2003 Ford Mustang Review
2003 Ford Mustang Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
by the Edmunds Experts
- Available V8 power, variety of trim levels, healthy dose of American attitude.
- Archaic structure, aged design.
Heavily updated is the 2003 SVT Mustang Cobra, which makes 390 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque thanks to the addition of an Eaton supercharger. A new six-speed manual transmission drives the rear wheels through a 3.55 rear axle ratio. Larger wheels and tires come standard, along with stiffer springs and a tubular cross brace. Cobra convertibles have a cloth top, while both cars get new seats with upgraded leather and suede upholstery. A limited-production Mach 1 model arrives later in the year with a massaged 4.6-liter V8 engine making at least 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque, a functional shaker hood with ram-air scoop, black striping, unique leather seating and retro-design Magnum 500 alloy wheels, and, of course, a Mach 460 audio system. Mach 1 can be ordered in a variety of colors with either a manual or automatic transmission. Like the Mustang Bullitt before it, the Mach 1 comes with a lowered, retuned suspension and additional frame rail connectors for a stiffer body. Large 13-inch Brembo front rotors and upgraded calipers are standard.
Standard V6 and V8 GT models change little for 2003. A V6 Pony Package includes 16-inch polished alloy wheels and the GT's scooped hood. All V6 models get a new hood design, and four new colors debut.
Fittingly, the Ford Mustang is the last surviving member of the "pony car" breed. For 2003, it's never been better.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2003 Ford Mustang Deluxe 2dr Convertible (3.8L 6cyl 5M) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.32 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
Avg. Compact Car
The Ford Mustang debuted in April of 1964 as either a coupe or convertible with six or eight cylinders under the hood, and became a national sensation. Ford sold hundreds of thousands of Mustangs, convincing General Motors and Chrysler Corporation to release their own variations on the theme. By the late 1960s, the Mustang competed against the AMC Javelin, Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger, Plymouth Barracuda and Pontiac Firebird. But, like Elvis Presley, the Mustang had evolved from a lightweight and simple sporty car into an overweight and flashy muscle car. By the time the oil crisis of 1973 hit, the Mustang had lost its edge in terms of performance and appeal. Reborn for 1974, the Mustang II rode on a Pinto platform to save development costs and improve fuel economy. Emissions regulations had stifled performance, and the convertible model had disappeared from the lineup. The mid-1970s represented a dismal time for the American automobile industry, and the emasculation of the Ford Mustang is perhaps the greatest example of what went wrong in the middle of this decade. Not surprisingly, sales reached an all-time low during this period of time. Still, Ford wasn't ready to give up on the Mustang. In 1979, it was completely redesigned. There was even a performance model with a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, and a stripes-and-decals Cobra version. The new Mustang proved popular, and by 1982, Ford had endowed it with a relatively strong (for the time) V8 engine and the GT designation that continues today. General Motors released a sexy new Camaro and Firebird duo in '82, so Ford countered by continually updating the Mustang GT and engineering a special turbocharged performance model called the SVO. In the late 1980s, Mustang enthusiasts heard that Ford planned to replace the rear-drive model with a front-drive car based on a Mazda. Recoiling in revulsion, these purists bombarded Ford with hate mail, effectively convincing corporate brass to keep the all-American Mustang as it was and release the new vehicle under development as the Probe. This delay meant Ford needed to market the existing and aged Mustang beyond its expiration date until a suitable replacement could be styled and engineered. To retain buyer interest, Ford kept boosting power and improving the Mustang in subtle but effective ways. The new car arrived in 1994 wearing retro styling cues such as tri-bar taillights and a side scoop. Inside, a dual-cowl dashboard provided plenty of pizzazz. A coupe and convertible were available, with either a V6 or V8 engine. A Cobra model with added horsepower and special performance upgrades paced the Indianapolis 500 that year. In 1999, the Mustang was updated with boxy new styling and more power. The Cobra was said to make more horsepower than it actually did, which made buyers who wanted tire-smoking launches more than a bit upset. The 2003 Ford Mustang appeals to those who love the burble of a V8, the handling of rear-wheel drive and the appeal of a legendary car with long and storied history.
