2015 Ford Mustang GT: What's It Like to Live With?
Read the latest updates in our long-term road test of the 2015 Ford Mustang GT as our editors live with this car for a year.
What do you want to know about?
- Grabby Brakes
- Off the Hook
- I'd Skip the Recaros
- Should We Have Gone EcoBoost?
- Great Shifter
- Fuel Economy for December
- It's Too Quiet
- Interior Storage Drawer
- Horse Lasers
- Coyote Voodoo Cross-Plane Flat-Plane
- First Impressions
- Adjustable Launch Control
- Break-In Road Trip
- Performance Tested
- Still a Unicorn in Southern California
- Fuel Economy Update for January
- Love or Hate the Sequential Turn Signal?
- Front Plate Installation
- Hard To Check the Oil
- GT Performance Pack + Recaros
- NHTSA Crash Test Ratings
- Exhaust (With Video)
- 30 Years
- Adaptive Cruise Control
- Fuel Economy Update for February
- Love the Capless Fuel Filler
- For MyFord Touch, No News Is Good News
- For MyFord Touch, No News Is Good News
- 5.0 Mojo
- Automotive History and Passion
- Manual Transmission's Thud or Clunk Sound
- More Gauges, Debatable Usefulness
- Fuel Economy Update for March
- 5,000 Miles
- JDRF Track Day Fundraiser
- Bigger Space for Smaller Items
- No Performance Pack + Standard Seats
- V8 Makes You Forget Stiff Ride, Touchy Brakes
- Pedal Placement Keeps Lost Art of Heel-and-Toe Alive
- Basic Pony vs. Boosted Pony - How Does The Ecoboost Compare?
- Performance Package Worth The Money?
- Tells Us When the V8 Is Running
- Why Is No One Driving It?
- Fuel Update for April — Commuting Miles Bump Up Overall Average
- I Want the 2016 Mustang Hood Blinkers
- Sizing It Up
- Interior Quirks Make Me Smile
- Short Gearing Is Fun Gearing
- Why I Don't Drive It
- Fuel Economy Update for May — Overall MPG Improves and the New Guys Weigh In
- Will Monty's Little Road Bike Fit?
- Interior Decorating 101 - Maximizing Your Wallpaper
- Okay, I'll Drive It - All Day Long!
- The Perfect Ride for Furious 7?
- More Insights On the GT350 Voodoo V8
- Nifty Kneehole
- We Got the Right Car
- Suspension Walkaround
- Better In Every Way - Recollections on a Time-Travel Road Trip
- Time for a Change
- Rear Seat Great for Dogs, Not Adult Humans
- A History of Competition
- Fuel Economy Update for June — Stretching Its Legs
- Can Your CEO Do a Burnout?
- Competes With Everything
- Threw It Back in the Water
- Oil Change, No Rotation at First Service
- Fuel Economy Update for July - A Coastal Tour and Burnouts
- In Support of the Recaros
- Tiny Side Mirrors
- Should We Change the Wheels?
- A Farewell to Tires
- I'd Buy It In Blue and Modify
- Better, But Good Enough?
- New Music From New Exhaust
- New Exhaust, Before and After
- Now That's What I Call Music 5.0
- Will the Carpet Cleaner Fit?
- New Muffler Only Sings the High Notes
- Fuel Economy Update for August - Staying Thirsty
- Is a Focus ST the Perfect Compromise?
- Not Quite a Proper GT
- Brings the Noise, Needs the Suspension
- A Hike, a Bike, and a Track-Day Wedding
- A Hike, a Bike, and a Track-Day Wedding, Part 2
- Fuel Economy Update for September - Track Day, New Exhaust Drop MPG Average
- Path to Performance Potential Requires New Suspension
- Even After Other Drives, Still a Keeper
- A Hike, a Bike, and a Track-Day Wedding, Part 3
- Keeping the Wrong Company
- Path to Performance Continues With Short-Throw Shifter
- A Hike, a Bike, and a Track-Day Wedding, Part 4
- 15,000 Miles and Counting
- Self-Clearancing Trunk Deck Lid
- Animals Agree — It's Loud
- Noisy Shifter Reminds You That You're Driving a Machine
- An Unmistakable Cone of Irresponsibility
- Tires and Tribulations
- Those Seats, Though
- Source of Mysterious Noise Identified
- The Engine Just Shut Off
- Awkward Dipstick Location
- Fuel Economy Update for November: Awesome Exhaust, Awful Efficiency
- Performance Testing Redux
- Hazy Rear View
- Finding and Fixing a Speed Hole
- Auxiliary Gauges Are Entertaining, If Little Else
- BMW M4 Guy Likes It
- Will the Television Fit?
- Ride Height Makes Me Happy
- A Friendly Group
- Would You Rather a Jag?
- My Favorite Car in the Fleet
- Short Gearing Makes It Slower
- What I've Learned to Like About MyFord Touch
- Needs an Oil Change
- The Mods Make It Better
- Fuel Economy Update for January - Ready to Say Goodbye
- Quick and Easy 20,000-Mile Service
- With Heavy Heart, We Sell to CarMax
- What's New for 2016
What Did We Get?
It's been 50 years since Ford unleashed the most iconic vehicle in its history, the Mustang. Over the past five decades, the coupe that launched the so-called "pony car" segment has taken many forms, from the basic no-frills coupe to the modern sports car that is the 2015 Ford Mustang GT. While the overall shape and proportions still echo the 2005 redesign to some extent, the newest version of the 'Stang looks forward as much as it pays homage to the past.
For the first time since the mid-'80s there's an optional turbocharged four-cylinder offered under the hood. It's an impressive engine, but we opted for the classic 5.0-liter V8 that now delivers 435 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. The motor only increases horsepower and torque output by 15 and 10, respectively, but combined with the new independent rear suspension, the overall package is what Ford hopes is a world-class sports car.
Up until now, Mustangs have relied on a solid rear axle that is great for drag racing, but poor for anything else. An independent rear suspension is a more expensive setup but typically delivers more refined handling and comfort. With a throaty V8 in the front and modern bones underneath, has Ford finally created a class-destroying muscle car? We decided to add one to our long-term fleet to find out.
The 2015 Ford Mustang with the base V6 starts at $24,425. The turbocharged Mustang EcoBoost rings in at $25,995, while our V8-powered GT begins at $32,925.
What Options Does It Have?
We started by ordering our Mustang in Premium trim, which increases the base price of a Mustang GT by $4,000. It adds selectable drive modes, additional wheel choices, leather seats all around with heated and cooled fronts, dual-zone climate control, a touchscreen audio system with nine speakers, satellite radio and ambient lighting.
With its Competition Orange paint job and black 19-inch wheels, it looks like Halloween came late to Edmunds. The wheels are part of the $2,495 GT Performance package that also includes a rear spoiler delete, 3.73 Torsen rear axle, strut tower brace, upgraded brakes and more. We tested a Mustang GT last month and liked its Recaro seats, so we ordered them for an extra $1,595.
We added a few more options to bring the Mustang's equipment list in line with the rest of our long-term fleet. That meant including adaptive cruise control with collision warning ($1,195), rear parking sensors ($295) and a navigation system ($795). The vaguely named Equipment Group 401A adds a 12-speaker Shaker audio system, HD radio, memory settings for the driver seat and mirrors, and a blind-spot monitoring system for an extra $1,795. Finally, $395 seemed like a small price to pay for a wheel locking kit, active anti-theft system and locking center console, so we opted for the Enhanced Security package.
The 2015 Ford Mustang GT starts at $32,925. Our Premium GT began at $36,925 before we added options. All in all, our new long-termer carried an MSRP of $45,490, and that's what we paid Galpin Ford for the privilege of getting one of the first on the block. Brand-new Mustangs have a tendency to fly out of dealer lots as soon as they arrive, so we were lucky to get it without a markup.
Why We Bought It
Ford has been shoving a live rear axle into the back of the Mustang since the car was introduced 50 years ago (the low-volume 1999-2004 SVT Cobra notwithstanding), and lately the car has suffered for it. Its competitors moved on and we liked them for it. Now it's time to see if the most modern Mustang ever is the new king of the pony cars.
Some might argue that we should have gone with the new turbocharged four-cylinder engine, but we weren't feeling it. The V8 gives the Mustang a chance to put its best foot forward in the pony car race, so we figured it was only fair. Plus, we got the six-speed manual, too, so this is a serious Mustang in the truest sense.
We enjoyed both of our previous long-term Mustang GTs, and the "A" rating we gave to the 2015 version suggests we will like this one as well. Will the independent rear suspension make a difference in everyday livability? Will our staff find the aggressive Recaro seats to be comfortable for an entire year? Will we be able to justify the $8,565 worth of options we added to our car?
We have 12 months and 20,000 miles to commute, drag race and, above all, destroy a few sets of expensive tires to find the answers to these questions and more. Check our Long-Term Road Test Page for frequent updates on our new muscle car.
Best MPG: N/A
Worst MPG: N/A
Average MPG: N/A
Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.
Not too long ago, I had the great fortune to write up the full test of the new 2015 Mustang. In the piece, I briefly noted that the test vehicle with the GT Performance package and Brembo brakes were unusually sensitive.
Now that we've got our bright orange Mustang in the long-term fleet I wanted to see if the grabby brakes were an anomaly or if they're all like that.
Yes, they seem to all be like that.
It's not that big of a deal though, and even less of a deal if you owned one and drove it daily. As we jump into a new car several times a week, we're the weirdos that have to adapt.
It takes a very light step to apply the brakes without causing a lurch forward. After just a few miles, most drivers should be able to acclimate. Everything else about the brakes is just fine. Despite the initial sensitivity, I am still able to roll to an imperceptible limo stop. If I get to put this Mustang on track someday, I'm sure the brake upgrade will pay dividends.
Coupes with rear seats generally suffer from a common but minor annoyance, and that's placement of the front seatbelts. With a long door to allow passengers access to the back seats, the front seatbelt has to be anchored further back as well.
Some carmakers will put a buttoned strap on the front seat to keep the seatbelt from returning all the way back, preventing a long and awkward reach to grab it. Some luxury vehicles have a motorized seatbelt presenter that puts the belt within easier reach.
The 2015 Ford Mustang GT has this chunky plastic hook and it doesn't work very well. More often than not, the seatbelt slips out of the hook, forcing me to groan like an old man and fish around for it. Is it a dealbreaker? Of course not. I freaking love Mustangs and the joy of having one back in the fleet makes me positively giddy.
If I didn't think there'd be some sort of safety-related issue, I'd fashion some sort of simple fix for this. So unless I get the go-ahead to bodge something together, I'll just have to console myself with burnouts and powerslides.
The Recaro "racing-inspired" seats on our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT are a $1,595 option that "provide added support, even in the most severe lateral G's," according to ford.com.
They look cool, have side airbags in them and have the benefit of being covered under the factory warranty.
I have a thin build and I fit just fine in them. But here's why I'd never get them if it was my car.
Opting for the Recaros means you have to skip out on heated and cooled seats, plus the power adjustment with memory for the driver's seat. I would use these features a lot more than the seat supporting me at severe lateral G's. Now admittedly, I'm not an enthusiast driver.
Judging by the photo below, the standard seats seem like they have plenty of side bolstering.
I'm sure the more spirited drivers on the staff will disagree with me. But I just can't get over the fact that I'd be paying more to get less.
What do you think? Are the Recaros worth the trade off?
Should we have bought our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang with the new EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder? I've heard that question quite a bit, and with virtually no reservation, my answer is a resounding...
NO! No. No. Also, no. This is a Mustang and unless you're renting it from Hertz in Honolulu, eight cylinders should be pumping under hood. It's as simple as that.
Sure, the EcoBoost is new and could tell an interesting story at first, but you can read about it in detail here, and after a few posts about the turbo-4, you'd get 64 additional ones saying something along the lines of, "This thing sounds like a Focus. We should've got the V8. Good grief, what have we done?" Mark Takahashi would be depressed, Mike Magrath would be angry, Scott Oldham wouldn't be able to treat neighbors to daily burnouts.
So no, dear reader, we should not have ordered the EcoBoost. A Mustang should have a V8.
Now, should it be orange? To that I'm open to discussion.
Our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang's shifter is great. Despite being responsible for corralling (har har) all the torque this big V8 belts out, it can be flicked from gate to gate with ease. The gates are very clearly defined and throws are reasonably short. It moves fluidly but doesn't feel flimsy — actually, it feels more positive than the shifter in our 2014 Corvette Stingray.
There's just a hint of notchiness in our (brand-new) long-term car that I didn't notice in the cars on the press launch. Maybe it's a break-in thing. We'll see if it changes over time.
I was never a fan of the stupid cue-ball short-shifter that was found in Shelby Mustangs. The one in the 2015 Mustang is not only more pleasant to use, it's faster through the gates than that high-effort silliness. Well done, Ford.
We started tracking fuel economy in our 2015 Ford Mustang GT in mid-December with 171 miles on the odo. Since then, it's been easy sailing as we nurse this big V8 through its break-in procedure. No hard driving. No high revs. Should be a slam-dunk to hit the EPA's 19 mpg combined (15 city / 25 highway) rating. Right?
Worst Fill MPG: 11.6 mpg
Best Fill MPG: 14.5 mpg
Average Lifetime MPG: 12.3 mpg
EPA MPG Rating: 19 Combined (15 City/23 Highway)
Best Range: 178.4 miles
Current Odometer: 670.9 miles
It's still early, though. January's already got a trip to Vegas in the books and with no more restrictions on how hard we can rev it, I'm sure the fuel economy will only get better.
Our 2015 Ford Mustang GT is really quite entertaining, even though we're still breaking it in. But it's missing some of the theatrics that I've loved about Mustangs past.
Our 2015 GT is quiet. Too quiet. I was chatting about this very subject to one of my contacts at Ford and his was response was candid and enlightening.
According to him, since the new Mustang is a world car (on sale around the globe in pretty much the same configuration), it has to meet certain regulations for all markets. Surprisingly, he said that China is some of the more restrictive countries when it comes to noise.
Personally, I would welcome a beefier exhaust note. Maybe not on a long road trip, but at least when I'm having fun. As it is, I think our long-term Mustang is an ideal candidate for a cat-back exhaust system. I want the sound and fury back. Perhaps the F-Type has spoiled me with the selectable exhaust. The side exhaust on the outgoing Boss 302 would be amazing.
Here's a little surprise-and-delight (does anyone else loathe that expression like I do?) feature I discovered in our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang. The squareish panel shown above looks like an innocuous little something. I wonder what it is...
Surprise! It's a...drawer? Sure is deep. Deep enough for a smartphone.
Indeed, the new Mustang's interior is far beyond the old car's cabin in every respect. No longer do the gauges reflect on the inside of the windshield. No longer does the dash look like a monolithic wall of cheap plastic. No longer does your elbow deploy the console lid. The steering wheel feels far better, both in size and tactility. The shifter's closer. Every surface feels ten times more expensive.
Plus there's this drawer.
Our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang has this thing. It's shown above. Yup, it's a horse on the ground. More specifically, a horse is beamed from a little transmitter integrated into each of the Mustang's side-view mirrors when you unlock the doors.
I repeat: this car projects horse images onto the ground.
I don't even know how I feel about this. Actually, I do, but this is a family site. It's no place for an expletive-filled tirade that would give PTSD to anyone less than 16 years old. I'll only say that the fact that Ford willingly devoted not-insignificant engineering and budget resources to develop, test, integrate and produce this aspect — I hesitate to call it a feature because that would imply it has some inherent virtue — is embarrassing.
Here's the part where I acknowledge that the horse lasers are not new to the 2015 Mustang. They debuted in the 2013 Mustang. I realize this. Doesn't make them any less cringeworthy. Actually, the fact that the horse lasers survived the gauntlet of the 2015 redesign makes it even more cringeworthy, as it was something deemed worthy of perpetuating. Two years on, and there's still no hangover. It boggles the mind.
On the flip side, the same company greenlighted and put into a production a 500+ hp flat plane crank V8 for the upcoming GT350 version of this car...and in so doing, totally redeemed themselves.
If the GT350 comes equipped with horse lasers, I'm going to feel pretty conflicted.
Fresh from the Detroit Auto Show, I am flush with thoughts of our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang's engine family. Ford's "modular" V8 in its current 32-valve, 5.0-liter "Coyote" form has potency and refinement in equal measure. It's a pleasure to drive. You might think this is as good as the Mod motor gets.
You'd be wrong.
The upcoming GT350's "Voodoo" engine is the flat-plane crank version of the Coyote. If you've been following the slow drip of GT350-related into, you know that specifics on the Voodoo's guts are sparse on the ground. I chatted with Ford engineering boss Jamal Hameedi and peered at a Voodoo cutaway in Ford's booth at the Detroit auto show. I'll spare you the foreplay of a basic technical crankshaft treatise and get right to the relevant engine-nerd bits.
Here comes the brain dump.
The single biggest challenge in creating a long-stroke flat-plane crank (FPC) V8 like the Voodoo is vibration (specifically a pronounced second-order lateral shake). So, given its huge-for-a-FPC 92.7 mm stroke, it's no surprise that quelling the Voodoo's vibes was one of Ford's primary development tasks. Addressing it entailed some 30 parts unique to the Voodoo including a stiffer block casting, revised accessory mounts and other approaches Ford's not yet willing to divulge. Incidentally, a nose-mounted crank damper is limited in its ability to snub this shake. Instead it damps torsional vibrations set up in the crank itself.
According to Hameedi, Ford benchmarked the vibration levels of the normally aspirated version of the Ferrari California. The California's front-engine 4.3-liter FPC V8 powertrain layout aligned closest to what Ford was creating, so the California became the natural bogey. Fast forward to today and Hameedi says the GT350's in-cabin vibration levels are lower even than the California's.
The GT350R that debuted at the show was fired up in Ford's booth and given a few very healthy prods of the throttle. To my distinct puzzlement, the Voodoo doesn't emit the characteristic flat-plane crank V8 sound I'd anticipated. It's missing the high-winding scream. The Voodoo is bassier than a Ferrari V8, yet more insistent than the lub-lub-lub of cross-plane crank V8s (like other American V8s including the Coyote). The Voodoo's aural signature is somewhere between the two.
The decision to craft the Voodoo's acoustics this way makes some sense. An exotic, Ferrari-style high-pitched exhaust note would probably alienate would-be GT350 buyers who expect a barrel-chested sound in their American performance cars. Doing so apparently led Ford's development team to take unorthodox measures. For starters, it has unequal-length 4-into-3-into-1 exhaust manifolds which contrast vividly with the equal-length 4-into-1 jobs of Ferrari V8s.
There's more. The Voodoo's crank doesn't adopt the crankpin layout of conventional FPCs like those of all Ferrari V8s, the McLaren 650S, Porsche 918 Spyder, Lotus Esprit V8, etc. When viewed as if lying on a table, these typical FPCs look like slightly stretched versions of inline-four cylinder cranks, with the four crankpins arranged in an "up-down-down-up" manner.
Conversely, the Voodoo's four crankpins alternate (they're arranged "up-down-up-down"). Weird! This layout results in a different firing order (it still alternates from bank-to-bank in true FPC fashion), too.
A side effect of the Voodoo's crankpin layout is an end-to-end vibration that traditional FPCs avoid. In geek-speak, the Voodoo has (in addition to the aforementioned second order side-to-side shake inherent to all FPCs) a first-order inertial unbalance. To counteract this end-to-end unbalance, the Voodoo's crank looks to have a big honkin' counterweight at each end that, say, a Ferrari V8 crank doesn't require.
It's hard to say at this point whether the Voodoo's crankpin configuration yields any performance benefit over a traditional FPC. Perhaps it just made packaging the unusual exhaust manifolds easier. In any case, the price the Voodoo pays for its atypical crank throw layout is somewhat higher crankshaft mass and inertia than a traditional FPC, but still less than a cross-plane crank. In fact, Hameedi says that even with its hefty, vibration-absorbing dual-mass flywheel added in, the Voodoo still manages to have less total rotational inertia than the cross-plane crank-havin' Coyote.
Hameedi also tells me the production Voodoo exceeded the development team's original performance targets. Ford is still mum on output, so I'll dip my toe in and speculate. Assuming it develops BMEP halfway between the Ferrari 458's 15.1 bar and the Coyote's 13.8 bar (a safe bet given the Voodoo's higher volumetric efficiency and elevated compression ratio), the Voodoo ought to generate a peak of 435 lb-ft of torque.
The 2015 Ford Mustang GT redesign and overhaul generated so much scrutiny, attention and expectation that now that it's here, it's a bit of a hangover. It's here, it's rad and they didn't botch it. That may be faint praise, but in large-scale manufacturing of a successful product, I'd call that a win.
Our last 5.0-liter GT was a pretty special car. It nailed a combination of legacy, modern power and affordability that few cars can claim. After a few days in our new long-termer, I'd say it still does, with some evolution on all counts.
We will write much about the Recaro seats, probably until you become nauseated with reading about them. I wish we'd skipped them and saved the $1,600. First time behind the wheel and I'm struggling to get comfortable. I can't find a good position. Short legs require me to slide the seat far forward to reach the pedals. But now I'm on top of the steering column and need to push the wheel into the engine compartment so it doesn't restrict my breathing.
We paid 45 grand for this car and we've got three-way adjustable seats. If we were doing track days three times a month, OK, maybe it's an acceptable compromise. Maybe that's the answer. The three monthly track days, I mean.
I find a position that works, but still too close and upright, and move out on to the freeway. Cabin's quiet. Ride's a little stiff, but we did get the GT Performance package with the 19s and stiffer calibration. Nothing to complain about there. I try not to listen to music or the radio my first time in a car, at least not right away. And I don't listen to it during the rest of the hour-long drive home, nor any other time I'm in the car. This will pass, but the GT is also that kind of car. It really is its own soundtrack.
That said, a little quiet time reveals a palpable buzz coming from the left-most climate vent. It goes away when you hold it or apply pressure to the dash just above it. Let go and it reveals itself a short time later. Reminds me of the vent buzz we had when the Stingray was brand new.
