2011 Ford Mustang Long-Term Road Test - Wrap-Up

2011 Ford Mustang GT Long-Term Test

  • Full Review
  • Pricing & Specs
  • Road Tests (7)
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  • Long-Term

Check out our mega gallery of 275 photos of our 2011 Ford Mustang GT.

See all of the 2011 Ford Mustang GT blog posts.

What We Got
The 2011 Ford Mustang GT wasn't a full redesign, but a heavy update over the 2010 model. The styling updates were subtle, but under the hood was a reborn 5.0-liter V8 that made it feel like an all-new car. This iteration of the legendary "5.0" now generated 412 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. We needed little motivation beyond this gurgling grin-inducer to convince ourselves we needed a Mustang GT.

Mustang GT shopping, we found, was not easy on a budget if you want to keep the price under $35,000. The market was flooded with uplevel GT Premium trims, which ran $3,200 higher than our target price. It required some legwork, but ultimately we located a black Mustang GT we liked.

It had appealing options, like 3.73 gearing ($895) and a Brembo brake package ($1,295). There was also a list of equipment we could do without: Shaker audio system ($1,295), back-up camera ($385), HID headlights ($525) and the Rapid Spec 401A, a.k.a. cool shift knob package ($395). This was not our perfect Mustang; however, it was the closest we could find.

After negotiation its $34,718 price tag bordered precariously close to our budget cap. It was not until our ears reminded our brain of the glorious engine note the 5.0-liter produced during our test-drive that we woke up. We signed our check, grabbed the keys and laid two molten stripes down the dealership driveway. The next 12 months were going to be fun. Here's what we found.

Our Impressions

  • "If there's any doubt that our new 5.0 is a burnout machine, just look at the traction control button. The only way Ford could have made this button cooler was by actually labeling it 'burnout.'" — Ed Hellwig

  • "The 5.0-liter Mustang is the paradigm by which most burnout cars are assessed. As the only pony car still utilizing a solid rear axle, it's as if Ford knew this machine — even in 2011 — was destined to roast rubber." — Josh Jacquot

  • "We all have that one friend, usually from college, who makes you do stupid things. The Mustang is the vehicle equivalent of that for me. I can't be trusted with it or around it. Not for long periods of time without adult supervision, at least." — Mike Magrath

  • "I loves me a good V8. Except the 5.0 in this 'Stang isn't very good; it's awesome. And not just because of the intoxicating music coming from the intake and exhaust. No, the real reason you want to keep whacking open the throttle is because of what happens when you whack open the throttle: smooth, luscious, throbbing power. Everywhere on the tach. Regardless of gear." — Mike Monticello

  • "It still amazes me how much better the 2011 is above the 2010. In the slalom it has a crisp, trustworthy turn-in. It takes a set very well so long as throttle input is minute and smooth. There's some lift throttle rotation available. Too much throttle-out and the rear end gets very loose. Steering is precise and weighted just right for quick dabs of oppo." — Chris Walton

  • "After a weekend in our long-term Mustang, I can say that the seating position is what makes this car for me. There are some other V8s in this class...but none of the others are mounted in a coupe that I can really and truly see out of — and in the daily grind, the fact that I can easily look out over the Mustang's hood makes a huge difference." — Erin Riches

  • "Roads in the real world are bumpy. When driving on said bumpy roads that also decide to turn, unsprung mass re-enters the equation and the (live rear axle) Mustang bucks uncouth-ly.... But then you drive a car like the current (independent rear) Camaro over the same section of road and realize just how much less ass-end-derived drama and nonsense there can be (note: I'm not referring to oversteer, which is the kind of ass-end nonsense I can get behind). This is one of the few areas in which I prefer the Camaro over the Mustang." — Jason Kavanagh

  • "So how do I like our five-oh Mustang? Well, it was unquestionably the best Mustang I've ever driven on this road. It offers pretty good balance and grip through the turns, and the steering effort feels about right and the ratio is sufficiently quick...no need to shuffle really at all. The stock brakes also held up well during a southbound run down the mountain. And torque. There's so much torque.... Dislikes?... I'd like more steering feel and better ride control over the bumps." — Erin Riches

  • "It reminded me why you usually see wood or plastic knobs on the shift levers of racing cars. And that's because the Mustang's snappy aluminum knob was about a million degrees after the cars sat in the sun-soaked parking lot." — Michael Jordan

  • "What if her water breaks while we are in the car? That's one clean-up I wouldn't want to have to explain. Consequently, I kicked up the Mustang's speed a bit after that." — Brent Romans, on the way to the hospital with pregnant wife