Performance & mpg
Standard on the base Mustang is a 190-horsepower 3.8-liter V6. Step up to the GT and you'll get a 260-horsepower 4.6-liter V8. The Mach 1 will make at least 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque when it debuts. Cobra models have a new supercharger and produce an astounding 390 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. Base, GT and Mach 1 models are available with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. The Cobra comes with a six-speed manual gearbox.
Dual front airbags are standard. GT, Mach 1 and Cobra models come with antilock brakes and traction control. The 2003 Ford Mustang coupe received five-star crash test scores for the driver and passenger. Side-impact testing resulted in three-star scores for both front- and rear-seat occupants (convertibles received a two-star rating for front-seat occupants in the side-impact test). The Mustang has not been subjected to an offset crash test.
Mustangs are crude by modern standards, but continual updating, low prices and a brash character keep the Base and GT models competitive with the more refined sport coupes on the market. The Mach 1 and Cobra carry higher price tags, but offer far more performance and cache due to their stout powertrains and low-volume production. The Cobra is the most sophisticated Mustang, the only one in the lineup with an independent rear suspension. The Mach 1 is a terrific blend of power and handling, while the GT is a great daily driver that allows for tail-out thrills on command. Even budget-minded shoppers will find fun and value in the V6 models.
The retro-style dual-cowl dashboard has aged well since 1994. Instrumentation is simple and straightforward, if sometimes hard to locate and reach. Of particular interest is the old-fashioned pull-out headlight switch mounted to the lower left side of the dash. Seats in the Base and GT models are flat and featureless; the Mach 1 and Cobra versions get seats with stiffer bolsters and greater adjustability.
2003 Ford Mustang models
Two body styles and four trim levels are available for the 2003 Ford Mustang. Base models have a V6 engine. GT, Mach 1 and Cobra get a V8. Coupes are available in each trim, while the convertible is limited to the Base, GT and Cobra. The Mach 1 and Cobra contain plenty of special equipment to justify their higher prices. The limited-production Mach 1 includes a massaged V8 engine making at least 300 horsepower, a functional shaker hood with ram-air scoop, special interior detailing, unique alloy wheels and exterior trim and a lowered, retuned sport suspension. Upgraded brakes with ABS and traction control come standard. Substantially updated for 2003 is the SVT Cobra, which makes 390 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque thanks to the addition of a supercharger. A new six-speed manual transmission is standard. Larger wheels and tires, stiffer springs and a tubular cross brace are included. Functional hood vents are added, and minor styling modifications distinguish the 2003 model from previous versions. Cobra convertibles have a cloth top, while both cars get new seats with upgraded leather and suede upholstery.
2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse Gets Price Increase (Already)
Read what other owners think about the Used 2003 Ford Mustang.
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
4.25 out of 5 stars
Surprisingly an excellent car
2003 Ford Mustang Premium 2dr Coupe (3.8L 6cyl 5M)
I never had much faith in ford. I tend to like the Japanese and German automobiles. I have owned 2 Taurus and 2 Explorers. I was in a position where I needed a car. This little mustang ended up being in my price range. Purchased at 153k mi this car performs quite well. I travel regularly from California to Las Vegas and Arizona. This car 6k mi and a month and half later, it has not let … me down. It's cheap to fill up and averages 28.4 mpg Hwy and 24.1 City. Tho it lacks the power I'm use to in my bmw it compensates for it in fuel cost & gas mileage. Very fun to drive and handles quite well for an American car.
4.75 out of 5 stars
Mach 1 of a kind
2003 Ford Mustang Mach 1 2dr Coupe (4.6L 8cyl 5M)
I'm the second owner of my Mach 1, and I've had it for nearly 6 years with very little trouble. The only thing I had to do to the engine, was changing out the thermostat housing after it sat in the garage all winter. Brakes are very expensive, due to its exclusive brake/suspension package, and they were tough for me to change, probably easy for somebody who does brakes a lot. The only … big problem I had with her, was my transmission's overdrive going out twice. This was due to the 4:10 rear end that the previous owner had in it....luckily it was a warranty repair and only $100 out of my pocket. Other than that, it's the best handling stang ever made, and blows the doors off z28 and t/a's
4.38 out of 5 stars
2003 Mustang Convertible STD
2003 Ford Mustang Deluxe 2dr Convertible (3.8L 6cyl 5M)
This is the 2nd Mustang I have owned, the first being a 01 Mustang Conv. It's simply the best 4 seater convertible for the money. The car looks great with the top down and the auto top is easy to use and opens quickly. It has enough power to be fun but not dangerous. It's a solid smooth ride which is exceptional for convertibles.