I fit fine between the Recaro bolsters, but they seem excessive. Why do they keep poking my elbow on upshifts? And why is there a hard plastic patch just behind the seat fabric, directly at the back of my skull. Ugh. These seats suck.
In between grumbling about the seats, I look around the cabin and wonder if it's possible that the Mustang has...matured? Fifty years later, is it all grown up? It's clearly not soft and does the business when asked. But it also feels more subdued than I remember. My colleague Kurt Niebuhr assures me I'm not imagining things. Our last GT felt a little more raw and unrestrained in his hands as well.
On the flip side, a little sophistication never hurt anyone. The 2015 is quieter, the power delivery smoother. The instrument panel and switchgear don't appear borrowed from the Fusion and F-150 parts locker. You still want to hear more motor, and a case will be made for aftermarket pipes at some point, but what you do hear is still a pleasant, hushed growl with a breathy little two-part harmony of intake whoosh.
Even the color has grown on me. I tend to favor dark, boring colors that blend in easily and have learned from experience that a loud paint job is not a trifling decision. You're reminded of it often. But this Competition Orange is just right, I think. It's not a vibrating, electric orange, it's more muted. It's still...orange, but I think it looks sharp waiting at the gas pump or idling in a drive-through among the rest of the standard automotive color palette. I think it'll wear well throughout a year in our fleet.
"What happened to the Mustang?" I'd just spent 3 days in our 2015 Ford Mustang GT and had absolutely no idea what they were talking about.
"The back. It's all screwed up."
I ran down to the parking garage.
Sure enough, it wasn't a trick of the light. There was a two-foot line of someone else's paint on our bumper. I went through the last few days in my head. Did I back up anywhere tight? Did I valet at all? Did I park anywhere...and that's when it hit me. The night before I'd skipped the insane parking lot at Whole Foods, found a metered spot in Santa Monica and street parked. The Mustang has a backup camera as well as sonar which made parallel parking a breeze. Apparently the person behind me didn't find exiting their spot so easy.
Looking it over, there didn't seem to be any damage to our car. Everything was transfer from their car. Cue Mark Takahashi, some rubbing compound and a Meguiar's DA Power System polisher that hooked up to a cordless drill. Taking turns with the power tool and making small swirls with a cloth, we got the paint off in about 5 minutes and the bumper looked good as new. (Ignore the highlight you see in the photo, there's a sharp character line in the bumper that picks up EVERY scrap of light, even in a garage. There's no paint.)
We got lucky.
We put our 2015 Ford Mustang GT through its paces recently at the track recording a baseline set of performance data. Among the tests we perform is, of course, acceleration. The test gave me an opportunity to experience the Mustang's launch control for the first time.
Fortunately, accessing launch control and activating it is easy. Here's how.
First, select Track Mode from the toggle switch on the center console. Then select Track Apps from the instrument panel using the arrows and "OK" button on the steering wheel's left spoke. Select the check box on the "Launch Control" screen and then scroll down to "RPM." The right arrow will take you to the next screen where engine speed can be set in 100-rpm increments. Getting it just right is a trial-and-error-procedure that will vary depending on a huge number of factors (tire pressure, launch surface, etc.) which determine grip.
This sounds like a lot of steps, but it's actually pretty quick to activate, especially if you've already got your launch rpm set. Default (and the lowest setting) is 3,000 rpm. Then it's just a matter of selecting first gear and wooding the throttle while the car is stopped. Revs hold at your pre-selected setting and you can literally side step the clutch, hold the throttle down and let the system work until it's time to shift.
And it really works.
I used it to produce our best 0-60 acceleration that day which worked out to 4.8 seconds (4.5 second with rollout like on a dragstrip). And despite many attempts, I couldn't beat the system. Fellow tester Chris Walton did manage a 4.7-second run on his own on the first Mustang we tested. Even so, this is a solid showing for production-car launch control, which is usually pretty easy to beat after a few tries.
Break-in periods are the worst. Especially on a new 2015 Ford Mustang GT. We just dropped $45,490 on a new, 435-horsepower sports car and can't even get on the sauce for the first 1,000 miles.
I've got a tendency to cycle through cars pretty quickly, so if this one were mine, I'd probably skip this step, try out the line-lock and melt the tires off long before the odo hit the millennium mark. As this one's not mine, I very carefully loafed our Mustang to Las Vegas.
Our Mustang GT isn't a light car. The last 2015 GT we tested weighed in at 3,805 lbs and I'd be shocked if ours wasn't just a lil' heavier. This road-crushing mass isn't great when trying to slice and dice a canyon road, but should make the featureless, congested slog to Vegas pretty darned tolerable.
Unfortunately, the GT Performance Pack ("unique chassis tuning," heavy-duty front springs, 19s with summer rubber) cancelled this out. It's not that the GT rides poorly on the highway, it's that there's a constant, slightly unpleasant, bounciness on an imperfect road like highway 15 out of San Bernardino. It's one of those things you'd learn to ignore until you got a ride in a friend's car that doesn't do it.
With the obvious first-place crown going to I40 across the Texas Panhandle, the drive from L.A. to Vegas is one of the most boring commutes on earth. There's a ton of traffic, nowhere decent to see/stop (sorry, Mad Greek), the varied topography causes speed fluctuations from 10 to 95 mph and then random driver's forgetting how to do things causes random speed fluctuations from dead stopped to 95 mph. It's madness, but there are a lot of gear changes and it makes for decent break-in miles and should seriously up our average MPG.
After a night in Vegas I headed out to Pahrump, NV to make the Mustang feel slow.
The drive back from NV took me out of Pahrump via 372 and California's 127. These are the kinds of endless strips of pavement you see in Vanishing Point. This road is phenomenal and any issues I had with the Mustang being too heavy, or having too much roll softness or with its steering delay were quickly forgotten. This is a long, undulating road with sweeping corners that dare you to go fast. It's spectacular and the 2015 Ford Mustang loved it. Eventually, 127 settles into I-15 and the fun stops. But by then, you've been driving fast for hours and could use the break.
The moral of the story? Once the break-in period is over, skip the highways.
It's only taken 50 years, but every Mustang finally gets an independent rear suspension for 2015. The combination of our 2015 Ford Mustang GT's 435-horsepower V8, IRS and optional Performance Package should make this pony charge through our slalom gates.
The current-gen Dodge Challenger RT and Chevrolet Camaro SS both use IRS, so how does the Mustang compare? And how will our tests results differ from our old long-termer? Read ahead to find out.
Vehicle: 2015 Ford Mustang GT with Performance Package
Driver: Josh Jacquot
Drive Type: Rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Six-speed manual
Engine Type: Naturally aspirated V8
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 4,951 / 302
Redline (rpm): 6,700
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 435 @ 6,500
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 400 @ 4,250
Brake Type (front): One piece ventilated disc with six-piston fixed calipers
Brake Type (rear): One piece ventilated disc with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type (front): MacPherson strut with anti-roll bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink, anti-roll bar, monotube dampers
Tire Size (front): 255/40ZR19 96Y
Tire Size (rear): 275/40ZR19 101Y
Tire Brand: Pirelli
Tire Model: PZero
Tire Type: Asymmetrical, summer
As-Tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,796
0-30 (sec): 2.1 (w/ TC on 2.3)
0-45 (sec): 3.4 (w/ TC on 3.6)
0-60 (sec): 4.8 (w/TC on 5.3)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 4.5 (w/TC on 5.0)
0-75 (sec): 6.8 (w/TC on 7.0)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 13.0 @ 111.4 (w/TC on 13.2 @ 110.8)
30-0 (ft): 27
60-0 (ft): 108
Slalom (mph): 69.3 (69.5 w/ESC on)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.94 (0.96 w/ESC on)
RPM @ 70: 2,000
Acceleration comments: Though we found it inconsistent, the best launch was executed using the GT's launch control, which is easy to trigger. Though it launches by default from 3,000 rpm, launch control still bogs the 'Stang's engine off the line. It is adjustable between 3,000 and 4,500 rpm and was quicker than any launch we could produce using mild wheelspin. It's not easy to feed the Mustang's clutch in without either bogging the engine or boiling the tires. Gear ratios are close and shifts are rapid thanks to the Mustang's fantastic short-throw shifter. It barely makes the quarter-mile in fourth gear, however.
Braking comments: Pedal travel is minimal and fade is nonexistent in this test. Though every stop wasn't identical, the difference can't be attributed to heat in the brakes. Engagement, which is solid and high in the travel, never changes. These are confident brakes. There's still ample dive during braking, but the Mustang stops straight every time.
Slalom: Though its numbers probably don't make it the best-handling Mustang ever (Boss 302, anyone?), the 2015 GT shows how much potential there is with independent rear suspension. Surface inconsistencies matter less than they ever have before and this Mustang transitions confidently. Its stability control is tuned remarkably well, too. In "Track" mode the ESC threshold expands enough to allow a moderate slide before it steps in. In fact, you'll be slowing yourself down before it does.
Skidpad: Front grip is translated very well to the driver, which is a new trait in the Mustang. This makes it easy to walk right up the limits of the front tires before backing off and balancing the car on the throttle. It also rotates well off throttle. It's a shame this car is so needlessly large because it would be alright at 7/8ths scale.
Ford vs. Chevy vs. MOPAR is a war that has raged since before time was kept. Here are the results for the newest versions of each pony car, along with our long-term 2011 Mustang GT.
The Challenger wears a set of Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires. The Camaro is equipped with the 1LE Performance Package and is shod in Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar G:2 meats and the last-gen Mustang lays down power through Pirelli PZeros.
2015 Ford Mustang GT
2015 Dodge Challenger R/T
2013 Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE
2011 Ford Mustang GT
Curbweight as Tested (lbs.)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec.):
¼-mile (sec @ mph):
13.0 @ 111.4
14.0 @ 98.1
13.0 @ 108.7
13.1 @ 109.5
Skid Pad Lateral Accel (g):
Braking 60-0 mph
Braking 30-0 mph
I recently spent a week or so in our 2015 Ford Mustang GT just to keep Scott Oldham from driving it. During that week it got some attention. And by attention I mean follow-me-into-the-gas-station-and-conduct-a full-examination type attention. It happened twice.
People notice the new Mustang.
Part of the reason for this is that there aren't very many here yet. I'm yet to see a 2015 Mustang — besides this one — on the roads of Southern California. And that, as you can see, makes it a unicorn.
In the past month, our 2015 Ford Mustang GT's fuel economy went up by more than 2 mpg! Unfortunately, it's still pretty abysmal.
We brought the Mustang up to 14.5 mpg with a best of 22.8 mpg and a best range of only 264.9 miles. Apparently, driving it in L.A. traffic and on roads like those above is not great for fuel economy. Clearly road trips must be taken to give the Mustang a fighting chance of achieving at least EPA city.
For comparison sake, our old 2011 Mustang GT managed 16.4 mpg over the course of its 23,955 miles in our lead-footed care. Curiously, that car actually got better EPA estimates than the 2015 does, so I wouldn't hold out hope for us to do any better with the new version.
Worst Fill MPG: 11.6 mpg
Best Fill MPG: 22.8 mpg
Average Lifetime MPG: 14.5 mpg
EPA MPG Rating: 19 Combined (15 City/23 Highway)
Best Range: 263.9 miles
Current Odometer: 2568.7 miles
I'm on the fence on this one.
Sometimes I think the sequential turn signals on our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT are cool and then sometimes I think it's a cutesy detail that foolishly daintifies one of America's iconic performance cars, and I'm mortified Ford took the time and spent the money to design and engineer such a gratuitous gimmick.
Yeah, I know Mustangs and Thunderbirds had sequential turn signals back in the 1960s. But they didn't in the '70s, '80s and '90s. So there.
Please watch the video on the next page and tell me where you stand on the subject.
Most states require a front license plate to be displayed by law. Not surprisingly, California is one of them. Personally, I'm not a fan of front plates, but my objections are based mostly in aesthetics.
I was asked to take our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT to the dealer to have them install the bracket and plates. My reply was, "Seriously? I can do it myself in 10 minutes. And I'll actually take the care to mount it straight and centered."
I can't tell you how many crooked plates I see on a daily basis, and it's somewhat maddening.
I walked out to my backyard, drill in hand, along with bits and some painter's tape. I fully expected to have to locate and center the plate myself, as I did when I owned a 1998 SVT Cobra. That experience also prepared me for a rather difficult fastening process that involved a very large plastic pop rivet, for which I had no tool. Back then, I used a few Vise-Grips to rig a rivet gun.
As it happens it was far easier than I had anticipated, once again proving an old adage I gleaned from an ex, "99 percent of the stuff you worry about will never happen."
The Mustang had two little dimples (awwwwww) to locate the screws for the mounting bracket. I test fit the bracket, taped it in place and stepped back to see if it was indeed centered and straight, unlike my state-of-mind in the pre-Earl Grey morning. Yup, straight and centered.
I drilled 1/8th-inch pilot holes with ease. The screws were also included (points awarded to Ford). The bracket went on without fuss, as did the plate. Beginning to end, both plates took a mere seven minutes. I left the tools in the trunk as I also volunteered to install the plates on our BMW i3, but once I started into that, I realized that BMW had not included the screws and their bracket had some extra plastic bits on the back that looked like they were supposed to be removed in order to mount it flush. Feeling as though my daily good deed had been accomplished, I suggested that the i3 get the install done at the dealer (plus, I still hadn't been caffeinated enough yet).
Yesterday I wanted to check the oil level in our 2015 Ford Mustang GT's 5.0-liter V8. Easy right? Pop the hood and pull the dipstick. We've all done it a million times.
Well, Ford decided to make it hard.
Turns out our long-term Mustang GT has the dumbest dipstick in the history of dipsticks.
It's as if Ford doesn't want you to check the oil.
Maybe I'm being overly dramatic, but the Mustang's oil dipstick is tough to get to. It's buried low in the Mustang's engine compartment, way back by the firewall and directly beneath the strut tower bar.
I'm not kidding when I say you have to wedge your hand down in there amongst the hot bits to grab its yellow handle. And you can't pull it straight out as you should. You need to bend it as you pull to get it past the strut bar, which, of course, scrapes it against the side of its tube, which makes me question the oil level reading. So you do it twice.
And getting it back in is just as bad.
This kind of thing is avoidable. And it should be avoided. Instead Ford spent time and money on this ridiculousness. Man, makes you wonder. Come on, Ford.
I've already gone on record saying we were right to get the 2015 Ford Mustang GT instead of the EcoBoost. It's certainly the engine I'd opt for, and I would sure as hell get the manual transmission. However, after my first extended amount of time in our new Mustang, there are several elements on our build sheet I would think twice about if I were in the market for one.
First, the GT Performance package. For $2,495, it adds Brembo 6-piston front brake calipers and larger rotors, a 3.73 Torsen rear axle, extra gauges, special stability control and ABS tuning, and the deletion of the rear spoiler. I don't have a problem with any of these items. Rather, it is the myriad changes to the suspension and chassis tuning that result in an overall ride that feels too rough and busy during casual driving and too soft when really pushing it. It's conflicted, and when it comes down to it, I'd rather my muscle car err on the side of cruising than canyon carving. (Because if I were to do the latter with some regularity, I wouldn't buy a Mustang).
Second, the black wheels. They also come with the GT Performance package and I'm sorry, I don't understand them. They either look appallingly dirty, or from afar, like we've affixed snow tires. Or rather, those black steel wheels people put snow tires on instead of paying to put them on the stock rims every year.
Third, the Recaro seats. As Ron Montoya pointed out, they add more lateral support, but they cannot be heated, ventilated, or most importantly, power adjusted. With only two-way, manual height adjustment, I couldn't get as comfortable as I can in the eight-way power-adjustable regular seats. So although the Recaros provided plenty of lateral support when I was bombing around the Santa Monica Mountains, without power adjustment they couldn't provide the under-thigh support I prefer the rest of the time.
And then, there's the orange. I have no problem with orange in theory and am fervently pro-color of any variety in lieu of the dullard greyscale palette that has become the unfortunate norm. It's just this particular orange. It's traffic cone flat and reminds me of some sort of government-issue railroad vehicle. Something livelier like our Jaguar's metallic orange would be preferable.
Now, aside from the color, these elements may make the GT a better performance machine, but I think they compromise it in ways that would irritate on a daily basis, and don't really go far enough to make it the track- or canyon-carving weapon some may expect or desire. I'm curious to drive a base GT suspension or the EcoBoost Performance package to see how they compare.
The 2015 Ford Mustang coupe earned an overall five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The convertible has not yet been tested. But the coupe earned five stars in the frontal, side and rollover tests.
Here are some videos of the crash tests from the NHTSA Web site.
NHTSA 2015 Ford Mustang Coupe Frontal Crash Test
NHTSA 2015 Ford Mustang Coupe Side Crash Test
For the most part, I like our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT. It's bright orange, it's got a 435-horsepower V8 and a smooth-shifting six-speed transmission, but I wish it were louder. I have the same opinion as Mark when he wrote about the exhaust in an earlier update but here are a few videos of the Mustang's exhaust note so you can judge for yourself.
This is what the Mustang sounds like from the rear. Start up, a few revs up to about 4,000 rpm and drive off. In this video, I shift from first to second at around 5k.
The exhaust note is low and deep, but to me it doesn't scream, "American V8! Here I come!" Here's a second video from inside the car, same procedure, with the windows down where the exhaust seems much more muted.
I want to throw an exhaust on there that scares young children and shakes the foundation of small countries. Okay, so maybe that's a little excessive, but if this were my personal car I'd be shopping for aftermarket pipes right away.
When John and Marla moved in next door to my mother in 1989, they brought their 1985 Ford Mustang GT with them. Almost thirty years later, they still live next to mom and they've still got their Mustang. And yes, it still runs and drives.
I drove to mom's house last weekend to take her to lunch in our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT and with the two cars parked next to each other, I wondered exactly how much had changed in the last three decades.
Here's a closer look at the numbers.
|1985 Mustang GT||2015 Mustang GT|
|Length||179.6 inches||188.3 inches|
|Width||69.1 inches||75.4 inches|
|Weight||3,170 lbs (est.)||3,796 lbs|
|HP/Torque||210 hp/265 lb-ft||435 hp/400 lb-ft|
|0-60 mph||6.3 seconds (est.)||4.8 seconds|
|Top Speed||134 mph||164 mph (limited)|
|MPG||17 mpg combined (15/22)||19 mpg combined (15/25)|
|Cost||$13,500 (est. when new)||$45,490|
So, the Mustang has gotten bigger, heavier, more powerful, faster, more efficient and not surprisingly, more expensive. Adjusted for inflation, a 1985 Mustang GT would sell brand new for about $30K these days.
I can't spot any styling cues on our long-termer that are borrowed from the third-generation Fox-body, other than maybe the "5.0" emblem on the side, but I prefer the fastback styling anyway.
It's hard to say whether this current Mustang is the kind of car I'd want to keep for 30 years. And by 2045, who knows how fast the new GT will be? Buying a car new and keeping it for this long appeals to my car-guy sensibilities though. It tells a story just by virtue of the fact that it's still around.
The adaptive cruise control in our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT is almost perfect. It's a $1,195 stand-alone option, but there's no doubt in my mind that it's worth the cost.
For starters, when set to the closest following distance (pictured) the system follows the car in front of you (if they're travelling slower than your set speed) close enough to deter most other motorists from wedging into the gap, but it's not so close that it feels like I'm tailgating. The ACC doesn't react too abruptly to minor changes in traffic flow either and it even has a feature that seems to anticipate passing maneuvers before you make them.
There are four distance settings, each with a different distance gap. Here's the breakdown from the Mustang's manual of the distances set by the ACC when you're traveling at 62 mph.
Another cool feature is the system's ability to seemingly anticipate a passing maneuver. If you're behind another vehicle, going slower than your set cruise-control speed and you want to pass, put on your turn signal and the Mustang will accelerate before you exit the lane. Basically, it anticipates the passing maneuver so you won't be holding up traffic when you enter the passing lane.
The first time this happened, I thought I was imagining things. Maybe I made my lane change early? Maybe the car in front of me moved up a bit as I went to pass? Nope. I tried again and got the same results at least a dozen times over a 200-mile trip. I couldn't find any reference to this feature in the manual, but rest assured that it exists. And it's awesome. The system can also be turned off completely, defaulting to a standard cruise control if that's what you'd prefer. But with something that works this well, why bother? Unfortunately, this system doesn't hold cruise control speeds when you shift gears (like our C7 Corvette) but at least you can have it with the manual (with the 2015 Dodge Challenger you can't). Want adaptive cruise in your Challenger and you have to get the automatic. On the 2015 Chevrolet Camaro it's not even an option.
Some people avoid these safety features entirely regardless of perceived quality, but if I were buying a new Mustang it's definitely something I would put on my "must-have" list.
In the month of February we drove our 2015 Ford Mustang GT a total of 624 miles. It had a lengthy stay in airport parking and the remainder of the month limited to city driving. We still managed to set a record this month, however...
On February 8 we recorded a personal worst 9.5 mpg on a single fill-up. Congratulations, driver to remain anonymous.
Worst Fill MPG: 9.5 mpg
Best Fill MPG: 22.8 mpg
Average Lifetime MPG: 14.5 mpg
EPA MPG Rating: 19 Combined (15 City/25 Highway)
Best Range: 263.9 miles
Current Odometer: 3,041 miles
Ford pioneered the Easy Fuel Capless Fuel Filler back in 2008 (on the 2009 Explorer), and we've lived with a few Fords with it since, including our long-term 2009 Ford Flex, 2010 Ford Mustang GT, 2011 Ford Explorer and 2013 Focus ST. Our orange long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT is the latest.
Basically there's no cap to unscrew or hang while fueling. Just insert the gas pump nozzle and start gassing up.
Seven years ago I thought this was gratuitous engineering at its worst. An answer to a non-question. A dismissal of all that is holy.
Are we really that lazy? What's next, a car that drives itself?
Now I love it. It's one of those things that you don't know you want but you want it. And once you have it there's no going back.
If you're a long-time reader of Edmunds' long-term vehicle reporting, you might remember that we had a 2012 Ford Explorer. It was a likeable enough SUV. But click on the Audio and Technology link and start scrolling down. You'll keep scrolling, too. There are dozens of negative posts. The hapless 2014-15 New York Knicks aren't as much of a disaster as the MyFord Touch system was.