  • "'Wait, you're taking a picture for work?! Come on already!' I guess she was a bit annoyed seeing as how she was having contractions and ready to give birth, and I was screwing around trying to take another picture." — Brent Romans' wife

  • "The funnel, the manual stated, was to be used to clear any debris from the filler area and/or reset the little filler flap to its closed position.... After a flurry of funnel thrusting and way too much laughing, Dan noted that according to the manual, the car would have to remain off for at least four hours...and then have to be driven, perhaps multiple times, for the message to clear the system." — Kurt Niebuhr

Maintenance & Repairs

Regular Maintenance: We maintained fresh oil in our Mustang as prescribed by Ford. Service visits were on the affordable end of the spectrum, averaging about $50. The dealer handled routine items at the recommended 5,000-, 10,000- and 15,000-mile junctures. At 20,000 miles we opted for the do-it-yourself approach, spending predictably less than Ford charged. Overall, we paid $219 for oil changes and tire rotations.

Additional maintenance was required. We replaced the rear brake pads and resurfaced the rotors for $210. Our decision to upgrade from Pirelli P Zero to Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires paid off at the test track, but at the cost of nearly $400 per tire. Not to mention the two tires we replaced following the pothole double-tap incident. Still we could hardly count our decision for high-quality rubber against the Mustang budget. So they were not included in our cost-of-ownership calculations.

Service Campaigns: Less than 600 miles read on the odometer when, in a blink, the fuel gauge dropped from half a tank to empty and the engine died. Unfortunately for us, it occurred at 65 mph. A combination of kinetic energy and quick thinking piloted the lifeless Mustang safely to the shoulder of the highway. There we waited for a tow truck to shuttle us to the nearest Ford dealership, Earnhardt Ford of Chandler, Arizona.

Our Mustang parked at the dealer for four days awaiting parts. We did not, choosing to fly the 400 miles home and return when it was ready. As it turned out, three months earlier Ford had issued a TSB to address the issue we experienced. So the problem was known and the solution was a new fuel pump. To its credit, Earnhardt kept us well informed as to the nature of the problem and maintained regular communication during each step of the repair.

Fuel Economy and Resale Value

Observed Fuel Economy: It is uncommon for a 412-hp 5.0-liter V8s to burn fuel efficiently. Don't expect that our Mustang GT broke the mold in this category. We averaged 16 mpg over the course of our loan. The best single tank was just shy of 23 mpg, yet it carried us a mere 276 miles. GT used to stand for grand tourer. Go figure.

Resale and Depreciation: We purchased our 2011 Ford Mustang GT for $34,718. After an extended 19-month test and a tick below 24,000 miles it was no longer worth anywhere near that amount. Edmunds' TMV® Calculator valued the car at $27,102 based on a private-party sale. Based on the market in our area, that value did not hold. After two weeks of advertising, there was not one hit. We lowered the price until it ultimately sold for $24,000 to the only interested party we encountered.

A sales price of $24,000 meant significant depreciation of 31 percent for the Mustang. Under similar circumstances our long-term 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS depreciated 34 percent while our 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T lost 21 percent.

Summing Up

Pros: The 412-hp 5.0-liter V8 produces a siren song that lures even the most disciplined minds to rubber-melting mischief. Despite its sporty focus, the Mustang offers solid ergonomic comforts to front passengers.

Cons: The decision to utilize a solid axle rather than independent rear suspension remains a sticking point for some. At the time of this article, depreciation was considerable.

Bottom Line: The 2011 Ford Mustang GT is still a rough-around-the-edges muscle coupe that delivers huge performance for the money. It's not fuel-efficient, nor is it as precise as a sports car when the road turns twisty, but if you just want to have a little fun and look good doing it, the Mustang GT remains a bulletproof choice.

Total Body Repair Costs: None
Total Routine Maintenance Costs: $218.63 (over 19 months)
Additional Maintenance Costs: $210.38 for rear brake pads and rotor resurfacing
Warranty Repairs: Replace fuel pump module
Non-Warranty Repairs: Upgrade to Michelin Pilot Sport PS2s. Replace two pothole-damaged PS2s.
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 3
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: 1
Days Out of Service: 4
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: 1
Best Fuel Economy: 22.7 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 10.7 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 16.4 mpg
True Market Value at service end: $27,102 (private-party sale)
What it Sold for: $24,000
Depreciation: $10,718 (or 31% of paid price)
Final Odometer Reading: 23,955 miles

Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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