left six inches on either end. Could have done it without the camera but I might has left a few marks in the clear coat on the bumpers.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2011 Ford Mustang GT 5.0: That SYNCing Feeling

December 07, 2011

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SYNC is not perfect. I plugged my iPhone in this morning and tried to find it in the audio source menu on the head unit. I found AM/FM, Satellite, Disc, and finally SYNC Line In, but no music issued from the system. I double checked where my device was sending my music (tired both SYNC and Dock Connector), and still nothing. Disconnect/reconnect and nothing. Finally I tried talking to the nice SYNC lady and asked her to connect to both SYNC Line in and Dock to no avail. Finally, I said, "USB"and voila; music! It's not a huge deal, but why isn't "USB"in the source menu on the head unit?

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 18,095 miles

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2011 Ford Mustang GT 5.0: Big Camera, Small Picture

December 01, 2011

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When I was going to put my laptop bag in the trunk of our 2011 Ford Mustang GT 5.0 this morning, I wouldn't help but notice the backup camera mounted on the trunk lid. I mean, look at it. You can't miss it. It's bigger than the camera in my iPhone.

So it surprised me when I got inside and put the car in reverse and saw how tiny the backup camera display was.

As editor John DiPietro mentioned in a previous post, this is because we didn't opt for the navigation system which would have moved the display in the screen.

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2011 Ford Mustang GT 5.0: Mirror-Mounted Displays Are Best?

November 04, 2011

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(Photo credit: Mike Schmidt)

I've always disliked rear-view cameras embedded into the rear-view mirror. 1) They're tiny. 2) I know what I'm used to seeing when I look in the rear-view mirror and it's not the view out of the middle of the bumper. 3) Getting a view of two vantage points in one small area gets confusing...especially if things are moving. 4) Did I mention how tiny they are?

Well it turns out that I'm wrong and the people who shoved it into our 2011 Ford Mustang GT are right. A research study by automotive supplier Gentex Corp. (a company that makes mirror-mounted displays for back-up cameras, nav and more) concluded that "by placing the rear-camera display in the mirror, you can increase display usage, improve driver scan patterns, enhance productive gaze durations and minimize reaction times."

Yeah, and you can also sell more mirror displays that way. I like rear-view cameras, but I want to keep them separate from the mirror. I'll decided when I want which bit of information thank-you-very-much.

Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Edmunds.com

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2011 Ford Mustang GT: I Just Wanted A Beer

September 30, 2011

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So, I want to go walk to liquor store and grab a beer, but I don't want to go out the front door.

Easy.

I'll just walk out to the garage, open the side door and walk over to our Long Term 2011 Mustang, which I have been lucky enough to drive home, yet again, and reach in to grab the garage door opener. Since the windows are down, even though I locked the doors, I'll just reach in and grab the garage door opener off the sun visor and...

BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, SH!(*^&. FU)(C&*^(&^ DAMNIRWWQE(&^@!!!!!

So apparently, our Mustang came equipped with a motion sensor as part of it's security system. See that picture at the top? What I assumed were light sensors and decoration are apparently motion sensors.

That would have been nice to know before I reached in, set off the alarm and nearly p!ssed myself.

Ford's website mentions nothing of the specifics of the motion sensitive alarm, and unless you read up on the nitty gritty of your new Mustang, I doubt you would have known either. Don't get me wrong, I'm not mad at Ford for offering the system, I appreciate the fact it's there, but perhaps if they pointed it out more clearly in the literature, believe me, I looked after this incident, I wouldn't have just reached into the armed Mustang to grab a garage door opener.

To calm my nerves, I wound up buying two beers. Not that it was the end of the world...

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 14,785 miles

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2011 Ford Mustang GT 5.0: Vehicle Health Report?

September 01, 2011

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While pairing my phone, I discovered a SYNC feature I hadn't seen before: Vehicle Health Report. Make the jump to see the underwhelming conclusion.

Run Report? Yes, please... I was really curious how this report would be delivered/displayed.

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2011 Ford Mustang GT 5.0: Accurate Voice Activation

July 04, 2011

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Ford has taken some serious flack lately for its in-cabin technology, and part of it is the inevitable backlash that has followed the automaker's phenomenal success with Sync. Say what you want about MyFord Touch and whether or not Ford is starting to slip on the car tech front, but for my money the voice activation portion of Sync is still one of the best available in an automobile.

Case in point: I synced my iPhone with the system one night last week while heading to a music gig in West Hollywood and needed to call my Israeli friend Uzi. I don't even know the proper way to pronounce his last name, and I'm sure I mangled it when I pushed the Mustang's steering-wheel button.

But still the Sync system asked me if I wanted to call Uzi at work, at home or on his cell. And it worked the first time.

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2011 Ford Mustang GT 5.0: Sacrilegious Soundtrack?