Then we got a 2013 Ford Focus ST, also with the MyFord touchscreen interface. It was better. But not by a whole lot.
Now we have a 2015 Ford Mustang GT with MyFord Touch (MFT). Go ahead, click on the Audio and Technology link. There is not a single update on MFT so far. It's like a Web page version of hearing crickets. No news is good news, right?
I'd say so, yes. Now, we're not even a quarter of the way in to our year-long test of the 2015 Mustang. Maybe we'll encounter some issues. But I'm optimistic about the latest version of MFT. Our Mustang's touchscreen hasn't crashed, locked up or rebooted on me. My iPhone pairs every time. Unlike our Explorer, there are physical buttons for the climate controls. There's even a tuning knob. The touchscreen has decent response times to my touches, so I'm not left wondering whether my button press actually worked or not.
There's still room for improvement. And, in fact, a few months ago Ford said it's going to soon ditch the whole MyFord Touch interface and replace it with a fully reengineered version called Sync 3. But from an ownership standpoint of our 2015 Mustang, the touchscreen interface no longer seems to be a major liability.
I really like what Ford has done with the newest 2015 Mustang. In prior years, Mustang GTs were plenty of fun to drive but you had to put up with a few negatives (like the ho-hum interior and non-independent rear suspension) that impacted daily driving appeal. This time around, Ford has polished off the rough edges but smartly maintained the car's core appeal.
Our Mustang reminds me of a BMW M3 or Audi S5 more than it ever did. Just like those cars, the new Mustang stands out with its dual-nature appeal. Got to slog home in heavy rush-hour traffic? The Mustang treats you to a pretty nice interior, a stout body structure and relatively comfortable ride quality, and the latest in infotainment options. Ready to hit up your favorite driving road on the weekend? The GT is at the ready with 435 horsepower, high levels of grip and confident handling.
Yeah, maybe the V8's stock exhaust isn't as loud as many of us would like, and maybe some people will view the car as being a little too far removed from its pony car heritage. But I really do like the latest Mustang GT. Compared to the current Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger, it has the best mix of performance, refinement and daily usability.
Ford upgraded almost everything for the new-generation 2015 Ford Mustang. But the company must have used the adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" when it came time to look at the GT's 5.0-liter V8 engine. This mill was awesome when it debuted for the 2011 Mustang and still has plenty of mojo today.
The 2015 V8 does make a little more power now. It's rated at 435 horsepower, up from 412 back in 2011. (The 2012 and 2013 Boss 302 did make 444 hp.) Torque is up from 390 pound-feet originally to 400 lb-ft for 2015. It's still the same experience, though. The Mustang's got enough power that you'll think to yourself, "Dang, this thing is fast!" when you really get on it, yet you're not necessarily paying for a bunch of extra power that you either can't use very often or will just get you in trouble if you do.
The GT is also keeping it real with natural aspiration. True, the appeal of today's turbocharged mills is inescapable. Just look at the Mustang's new turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder "EcoBoost" and its 310 hp and 26 mpg EPA combined rating. But the 5.0 "Coyote" delivers immediate power right off idle and rewards you with a sweet buildup of V8 yowl and acceleration when you keep your foot on the gas all the way to the 7,000 rpm redline.
I'm also really glad we got the manual transmission on our test car. I actually had to go and double check but, yep, this is the only car in our long-term fleet right now with a manual transmission (excluding the rarely mentioned Miata.) With the manual, there's that physical interaction between driver and car that you don't get otherwise with an automatic or automated manual.
The transmission's gearing is closely spaced and short, providing many opportunities to work the shifter (I'm sure our car's 3.73 optional rear-end gearing is contributing to that). Keep the shifts quick and around 2,000 rpm as you accelerate from a stoplight, which the Mustang is just fine doing, and you'll be in sixth gear by 45 mph or so. Another example: In our instrumented track test, Josh noted that at full acceleration the Mustang is ready for fifth gear right at the quarter-mile mark. No matter where you are, though, you get to practice the dying art of heel-and-toe downshifting. The Mustang's pedal spacing makes this easy to do.
Finally, just look at the thing. You can actually tell it's a V8 engine with cylinder heads, an intake manifold and everything! For a modern engine, it's blessedly free of sanitizing plastic wrap.
Ford has been building the Mustang since 1964. It says so right on the dash of our 2015 Ford Mustang GT, just in case you forget. That's a lot of history. American history. Pony car history. Our long-term is the newest of the breed. But it's also a social magnet. Take a drive in a new Mustang and be prepared to have strangers come up to you and want to talk.
They will want to talk about Mustangs, of course. But what's interesting to me is that it's not necessarily about the automotive geeky stuff. Drive a new exotic sports car around and you'll hear a lot of questions like, "How fast is it?" or "How much horsepower does it have?" But there's no sense of familiarity because few people have actually driven a Ferrari, for example. But a Mustang? Just about everybody is going to have a story.
A few days ago I was out in front of my house mowing the lawn when a neighbor comes by. He hadn't expressed an interest in other test cars I'd parked on my driveway, but our new Mustang was different. He told me he used to own a 2003 Mustang Cobra but he had to sell it when his kids were first born. He said he loved that car and wishes he could have found a way to keep it.
On another day I was buying groceries at the supermarket. A young woman probably in her early 20s was bagging and out of the blue she said, "Hey, you're the guy with the new Mustang out front, right?" She had seen me park earlier. I learned that her boyfriend has a "Five-Oh," that she likes driving it, and her boyfriend is lusting after the new Mustang body style.
Then there was the early evening I parked in front of a restaurant with the Mustang to pick up some take-out food. "Nice Mustang," I heard behind me. Another older guy had just parked his F-150 Raptor. So we talked about the Mustang some. He owned several Mustangs through the years, he said. Next up for him could be the new GT350.
There are other cars that have sold in more numbers than the Mustang, and there could very well be a collection of owners who are more passionate about their particular make of car than the Mustang. But for a combination of two, I'd argue that the Mustang is right at the pinnacle of the American car experience.
I've noticed an odd aspect to our 2015 Ford Mustang GT's manual transmission. When shifting gears, there's often an accompanying "thud" or "clunk" like sound. This sound is not obvious, and I think it took me a few days of driving the Mustang before I picked up on it. But now that I know it's there, I notice it all the time. It bugs me, and I doubt it's "normal."
The situation is basically this: If I'm accelerating and upshifting normally in our Mustang, there is almost always a quick, physical-like "thud" right as I'm moving the gear lever into the next gear. This is with the clutch pushed in, obviously. It happens with the neutral-to-first shifter movement, and then the two-three and three-four upshifts. By fifth gear, it doesn't really happen.
If I've got the radio on or I'm really revving the engine during acceleration, I don't hear the sound. But even then sometimes I think I can "feel" it through the car. Sometimes it also seems like there is some related binding as I move the gear lever for upshifts.
Related to this, I've discovered a good way to replicate the issue. With the car at a stop, push in the clutch and move the lever from neutral to first. The "thud" will happen. But if you keep the clutch in, don't accelerate (the car is still stopped) and then move the gear lever around like you're upshifting, the lever's action is much smoother moving from gate to gate and there's no engagement "thud" sound whatsoever.
I've also learned that the sound doesn't happen if I slow down my shifts. If I pause while in neutral for an upshift, say a "one Mississippi" mental count, and then gently push the lever into the next gear, it's all good. But such slow shifting in a Mustang GT gets old.
Our car isn't the only one out there with this problem. I did locate this same issue on a sixth-generation Mustang forum. And apparently, the previous-generation Mustang had manual transmission issues as well. But it's something I hope we bring up with the service advisor next time our car goes to the dealer.
Pretty much every car is going to come with a basic set of gauges, including a speedometer, tachometer, fuel level and coolant temperature. Sport-oriented cars often have a bonus collection of gauges. Presumably, the idea is that an enthusiastic driver will want to monitor the condition of his or her car more closely. Or, it could just be that automakers and people find more gauges to look cool. Or both.
Well, our 2015 Ford Mustang GT comes stocked with gauges. In addition to the usual ones there are two more on the center stack plus many more available in the driver information display. But how useful many of these gauges are is open to debate.
As pictured above, our Mustang's center stack has an oil pressure gauge on the left and engine vacuum on the right.
If you bring up the Gauge Detail menu in the driver information display that's between the tach and speedo, you can also find gauges for air/fuel ratio, cylinder head temperature, inlet air temperature, oil temperature and voltage. Individual tire pressure readouts are also available.
But wait, there's more! There's also the Track Apps screen, which includes ways to measure the car's actual performance for acceleration and braking (track use only). I've also noticed the gauge cluster's tachometer and speedometer flash as you approach redline, effectively serving as a shift indicator.
I have mixed feelings about Ford including all of this. On one hand, there's no harm in having extra information. If you want to look at it, it's there. Otherwise, the gauges or displays don't get in the way of anything else. On the other hand, though, I find most of this information to be superfluous. On a modern engine, I don't see a need to have engine vacuum so prominently displayed, for instance, while knowing the air/fuel ratio would only become potentially useful on a tuned or modified engine.
Oddly, oil temperature is the one gauge where a detailed number would be useful to me if I was driving the car in a high-performance driving event. Yet Ford doesn't give it to you, relying solely on a basic "low/normal/hot" gauge. Or, if we do get all of these gauges, why not throw in an adjustable redline that visually lowers on a cold powertrain, like some BMW M cars do? (Our long-term Mercedes SLS AMG also had a similar feature). I would think that would be more useful than most of the other gauges.
Overall, none of this is a big deal. But when combined with other aspects of the car like the horse lasers or the sequential turn signals, it comes off as gimmicky to me. I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on this.
The very first fill-up of March was a lost cause. I'm not entirely sure what happened, but our 2015 Ford Mustang GT fuel logbook contains the simple note "pump issues" where the gallons-added entry should be.
I suppose we'll never know the fuel economy of those 227 miles.
And I think I should also exclude another 90.9-mile fill-up, even though no mistake was involved. It was a full fill, too. I personally added 15.363 gallons of premium with just three miles to go on the distance-to-empty meter.
How could this be?
I was at a track-day fundraiser at Willow Springs raceway that you'll read about in a future post. Near the end of the day, the car stumbled while cornering hard in Turn 5, whereupon I returned to the pits and drove straight out the gate to the nearest gas station. The in-car gauge read 6.3 mpg, but the math worked out to just 5.9 mpg.
Not a very representative activity, I must admit.
With the track day included, the stats work out like this.
Worst Fill MPG: 5.9
Best Fill MPG: 22.8
Average Lifetime MPG: 14.6 (6.8 gallons per 100 miles)
EPA MPG Rating: 19 Combined (15 City / 25 Highway)
Best Range: 263.9 miles
Current Odometer: 4,722 miles
Here's how it changes when I omit the track day.
Worst Fill MPG: 9.5
Average Lifetime MPG: 15.1 (6.6 gallons per 100 miles)
Either way, our lifetime average rounds to 15 mpg, which is no better than the EPA city rating.
Some might say this is all down to journalist driving. That's not as much of a thing as you might think, but the allure of a Mustang 5.0 GT V8 with a 6-speed manual is hard for some people to resist. It sounds and feels fantastic when you toss a few revs and trundle around a gear lower than you should for maximum mpg. I bet you'd do it, too.
Also, the Mustang hasn't been on many long-distance road trips yet. I expect it can and will do better. Time will tell.
Just fewer than four months ago, we added a 2015 Ford Mustang GT to our long-term test fleet.
Last night, right on schedule, the odometer digitally rolled over to 5,000 miles.
During this time, I shot it through the American Southwest, Dan Edmunds managed to get 5.9 mpg during a track day, we’ve grumbled over the seats, laughed at the horse lasers, wondered why the exhaust was so quiet, praised the shifter, looked at how much it’s grown and generally enjoyed the composed attitude of Ford’s new pony car.
And of course, we took it to our test track to see what 435 horsepower and an IRS can do to a Mustang.
One-quarter of our time with the Mustang has passed, but we’ve still got 8 months and 15,000 miles of freedom ahead of us. What do you want to see/hear/read about?
A couple of weeks ago I was invited to participate in a fundraiser for the JDRF, the largest charitable organization dedicated to improving the lives of those with Type 1 diabetes (T1D) and finding a cure. The event was held at Willow Springs International Raceway, about 90 miles north of Los Angeles, and I was asked to bring our 2015 Ford Mustang GT to give rides around the main track, “Big Willow."
How could I say no? I mean, really. It’s an excellent cause and a great way to spend a day.
When they weren’t pounding around the circuit, Porsches, Ferraris, Jags and Z06 Corvettes filled the paddock. I spotted at least one Nissan GT-R, along with lone examples of the Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger. And our Ford Mustang wasn’t the only one. Someone brought a 2014 Boss 302 and I spotted an original Shelby GT-350, too.
For some, this was a first-time track experience. About half the cars wore temporary front end masks fashioned from blue painters tape. The local Home Depot probably didn’t know what hit them.
A few didn’t bring a track-worthy car at all, and just about everyone brought a guest that wasn’t planning to drive. But everyone was up for going for rides. That’s where the Mustang and I came in.
In the morning, organizers assigned me to an autocross course designed to give ride-along donors a different kind of thrill. There’s nothing quite like the intense washing machine experience of a mad dash through an incomprehensible forest of orange cones. And it’s a small-dose thrill that’s all over in about a minute.
This was a tight course that featured a figure-8 section to maximize a supremely compact and uneven section of the paddock. I had never driven our Mustang GT in anger before, and I half expected the bumpy layout to buck me off.
I needn’t have worried. The Mustang was brilliant.
It was a second-gear course, with lots of abrupt corners, sharp braking and left-right combinations. But there were also places to hang the tail out, if only for a few seconds. The torquey and responsive 5.0-liter V8 was in its element and the Torsen differential that came with the GT Performance Pack option didn’t flinch when putting the power down.
Through it all, the chassis proved surprisingly nimble and unflappable in the tight quarters. The GT remained firmly planted despite a heaving surface that saved some of its nastiest bumps for the more crucial corners.
The new independent rear suspension deserves a ton of credit. I can’t imagine the last-generation straight-axle Mustang displaying near as much composure - let alone speed - in the same circumstances.
After lunch I was moved to the main track, a real racing circuit that couldn’t be more different. Some 2.5 miles long, the slowest of its nine corners was substantially quicker than I’d ever managed on the autocross course.
The Mustang GT didn’t miss a beat here either. I expected a pronounced tendency toward understeer, but it exhibited just the right balance and felt firmly glued at both ends. The body didn’t roll over much, and I was surprised how well the Recaro leather seats held me and my rotating assortment of shotgun companions in position through the achingly long Turn 2 sweeper. The seatbacks even have shoulder harness pass-through holes in case someone wants to get serious with a roll-bar and 5-point track belts.
Along the way, the GT ran down more than a few 911s. Well, not the 911 GT3 RS with the full roll cage. That sucker was quick.
Near the end of the day, the Mustang coughed in Turn 5 as the fuel level dropped, prompting me to motor back to the pits. The distance-to-empty gauge said I had 11 miles to get to the nearest gas station on the way home.
The tires looked beat, but I’d been given the green light to use them up before I left the office. Big Willow is a clockwise circuit with high-speed right handers, so it was no surprise the left front looked the worst. Still, I was surprised to find it more or less evenly worn across the face of the tread.
And the new rear suspension did an excellent job of spreading the wear evenly across the broad rear tires. The shoulders came through in good shape and there’s still plenty of tread life.
It was a great day. Everyone who rode along had a great time and the Mustang GT turned more than a few heads. The event was sold out, so the local JDRF chapter is trying to figure out how to accommodate even more people and cars next year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more Mustang GTs in the paddock next time.
After I got home I was struck by this picture, which to me shows an eerie similarity between the roofline and greenhouse of the 911 and the 2015 Mustang. Am I seeing things? Imagine a strategic dab of black vinyl that alters the shape of the rear corner of the side window.
There's no question that Ford made big changes to the interior of the 2015 Ford Mustang GT. It's obvious as soon as you open the door. Okay, so they made it look a lot nicer. But how much better does it function?
When I sat down in the driver's seat and could easily put my wallet in the door pocket I realized, "yep, they made real improvements here."
I found an old post on our 2011 Ford Mustang GT long-term car, and if you look at this re-enactment of the events of 2012, you can see the differences.
The old car's door pockets were very narrow, with only a sliver of an opening that could fit a wallet or one of our fuel logs. The new pocket is significantly deeper and easily accommodates my completely pretentious carbon-fiber wallet. I could even fit a sunglasses case in there, something impossible with the old car.
There's also quite a bit of hidden space to the left of the driver's door pocket that I didn't notice until recently, so if you want to put something back there and forget it for the duration of your ownership, you're all set.
Back in the day, I felt the 2011 Mustang's center armrest bin was deep, but not all that large and situated too far back. The armrest bin in the new car, although still placed rearward, seems larger and more useful to me. It also dispenses with the rather goofy opening mechanism.
The glove box in the new car is still small, but the useable space is more defined with fewer odd bumps.
Overall I'd say the Ford gang did a good job with the improvements. More than anything, I'm glad my wallet now has plenty of room to spread out, if you know what I mean.
Back in February, I wrote that there were a few elements on our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT that I would leave off the build sheet. The first was the GT Performance package, second were the 19-inch black wheels, and third were the Recaro sport seats. Well, I recently got a change to drive an equally orange Mustang GT without any of those items. So, did I like it better?
Absolutely. It was like a revelation: I do like the new Mustang after all!
The ride is substantially better without the GT Performance package's more aggressive suspension and chassis tuning (strut tower brace, upsized rear sway bar, heavy-duty front springs, K-brace). It's a little cushier without actually being cushy, and you don't get the same jittery motions.
The smaller, 18-inch wheels surely contribute to this as well and I think they look substantially better to boot, not only because they aren't painted black (I still don't understand the appeal), but they're of a classic design that works inherently well with the Mustang. As I noted earlier, I don't think our long-term Mustang handles well enough to really warrant the day-to-day punishment.
Then there are the standard seats. The Recaros in our long-termer are manual only, with height adjustment only on the driver side (my tiny wife is not a fan of staring at the dashboard). You also can't get them with heating or ventilation. Not so the standard seats.
With eight-way power adjustment (admittedly optional), it's much easier to get comfortable. The seats themselves may not hug your body as the Recaros do, but they do a good enough job and I'm guessing that'll be just fine for those of broader beam. I know our snug Recaro sport seats in the Focus ST had quite a few detractors.
The short-term Mustang GT test car in question also had an automatic transmission. I'd still opt for the manual, but I couldn't find fault with the auto. Besides, it makes it easier to do burn outs.
Really, this just underlines how carefully you have to select options and thoroughly test drive different permutations of a car like the Mustang. It isn't an off-the-shelf Honda Accord, where most primary elements are the same whether you get an LX or EX-L. Select the wrong options box with the Mustang and you can end up with uncomfortable seats and a ride that's too rough.
Alternatively, someone else could end up with not enough lateral support and handling that isn't as sharp as it can be. Personally, I think that makes the car-buying process and cars in general far more interesting.
Somehow our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT had 5,000 miles on the odometer before I ever even sat in it. How is that possible? Popular car, apparently. Now I can see why. It's big-time fun.
Although it's a hoot to drive, the Mustang involves a bit of a learning curve, at least if you care about driving it smoothly. Most of it's related to the GT Performance package, but don't think for a second we shouldn't have ordered that option.
The first thing you notice is the Mustang's short 3.73 gearing. Almost as soon as you let the clutch out in first gear, the car seems wound out. It can make for some abrupt moments if you're not paying attention, especially if you give it lots of throttle leaving the line. Unless I'm actually looking for big acceleration, what works best for me is to go easy on the gas in first, then get into second gear quickly. With all of that available torque, second gear works well, even at near-crawling speeds in traffic.
The upgraded Brembo brakes that come with the Performance package can also catch you off guard at first. They're powerful and can be touchy, especially in low-speed driving. I've driven touchier, but once you spend some time in the car your right foot learns how grabby they can be. You definitely appreciate them for back-road charging or track days.
The ride is stiff, but never feels over-the-top harsh. It's nothing that would keep me from buying and living with the car. But that may be largely because the Mustang GT's fantastic 5.0-liter V8 is such a sweet piece. Not only does it have good torque down low, but it eagerly winds up to its 7,000-rpm rev limiter, gaining speed with ease while ratcheting up the soundtrack. I never once tire of getting on the throttle and ripping through the gears.
As others have mentioned, I also wouldn't mind if it had a louder exhaust system. But the noises coming from the engine bay are spot-on, a pretty good definition of a "throbbing V8." Driving this point home, two separate guys at the car wash commented how nice they thought the car sounded.
If the main point of this car is to make every drive fun, to make it so you look for excuses to go out and run errands just to drive it, then mission accomplished. I know I'm looking forward to the next time I can get behind the wheel.
Realistically, with some work and/or practice, you can perform heel-and-toe downshifts on just about any manual transmission car. But some cars definitely make this soon-to-be-lost-art easier than others. There are two keys to heel-and-toeing, besides lots of practice: Good brake-to-gas-pedal placement and a responsive throttle.
The 2015 Ford Mustang GT has both.
In olden times, people really did the true heel-and-toe action, with the ball or toes of their right foot on the brake pedal and the heel blipping the throttle.
These days — and the Mustang is a good example of this — the pedals are arranged so that you do it more with the left side of your right foot on the brake pedal and the right side of your right foot on the gas, instead of a true heel-and-toe. We still call it heel-and-toe anyway.
You can see in the photo the Mustang's brake pedal is within relatively close proximity of the gas pedal, and that's key for making blipping the throttle easy to smooth out your downshifts. I'm not saying it's best-ever, but it's pretty darn good.
Interestingly, although I complained about the touchiness of the Mustang's brakes recently, that aspect never affected my heel-and-toeing. I think that's because the grabby brakes are more of a low-speed problem. Usually you're making heel-and-toe downshifts at higher speeds and with forceful brake pressure involved, like when setting up for a turn.