4.38 out of 5 stars
Sonic Blue GT
2003 Ford Mustang GT Premium 2dr Coupe (4.6L 8cyl 5M)
Bought this car in June 05 with 12k miles. Now has 115K miles. Mildly modded with CAI, exhaust, short shifter, MACH1 shocks, Ford C-Springs, white face gauges. Only repairs are front brake calipers (self-inflicted SCCA racing casualty) and alternator and battery...and four sets of tires. Consistently gets 25-26 mpg on highway. I want to get a new car but can't find anything that I like … better than this one.
2003 Ford Mustang Coupe Features & Specs
- Base MSRP
- MPG & Fuel
- 17 City / 27 Hwy / 21 Combined
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 15.7 gal. capacity
- 4 seats
- Type: rear wheel drive
- Transmission: 5-speed manual
- V6 cylinder
- Horsepower: 190 hp @ 5,250 rpm
- Torque: 220 lb-ft @ 2,750 rpm
- Basic Warranty
- 3 yr./ 36,000 mi.
- Length: 183.2 in. / Height: 53.1 in.
- Overall Width without Mirrors: 73.1 in.
- Curb Weight: 3,066 lbs.
- Cargo Capacity, All Seats In Place: 10.9 cu.ft.
NHTSA Overall Rating
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverallNot RatedDriver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverallNot Rated
- Side Barrier RatingOverallNot RatedDriver3 / 5Passenger3 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront SeatNot RatedBack SeatNot Rated
- RolloverRollover5 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of RolloverNot Rated
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More about the 2003 Ford Mustang
More About This Model
It's been 33 years since the original Mach 1 Mustang hit the streets, but ask anyone who's ever seen one and they'll describe it as if it were sitting right in front of them. With its menacing shaker hood scoop (named so because it was mounted on the engine and therefore "shook" when the throttle was blipped), flat black body trim and optional 428 Cobra Jet V8, the original '69 Mach 1 was certainly a sight to behold and a competitor to be feared. Among the various Mustangs produced during the muscle car era of the late '60s and early '70s, the Mach 1 stood out from the rest -- and still does to this day.
For 2003, the Mach 1 is back again, this time as part of Ford's "Living Legends" lineup. The idea is simple: take some of the most memorable Ford vehicles of the past and recreate them for modern-day consumption. Maintain the style and performance that made each particular model a legend, but do it in a way that not only pays homage to the original but improves upon it as well.
Never having piloted an original Mach 1, our impressions of the new model don't have the added insight of direct comparison, but like most attempts to recreate the past, the modern version is probably dead-on in numerous ways and not even close in others. One look and it's obvious that there wasn't much stylistic license used when it came to the exterior. It's got the shaker hood scoop, the air dam and the black rear deck spoiler just like the original. The extended rocker panels are there, too, along with side scoops and all-new 17-inch wheels similar in style to the original mags used in '69. It doesn't have the awe-inspiring presence of the original but the modern demands of aerodynamics and fuel efficiency don't always allow for the proportions and size that made yesterday's street machines so visually dynamic.
The all-new engine could be accused of the same lack of character if it weren't for the fact that it generates nearly as much horsepower as the top-shelf 428 did in its day. The ultramodern dual-overhead cam V8 extracts a very respectable 305 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque from its comparatively small 281 cubic inches of displacement. Combine that with significantly better mileage and less maintenance and air conditioning and...well, you get the picture.
Credit for the extra 45 horsepower over the standard 4.6 can be attributed to high-flow four-valve heads, higher compression (10.1:1), specially calibrated camshafts and port-matched exhaust manifolds. A specially tuned stainless steel exhaust system finished off with chrome tips completes the upgrades. It sounds burly enough to wear "Mach 1" badges, but we would venture to guess that the original still holds a slight advantage in this area.