July 02, 2011

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I was headed to a gig at the legendary LA music club The Troubadour one night this week. It was a private "showcase"performance by actor Jeff Bridges to celebrate the release of his upcoming record, and British speaker company (and Jaguar branded audio supplier) Bowers & Wilkins was one of the sponsors. Hence my invite. And, yes, Bridges talks just like The Dude. And it doesn't sound at all like he's acting.

I had the choice between taking the Mustang 5.0 or the Odyssey. So it was a no-brainer considering I was heading solo to West Hollywood to rub elbows with the rich and famous. Plus, I could take the windy part of Sunset Boulevard on the way home.

The Troub is one of my all-time favorite music venues and I've caught lots of acts there before they moved on to much bigger rooms: Wilco, Kings of Leon, Ryan Adams, to name a few. I was reminiscing about those great gigs as I drove along with my iPhone connected to the Stang's Sync system and pressed the voice-activation button and said "Play artist Kings of Leon."

Pictured above is the song that popped up, a track from the Followill boys' 2007 album Because of the Times. I mused whether this would be considered a sacrilegious soundtrack by hardcore Mustang owners. Then cranked it up and soaked in the combination of the car's V8 growl and the song's siren-like guitar riffs. But with the Shaker sub turned off.

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2011 Ford Mustang GT: Only Get the Rearview Camera...

June 29, 2011

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...if you also get the navigation system. Otherwise, the display is rather small, integrated as it is within the rearview mirror rather than being shown on the optional nav system's big screen.

I'll admit it -- I love rear park assist as it removes some daily stress when you're faced with crowded city curbside parking on a daily basis.. The audible sensor types are enough for me. But the ones with a rearview camera are even better as they show your back bumper and its precise proximity to whatever you're backing towards.

As you can see, our GT has the optional rearview camera but not the nav system, hence the small display. For $385 it seems rather pricey. I'd skip it unless I was also getting navi and would go with an aftermarket audible system which would probably run about $220 or so installed.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor

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2011 Ford Mustang GT 5.0: SYNC + USB

June 23, 2011

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I know I'm in the minority when I say that I'm not completely smitten with Ford's SYNC, but I'm willing to play along. This morning, I tried out the USB port with a flash-memory stick and got mixed results. I tried to use the voice-activated menu to access the "SYNC USB"audio input, but it said that it was not available. Not one to give up, I started pushing buttons (Menu), turning knobs (Tuning/OK), and voila, I was able to find the USB source and play my music. Pressing the "TEXT"button also allowed me to read the Album, Genre, and Track Numbers among other things. I have to admit, however, that navigating folders, albums, and specific tracks was pretty clunky compared to other systems with larger displays and more intuitive navigation.

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 10,178 miles

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2011 Ford Mustang GT: Monterey Trip Fuel Economy and Notes From the Road

April 03, 2011

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The EPA rates the 2011 Ford Mustang GT 5.0 at 17 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. With its 16 gallon fuel tank, that gives a max range of 416 miles. And as all the long term readers will know, I'm not a fan of early fills.

Unfortunately, thanks to sub-EPA fuel economy numbers and a gauge and warning light prone to hysterics, the furthers I managed on one tank of gas was....

...a pathetic 276.3 miles. Lame! And then, despite the annoying light and panicked range, the thing only took 12.475 gallons. Disappointing.

The trip took me across 939.7 miles of California and I had to fill up -- including one to top it off to deliver it to the boss full -- 5 times. My best MPG was on the sub-speed limit crawl down the 101 which resulted in a 22.1 mpg rating. Well below the EPA estimates. I blame gearing. And my use of second to pass.

Overall MPG was 18.4 with the low tank being my cruise into LA traffic via Rt 1. The whole trip used up 51 gallons of fuel.

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2011 Ford Mustang GT 5.0: Audio Review

January 28, 2011

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The 2011 Ford Mustang GT 5.0, the latest American muscle car to grace our long-term fleet, has a heritage of fast fun spanning almost 50 years. It's the kind of vehicle that's synonymous with the joy of driving, whether weekend street cruising, canyon carving or even everyday commuting. And if it doesn't put a smile on your face, you're either probably in need of therapy or have a hang-up about Ford.

If you want more of a musical soundtrack than the rumble of the car's 412-horsepower V8 and the throaty dual-exhaust note, you can upgrade to the Shaker 1000 audio option. We did and it added a hefty $1,295 to the sticker, and a big 'ol bass box in the trunk holding two 10-inch subwoofers. Is it worth it? It depends on how much boom you want and how much you want to spend on a new 'Stang.

The Setup
The Shaker 1000 system in our 2011 Mustang GT 5.0 consists of 10 speakers powered by 640 watts. The speakers include a two-way 5x7-inch coaxial in each door with a mid-woofer and tweeter, an 8-inch dual-voice-coil (DVC) subwoofer also in each door, two 5x7-inch full-range speakers in the rear deck and two 10-inch DVC subs in a "Shaker"box in the trunk. The door and rear-deck 5x7s each get 20 watts, the door subs see 110 watts each and the two 10s in the trunk receive a whopping 170 watts each.

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