The Mustang's responsive gas pedal also makes it decent for heel-and-toeing. It's considerably harder to be smooth if you need to move your right foot dramatically to stab the throttle and get the revs to rise. The Mustang has none of that, the revs rise nicely as soon as you touch the gas.
Our 2015 Ford Mustang GT is quick. But the big news surrounding this latest pony is the four-cylinder version, which we've recently tested. Below, for your perusal, are the details of both tests.
The detail that matters, based only on my track driving, is obvious: The GT is the driver's car. Yes, it's heavier than the Ecoboost, but that extra 140 pounds vaporizes when it's up against the additional 125 horsepower the GT produces. Sure, the Ecoboost bears 131 fewer pounds on its front axle alone, and it's noticeable, but it's not an advantage that would sway me to the turbo four, even at less cost.
The GT is easier and more fun to drive because its additional power provides a meaningful influence over its chassis. Want to rotate the car on throttle? The GT obliges. Need to crawl out a slow corner one gear too high? The GT is your willing partner. Want engine sound with soul? Get the GT.
Both our long-termer and the Ecoboost came equipped with the Performance Package ($1,995 on the Ecoboost and $2,495 on the GT), which adds 19-inch summer tires, larger brakes, unique suspension tuning, a numerically higher axle ratio and more. As-tested prices are $45,490 for the GT and $38,455 for the Ecoboost.
Here are the results:
2015 Ford Mustang
2015 Ford Mustang
Curb weight as tested:
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec.):
1/4-mile (sec @ mph):
14.2 @ 96.7
13.0 @ 111.4
Skid Pad Lateral Accel (g):
Vehicle: 2015 Ford Mustang EcoBoost 6MT
Driver: Mike Monticello/Josh Jacquot
Configuration: Longitudinal front-engine rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: 6-speed manual
Engine Type: Turbocharged, direct-injected inline 4-cylinder, gasoline
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 2,300/140
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 310 @ 5,500
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 320 @ 2,500-4,500
Brake Type (front): 13.9-in one-piece ventilated cast-iron discs with 4-piston fixed calipers
Brake Type (rear): 13.0-in one-piece ventilated cast-iron discs with 1-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type (front): Independent MacPherson struts with dual lower ball joints, coil springs, monotube dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink, coil springs, monotube dampers, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 255/40ZR19 96Y
Tire Size (rear): 255/40R19 96Y
Tire Brand: Pirelli
Tire Model: PZero
Tire Type: Summer
As Tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,656
0-30 (sec): 2.2 (2.5w/ TC on)
0-45 (sec): 3.9 (4.4 w/ TC on)
0-60 (sec): 5.9 (6.5 w/ TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 5.7 (6.3 w/ TC on)
0-75 (sec): 8.4 (9.1 w/ TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 14.2 @ 96.7 (14.8 @ 94.9 w/ TC on)
30-0 (ft): 27
60-0 (ft): 107
Slalom (mph): 70.2 (68.0 w/ ESC on)
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): .94g (.96 w/ ESC on)
RPM @ 70 mph: 2,100
Acceleration: I want to like this engine because I always wanted a Mustang SVO turbo four-cylinder from the 1980s. But this EcoBoost four is soul-less. It never sounds exciting, nor does it seem all that excited for the task at hand. It makes nondescript whirring noises rather than a nice engine or exhaust note. That said, there's plenty of torque, it gets out of the hole with lots of wheelspin if you want. The shifter isn't the most positive-feeling piece ever, but I never missed a gear. The drivetrain didn't seem happy with quick-shifting/quick clutch action. Feels like there's some kind of torque reduction with hard shifts. Sometimes after a quick 1-2 or 2-3 shift, power would be dramatically reduced, ruining the run. It happened several times, but never both shifts in the same run. Very frustrating, especially when it followed a good launch. The rev limiter cuts in initially at 6,800 rpm, but if you leave it bouncing there it drops back down to 6,500 rpm.
Braking: Excellent braking performance with some nosedive and a solid-feeling pedal throughout the exercise. Zero side-to-side movement or squirm from the tires. The first stop was the shortest at 107 feet, the fourth stop was the longest at 110 feet and the fifth and final stop was slightly more than 107 feet.
Handling: Slalom: Remarkably sharp. Having 130 pounds less weight on the front axle than the 5.0 makes a big difference. Front end tracks well and is responsive through transitions. Good body control. Well damped. The performance pack makes a huge difference in the Mustang's handling manners. Skid pad: Though it lacks the power to be balanced easily on the throttle, there's still decent response to throttle position changes and really impressive grip here. Offers good control. A fun-handling car.
Vehicle: 2015 Ford Mustang GT 6MT
Driver: Josh Jacquot
Configuration: Longitudinal front-engine rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: 6-speed manual
Engine Type: Naturally aspirated, port-injected V8, gasoline
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 4,951/302
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 435 @ 6,500
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 400 @ 4,250
Brake Type (front): 15.0-inch one-piece ventilated with 6-piston fixed calipers
Brake Type (rear): 13.0-inch one-piece ventilated with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type (front): Independent MacPherson struts with dual lower ball joints, monotube dampers, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink, coil springs, monotube dampers, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 255/40ZR19 96Y
Tire Size (rear): 275/40ZR19 101Y
Tire Brand: Pirelli
Tire Model: PZero
Tire Type: Summer
As Tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,796
0-30 (sec): 2.1 (2.3 w/ TC on)
0-45 (sec): 3.4 (3.6 w/ TC on)
0-60 (sec): 4.8 (5.3 w/ TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 4.5 (5.0 w/ TC on)
0-75 (sec): 6.8 (7.0 w/ TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph):13.0 @ 111.4 (13.2 @ 110.8 w/ TC on)
30-0 (ft): 27
60-0 (ft): 108
Slalom (mph): 69.3 (69.5 w/ ESC on)
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): .94 (.96 w/ ESC on)
RPM @ 70 mph: 2,000
Acceleration: Though we found it inconsistent, the best launch was executed using the GT's launch control, which is easy to trigger. It launches by default from 3,000 rpm and launch control still bogs the Stang's engine off the line. It is adjustable between 3,000 and 4,500 rpm and was quicker than any launch we could produce using mild wheelspin. It's not easy to feed the Mustang's clutch in without either bogging the engine or boiling the tires. Gear ratios are close and shifts are rapid thanks the Mustang's fantastic short-throw shifter. It barely makes the quarter-mile in fourth gear, however.
Braking: Pedal travel is minimal and fade is non-existent in this test. Though every stop wasn't identical, the difference can't be attributed to heat in the brakes. Engagement, which is solid and high in the travel, never changes. These are confident brakes. There's still ample dive during braking, but the Mustang stops straight every time.
Handling: Slalom: Though its numbers probably don't make it the best-handling Mustang ever (Boss 302, anyone?), the 2015 GT shows how much potential there is in the IRS platform. Surface inconsistencies matter less than they ever have before and this Mustang transitions confidently. Its ESC is tuned remarkably well, too. In "Track" mode the ESC threshold expands enough to allow a moderate slide before it steps in. In fact, you'll be slowing yourself down before it does. Skid pad: Front grip is translated very well to the driver, which is a new trait in the Mustang. This makes it easy to walk right up the limits of the front tires before backing off and balancing the car on the throttle. It also rotates well off throttle. It's a shame this car is so needlessly large because it would be awesome at 7/8ths scale.
We ordered our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT with the $2,495 GT Performance Package to fully exploit the car's new independent rear suspension. The package includes 19-inch wheels, staggered-size summer tires, six-piston front brake calipers, 380 mm rotors, a strut bar, a front splitter, a Torsen differential and a 3.73 final drive ratio.
The additions helped during our long-term Mustang's recent track session. We wondered how it compared to a GT without the package, so we borrowed one with the 6-speed automatic and brought it to our test track.
The Performance Package is not available on automatic-equipped Mustang GTs. In standard GT form, our loaner had asymmetrical all-season tires, four-piston front calipers, 352 mm rotors and a 3.15 final drive ratio.
2015 Mustang GT Manual
2015 Mustang GT Automatic
Curb weight as-tested (lbs.):
Tire Brand and Model:
Pirelli PZero (Summer)
Pirelli PZero Nero (All-Season)
Tire Size (Front):
P235/50ZR18 97W M+S
Tire Size (Rear):
P235/50ZR18 97W M+S
Brake Type (Front):
One-piece ventilated disc with six-piston fixed calipers
One-piece ventilated disc with four-piston fixed calipers
Brake Type (Rear):
One-piece ventilated disc with single-piston sliding calipers
One-piece ventilated disc with single-piston sliding calipers
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec.):
¼-mile (sec @ mph):
13.0 @ 111.4
12.9 @ 111.5
Skid Pad Lateral Accel (g):
0.94 (0.96 w/ TC on)
0.85 (0.85 w/ TC on)
69.3 (69.5 w/ TC on)
65.0 (64.6 w/ TC on)
Braking 60-0 mph:
Braking 30-0 mph:
Cars equipped with a manual transmission typically outperform those with automatics on the dragstrip. The driver has complete control over shift points and can modulate wheelspin to achieve the best launch. We were impressed when the Mustang GT with auto transmission, less grippy rubber and lower gear ratios beat our long-termer.
Josh had this to say after testing the automatic-equipped Mustang GT:
"Slalom: The Mustang doesn't feel tied down in fast transitions. There is ample body roll and little body control. It also doesn't like mid-corner bumps, despite having an independent rear suspension. Very susceptible to power oversteer when mid-corner bumps are present. This car lacks the Performance Package's better rubber and suspension, which make a big difference. Oddly the deficiency in damping and roll control manifest themselves the same way in the new IRS Mustang that they did in the old live-axle car. Tuning, it seems, is everything.
Skidpad: Very modest grip. Easy to discern what's going on at the front and rear. Balance is okay, but everything happens at a low-grip level. Electronic stability control manages things very well. This is a hoon machine with ESC off. I like the adjustable steering effort and prefer the sport setting."
The difference in braking and handling between the two cars is huge. But the numbers don't tell the full story about the Performance Package. As James noted earlier, the package morphs the Mustang from a grand tourer to an unflappable track day car. The package also shortens the gearing and makes the ride less compliant in traffic or when cruising along the highway.
Buyers who want a car that handles well without compromising ride quality could simply upgrade the non-Performance Package GT with sticky summer tires, which make a world of difference in all performance areas. The PZero rubber is available at Tire Rack for $970 a set.
Then they can take the remaining $1,500 and enroll in a Skip Barber racing school to live out their track fantasies.
I was doing a little spring cleaning on my phone, and I'll admit it took me a moment to remember why I took this picture. Then I did.
As if the rumble, vibration and exhaust didn't tip us off, the 2015 Ford Mustang GT offers this handy alert. If I had a friend in the passenger seat who took the time, and however many brain cells required, to point out to me that my 5.0-liter V8 engine was running, I might smack him. I'd certainly tell him to shut up and I would absolutely unfriend him on Facebook.
If you were to look at the shared spreadsheet that we Edmunds editors use to sign out long- and short-term cars ("The List"), you'd see line after line of our initials next to the cars we need or want to drive for that week. If you were to look at last week's List, you'd see a big, gray empty line across the spreadsheet cells for the 2015 Ford Mustang GT, indicating that it sat idle for the entire week.
Before we received our Mustang, I would've said it would've been one of our most popular cars, just as its predecessor was. Yet despite a few road trips keeping its mileage up, this week of inaction has not been uncommon. Why is no one driving it? Why is it, therefore, one of the least popular cars in our fleet? Sure, we have a lot of desirable cars in the fleet, but the Mustang should theoretically be one of them.
Well, I've certainly shared why I may want to skip it. These are also sentiments I know several other editors share. So did we simply order the wrong Mustang? Or are there inherent factors of the 2015 Mustang that our otherwise Mustang-loving editors are averse to?
It's curious. We'll see if this trend continues.
That 5.0 might just stand for its average mpg by the time we get through with it.
It's really not that bad, though. In April, the Mustang spent most of its time commuting our editors around Southern California, so it's hard to expect any kind of fuel efficiency heroics from our 2015 Ford Mustang GT's five-liter motor. That said, we did add another 1,200 miles onto our not-so-little pony (yeah, I went there) and managed a minor improvement in fuel economy.
Let's face it: You're never going to get stellar mileage out of a short-geared, 435-horsepower Mustang but we did increase the car's overall average by a couple tenths. With any luck, we'll get the Mustang back out on a race track and drop the overall lifetime average closer to single digits — right where it should be.
Worst Fill MPG: 9.5
Best Fill MPG: 22.8
Average Lifetime MPG: 15.3
EPA MPG Rating: 19 Combined (15 City / 25 Highway)
Best Range: 263.9 miles
Current Odometer: 6,007 miles
I'm usually not one for gimmicks. I don't like the horse lasers on our 2015 Ford Mustang GT. I think the pulse feature of the Jag's start button, its rising vent cluster and silly door handles are unnecessary. I don't get Lamborghini (except the Espada. I'm pro Espada).
That said, I'm really diggin' the hood-mounted blinker indicators on the 2016 Ford Mustang.
As a nod to its heritage (a totally underutilized tactic in today's sports-car market), the 2016 Ford Mustang gets turn signal indicators in the hood just like the 1967 Mustang. I don't know why, but I think this is very cool. According to Ford, "fans have been clamoring for the return of the hood vent-integrated turn signals for years."
Here's my speculative guess as to what these requests say:
DON'T YOU KNOW THAT FUEL INJECTION IS A GOVERNMENT SPY PROGRAM TO TRACK YOUR FUEL USE? BRING BACK CARBURETORS. AND THE SOLID REAR END AND HOOD VENT BLINKY THINGS!"
AND WHY THE HECK DO I NEED AIRBAGS? I'VE NEVER CRASHED!
AND WHY IS IT SO EXPENSIVE?
Some guy with a 10-second Fox Body"
Alongside the new blinkers, there's now an optional black-painted roof (EcoBoost or GT), a black accent package (GT) that rocks black "5.0" and pony log, and the California Special Pack. Read more details on the 2016 Mustang here.
Black logos and blinky things in the hood? Maybe I don't hate gimmicks as much as I thought. Except horse lasers. I still hate horse lasers.
Well, it's been a while since my last long-term post, and before last night, I had only driven a 2015 Ford Mustang GT once, at a manufacturer-sponsored event on the big track at Willow Springs. After a few medium-hot laps, I recall walking away as impressed as Mr. Edmunds by its capabilities.
But even on a wide-open track, I thought the new Mustang seemed awfully large.
The previous-generation Mustang, you'll recall, was by all accounts a nimbler, more manageable alternative to the rival Camaro and Challenger. I distinctly remember driving the refreshed 2013 Mustang on Ford's launch event in Portland, Ore., and thinking that it felt just right from behind the wheel. As we observed in 2014, the Mustang was "the tidiest and lightest on its feet" of the three muscle cars, and that made it a satisfying choice for daily driving and spirited performance runs alike.
But when I drove the 2015 'Stang at Big Willow, the word "tidy" never occurred to me, and I definitely wasn't thinking "light on its feet." Instead, I found myself peering over the enormous hood from the bunker-like driving position and wondering why Ford hadn't just left well enough alone.
On my way home last night, those initial impressions were confirmed. As I did the first-second-neutral shuffle through rush-hour traffic, every lane on Olympic Boulevard seemed about three feet too narrow. To be fair, that bulbous hood makes it relatively easy to locate the nose of the car, which is a rare treat these days. But the thing felt huge, no two ways about it. Hopping into my wife’s 2013 GTI four-door for a late-night errand, I felt like I had shed my fatsuit and could move around normally again.
Enough about my feelings, though; let's get objective. You know what? Turns out the 2015 Mustang coupe is actually 0.2 inches shorter from nose to tail than its predecessor, and only 1.5 inches wider. Oh, and it lost 1.4 inches in the height department, too. So that sense of added bulk is just an illusion. The Mustang has been about the same size since the previous generation debuted back in 2005.
Still, that doesn't change the car's character on the road. I bet most people who've driven the current Mustang have come away thinking, Dang, that thing's pretty big. Not that there's anything wrong with that, and for the record, the car totally won me over on an extended drive this morning. A stupendously smooth 435-horsepower V8 and a stubby manual shifter will do that to a man. I just wish it drove a little smaller.
You know, like it used to.
I chuckled when I first saw the 2015 Ford Mustang GT's speedometer. And then I made it purple. "Ground Speed" is a cute reference to the P-51 Mustang fighter plane, which inspired some design elements of the original pony car. It's one of many interior cues meant to remind you that this car has some history. Other pieces aren't so subtle, like the plaque above the glove box that reads "Since 1964," or the aforementioned ability turn the instrument cluster and doorsills lights purple. Or green. Or red.
Straddling the line between cute and obnoxious design touches is difficult. The interior of the fifth-gen Camaro did it poorly, though it improved later on. Its overall appearance evoked memories of the original, but sacrificed usefulness with several palm-to-forehead decisions like hiding oil temp and pressure gauges in front of the shifter where you'd never look when you'd need them.
Modern Jeeps reference the company history with greater success and some humor, putting little silhouettes in the windshield, grilles embossed in the speaker surrounds, topography maps in the seats, and a Sasquatch (yes, really) in the rear window.
And the Mustang? It pulls it off, giving off a modern vibe that remains true to its heritage. I like the engine-turned aluminum dash and the brows on top that poke out towards the occupants. The design of the plastic surrounding the dome lights is nifty, too. Sure, the Horse Lasers, as Jason Kavanagh dubbed them, are enormous (see below), and the color-adjustable gauges and doorsills are a novelty. At least you can choose basic white, as I did after tiring of purple after a few miles.
My foot for scale
Regardless of my tastes, these little touches have value. They're good reminders of the long histories these cars have and make driving them seem a bit more special. For the record, I like the Horse Lasers. Also, "Horse Lasers" would also make a great band name.
(Editors Carlos Lago and Josh Sadlier joined the Edmunds.com Editorial crew last week. This is Carlos's first post for our Long Term Road Test Updates).
The $2,495 Performance Package on our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT includes a bunch of upgrades, but the biggest change on the day-to-day driving experience comes from its 3.73 final drive.
The shorter (numerically higher) drive ratio makes each rev responsible for fewer mph than the standard car's 3.31. This improves acceleration and makes the car more fun to drive, as you end up in the fun part of the powerband faster. The 5.0-liter V8 likes to rev, too, with a swell you feel right before its 4,250-rpm torque peak that extends to its 7,000 rpm limiter. The shorter gearing also means revs don't fall as much between upshifts, and the Mustang's shifter and pedal placement make rev-matched downshifts and fast upshifts easy and enjoyable.
With the gear ratios, wheel and tire sizes, and a handy Excel calculator built by Engineering Editor Jay Kavanagh, we can draw a neat graph of the Mustang's engine speed versus road speed in every gear, revealing insights into the overall gearing.
Note: The graph stops at 170 mph, as 164 mph is the Mustang's top speed. Also note that this happens at the top of fifth gear in the 3.31 car, and at just over 5,000 rpm in sixth with the 3.73.
One of the more interesting details is how the 3.73 affects 0-60 mph acceleration. While 3.31 Mustangs do nearly 70 mph at the top of second gear, cars equipped with the 3.73 just squeak by, topping out at 61 mph. Why? Well, 0-60 mph acceleration times are something people care about. If the gearing were even shorter, overall acceleration might improve, but the shift to third would add to the 0-60 mph result. And dammit, we just can't have people on the Internet thinking the Mustang is slower than a Camaro.
Fuel economy pays the penalty for short gearing. In top gear, at a cruising speed of 70 mph, the 3.73 axle is turning just over 2,100 rpm, while the 3.31 is doing around 1,900 rpm. Higher engine speed, higher fuel consumption. You can also expect lower fuel economy with the 3.73 because of the human factor. Revving out the 5.0-liter sounds and feels good, so you're more likely to do it. This is why our long-termer's average mpg is 15.3 while its EPA combined rating is 19 mpg.
For fun, let's estimate the cost incurred here. Using an annual mileage of 15,000 and an average national gas price of $2.71 (Ford allows 87 octane; cost will increase with premium fuel), the difference between our Mustang's 15.3 average mpg and the EPA figure puts our fun tax at around $40 a month.
While you shouldn't take that extremely rough estimate as gospel, the 3.31 axle will clearly be easier on the wallet for long-distance commuting. Ford does offer an intermediate 3.55 final drive for $395, though the Performance Pack's is 3.73 only.
Is it worth the cost? I say so. It's a bright orange Mustang with black wheels, a revvy 5.0-liter V8, and Recaro buckets. Enjoy it.
In an earlier update, James wondered why no one was driving our 2015 Ford Mustang GT. Well, here's my reason. Scratch that. Here are my two reasons.
I'll get the obvious out of the way first: It's ORANGE.
Sorry, but if I can help it, I'm not driving an orange car.* And I can help it.
The second one is the ride. I'm not driving it on a race track. I'm driving it home, and my drive home takes me along the 405 Freeway and over all of its misaligned concrete slabs. I've driven plenty of stiffly sprung and thoroughly rigid cars, but there's something about the combination of this Mustang's substantial heft and the suspension tune that causes it to pogo from slab to slab and I'm not having it.
Your commute home, and what you're willing to sacrifice to clip a certain apex, will certainly differ, but for me, I'm done getting bounced around.
*various and assorted examples of 911 RSRs, BMW 3.0 CSLs and Lamborghinis not withstanding.
We put 1,371 miles on our 2015 Ford Mustang GT in May, using 84.7 gallons of 91-octane fuel and averaging 16.2 mpg for the month. This bumped the car's lifetime average from 15.3 mpg up to 15.5 mpg.
Our worst fill-up for the month was 14.0 mpg and our best was 20.5 (that's still less than our best-ever of 22.8 mpg, though).
A couple of our new staffers were eager to get into the Mustang GT. Josh Sadlier's first impression was that the car drives big, yet in the end he was still won over by the charm of the 5.0-liter V8 and manual gearbox.
Fellow new guy Carlos Lago was mesmerized by the Mustang's pretty interior lights and the side-view mirrors that beam horsey images onto the ground.