Anyone who's acclimated to the standard 4.6 in the GT will notice the Mach 1's extra juice immediately. Unlike the revisions in the Bullitt Mustang that resulted in barely discernable differences in power, the Mach's substantial improvements return results you can feel. The Mach 1 is also aided by a shorter 3.55:1 final drive ratio, so sub-14 second quarter-mile times shouldn't be much of a problem. The Mach uses the same five-speed manual transmission found in the Bullitt, although a standard four-speed automatic is offered as well.
Suspension upgrades for the live axle Mach are nearly identical to those used on the Bullitt. Higher-rate front and rear springs lower the car half an inch, while specially tuned Tokico gas-pressurized shocks provide the dampening. The front stabilizer bar is carried over from the GT (23mm) while the rear gets a solid 23mm bar in place of GT's hollow unit. The Mach 1 also uses the same brake system upgrades as the Bullitt with 13-inch Brembo rotors and calipers (painted black) up front and slightly larger rear rotors (11.6 inches) as well.
Not surprisingly, the Mach 1 performs much like the Bullitt, with a tighter, more stable feel in the corners and a slightly stiffer ride everywhere else. The beefier brakes are a welcomed improvement, but they're still not powerful enough for serious track duty as they faded considerably after repeated hot laps. Those gathered for our media preview drive recalled that the Bullitt seemed to feel more balanced on the track, but the Mach definitely has an edge when it comes to usable power.
Although we spent most of our time behind the wheel staring at the rumbling hood scoop, we did manage to take in some of the Mach 1's throwback styling cues. The black leather "comfortweave" seats look like respectable reproductions of the original trim (albeit with considerably more lateral support), while the retro gauges make for a clean-looking instrument cluster. An optional interior trim package includes gray accents for the instrument panel, center stack and shift bezel in addition to aluminum pedals and an aluminum shift ball and boot ring. The extra dose of shimmering trim brightens up the otherwise unremarkable interior, so if you're planning on buying one don't forget to mark this $300 option.
With only 6,500 Mach 1s scheduled for production, they're likely to fly off the lots as fast as they tear down the drag strip. While the modern version isn't exactly the street king that the original version was, it still has more than enough guts under the hood to rattle a few nerves and put a smile on your face. But then again, like so many other recreations of late-'60s legends, the new Mach is missing that aura of originality that can't be added like an options package. For those who experienced it firsthand, it will never be the same, but for those who only had the chance to admire the original Mach 1 from the pages of a magazine or a dealer brochure, this all-new "living legend" is a dream come true.
Used 2003 Ford Mustang Overview
The Used 2003 Ford Mustang is offered in the following submodels: Mustang Coupe, Mustang SVT Cobra 10th Anniversary, Mustang Convertible, Mustang SVT Cobra, Mustang Mach 1 Premuim. Available styles include Deluxe 2dr Convertible (3.8L 6cyl 5M), 2dr Coupe (3.8L 6cyl 5M), Deluxe 2dr Coupe (3.8L 6cyl 5M), GT Deluxe 2dr Convertible (4.6L 8cyl 5M), GT Premium 2dr Convertible (4.6L 8cyl 5M), GT Deluxe 2dr Coupe (4.6L 8cyl 5M), Premium 2dr Convertible (3.8L 6cyl 4A), GT Premium 2dr Coupe (4.6L 8cyl 5M), Premium 2dr Coupe (3.8L 6cyl 5M), Mach 1 2dr Coupe (4.6L 8cyl 5M), SVT Cobra 2dr Convertible (4.6L 8cyl S/C 6M), SVT Cobra 2dr Coupe (4.6L 8cyl S/C 6M), SVT Cobra 10th Anniversary 2dr Convertible (4.6L 8cyl S/C 6M), and SVT Cobra 10th Anniversary 2dr Coupe (4.6L 8cyl S/C 6M). Pre-owned Ford Mustang models are available with a 3.8 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 190 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2003 Ford Mustang comes with rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual.
What's a good price on a Used 2003 Ford Mustang?
Price comparisons for Used 2003 Ford Mustang trim styles:
- The Used 2003 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra is priced between $59,000 and$59,000 with odometer readings between 10962 and10962 miles.
Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.
Which used 2003 Ford Mustangs are available in my area?
Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2003 Ford Mustang for sale near. There are currently 1 used and CPO 2003 Mustangs listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $59,000 and mileage as low as 10962 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2003 Ford Mustang.
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Should I lease or buy a 2003 Ford Mustang?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.
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