I spent some time in the Mustang this month, too, including an early morning strafing run up one of my favorite mountain roads. I came away impressed with its dynamic abilities, but more on that in a later post.
Worst Fill MPG: 9.5
Best Fill MPG: 22.8
Average Lifetime MPG: 15.5
EPA MPG Rating: 19 Combined (15 City / 25 Highway)
Best Range: 263.9 miles
Current Odometer: 7,339 miles
I've struggled to fit bicycles into Mustangs before and was curious if the 2015 Ford Mustang GT would also pose a hassle. It's a crapshoot anytime you're finagling with a trunk instead of a hatch and it all comes down to the size of the pass-through and how flat the rear seats will fold.
I needn't have worried.
The new Mustang's pass-through is reasonably, almost surprisingly, large. Our 2015 long-termer also doesn't have a gigantic subwoofer taking up trunk space like our 2011 model. After taking off the bike's front wheel, it slid right in without any problems.
Full disclosure: this time I was trying to fit in a 54 cm road bike versus a medium 29'er mountain bike. The road bike is easier to deal with.
Another bonus is that I didn't need to move the front passenger seat forward at all, just left it where it was. Didn't even need to adjust the seatback.
But I did need to put the front passenger seatback forward temporarily to access the rear seat release tabs, and that's where one problem popped up. The front seatback's release lever, which is on the back of the seat, has a rather wonky action. Sometimes it works, and other times it does nothing when you pull on the lever. It just seems to get hung up. You end up needing to pull on it a few times and eventually it works.
Honestly, it feels like it's about to break. The lever on the back of the driver's seat works much more smoothly. Maybe the passenger seat lever has been used far more than the one on the driver's side. Whatever, there's no excuse for it acting up this early on.
If you're following our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT updates, you've noticed that it comes with a few interesting, somewhat quirky and borderline bedazzling features (i.e. color-customizable gauges, Track Apps and (!)Horse Lasers TM). These configurable options band together to form a virtual playground that conspires to keep you more entertained than a top-20 GIFs-of-the-Week post.
And entertained we remain, especially after discovering the wallpaper configurator.
If you have yet to explore this blank canvas, then your home screen will likely look a lot like this:
Why choose boring when you can choose a Mark Takahashi-approved metallic unicorn (above)?
But before you run out to your car with smartphone in hand, configuring your wallpaper correctly is not as simple as pairing your camera phone to the head unit via Bluetooth or plugging it into the USB port. This isn't a job for those short of patience and/or screw-around time.
But those resolved to make it happen have to follow certain guidelines to ensure custom wallpaper success. First, the data storage device you use must be recognized as a storage device and not something else. If you plug in a smartphone or camera directly into the USB port, the system won't properly recognize it as a storage device. Best to stick to a thumb drive/USB stick here.
To access the wallpaper edit menu, you select the "Display" category after pressing the Settings button on the bottom of the touchscreen display.
Once you've sequestered and plugged in a suitable data storage device, you select "Edit Wallpaper" and then "Add," which brings up the message below that details the file guidelines.
You can store up to 32 wallpaper photos at 1.5 MB a piece. That's a different wallpaper for every day of the month!
You have to adhere to the dimensional guidelines for resizing photos, otherwise you receive the following fail alert:
A photo that isn't the correct size and file format will be rejected. Do not follow directions, do not pass "Go!" Selecting the files you want to upload to the Mustang's hard drive is pretty straightforward from here. You know you've successfully saved a file when it appears in the "Wallpaper Editor" screen.
We found the Mustang's screen resolution is better than expected, even with the small image sizes we uploaded.
Image file size above is 173 KB of the allowable 1.5 MB
From here the possibilities are endless and we applaud Ford for offering us this creative outlet. It's a shame, however, they didn't foresee a need to password-protect your settings, lest this end up on your startup screen:
The first new car I bought myself was a 1967 Mustang GT 2+2. I've got a 1965 coupe in my garage. I may be Edmunds's green-car editor, but I still do love me a V8 on occasion. So it was only right that I pick our 2015 Ford Mustang GT for a recent 1,500-mile California road trip.
I'd been a bit worried after a few of my fellow editors poked at the pony for being a bit bloated with, as Josh Sadlier put it, a bulbous hood and the overall feel of a fatsuit, not to mention Kurt's rant against its color and habit of pogoing on concrete freeways and over Southern California's increasingly deteriorating surface streets.
But it turned out to be a great ride for a long trip up the middle of the state, to the coastal redwood forests and wineries of Sonoma County and back.
First off, I agree with Kurt's take on orange. It isn't the greatest of all colors for a car that can exceed the maximum freeway speed limit with three of its six gears left to go. It shouts "hey, chase me down" to every would-be road racer and highway patrol officer within hearing distance of the exhaust's muted rumble. Makes it easy to spot other members of the herd on the road though, like the 2015 Mustang convertible we played tag with on the last 260 miles of our trip.
Speaking of highway patrol officers, we got a few glances from the CHP, but setting cruise control at just a bit above the posted speed limit when I was passing through regions known for heavy traffic enforcement kept me on the good side of the law. I blew off steam accelerating up freeway on-ramps after gas, pit and meal stops and the GT's 435 ponies and short-throw, six-speed manual made ramp-running quite a thrill.
The jouncy-bouncy ride on bad asphalt or ridged concrete surfaces at lower speeds does get a bit wearing. Either pass on the Performance Pack and its stiff suspension or get some decent aftermarket shocks for your non-track days if you decide to park a 2015 Mustang GT in your garage.
But big? Oversized? Bloated? No way.
The sheet metal swells in a few places, but the 2015 GT isn't any bigger than the '05 and stretches only a few inches beyond the dimensions of my old '67. Per Ford's data sheets for the '67 Mustang and 2015 Mustang, the new GT's 107.1-inch wheelbase is actually 0.9 inches shorter, while overall length is 4.7 inches more, width is up 4.5 inches and the car has grown 2.8 inches taller.
The 2015 Mustang is a lot bigger than its original forebear, though. The '65 2+2 was almost 7 inches shorter and narrower, and topped out with 3.2 inches less height. Mass is up a lot as well. Curb weight for our 2015 Mustang GT is 1,099 pounds more than a '65 fastback. That's a 42 percent boost over 50 years.
Come to think of it, perhaps that's why the 2015 GT doesn't feel all that big to me. I've also piled-on pounds, and a few inches of girth, in the past five decades.
Still, horsepower in the 2015 GT is 60 percent more than the 271-hp rating for a '67 hi-po GT, which ought to help equalize the weight difference. That power and the accompanying torque certainly combine to help make the '15 Mustang GT an easy ride in heavy traffic.
In standard shuffle-and-go freeway crawl, where speeds bounce around between 5 and 40 mpg, just leave it in third. No need to shift unless you come to a complete halt. At cruising speeds, stay in fifth (at the cost of about two miles per gallon) so you can add a quick burst of speed for passing without having to work the clutch. In sixth, the Mustang all but falls asleep at 75 mph, loping along at around 2,100 rpm and taking forrrreverrrr to accelerate without a downshift.
Shiftless driving like this also helps avoid right-leg fatigue when you've engaged the adaptive cruise control in heavy traffic on long, dull stretches of highway.
The interior of the 2015 Ford Mustang GT fits a 6'2, 250-pounder just fine, with plenty of head- and legroom. Even the optional Recaro seats wrapped around my frame like they'd been custom fitted. I had to slide the driver seat all the way back in its tracks to make smooth exits or entry over the tall bolster on the seat bottom though, and the high seat backs with fixed head restraints make it difficult to toss stuff into — or pull stuff out of — the Mustang's miniscule back seats.
Outward vision, despite Josh's bulbous hood, was excellent. The field of view through the raked windshield is better today than back when the Mustang launched in mid 64.
Thank the powers that be, though, for the 2015 GT's rearview camera. I didn't notice the rear and rear-side blind spots much when driving, but doing 12-point turnarounds in the tightly-packed parking lots of Sonoma County's myriad wineries would have been pretty dicey without that camera.
On the fuel efficiency front, the 2015 Mustang GT delivered 19.1 mpg overall on the trip, with a best tank of 22.3 mpg.
My verdict after 1,500 miles in our 2015 Mustang GT? It might be a car that gets young blood racing, but at $45k and change, it's a car that better fits the pocketbooks of generations that remember the Ford Pony Car before the era of the tiny, tinny, underpowered and generally ugly Mustang II.
Go ahead and buy the super-prepped Performance Package and Recaro seats if you plan to limit your driving to the track. But stick with the standard GT Premium trim if you're looking for a daily driver with muscle and a pile of standard equipment. And then drive it. Even in Competition Orange.
That paint and the exhaust tone may say "wild and wooly," but on our long road trip the 2015 Mustang GT proved to be a pretty well-mannered trail horse.
In 1977, I was seven. My father was a freelance writer for various car magazines. One day he drives home in a black and gold Pontiac Firebird Formula, which he was road-testing for Street Racer magazine (see photos below), and says, "Come on son, we're going to the movies."
The movie was "Smokey and the Bandit."
Of course I loved the movie, but the ride home was the clincher. I remember walking out to the car and saying something like, "Dad, we have the same car as the Bandit." Then my dad, who was in his early 30s, did burnouts the whole ride home, just like the Bandit. My seven-year-old mind was blown.
That day, that movie, and that ride home are burned in my soul. Scarred me for life and it's certainly why my father and I own a black and gold 1976 Trans Am today.
The modern version of all this has proven difficult for me. First of all, Smokey and the Bandit was rated PG. Sure it was probably a bit racy at moments for a seven-year-old, but those moments were more suggestive than anything. And while the language was certainly profane, there are no F-bombs. Regardless, it was the 70s, so it was cool and my father will tell you he didn't even really think about it back then. Different times.
Today's car movies, however, are all PG-13, including "Need for Speed" and "Furious 7". And it's hard for me to take my daughters, now 12 and 10, to a movie with that much violence, gratuitous sex and scantily-clad booty. It's just too much. I won't do it.
And doing burnouts the whole way home from a screening of "The SpongeBob Movie", while cool, isn't exactly the experience I'm talking about.
Too bad. Our orange long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT would be the perfect ride for such a father-daughter outing.
Maybe someday. I hear there's a "Smokey and the Bandit" remake in the works. Maybe The Bandit will go Mustang this time around.
Ford recently (finally?) dropped details on the 5.2-liter "Voodoo" V8 that's going into the 2016 Ford Shelby GT350, GT350R, and a handful of other 2015 models. As a follow-up to my previous pontifications on the subject — the gist being that this is one of the most fascinating modern performance car engines to come out of Detroit — let's take a more informed look at how Ford arrived at this engine's unusual anatomy.
Yeah, this has little to do with our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT, specifically. But if you're a Mustang geek or an engine nerd, read on.
As I noted in my previous piece, the Voodoo has an unconventional crankpin arrangement by flat-plane crank (FPC) standards. Ford's crank throws are arranged up-down-up-down (UDUD), rather than the expected up-down-down-up (UDDU). At the time I could only speculate on how this evolved because the company wasn't ready to talk about it. But now, they are. A little.
Ford's engine guys tell me the Voodoo's crankpin arrangement was the product of the engine's manifolding. The team modeled approximations of the intake and exhaust systems and assessed the engine's breathing characteristics in each of the three possible FPC configurations. The UDUD crank ultimately got the nod from this exercise.
It follows that the geometries of said manifolds are also unusual in the context of FPC V8s. First, have a look at the Voodoo's weird, unequal-length 4-into-3-into-1 exhaust manifolds (the top one is the driver side manifold, mirrored for easy comparison):
The layout of the manifolds was driven largely by the cramped confines of the Mustang's engine bay and the desire to facilitate catalyst light-off by minimizing their internal "wetted" area. Performance considerations alone would have resulted in paired-length 4-2-1 or the equal-length 4-1 manifolds that FPC V8s often exploit by virtue of their bank-to-bank alternating firing order.
On the fresh air side, the Voodoo's intake manifold has a single plenum feeding all eight cylinders at all times — another uncommon sight in FPC V8-land. Typical intake manifolds on FPC V8s carry dual bank-specific plenums or, as found in the Ferrari F430 and 458 Italia, a fancypants two-stage manifold that can couple and decouple its two plenums as desired.
A common-plenum manifold like the Voodoo's has the benefit of being far more packaging- and cost-friendly than a dual-plenum unit. The latter necessitates two of everything else: throttle bodies, ducts, mass flow sensors, filter boxes, intakes, et al, plus the attendant calibration overhead.
One downside to a UDUD crankshaft, relative to UDDU cranks, is mass and inertia. To recap, a UDUD crank imparts a first-order, end-to-end imbalance that UDDU cranks do not exhibit. To mitigate this imbalance, Ford had to seriously bulk up the Voodoo's two outboard counterweights. They're approximately double the width axially and larger circumferentially than the crank's remaining counterweights:
Compare that to the typical UDDU crank (Porsche 918 Spyder crank shown) below, in which all counterweights share one pared-back geometry:
Ford engineers say that crankshaft inertia "was not a prime consideration in the selection of the crank configuration." Nevertheless, the resulting additional mass of the UDUD crank had to have made a Dearborn engineer or two wince. After all, they went to the trouble of milling little pockets out of the Voodoo's heads to shed mass. Heads are aluminum and stationary. Cranks are steel and rotate.
Incidentally, it turns out the GT350's "Voodoo" V8 crank has a 93.0mm stroke, not 92.7mm as I'd expected. This small difference is enough to hand the Voodoo the crown of the highest mean piston speed (25.6 meters per second) of any production engine. Previously this title was carried by Audi's 4.2-liter V8 (25.5 m/s) and not the Honda S2000's F20C (25.2 m/s) you were probably expecting.
Ford's first crack at a flat-plane crank V8 is a whopper. At a much more attainable price, the Voodoo generates BMEP within a stone's throw of those produced by manufacturers that have a lot more seat time in developing them. And it does it without the benefit of direct injection, ideal exhaust manifolds, a dry sump scavenging system or exotic materials. There's not a titanium rod or valve to be found.
All this and it can be serviced at your local Ford dealer.
It's the little things that count.
Sporty cars with sporty interiors often aren't built for comfort. One thing that constantly rubs me raw, literally, is an interior designer's general ignorance of where the driver's right knee lands when said driver is just cruising and not actively working the stop-and-go pedals.
So it was with great pleasure that I discovered at least one of the folks who worked on the interior design our 2015 Ford Mustang GT actually took anatomy and ergonomics courses.
I'm referring to the center stack design, which actually makes allowances for the driver's right knee. Most people let it flop to the side a bit and rest on the front edge of the stack when not actively working the stop-and-go pedals. And I've found that most center stacks have relatively straight leading edges that can rub my knee raw on long trips.
But the lower portion of the Mustang's center stack is narrower than the upper, which flows out of the lower part with a nice, curving flare. Look at it head-on and it's kind of like a wineglass with a thick stem. The result is a comfortably padded inward curve on the lower part of the leading edge, creating a bit of extra space into which my knee fits perfectly.
After my recent 1,500-mile run in the GT, I left the car without a friction-frayed knee. Nice job, designers.
Recently there's been some grumbling by staffers that maybe, just maybe, we didn't order the right 2015 Ford Mustang GT. James Riswick thinks we shouldn't have opted for the GT Performance Package. Ron Montoya says he'd skip the Recaros. Kurt Niebuhr says he won't drive the car because it's orange.
Apparently everyone around here is entitled to their own opinions.
As for me, I enjoy driving this new Mustang GT, whether I'm running errands around town, cruising down the highway and even when I'm stuck in traffic. Sure, the gearing is short and the brakes can feel touchy at first, but once you get used to them they're no big deal. Recently I took the Mustang GT on one of my favorite mountain roads, and I fell in love with it even more.
It's all in the way you approach the car. If you're looking for the Mustang to be a seriously sporting machine, as I do, the GT Performance Package delivers with flying colors. Even if you don't like orange.
If you're thinking the Mustang should be more of a cruiser, and you might never purposely attack a twisty road, don't order the Performance Package.
But for this car to perform the way I want it to, it needs those upgraded brakes, the stiffer suspension, sticky summer tires and the ultra-supportive Recaro seats. Particularly without the suspension and tire upgrades, the Mustang GT feels a bit sloppy and ponderous around corners, as we learned.
On the other hand, when I did an early-morning strafing run up a thoroughly twisty two-lane, all those aforementioned "good" pieces came together, working in perfect concert. I was almost shocked how well it worked.
It was tied down and precise, even though it was running on fairly worn tires thanks to this guy. I was most impressed by the front grip. You can dive deep into corners and the front end just flat sticks. The level of feedback through the steering wheel tells you exactly what the front tires are up to, and on the way back out the right-now power from the 5.0-liter V8 lets you play with rear grip.
And that 435-horsepower five-liter is flexible. Exit a corner around 3,000-3,500 rpm? It's okay; it's got 400 pound-feet of torque to pull you back out. Yet it's plenty happy when you wind it out to redline.
I don't love the six-speed manual's linkage, as it can feel balky at times and doesn't deliver the robust feel I crave. But the pedals are spaced nicely for heel-and-toe downshifts, and that's important when you wick up the pace on a back road.
I even had a short battle with a guy on a Yamaha R1 sportbike. He caught up to me early on when I was just settling into things, so I thought, "Let's see what this guy has." I also wanted to see what the Mustang had. The Mustang had more. Especially through the tightest stuff, I was able to pull away and put a serious gap on the guy. I had to work for it a little bit, but I hadn't even started fooling around with the different stability control settings yet.
That rider, that bike, that day, the Mustang and its four big contact patches was the better weapon. Some other rider, some other day — who knows? Still kinda wonder what was going on underneath his helmet: Was he impressed with the Mustang? Or frustrated that he couldn't keep up?
Regardless, throughout the morning the Mustang performed even better than I hoped or expected. The brakes never showed a hint of fade despite heavy use on the downhill sections. And at 3,796 pounds, this isn't exactly a light car.
Only on a couple of high-speed bumpy bits did the Mustang hint that things could get ugly in a hurry. It got slightly out of shape and the suspension lost its composure. Nope, still not perfect. But it's damn good most of the time, at least in the way I like to use the car.
But here's the thing: You don't need to drive the Mustang in total anger to enjoy it. Even when I'm not on a fun road, it makes each drive exciting and something to look forward to. And isn't that what it's all about?
Automotive journalists have griped about it for as long as I can remember. Some worked to retirement as generations of new Mustang came and went with a simple straight rear axle. Along the way Dodge and GM abandoned the pony car segment, leaving the Mustang to go it alone against imported sports coupes with independent rear suspension (IRS).
And then the dormant Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Camaro were resurrected in 2008 and 2010, respectively, and both reappeared on dealer showroom floors with IRS setups. The market pressure ratcheted up yet another notch.
It eventually became clear that the fully redesigned 2015 Ford Mustang would finally enter the modern age. It would have independent rear suspension, for real, across the board. And this would not be another half-baked 1999-2004 SVT Cobra scenario, a low-volume Mustang special with a compromised IRS system wedged under a car never designed for it.
We wasted no time when the order desk opened and put money down on a 5.0-liter GT with the Performance Pack. We have not been disappointed. Our 2015 Mustang GT is impressively composed on the road, and I for one was thoroughly blown away by its balance, grip and stability when I thrashed it about on a tight, bumpy autocross course and a high-speed racetrack on the same day.
But it's not all down to the long-awaited IRS. The front suspension of the 2015 Mustang has a few tricks of its own. Let's hoist it up on our Rotary Lift and work our way front to back.
It's hard to make out much from here except the top end of a MacPherson strut and a humungous 6-piston Brembo brake caliper.
This flattened area on the outside of the strut tube is there for tire and wheel clearance. But it also tells us something else: this is a twin-tube damper, not a monotube damper.
From below we can see the biggest change to the 2015 Mustang's front suspension. Gone is the one-piece lower wishbone with its single ball joint. Instead, there are two slender links, each with its own ball joint.
Why is this significant? Imagine the more common single ball joint. The joint itself is the lower pivot point for the steering. You want to put it as far out as possible, but you can only go so far because of the brake rotor.
You need two points to define a steering axis, of course. The upper pivot resides under the hood at the center of the upper strut mount.
Now imagine the steering axis line extending through the ball joint to the ground. The offset between the point where this imaginary line strikes the ground and the center of the tire's contact patch is the scrub radius. You don't want this to be very large. We're talking millimeters. Zero would be nice.
But what if you want to fit wide front tires to maximize grip? Maybe you also want powerful brakes with massive calipers and thick rotors. The strut tube is the limiting factor for tire and wheel clearance on the inside, so you can only add the extra width you need outside.
Thing is, your single ball joint is trapped behind the rotor and can't come along. The contact patch moves away from the steering pivot axis, resulting in a larger scrub radius that can worsen stability under heavy braking and screw up your steering.
That's where these dual links come into play. Here the lower steering pivot point is not constrained by the brake rotor because it is a virtual point located where the links would intersect if they were extended.
The wide-angle distortion of this close-up makes it hard to pin down, but that point on the 2015 Mustang exists within the space occupied by the massive brake rotor, a physical impossibility with the single ball joint used on past Mustangs.
Three lobes give away the three outer pistons of the 6-piston Brembo brakes, which are exclusive to the 5.0 GT with the Performance Pack. The standard 5.0 GT and the 2.3-liter EcoBoost with the Performance Pack get 4-piston fixed-caliper brakes instead.
Track-day fans will like the fact that this caliper uses an open window design. The pad extraction opening in 6-piston calipers like this is so tall that a bridge bolt (black arrow) is required to prevent the caliper from flexing during use, but it's easily removed when it's time to swap pads.
The front stabilizer bar (yellow) is hollow in the name of weight savings. The seriously flattened end where it attaches to the link is a good clue, but this isn't always a reliable indicator.
Tubular stabilizer bars don't give up as much roll stiffness as you'd think because torsional stiffness is proportional to the diameter raised to the fourth power. The metal near the outside is doing much more work than the metal near the center, in other words. You don't have to increase the outside diameter much at all to compensate for material that's missing from the center.
The effectiveness of the Mustang's front stabilizer bar is at a maximum here because the connecting link (black) attaches directly to the strut housing for a near 1-to-1 motion ratio with respect to wheel and tire movement.
Also new this time around is a full perimeter subframe that supports and reinforces the lower end of the front suspension.
As ever, the Mustang's longitudinally-mounted engine and rear-drive architecture make it easy to implement front-steer steering, in which the tie-rods and steering arms act on the wheels ahead of the ball joints.
Here it's easy to see the steering shaft (yellow) as is slides past the engine and under the engine mount. We lose sight of it behind the cross-member, but we can nevertheless glimpse the bulge in the steering gearbox housing (green) that contains the pinion it connects to. It's easy to imagine how twirling the steering wheel will rotate the pinion, which in turn advances the rack and tie rods (white) left and right.
We've seen this view before, but I replaced a strategically-shaped air deflector (yellow) that was blocking our view of the works.
Now you can see how cooling air from a duct above the front bumper's splitter is channeled toward the brake rotors.
We're not seeing the tire in these images, but the point of the deflector is to direct air into the void behind the wheel and tire.
Finally we get to the main course of this exercise. But we can't see much from here except the top end of the shock absorber.
The first glance is an overwhelming one. There's a sprawling lower control arm, a toe-link (black) and lots of fiddly bits higher up. And there is an abundance of aluminum.
Clearly this isn't a rehash of the unloved and finicky double-wishbone setup that the SVT crew slapped under the low-volume Cobra some 16 years ago. Let's try and break it down.
Ignore the toe-link, which is frankly in our way. And try not to look for the aforementioned fiddly bits, which are obscured from view here anyway. Just as well — I've marked out the essentials.
Despite its sprawling appearance, this behaves like an A-shaped lower wishbone, complete with two inner mounting points that define the pivot axis and a single outer bushing that locates the lower end of the knuckle in the fore-aft and in-out directions.
Its general hugeness comes from its need to sustain lateral cornering loads, but it also must support the weight of the car and stand up to road impacts, both of which act directly upon it because it's also the lower mounting point for the spring and shock absorber.
Now we can reconsider the black toe link, which prevents the knuckle from steering the way front wheels do. But "prevent" is the wrong word because the differing lengths of the players are designed to induce tiny amounts of bump steer as everything swings through their various arcs.
There isn't much to see up top, just a single camber link that dips down below the edge of the body. As the name implies, this link's sole function is to control the in-out orientation of the top end of the knuckle. In combination with the lower control arm, it defines the camber angle of the wheel.
Being a lone link, it can do nothing to control or define the fore-aft location of the knuckle. It cannot stand up to axle windup when acceleration or braking torque is applied.
That's what the aforementioned fiddly bits are for. The actual name for the hunk at the end of the yellow arrow is an Integral Link. Ford's spec sheet uses the name Integral Link Independent rear suspension to describe the Mustang's rear underpinnings because of this feature.
In the context of acceleration and brake torque, you can see what this does immediately. It keeps the top end of the knuckle from moving fore and aft under even the most immense torque loads. It has no other job. It also frees the camber link to be nothing but a camber link, and it is long enough that it is unaffected by the toe-link. Because each has one job, all three are easier to optimize.
The odd H-shape of the lower control arm is the result of an offshoot (black) that juts out to give the integral link a solid base from which to work. The result is yet another load path into the lower control arm.
From here you see just about everything, and it's all packed close together. What you can't see is any kind of trailing arm. This is a very compact suspension that, as we saw in the first image, exists almost entirely in the shadow of the brake rotor. There's very little intrusion into spaces that could be better used for occupants, cargo or even fuel.
And check out the elevated position of the forward pivot (yellow) of the lower control arm. It's actually higher than the skinny toe-link. The resulting steep incline of the lower control arm's pivot axis is a sign that a large amount of anti-squat is present in the suspension geometry. And it certainly does the trick. Our Mustang GT accelerates hard when asked, but the rear suspension doesn't squat much at all during the most aggressive launches.
Meanwhile, the lower control arm isn't the only large hunk of aluminum down here. The complex rear knuckle (black) is also made of the stuff to save even more unsprung weight.
The spring and shock absorber are separated to maximize cargo and interior space. The stubbier spring fits under the body but the longer, skinnier shock absorber is positioned farther outboard so it can extend higher up into the wheel well.
All Performance Pack-equipped Mustangs are upgraded with monotube rear shocks. They get a thicker rear stabilizer bar, too.
Everything is efficiently packaged back here. Even the attachment point between the stabilizer bar and its drop link is given a second job as a brake hose attachment point.
It's hard to get a good read on the motion ratios because this lower control arm's pivot axis isn't parallel to the long axis of the car. That said, the spring seems to run close to 0.5-to-1 while the damper and stabilizer bar are in the neighborhood of 0.75-to-l.
Our 5.0 GT's rear brakes would be the same whether we'd gotten the Performance Pack or not. These single piston sliding calipers clamp onto inch-thick ventilated rotors.
They come with the EcoBoost Performance Pack, too. Ecoboost Mustangs without that option and V6-powered base cars come with half-inch thick solid rotors instead.
All of this hardware rides on 255/40ZR19 (96Y) front and 275/40ZR19 (101Y) rear rubber. The front rims are 9 inches wide and the rears are 9.5 inches. This only applies to the 5.0 GT Performance Pack, though. The EcoBoost Performance Pack rides on the 255 front tires all around.
Our scales say a mounted front tire weighs 56.2 pounds, while the wider rear assembly registers 60.8 pounds.
I didn't have any expectations before I looked underneath our new Mustang. Well, maybe a few. Going into this I knew our 2015 Ford Mustang GT felt more sophisticated and glued-down than any before, even when driven aggressively on challenging surfaces.
This look underneath suggests Ford has done its homework. They put their A-team on this one. It's going to get really interesting when the more powerful performance versions come on-line in the coming months.
I had the opportunity to take a few days away from the office and decided to make a quick dash to Sedona and decompress for a bit. I thought it'd be fun to take the new Viper and log enough miles to complete the break-in cycle, but scheduling conflicts intervened. The 2015 Ford Mustang was an excellent stand-in.
According to the Mustang's nav, it was 476 miles and about seven hours to Flagstaff. That's where I'd pick up a girlfriend from two decades ago. I owned my first Mustang in the mid-1990s, so this was really a multi-level reunion of sorts.
Within the first 50 miles, I was glad I had the Mustang, not the Viper.
While I love the Viper, its harsh ride and loud cabin would've done a number on me. The Mustang was compliant enough and the cabin quiet enough to allow the music to shine and my mind to wander. And wander it did until the gas needle descended to the point where I started to worry about where I'd find the next gas station.
I stopped in at Needles, Calif., near the Arizona border to refuel. After a little more than 250 miles, the Mustang took almost 11 gallons. That figured out to 23.6 mpg, which is a new best fill for this long-termer. Not bad considering I was stuck in L.A. traffic for the first hour or so.
After a quick stop in Flagstaff to pick up my traveling companion, we made the 30-mile trek south to Sedona. Even though there was no shortage of new Mustang rentals roaming the small town, our long-termer was a big hit with the valets at the hotel. The reason? The manual transmission.
The first time we decided to leave the hotel, I handed the ticket over and said, "It's the bright orange Mustang."
"The one with the manual manual?" the valet asked.
I suppose he said it twice to differentiate it from an automated manual, which instantly made me like him.
"It's so great to see a real manual again," he added.
We chatted for a bit about how it needs to be louder, doing the typical car-dudes thing, then took off.
We had a great time cruising around at night in the Mustang. Retelling stories, listening to songs that still hold meaning for us and generally just reconnecting. The new Mustang is obviously better in every way, but for me at least, it retains the spirit that made us feel special back in 1995.
All good things must come to an end and this little getaway was no different. With the car pointed back on Interstate 40, the long haul back home began. I probably could've made it to Barstow on one tank, but decided on discretion over valor. This tank logged 294.4 miles, crushing my last record.
The Mustang proved its mettle on this trip. A surplus of power for passing, comfortable ride quality, supportive seats and a quiet cabin at speed all contributed to me rolling back into L.A. with no more fatigue than when I set out. I'd gladly roll with the Mustang again.
Somewhere between Los Angeles and Barstow on my round-trip to Sedona, Ariz., our 2015 Ford Mustang let me know that it's closing in on the 10,000-mile mark with this warning. Knowing I wouldn't exceed the milestone by much, it wasn't a concern.
Just in case, I checked the oil at the first fuel stop. The level was just above the sweet spot and the color was a nice, golden brown. No smell of sulphur or anything else. I'm good to go, for sure.
If you're an adult human, it's rather unlikely you'll be happy in the 2015 Ford Mustang's back seat. There's both minimal leg- and headroom for anyone taller than a child. It makes a Dodge Challenger seem like a Mercedes-Maybach. On the other hand, as I discovered this weekend, the little pair of rear seats is absolutely perfect for a little pair of dogs.
The deep bucket seat and the padded center hump are essentially dog beds perfectly sized for my small-medium dogs, Maggie and Nellie. They not only looked especially comfortable back there, but I also like that the bucket seat helps keep them in place. They always wear car harnesses, but flatter rear seats tend to have them slipping and sliding around.
So while the Mustang has one of the more uninhabitable seats for humans, it's actually one of the best for small dogs. The two-door body style isn't ideal for access however, which is why it falls short of Maggie's top dog-friendliness rating — it only gets 4 1/2 barks.*
*This is a meaningless rating. It was assigned by a dog.
"Competition has been an integral part of the Ford Mustang lifestyle since its earliest days 50 years ago," says Steve Ling, Ford Car Marketing Manager. And you don't have to take his word for it.
Back in the 60s, Ford used an advertising campaign it called "Total Performance." Like other manufacturers, it followed the principle of "race on Sunday, sell on Monday." Ford hyped up everything. From Galaxies to GT40s, anything that ran a Ford badge or a Ford motor was fair play. So when the Mustang came out, you guessed it.
And now, with the 2015 Ford Mustang's trick new rear suspension and bonkers FPC V8, the Mustang might be at the crux of a return to truly international competition. Let's see how this all went down 50 years ago.
Ford wanted to make sure that, no matter where in the world you lived, or whatever kind of motor sport you followed, you could see a Mustang win a race.
Starting in late 1964, Ford sent three Mustangs to Alan Mann Racing with the intention of winning the Tour de France road rally Touring division. Englishmen Peter Procter and Andrew Cowan won for Ford, Alan Mann Racing and Mustang.
Drag racing was big too, and Ford wanted the Mustang to get a piece of the action. Ford dropped some Fastbacks off at Holman/Moody and one of those cars, complete with a monstrous 427 SOHC, won the Winternationals in 1965. Bill Lawton - that's Mr. Factory Stock Eliminator to you - was the driver.
And then there were sports cars. The SCCA had a class known as B Production and it was dominated by Corvettes. Ford wanted it owned by Mustangs, so it tapped Carroll Shelby to build up the hot GT350 for competition. Fiberglass and plexi replaced metal and glass, and with a hot cam and some suspension tweaks, the GT350 R-Model was born. Guys like Jerry Titus, Ken Miles and Mark Donohue assured Ford dominance and a national championship.
Jumping ahead to 1966, the SCCA, on a roll, formed the Trans-American Sedan Championship based on the FIA's Group 2 rule set. Ford wanted that crown, too. They tasked Shelby with building some Notchbacks to the rule set, made them available to privateers and guys like Titus, and won that championship too, two years on the trot. Essentially GT350 R-Models in coupe form, those notchbacks are now some of the rarest Shelby-built Fords around.
Over 50 years, the cars and the rules have changed quite a bit. When Mustangs first hit the track, most race cars were still required to be registered for the road and bore more than a passing resemblance to their road car brethren, as evidenced by the race-prepped 1966 Notchback in these photos. Minimal and clean, it's hard to imagine the 2015 Mustang looking anywhere near as uncomplicated as this '66.
No doubt any new racing Mustang will bristle with aero aids, gauges, scoops, switches and everything that makes a modern race car modern. But looks are always secondary. It's got big shoes to fill and it's going to have to win. A lot.
June was a big month for our long-term 2015 Mustang GT. We welcomed the summer with two road trips. John O'Dell took a tour of California's Wine Country and I took a few days to check out Sedona, Arizona
In the process, we managed a new best fill (previous was 22.8 mpg), gained almost a full mpg in the overall average (up from 15.5) and extracted a new best-range on a tank (previous was 263.9). The next several months look to be pretty exciting with some changes in store for the Mustang, so stay tuned!
Worst Fill MPG: 9.5
Best Fill MPG: 23.5
Average Lifetime MPG: 16.3
EPA MPG Rating: 19 Combined (15 City/25 Highway)
Best Range: 294.4
Current Odometer: 10,580
Can Tim Cook do a burnout? What about Google's Larry Page? Nissan's Carlos Ghosn or GM's Mary Barra? We suspect Barra can lay some stripes, given her background and engineering experience. But those other guys? Pfft.
But ours can.
Edmunds.com CEO Avi Steinlauf recently took the wheel of our since-departed (sigh) Jaguar F-Type R Coupe, with Road Test Editor Carlos Lago sitting shotgun and showing our chief executive how to generate wonderful plumes of noxious smoke from the rear wheelwells. With 550 horsepower sent through an automatic transmission, the Jag is the perfect foil for our man to stand on the brake and mash the gas.
Things get a little trickier when Avi and Carlos move to the three-pedal 2015 Ford Mustang GT, but our CEO quickly nails the sequence of clutch, brake and modulating throttle. When they engage the Mustang's line lock feature later, the tires don't stand a chance.
Is your car ready for new tires? Are the freshly paved streets in your neighborhood in need of some local art? Don't know how to do a burnout, or just rusty? Click the jump for a primer on one of the most satisfying and primal acts of car control that NHTSA, the EPA and your local law enforcement certainly do not approve of.
I recently compared driving our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT to wearing a fatsuit, which may have left the impression that I had a low opinion of the car.
In point of fact, I ended that post by noting that the car had "totally won me over on an extended drive." But that was a 50-mile jaunt through the Santa Monica Mountains, consisting largely of tight, curvy roads that let our Mustang's sport suspension shine.
With the Mustang key in my pocket for the entire July 4th weekend, I decided it was time to get serious - up the coast to Monterey on Friday, then back to Los Angeles on Saturday.
That's about 650 miles of the best damn blacktop on the planet. And now that I'm back, I'm here to tell you why the new Mustang GT is competitive with practically every performance car you can buy.
Modern Mustangs have never had much crossover appeal. If you wanted V8 power on the cheap in the '80s, '90s or '00s, a Mustang GT made sense. But if you wanted sophistication too, you probably ended up buying something else.
But something happened this time, and it's about more than just the new independent rear suspension (remember, the Cobra had IRS back in the early 2000s and that didn't change many people's minds). Yes, this straight-line superhero now has lateral moves to match, but what's most striking is how well the whole package comes together.
The biggest win is the styling. California Highway 1 through Big Sur was teeming with Mustang rentals, but they all looked so good in the wild that it was like free advertising for the brand. I used to roll my eyes when I saw a cheesy Mustang from Hertz; now I just reflect on how Ford absolutely crushed it with this redesign. When's the last time a common rental car was a genuine object of desire? Ford's fleet strategy is now a de facto marketing campaign as well.
Perhaps most importantly, they really cleaned up the rear end. I could never get down with the previous Mustang's tail. It was too blocky when it came out in 2005 and just plain awkward when it got redesigned in 2011. But now there's that aggressive forward rake, and the taillights have individual fins rather than being one big blob. There's nothing I don't like about it.
That's the way I used to regard the Mustang. It never looked quite right. I should mention the previous generation's separate rear quarter windows, too; remember how they were weirdly high and wrong?
Problem solved. Beautiful. Just make both windows part of the same canopy. You know, like one of those Aston Martins that Ford used to own.
Waking up in Monterey on Saturday morning, I was eager to get back behind the wheel. There aren't too many cars I'd feel that way about after 350 miles the day before. The Recaros were fantastic for the whole trip, by the way. I never got stiff or sore, and I usually do.
On my way out of Monterey, I headed for Pacific Grove, a small adjacent town that came highly recommended.
Pacific Grove is full of old Victorian houses like these. It's a charmingly forgotten corner of the Monterey Peninsula. I was getting that "maybe I should just live here" kind of feeling.
Then a vintage fire truck rumbled through downtown, presumably on its way to a parade. That didn't make the feeling go away.
There's that tail again. Fantastic. The forward slant is a game-changer.
Highway 1, part deux. I could have bailed and taken the freeway home, but this is the kind of car that makes you want to turn around and do it again.
Drivers of earlier Mustangs wouldn't be nearly as enthused about this sign. But our Performance package-equipped Mustang is dialed in. The handling is sharp and controlled through the tight stuff, and that fatsuit feel mostly melts away. It's not far from true sports-car status.
Speaking of sports cars, I daresay there's a little Porsche 911 in the way those hips flare out to the tapered tail. You're not seeing things, Mr. Edmunds. Ford definitely put a dash of Zuffenhausen in there.
I can't condone the black wheels, though. Too often it just looks like there aren't rims at all.
The views on Highway 1 never get old. I try to make it up here at least once a year. I have not been moved to turn any other road into an annual tradition.
I dig the three light bars in each headlight assembly. They help make even the most basic rental Mustang pop.
Stopping in San Luis Obispo for coffee, I got a sudden eyeful of DMC in the rearview.
Fully time-machined out. You never know what's going to drive by in California.
Anyway, what was I saying? Ah yes. The Mustang competes with everything. It really does. Looks great, drives great, full of fun features (adaptive cruise control, anyone?), and it can keep up with just about anything on the road.
This may sound weird, but it reminds me of the Volkswagen GTI. You can buy something more expensive if you want, but there's really no need. If you're looking for one performance car that'll do it all, the Mustang GT is a strong candidate no matter what your budget can handle.
I fished out a 2015 Ford Mustang GT from the Edmunds long-term pool last weekend. It seemed nice enough at first glance. V8 engine, manual transmission - what's not to like?
Then I drove it in typical Los Angeles conditions, Friday evening, near the tail end of rush hour. My evening plan was to have dinner with a friend who lived nearby.
After 20 minutes of driving, I regretted taking the Mustang.
There was a fair amount of stop-and-go traffic and plenty of stop signs on the way to my destination. The Mustang's brakes felt too grabby and I couldn't seem to shift it smoothly, no matter what I tried. Then I started to feel the early stages of motion sickness, something I've never experienced as a driver. All the lurching back and forth was taking its toll.
After dinner, I decided I'd had enough. I didn't want to deal with this for two more days so I drove back to the office and signed out the Dodge Charger SRT8 instead.
I was really disappointed with this Mustang. The last one we had was such a blast to drive and I never had any issues with the brakes or clutch. I suspect the Performance package is to blame here. It might be great on the track, but for the other 95 percent of the time, you'll have to live with its potentially nauseating side effects.
I've yet to try a Mustang without the Performance pack, but from what I hear, the default Mustang GT is much easier to live with as a daily driver.
Our 2015 Ford Mustang GT notified us it was due for its first service during Mark's road trip to Arizona. The Mustang's performance-based maintenance calculator determined our treatment of the car fell into the normal vehicle use interval. The "Oil Change Required" message triggers between 7,000 and 10,000 miles under normal conditions.
More frequent maintenance is required under severe (every 5,000-7,000 miles) and extreme (3,000-5,000 miles) conditions. We made an appointment at our local Ford dealer the moment the Mustang came back to L.A.
James and I took the Mustang and our 2015 Ford F-150 to Santa Monica Ford on a Thursday at noon. The Mustang's first service consists of an oil change and series of inspections.
A tire rotation is also recommended in the maintenance manual, but our Mustang has the optional Performance Package which includes a set of staggered width tires. We could only rotate them left to right, if at all. We decided not to rotate them at all.
The maintenance work called for was minor, but service techs were inundated with vehicles when we pulled in. Still, we were assured the car would be ready by the end of the day and four hours later, it was. But everybody back at our office was too busy to retrieve it, so we picked it up the next day. A minor service meant minimal cost and time. We'll go to this dealer again.
8 quarts 5W-20 synthetic blend oil: $32.88
Oil filter: $6.99
Oil disposal: $3.11
We put 1,678 miles on our 2015 Ford Mustang GT in July, using 110.7 gallons of 91-octane fuel. For the month we averaged just 15.2 mpg, which dropped our lifetime fuel economy from 16.3 to 16.1 mpg.
Our worst fill-up for the month was 11.0 mpg and our best was 19.9, neither one of them records.
As you should with a Mustang GT, we had some big-time fun during the month. Senior Editor Josh Sadlier took a two-day coastal drive to Monterey and back, putting 650 miles on the car. He even managed a new best range of 301.3 miles on a single tank of fuel.
The Mustang GT also served as the training tool to see if our boss, Edmunds.com CEO Avi Steinlauf, could do a burnout. Turns out, he can.
Worst Fill MPG: 9.5
Best Fill MPG: 23.5
Average Lifetime MPG: 16.1
EPA MPG Rating: 19 Combined (15 City/25 Highway)
Best Range: 301.3 miles
Current Odometer: 12,210 miles
It's been a pretty common theme for Edmunds staffers to knock the optional Recaro sport seats in our 2015 Ford Mustang GT, and not just in long-term updates. There's been a lot of grumbling around the office that's never made it into print. I'm here to disagree. Not in general; that would be, well, disagreeable. But I think these Recaros are superb and I'm glad we opted for them.
Of course seats are a personal, extremely body-specific part of cars. No seat is going to fit every body perfectly. We come in too many shapes and sizes for that. But here's what I realized after reading through old posts: Most of the issues aren't even related to seat fitment or comfort.
Nope, for the most part, the gripes leveled at the Recaros have had more to do with a lack of power adjustability, as well as the absence of heating/cooling.
Seriously folks, when did adjusting a seat manually become such a chore for us? And while I'm ranting, why do we need seat heating here in Southern California, where it rarely dips below 50 degrees and it's usually between 70-80 degrees? As for the seat cooling, sure, I wouldn't refuse it. But it's also not a deal-breaker, given the extra support these seats offer up, along with the Mustang's powerful air conditioning system.
Even my good buddy Dan Frio, who is about the same size as me, went so far as to say "Ugh. These seats suck." He said the big bolsters kept poking his elbow on shifts. He must have much bigger guns than me, because I've never noticed this problem.
Not that the Recaros are perfect, mind you. I'm not a fan of leather, especially in sport seats, I much prefer some form of grippy cloth or suede-like material. I wouldn't mind being draped in Alcantara, if you really want to know.
This past Friday I spent two hours and forty-five minutes sitting in super-thick traffic driving home from our annual Edmunds.com summer picnic. Although piddling along for nearly three hours on a stifling hot day is far from a picnic, it really wasn't a huge deal, even with the highly-bolstered Recaros and a manual transmission.
The seats are plenty comfortable, I never once suffered from any numb-butt, yet I also never felt overly constrained by the lateral support. So if I can make it through that experience without being all cranky-pants at the car, what are these other staffer's excuses?
The side mirrors on the 2015 Ford Mustang GT have seemed small to me from the first time I drove the car. Like overly so. But I thought, "Maybe I'm just crazy?" Don't answer that.
So I figured why not compare the size of the mirrors in the Mustang to ones on an even sportier car?
Such as the 2016 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe AWD. We happened to have one in the office the other day, so I got out my trusty measuring tape and the battle was on.
The Mustang's driver-side mirror (the actual mirror, not the housing) came in at 6-1/8th inches wide by 3-1/4 inches tall. The Jaguar F-Type measured 6 3/8th inches wide by 4.0 inches tall. A significant difference in the world of side mirrors.
This was not an exact science, mind you. I measured both dimensions at their respective middles, not necessarily at their widest or tallest points. That seemed most fair.
Bottom line: The sleeker, sportier and considerably more exotic Jaguar F-Type R Coupe has more useable mirrors.
All of which proves: I'm not crazy. But does it really?
The combination of the flat-faced wheel design and the color black make the wheels on our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT boring to a fault. They get lost in photos, they don't work with the car's bright orange profile well and, in my opinion, they just look way too bland. I'm not the only editor that feels this way, but there are a few voices of dissent in the office that like the black wheels and want to keep them.
This leaves us with a few options.
A: Find some different wheels we all like. Buy them.
B: Take off the wheels, buy some spray paint, paint them, see how long it lasts.
C: Leave them as they are and be sad.
D: Stark robotic reversion technology.
If I had my way, everything in our fleet would be riding on a set of Volk TE37SL's (yes, including the trucks) but that's not the only set of aftermarket wheels available. There are classic wheels like the American Racing Torque Thrusts (a personal favorite of mine for muscle cars) or several different wheels available from Ford that look pretty good too.
Painting the wheels is the cheapest option, but probably because it will make the wheels look cheap. With track use and the potential for curbing, it's likely that they'll chip or peel pretty easily.
We've got some modifications in the works for our Mustang and I just don't think we should leave the wheels out of that equation. What would you do?
Between track days, road trips and general slipping and sliding around our favorite industrial-zone roads, the tires on our 2015 Ford Mustang GT wore out quickly.
So we hastened their demise.
If you're looking for a two-door, American muscle car, there are three top contenders on the market right now: the Ford Mustang, the Chevy Camaro and the Dodge Challenger. And if you aren't loyal to a particular brand, there are some details to consider before you decide. The way I figure, each serves a slightly different purpose and appeals to different buyers based on its strengths and weaknesses.
While I enjoyed our long-term SLP Panther Camaro (a 610-horsepower supercharged Camaro is hard to not enjoy) the standard Camaro doesn't quite do it for me. It does feel good around the corners though, especially if you opt for the track-ready ZL1.
The Dodge Challenger is the cruiser's choice in my mind. It's supremely comfortable, great for long road trips and the interior is the most modern. We recently tested a Challenger with the V6 in the SXT Plus trim, and I was seriously impressed by how well-trimmed it was and virtually silent on the highway. If you want bonkers, there's always the Hellcat.
If I was the tinkering type though, and I am, a Mustang GT would be hard to pass up. Every time I drive our long-term Mustang, I think "this would be great if I could change the seats, swap the wheels, take out the rear seat, put a louder sound system in it, tint the windows and make it faster."
I wouldn't buy one in the GT Premium trim we've got, but it hasn't soured me on the pony-car altogether. This blue Mustang in the photo (deep impact blue) is another GT we had in recently for testing. I lapped it around the Streets of Willow road course and drove it around in Los Angeles traffic. I loved it. Longer gears made for less-frequent shifting and the wheels aren't black so they don't look like winter steelies. And that paint is so much more attractive than our orange long-termer.
Basically, there's a good platform to build on. The staff here is split on issues like the Recaro seats, but none of us really hate the Mustang. Our ratings for the Mustang vary depending on how it's equipped, from an "A" all the way down to a "C", but that just proves the point that this car has lots of potential.
Full disclosure: I've owned two Mustangs in the past. It can be said that I'm a "Mustang Guy."
Back in November I wrote up the full test on the 2015 Ford Mustang GT and noted that this latest generation has improved across the board. I still stand by that assertion, but I'd also like to add that I expected more.
I'd hoped the new Mustang would weigh significantly less. It doesn't. In fact, it's 132 pounds heavier than the last V8 Mustang we tested. I'd hoped that it'd be more fun to drive hard. It's not. It's more settled thanks to the independent rear suspension, but now it takes a lot more to whip the tail around. To me, that's fun.
It's really quiet, but I think it's too quiet. There's no theatrical payoff in stock form. If it has a V8, I think we should really feel and hear it. Yes, it's far more refined and easier to live with on the daily commute, as well as on a long road trip. Perhaps for most drivers and owners, the added comfort and easy-to-drive nature are exactly what they need. But I want more fun, a little more madness.
I like it, but I don't love it. I'd still pick a Mustang over the last Camaro, but that may change once I drive the next-gen Camaro. Maybe once we add a few performance upgrades, I'll get that old Mustang giddiness of our previous GT long-termer or the Boss 302. I'm confident the GT 350 will give me the appropriate thrills, but at $50k, it's in a different league.
Yes, the new Mustang is better. It's more sophisticated, mature and probably has a broader appeal. But if you're a meathead like me, you'll want more. Maybe a new trim level that yanks out some of that pesky refinement is the answer.
New Music From New Exhaust
When Ford created the 2015 Ford Mustang GT, they made it appeal to the widest audience possible. That includes normal, everyday people. People who want a cool car, sure, but also want to drive it daily and want it to be as civilized as possible.
Accordingly, we've observed that our long-term Mustang GT has a fairly muted exhaust note. That's fine for the aforementioned normal people and a well-considered decision by the Ford engineers. But we're not normal, and we've wanted to relish in the vocals of the GT's 5.0-liter Coyote V8 since pretty much the first week we bought the thing.
So we did something about it.
Perusing the Ford Racing catalog, we selected the Touring Cat-back Exhaust System, part number M-5200-M8TC. It's a 50-state legal exhaust that promises to let loose the thunder of the V8, so it's right up our alley.
This was purely about acoustics. A big part of the pony-car driving experience is about the sound. We didn't do this in the pursuit of performance gains, nor does Ford claim any performance gain for the Ford Racing catback. Bonus: the new catback sheds about 30 pounds compared to the stock one.
Installation is pretty easy, true. But we'll use any excuse to visit Galpin Auto Sports, who did the labor of swapping the catbacks.
Outside of the service bays, Galpin Auto Sports is a miniature car-guy playground. The customer cars in the front parking lot alone are worth the visit. We saw an old-school Hemi Charger waiting for some work. In their on-site museum was a Cobra 289, a vintage Shelby GT350, a GT500KR, a '60s Mazda Cosmo, an Aston Martin DB6, the crazy Galpin GTR1 and so much more.
Just a badass 1966 Bronco in LeMans-era GT40 livery, built by Galpin and hanging out in the GAS showroom, that's all.
The stock exhaust comes out with the removal of two band clamps and four exhaust hangers. The Ford Racing exhaust has two additional band clamps for packaging ease.
Those two additional band clamps make it possible to juuust squeeze the boxed-up Ford Racing catback into the Mustang's passenger compartment. It'll go in and out through the passenger door, but not the trunk.
The Ford Racing exhaust has revised mufflers manufactured by Borla.
It also omits the stock exhaust's big resonator just aft of the stock X-pipe.
Getting the Ford Racing catback's exhaust tips to exit precisely in the center of cutouts in the rear fascia required a few taps of The Persuader. No exhausts were harmed in the making of this photo.
A perfect fit.
And now it's time to make some noise.
We've got audio clips of before and after that we'll share in a follow-up post. For now, you'll just have to make vroom-vroom sounds while viewing the photos here (additional photos in the gallery above).
New Exhaust, Before and After
Yesterday, Jay reported on the new Ford Racing exhaust system on our 2015 Ford Mustang GT and encouraged you to provide your own exhaust sounds when reaching the end of the photo gallery.
Now, you can stop vroom-vrooming.
Click through the jump to see what our video crew put together comparing the acoustics of the stock exhaust to the new one. There's sound recorded of blipping the throttle outside the car, inside the car, and winding out the throttle on the road.
Leave a comment, let us know what you think of our pony's new sonic signature.
Now That's What I Call Music 5.0
Step one of our performance enhancing campaign on the 2015 Ford Mustang GT is done and I am happy with the results. The new exhaust sounds great, replacing the far-too-quiet stock pipes.
Even better, it doesn't sound too obnoxious. It reminds me of our old long-term Challenger in some ways. A low, smooth burble at idle, a mechanical growl with some pedal and a fierce bellow when it's floored. The throttle overrun also sounds great and it doesn't have any startling backfires or crackles like our dearly departed Jag.
I do, however, expect our fuel economy to take a hit. I find myself holding gears and revs longer to enjoy the music.
In a somewhat related note, here's my short list of the greatest sounding cars I've heard/driven in person:
Porsche Carrera GT
Jaguar F-Type R
Chevrolet Corvette 427 (2013)
Ford Mustang Boss 302
Pretty much anything in the TransAm class at the Monterey Motorsports Reunion
Will the Carpet Cleaner Fit?
When I signed out our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT for the weekend, I didn't know that my roommate would need my help with a big, clunky carpet cleaner. But that didn't stop me from trying to stuff the Rug Doctor in to the Mustang's trunk.
I wasn't really concerned about having adequate space — the Mustang offers 13.5 cubic feet back there — but I was a bit worried about the trunk opening and if I'd break anything trying to squeeze it in there.
With a bit of coaxing though, the carpet cleaner fit in the Ford's trunk with space to spare.
The Mustang's massive taillights force wide objects to be put in a bit awkwardly, then slid sideways and maneuvered into place diagonally. Basically, it's parallel parking for your stuff. I imagine a set of golf clubs would require similar maneuvering but as I don't own a set, I'll have to wait for James Riswick to do the investigating on that front.
New Muffler Only Sings the High Notes
First let me say I didn't feel an overwhelming need to get a louder exhaust for our 2015 Ford Mustang GT. I kinda liked the mellow-yet-throbby sounds from the stock setup, a noise focused more on the 5.0-liter V8 rather than a tuned exhaust.
But that's just me. And no one asked. That said, I typically love a loud exhaust.
If nothing else, this new cat-back system from the Ford Performance Racing Parts catalog proves how difficult it is to build an exhaust that sounds just right at all times.
The first surprise is that if you didn't know there was a new system on there, you might not know there was a new system on there. It takes a well-tuned ear to hear any noticeable difference at start-up or idle. Even trundling around the parking garage it sounds pretty close to stock.
That's a bit of a bummer because a deep, rumbly exhaust at low rpm means you get pleasure all the time, not just when you're hard on the gas.
Even at half-throttle it's difficult to detect much going on here. It's only when you lay your right foot to the floorboard and wind the tach needle up high that this system starts making music — as long as you have the windows down. Windows up, it's far from a hair-tingling experience.
Roll those windows down though, and this thing comes alive. It is loud and pretty dang awesome at high revs, if a bit on the snarly, contrived side like a Dodge Challenger. The problem with this is that, as we found with the 2015 Lexus RC F, big speed or acceleration is required to produce any kind of raucous sound.
What does all of this mean?
It means that I'll be dipping into the Mustang's well of power even more than I already was. Only now with the windows open at all times.
Fuel Economy Update for August - Staying Thirsty
August added another 1,248 miles to our 2015 Ford Mustang GT's tally, and we pumped in 81.6 gallons of gas along the way. The math says that's 15.3 mpg for the month. Our lifetime average has dropped by another tenth, now sitting at an even 16.0 mpg.
Our thirstiest August tank came out to an epic 10.2 mpg, just 0.7 mpg clear of the all-time low. The Larry Lightfoot award goes to Editor Monticello, who threw down a 21.6-mpg tank and set a new range record of 321.6 miles while he was at it.
The Mustang's miles this month were relatively uneventful. We took it in for its first service, panned the tiny side mirrors and ruminated on the wheels and the Recaros (which really are fantastic, by the way; don't let anyone tell you otherwise).
Oh, and we finally put a decent exhaust on it. Sounds pretty mean at high rpm. I predict it will not inspire us to use less fuel.
Worst Fill MPG: 9.5
Best Fill MPG: 23.5
Average Lifetime MPG: 16.0
EPA MPG Rating: 19 Combined (15 City/25 Highway)
Best Range: 321.6 miles
Current Odometer: 13,696 miles
Is a Focus ST the Perfect Compromise?
Our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT is a good car if you want some American muscle with two doors. It's a good car if you don't have adult-sized children or you don't need to carry a lot of stuff on a regular basis. It's an especially good car if you've got $45,000 to spend and you like the color orange.
But if you've got a little bit less money and you need more space for activities, you might wander around on the Ford lot and find one of these: A Ford Focus ST. Specifically, this Mountune-modified Focus ST.
A modified version of the standard Focus ST, we had this this black-with-red-stripes hatchback in for testing recently and I couldn't help but compare it to our long-term Mustang GT. Basically, it's a Focus ST with a series of performance parts that let you keep the Ford factory warranty.
Modifications include a cat-back exhaust ($995), lowering springs ($299), front strut tower brace ($215), Quaife torque-biasing differential and install kit ($999 and $175), a short-throw shifter ($449), Mountune "Ultra High Performance High flow induction hose" ($69) and the Mountune MP275 Performance Upgrade ($1,900).
How does this Mountune version of the Focus ST look when you stack it up against our long-term Ford Mustang GT with its Performance pack? And how much money does it take to bridge the gap between the standard Focus ST and the Mustang?
Here's how the numbers break down.
|2015 Mustang GT||2015 Mountune Focus||2015 Focus ST|
0-60 w/rollout (sec)
1/4-mile (sec @ mph)
|13.0 @ 111.4||14.4 @ 97.38||14.6 @ 96.1|
60-0 Braking (ft)
Price as Tested
*The price listed for the Mountune Focus ST is based on the MSRP of the standard Focus ST we tested. Edmunds TMV is around $28,900.
At first glance, the performance gap between standard ST and its modified step-brother might not seem that far apart. But when you look closer, there's one big difference. Both Focus ST's were riding on Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, but the Mountune Focus gained 0.05g on the skidpad. That's a lot. The Quaife differential has a lot to do with it.
Here are some of Road Test Editor Carlos Lago's comments from the track test: "The ST remains the best-balanced front-drive car on the market. The new Quaife differential helps the front axle dig around corners, while the rear end maintains its playful neutrality. You can throw the Focus around with reckless abandon, use the steering to correct the slides of ever-increasing lunacy, and power out more cleanly than before. In a steady-state skidpad, you can stand right on the limits and stay there, modulating the chassis with all the inputs at your disposal. This is a hugely fun car."
So I'd definitely put the diff on my must-have list. I like the exhaust, so I'd probably shell out the cash for that too. It makes twisty b-roads exponentially more fun and adds to an already-great package. I might leave the other upgrades on the shelf, though.
Even with the 18 additional horsepower, the Focus ST is still significantly slower than the Mustang (no surprise there, really), so I'd use that money towards new (lighter) wheels and tires. Even considering those changes, the Mountune Focus ST seems like a great compromise to me.
You get to keep your factory warranty, increase your fun-factor, and your friends won't complain nearly as much as they would in the back seat of a Mustang. And there's the small matter of the 10 grand you've saved.
Not Quite a Proper GT
I can't tell you what the "GT" officially stands for in our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT's name. I asked the Internet; it didn't know.
What I can tell you is that GT has historically stood for Gran Turismo, or Grand Tourer. Wikipedia says a Grand Tourer is a car that's "able to make long-distance, high-speed journeys in both comfort and style."
Man, this Mustang is almost there. There was plenty of comfort and style on my trip to Monterey, and I dig the car's high-speed composure and refinement.
But to me, a proper GT machine needs a real-world driving range of at least 400 miles. And that's where the Mustang comes up short.
As Monticello noted, my 301.3-mile tank on the way home set a new range record, which has since been eclipsed by Monty himself with a valiant 321.6-mile effort. Not good. We're up over 13,000 miles at this point, many of which have been logged on the open road. The car's had plenty of chances and there's not much to show for it.
Could you theoretically do a little better? Sure you could. The GT's gas tank holds 16 gallons, says Ford, and the EPA highway estimate is 25 mpg. That's 400 miles if you use every drop. Now, you're obviously not going to run the tank dry, and if you've got the optional performance gearing like we do, you're probably not going to see 25 mpg, either.
But let's say you match our current best of 23.5 mpg, and you fill up with a gallon in reserve. That comes out to 352 miles. Closer to respectability.
Still, Ford's making this much harder than it needs to be. Why not put a 20-gallon tank in this thing? You could get 21 mpg — a more realistic figure, in our experience — and still hit 400 miles with about a gallon to spare.
That would be a Mustang GT worthy of the name.
Brings the Noise, Needs the Suspension
I finally got a chance to drive our 2015 Ford Mustang GT with the new Ford Racing exhaust (install, before and after). Allow me to briefly parrot everyone else's comments: It is rad. Super rad.
The new exhaust solves one of my two issues with the Mustang.
The other? The existence of the better-handling and more fun Camaro 1LE. This can't stand.
My chief complaint with our Performance Pack Mustang is the constant movement in the chassis when you settle down into a corner or transition to the throttle or brakes. It's possible this dive and pitch has been purposefully tuned into the car because someone at Ford thinks that's how Mustangs should feel. While it's acceptable in the standard models, you'd hope the Performance Pack would focus on, well, performance.
This chassis movement adds vagueness to the driving experience and makes it less fun. I want this thing hunkered down. The good news is that solutions are readily available. Ford Performance's Track Handling Package looks like a step in the right direction, with new dampers, springs, mounts, anti-roll bars, and links. After that, maybe we should take a page from the 1LE playbook and run equally-sized front and rear tires. Upgrading to a more serious summer tire should help a ton, too.
A Hike, a Bike, and a Track-Day Wedding
Pt 1 | Pt 2
It's funny how things can all come together at once. What started out six months ago as a plan to hike up Half Dome in Yosemite National Park with Road Test Editor Jonathan Elfalan morphed into not just a hike, but also a two-day track event in Monterey at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
But wait, there's more. My friends Dave and Sarah were finally going to get hitched on the Friday evening before the track event. And these crazy track-day monkeys planned to wed not just at the track, but on Mazda Raceway's famous Corkscrew.
Senior Editor Josh Jacquot further complicated matters, as is his wont, by also planning to attend the wedding and track day, and deciding we should squeeze in a mountain bike ride the afternoon of the nuptials.
"Come on man, the Sea Otter course is right there," he said. "We gotta go ride those trails again," he said. "It's been years since we raced on them."
A hike, a wedding, a mountain bike ride and a track day? Seemed the most appropriate of our long-term cars would be a cramped coupe like our 2015 Ford Mustang GT, of course.
For one thing, our Performance Package-equipped Mustang was already vetted as a capable track machine by Dan Edmunds at Willow Springs International Raceway. I'd also been hankering to take it on a road trip, more than anything to prove to myself that it's not too stiffly-sprung for long-haul duty. And maybe most important, the rear seat folds down so I'd be able to load my bike in the back.
The first part of this five-day road trip would be the most physically challenging but, without question, also the most beautiful: A 16-mile hike out-and-back to Yosemite's famous Half Dome. First, though, Jonathan and I needed to get the heck out of Los Angeles on a Wednesday afternoon after a morning at the test track. This is an ordeal all its own (getting out of L.A., not testing cars; the latter is fun).
Traffic was thick and miserable as we slogged north, I in the bright orange Mustang, Jonathan in the long-term 2015 BMW M235i (separate plans after Yosemite called for separate cars).
Making our blast (er, crawl) out of town more interesting was the Mustang's new Ford Performance Racing Parts cat-back exhaust. Windows down, of course. As we jinked around side streets, Jonathan, even a car ahead, could hear the thing reverberate off city buildings whenever I'd get hard into the throttle.
Once we got out of L.A. it was smooth sailing up Interstate 5 north to state routes 99 and 41, bedding down for the night in the small town of Oakhurst, the closest city to Yosemite with reasonably-priced hotels. There wasn't much time to enjoy the road trip though, as we got in late and were back up at 3:30 the next morning to eat, pack our gear and make the hour-and-a-half drive to the Half Dome trailhead in Yosemite.
Jonathan drove while I dozed. I'm old. The young gun made up 10 minutes on the traffic-free curvy roads in the little BMW, while the Mustang sat safely back at the hotel with my mountain bike stuffed inside the trunk.
The hike was incredible, with amazing views, several waterfalls and, of course, the crowning achievement being the final climb up to the top of Half Dome via the legendary cables. A little scary, yes, as you could literally fall to your death at any time. But if you have a reasonable semblance of fitness and aren't overly afraid of heights, I highly recommend you add this road trip/hike to your bucket list. You won't regret it. Yosemite's gorgeous scenery alone is worth its own road trip, let alone the hike to Half Dome.
Half Dome's cable climb is pictured above. I can see how it might appear to the untrained eye that Jonathan (right) has bigger "guns" than me. But he's flexing and wearing a shirt that's two sizes too small. Were I to wear an equally tight shirt, my muscles would look pretty much like, well, exactly as pathetic as they do in the above photo.
After hiking it was back to Oakhurst for a much-deserved dinner, a couple of beers and even a foot massage. Yes, tiny little Oakhurst has a Chinese foot massage place. Who knew?
A Hike, a Bike, and a Track-Day Wedding, Part 2
Pt 1 | Pt 2
I'm an unabashed map fan. Real maps. Made out of paper. I love opening one up, spreading it out and planning the cool route I'll take on my next road trip. Maybe I'm old, maybe it's my romantic outlook on hitting the open road, I'm not sure. But for me, looking at a map on the computer just doesn't give me the same feeling of adventure.
But sometimes, ya gotta go Google. That's what happened the morning I left Oakhurst in our 2015 Ford Mustang GT heading to Monterey. I slept in a bit the morning after the hike up Half Dome and didn't have time to fully plan out my route to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
I was meeting Senior Editor Josh Jacquot and another buddy there for a mountain bike ride before going to a wedding. There are some great trails right outside the track. It's a county park, after all.
So I put myself blindly at the mercy of Google Maps.
I wasn't expecting much. So when my phone said to make a right on Rd 415 in Coarsegold, also known as Raymond Rd, I was thinking, "where the heck is Google taking me?"
Turns out, it was onto a fantastic, decently-curvy road in the middle of nowhere. My kind of road. And a great road to wring out the Mustang. No one to be bothered by its exhaust (even the horses didn't mind much), and with the road nearly empty of traffic, I felt free to ramp up the speed.
Even loaded with my mountain bike and gear, a floor jack and jack stands, tools, chairs, hanging clothes for a wedding and clothes for hiking, biking and a track day, I couldn't resist attacking the turns I came across. Once I properly cinched my cooler into place, that is.
I was struck by the Mustang's balance, its ability to handle curves with ease yet still provide more than enough comfort later on when I wasn't wicking up the pace. I never once thought the car was too stiff, or the seats uncomfortable or overly confining.
In a word: I was happy. And the Mustang felt right at home, V8 and loud exhaust bellowing their music out to...well...no one in particular. Because no one was around. As so often happens in life, the fact this road was completely unexpected was a big part of what made it so enjoyable.
Way too soon the fun was over and I was back among civilization. Later still, Josh and I got in our mountain bike ride, showered up at a campsite bathroom and made it to the top of Mazda Raceway's Corkscrew just in time to see our friends get married. We were told this was in fact the first time anyone ever got married on the actual Corkscrew.
Next up: Two-day track day!
Fuel Economy Update for September - Track Day, New Exhaust Drop MPG Average
You can almost hear Captain Obvious: "If you wanted better fuel economy from your 2015 Ford Mustang GT, you shouldn't have optioned it with a 3.73 rear end, installed a loud exhaust, and taken it on a track day!"
Our Mustang covered 1,706 miles in September and consumed 118.2 gallons of high-octane gas, making for a 14.4 mpg month average. That's the third lowest we've recorded in our 10 months of ownership.
Mike Monticello took it up to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and drove it really fast. In the process, he netted both the worst and second-worst fuel economy we've ever recorded: 5.3 mpg over 81.2 miles on a Saturday and 9.1 mpg over 100.9 miles the following day. Good job, Monticello.
The new, wonderful Ford Racing exhaust has inspired the team to drive a bit more enthusiastically, compounding the "I need to rev more" effect our 3.73 rear end has had on us since Day One.
The average tank fill has settled at around 200 miles. Josh Sadlier noted the low-ish range numbers, a product of the aforementioned final drive, and wondered if enlarging the Mustang's 16-gallon fuel tank would be worth it. Travis Langness compared our GT to a Mountune-modified Focus ST that visited our office, comparing the performance deficit to the roughly $10,000 price difference.
I simply want our orange GT to handle better. Stay tuned: The Ford Racing suspension install happens soon. This also doesn't bode well for future fuel economy results.
Worst Fill MPG: 5.3
Best Fill MPG: 23.5
Average Lifetime MPG: 15.8
EPA MPG Rating: 19 Combined (15 City/25 Highway)
Best Range: 321.6 miles
Current Odometer: 15,530 miles
Path to Performance Potential Requires New Suspension
We're taking the first step down the rabbit hole.
Although our 2015 Ford Mustang GT has shown itself to be respectably fast and surprisingly capable, its handling has left a few of us wanting. It has performed admirably at track days and on curvy roads, but we've found the more you turn up the wick, the less communicative each end of the car becomes. Compounding this vagueness is a constant sense of pitch and roll when you settle the car down into a corner.
We're trying out — deep breath — the Ford Performance Racing Parts Mustang Track Handling Pack (part number M-FR3A-M8). That long name comprises a pair of front struts, larger anti-roll bars, and dampers, springs, and toe links for the rear. The kit also includes new bushings, bump stops, and strut mounts.
Ford says the new springs lower the car around an inch, and the new bump stops account for this difference in ride height. Both anti-roll bars are larger than stock and offer two mounting locations for further adjustment. While the dampers are non-adjustable and the springs progressive, they shouldn't needlessly penalize ride quality. The kit also comes with a 2-year/24,000-mile warranty.
You and a friend could do this in your driveway with minor difficulty in a day or two, though air tools and a lift will make it much easier. The instructions (PDF) available on the Ford Performance Racing Parts website are easy to follow, but note that they call for throwing away a lot of fasteners, and the kit doesn't come with replacements.
We went back to Galpin Auto Sports. GAS made quick work of our Ford Racing exhaust and handled our suspension install with the same level of speed and professionalism.
Reason number 7,345 why vehicle lifts make life easier: Replacing the rear shocks and springs is easy when you lower one side of the subframe and support it with a jack. The new pieces bolt right in.
As this kit is designed to cover all Mustang GT and EcoBoost coupes, the rear toe links that come with it are redundant to our Performance Package-equipped car. Unfortunately, the spherical toe link bushings aren't. Pressing out the existing bushings is the most time-consuming part of the install, even with the help of air tools and a new, corrosion-free California car.
The front suspension is simple. With the wheels and brakes removed, unbolt the anti-roll bar and snake it out of the driver wheel well.
Well, the front suspension is supposed to be simple. After pulling out the anti-roll bar links, we found the driver side link was bent. While we scratched our heads trying to think what would case this, GAS found another link and installed it.
The front struts come pre-assembled, eliminating the need for a spring compressor and bravery. They install without issue, and before we know it, our tech has the car off the lift and ready to go.
The difference is subtle, especially with 180 pounds of ballast in the driver seat, but the change in ride height is most visible when looking at the front wheel.
As for the differences in the driving experience, rush hour prevented me from learning too much. The ride feels generally firmer, but where the car would previously hit an impact and flex around a bit, this sensation felt diminished on my drive. Interestingly, there's a slight increase in steering effort and wheel kickback is more noticeable. What was once accurate and light is now accurate with some heft. This makes small inputs to move off-center feel slightly more precise.
Once the suspension settles, we'll be eager to get it out on track to see the differences. Look forward to a re-test soon.
Even After Other Drives, Still a Keeper
There's a beautiful thing called MPG Track Days that happens every year for those of us fortunate enough to work in this business. It's like a car show with keys — they fill a whole parking lot with the latest models, and you can just hop in and drive as many of them as time permits.
This year's festivities took place at venerable Willow Springs in the high desert north of Los Angeles and my transportation device was our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT. As usual, the Mustang proved an exemplary high-speed cruiser. Wafting along at 74 mph, you might as well be in a luxury coupe, such is the car's refinement and poise.
But you know all about what the Mustang's like on a road trip. So let's pause for a long moment and talk about some of the cars I drove at the event.
Whoa! A Volvo S60 crossover sedan?! I genuinely didn't know this existed. Turns out Volvo's giving the S60 sedan the full "XC" treatment; it's a V60 XC without the wagon on the back. When Volvo starts aping AMC's game plan from the '80s, you know there really is nothing new under the sun.
Why is there glitter on the Fiat 500X's dash? Seriously, is that what the focus groups said? Glitter is better? I'm mystified. Maybe it's just me. (To be fair, it's frequently just me.)
Got a bunch of new Toyota products in this frame. Let's start with the white one, the 2016 Scion iM. Tell you what, it's better than I'd heard. The Corolla engine is a bummer, sure, but the chassis actually feels somewhat responsive, and although the dashboard is oddly vertical, like it's auditioning for Tacoma duty, it contains some interesting materials and design ideas. Think of the iM as a Corolla hatchback, except with that goofy dash and higher seating positions front and rear. If it had a Toyota badge, it'd sell like hot keki.
Speaking of the Tacoma, here's the redesigned 2016 model. It's pretty groovy unless the familiar low driving position makes you yearn for a height-adjustable driver seat, which remains frustratingly unavailable (though understandable; there's scant headroom as it is).
Also, I think the Taco's steering wheel has the least telescoping range of any such wheel in the business. It extends out about an inch. Nonetheless, I deem this truck fantastic. It's solid and quiet at speed, it feels invincible on dirt trails, and I find myself wanting to own one and do manly things with it. I think that means the redesign went well.
Oh, and the new-to-Tacoma, massively better 3.5-liter V6 sounds downright sporty at high revs. The six-speed manual version of this rig is going to be one of the coolest trucks on the market (and incidentally the first stick-shift pairing with this engine since the Lotus Evora).
That's the graphic that shows up every time you turn on the 2016 Scion iA, which, in case you haven't heard, is a rebadged Mazda 2 in sedan form. The good news? The graphic looks slick. Bad news? The car itself looks more like a sad pufferfish.
Happily, it drives rather well. The engine is boomy at high rpm, which is sadly the norm in the subcompact segment, but there's some genuine handling enthusiasm here, and the minimalist dashboard makes it feel like a poor man's Audi A3. I wish there were room for six-footers in the back; there's not. But overall, the iA strikes me as a better-than-average subcompact sedan that's probably not going to sell because it looks like a sad pufferfish.
This blue guy here is the 2016 Lexus RC 200t, which shares its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with the IS 200t sedan and NX 200t crossover. I was really hoping this engine would give the Germans something to think about. In its present state of tune, I'm afraid it doesn't. The German turbo-fours manage to sound bassy and confident despite the cylinder deficiency, and they tend to over-deliver when it comes to performance.
The Lexus turbo, on the other hand, sounds high-pitched and kind of whiny, and I guarantee you the RC 200t won't come close to the BMW 428i's 5.4-second sprint to 60 mph in our testing, even though its output ratings are essentially the same.
By the way, I periodically dream of owning a '90s MR2 Turbo and would love to see Toyota/Lexus crush it with this motor. Maybe it's just a reflash away from greatness. I hope so.
Ah, a non-Toyota. That's a 2016 Volvo XC90, of course, and as our rating confirms, it's darn good. Reservations? I'm 6'1", and when I put the driver seat where it needed to be, my elbows were falling off the back of both the door and center armrests. Swedish guys can be pretty tall, so this is surprising. Also, the third row was a no-go. I didn't have any kind of room: Head, leg or foot. But the styling's fantastic inside and out, and the drive is smooth. If this is a sign of where Volvo's headed under Chinese ownership, I'm intrigued to see what they come up with next.
You may also have noticed the 2016 Miata up there. I'm the opposite of a Miata fanboi, and although the new one's a classier effort all around, it hasn't changed my mind. As long as you can buy a lightly-used Honda S2000 for the same price, the Mazda's just a nonstarter for me. I'll concede that the 2.0-liter motor has more midrange punch than I expected — it feels eager — but there's no high-rpm rush like in the Honda, nor anything like that goosebumpy VTEC soundtrack.
I'm tickled that the Miata exists for shoppers who refuse to buy old cars, but unless you belong to that group, there's still no good answer to the question, "Why not get a nice S2000 instead?"
I saw the above message in two different Infiniti models (the QX50 crossover and the Q70 sedan) while trying to pair my phone. Objection: What if my phone is my audio device? Infiniti's infotainment system used to be one of the best, but clearly it's ready for an overhaul. It's a shame, because both the QX50 and the Q70S aren't bad at all to drive. You just get the sense that they've been left to die on the vine. I'm not sure what's going on at Infiniti these days, but here's hoping there's a new generation of products around the corner that'll get the brand back in the game.
I could go on — in fact, I just did — but suffice it to say that I sampled about 25 vehicles in all and was glad the Mustang was waiting for me at the end. The true test of any car, I think, is how it feels after you've driven other interesting cars, and it didn't take long for the Ford to remind me that it's a peach. I can't imagine ever returning to this car with disappointment in my heart. That's when you know you've got a keeper.
A Hike, a Bike, and a Track-Day Wedding, Part 3
If you've followed our road trip adventure in our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT then you'll know at this point we still had yet to set tires on track. We've hiked in Yosemite, mountain biked on the trails outside of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and even attended a wedding on the Corkscrew. But we had yet to burn up rubber and brake pads in anger.
That changes now.
My first session out on track was a short one. Like, two laps short. I was waiting to give a drive-around to a friend who had never been to the track before, but he was stuck in a rider's meeting for the bike run group. This particular track day offers both car and moto groups.
Let's just say the first time braking for the top of the Corkscrew was "interesting," as the tires hadn't fully reached temperature. Lesson learned: Let the Pirelli PZeros get some good heat in them before you start charging.
The next session I got in a full allotment of laps. What seemed like a snubbed-down and poised car the previous day while charging back roads suddenly felt soft, heavy, and a bit ponderous when pushed on track. Lots of movement going on.
It simply wasn't as sharp as I envisioned as I'd pre-played the track day in my head. Not to say it was bad. Far from it actually, and it was still plenty fun. And although there's a lot of motion, the car is forgiving, and that's important on track.
The Performance Package's bigger Brembo brakes are the real deal. The pedal feel and travel varied some throughout the day, but I never had a true pedal-fade moment, like when I took our long-term 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray to the track. If there's one thing that kills confidence at a track day, it's a fading brake pedal. I was thankful the Brembos held up. I also made sure to do a good cool-down lap at the end of every session.
Engineering Editor Jason Kavanagh was at the track day (shown in the below photo about to head out), and he took the Mustang for a session. We share here at Edmunds. One stint was all he cared to do, however, as he was less-enthused than I and bothered by the vague steering.
I'm probably not as picky as JayKav. Sure, the Mustang isn't a true track car, but it still acquitted itself pretty well compared to most cars out there. It's fast and the exhaust sounds great at full throttle, which, ya know, you're at most of the time on track. Thankfully (and surprisingly), the Mustang didn't blow Mazda Raceway's 92-decibel limit.
The whole day was made more fun by Senior Editor Josh Jacquot. Not because he's such a blast to be around (he does have his one-liner moments), but rather because he brought the long-term 2015 Dodge Viper GT. We had a good time running out on track together, although in truth it wouldn't take him long to say "see ya, Monty" and drop the hammer on Laguna's front straight and lay waste to me. That Viper is FAST.
If you're curious about fuel economy (because that's really important at a track day), I filled up at a gas station a few miles away from the track the night before and re-filled at the same station after the track: the Mustang averaged 5.3 mpg.
What's next? A good night's rest and then back to Mazda Raceway for day two of the track weekend.
In this photo of the Mustang and Viper at rest in Pacific Grove at the previous night's wedding reception, our friend Mike Kent is not only showing off his love of the Mustang's orange paint, but also a great use for his Mitsubishi Evolution's giant rear wing: The perfect perch to sign a wedding card.
Keeping the Wrong Company
I've been pretty open about my affection for our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT. It's a car I'd absolutely buy if I felt like dropping $40k on a brand-new ride.
I managed to find something I don't like, however. If it were my $40k on the line, our long-termer's rough, hard-plastic upper door panels would feel like a slap in the face.
Turns out there's a fix for that, direct from Ford. The last short-term Mustang GT we tested was equipped with something called the Premier Trim with Color Accent Group ($395), which includes "soft door-trim rollovers" on the upper door panels that also get rid of the nasty unfinished edge you can see in the top photo.
But that's not all. Unless you spring for the Recaros, you're stuck with "color-accented seats" as part of this package. Words like classy do not spring to mind.
I'll tell you, there's one other vehicle I've driven recently that had hard upper door panels in front, and it was a base Hyundai Tucson that lists for about $23,000. That's not the kind of company Ford's well-mannered muscle car ought to be keeping. Those "soft rollovers" should be standard across the lineup.
Path to Performance Continues With Short-Throw Shifter
The suspension isn't the only thing sitting lower on our 2015 Ford Mustang GT.
While it was up on the lift at Galpin Auto Sports getting the Track Handling pack installed, we also installed a short-shift kit from Ford Performance Racing Parts.
Along with a new shift lever and knob, the Short Throw Shifter kit (part number M-7210-M8) includes a metal bushing and all the hardware needed for install, including a jam nut, reverse lockout ring, gasket, locking compounds, and grease. Ford claims a 15 percent reduction in throw, while the solid metal bushing means more precise shift action.
Ford once again provides easy-to-follow instructions on its web site (PDF).
Driveway mechanics, take note: This install takes some doing. Removing the shift assembly means lowering the transmission, which means removing the exhaust and driveshaft. We opted to do it during the suspension install, since the car would already be up in the air with its exhaust removed.
Once the gearshift assembly is out of the car, the work is mostly simple disassembly, greasing, and reassembly.
The inclusion of a reverse lockout ring means the shifter retains all stock shifting functions. You just have to be careful that it's oriented the correct direction, which is spelled out clearly in the instructions.
These metal guys here will eliminate some of the isolation in the shifter, increasing vibration and noise in the process.
I feared the worst before the test drive, but was pleasantly surprised to find the shifter makes an improvement. The lever sits lower than the standard one, but the new shift knob is easy to wrap your hand around. The shifter requires higher effort to get into gear, but when combined with the short travel, makes gearshifts feel more precise. Shifting demands more wrist flex, but less arm movement.
The new metal bushings mean you feel some extra vibration when you rest your hand on the shifter. You'll also hear a small amount of gear whine if you drive with the windows up and the stereo off. Chances are you're okay with this if you're someone who wants a short-shift kit.
Whether this kit is worth it depends on how satisfied you are with the stock shifter and how inclined you are to do (or pay for) the install.
A Hike, a Bike, and a Track-Day Wedding, Part 4
For this final installment of our hiking, biking, wedding and track day road trip in the 2015 Ford Mustang GT, I started off the final morning with a photo shoot. Didn't have to drive far; that lead shot was taken from my hotel's balcony.
You might notice I left the numbers, required by Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, on the Ford overnight. No, it's not that I think I'm cool driving around town with numbers on my car. Rather, I'm inherently lazy and didn't want to re-apply them at the track for Day Two.
Plus, Senior Editor Josh Jacquot's wife had done such a nice job applying them on in the first place. Apparently she noticed I was incapable of making a five, kindly shoved me aside and took over. Go ahead and add "taping numbers" to the list of things I stink at.
By the way, anyone know the connection between the number fifteen and an orange Ford Mustang?
Like the first day, Day Two with the Mustang at the track was problem-free. For the second session, Josh and I swapped cars, me into the 2015 Dodge Viper GT, he into the Mustang.
As I was belting in and putting on my helmet, it occurred to me I had never driven our long-term Dodge Viper. Nothing like jumping into an Advanced run group with an unfamiliar car. I told myself I would take it easy the first couple laps, but I instantly went into Viper Goon mode.
I don't know if that's a thing or not, but I stereotypically picture Viper guys driving like goons. Meaning, only so-so quick through the turns, then mashing the throttle the instant the track points remotely straight. Oh and mega late-braking, sometimes taking two cars at a time before turning in.
I can't remember the last time the red mist hit me so hard. Part of it is that, unlike the Mustang I had been driving, the Viper is a real track machine. It's stiff and unforgiving. It keeps you alert at all times. Everything happens so quickly, you never have a moment to breathe. The brakes are fantastic, and of course it's super-stinking fast. The closing rate on other cars was ridiculous. There were times I would pass three-to-four cars on Laguna's main straight, making holes that, well, really weren't there.
Like I said, a goon. The car made me do it.
I had a huge moment when I decided to test the laws of physics by braking crazy late for Turn Two — the "Andretti Hairpin" — after cresting Turn One flat out. Turns out, ABS and worn tires can only overcome so much speed and exuberance. The thing wasn't stopping and the kitty litter was coming fast. Luckily Turn Two is quite wide, and at the last second I came off the brakes and got the thing turned.
Back at the garage, Josh said he heard some squeaking from the Mustang's brakes. We jacked up the car, took off one of the front wheels and inspected the pads. Yep, they were pretty worn. We decided the prudent thing was to park it for the rest of the day.
This car has seen some hard use: A previous track day, Edmunds testing, plus many miles of hard canyon running. We were also under strict orders to bring both cars back in perfectly good working condition (or else), and I'm pretty sure the boss wouldn't include worn-out, squeaky brakes under that definition.
I went for a ride in that thing pictured above, a home-built job with a Yamaha R1 motorcycle engine and a mechanical paddle-shift gearbox. It just about scared the pants off me, only I was wearing shorts. Pants would have been smarter, as the passenger-side exhaust (it's a right-hand-drive car) gets really hot and you feel low enough that you could reach out and touch the ground, although I have no idea why you would try that.
I don't want to think about what would have happened had we hit a wall. Life's short; take chances?
It was a great five days. I came away awed by the Viper's track ability and impressed with the Mustang as a road trip car that can haul a fair amount of stuff, and also some butt on a proper back road. It's not a pure track machine by a long stretch, and it's nowhere near as fast as the Viper. But that's okay. It just means you have to work a little harder to pass cars. And it still provided plenty of thrills.
I wouldn't shy away from taking the Stang to a track again, if given the chance. Or the Viper for that matter, even if it does bring out my inner goon.
15,000 Miles and Counting
We usually try to document our long-term cars exactly as they turn the odometer over every 5,000 miles. To the zero. A bit silly, yes, but it's one of our things. And ya gotta have "things."
During the reporting of my award-winning four-part series “A Hike, a Bike and a Track-Day Wedding,” I was aware our 2015 Ford Mustang GT was approaching the 15,000-mile mark.
Yet I can't tell you what was consuming my time on the drive home from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca that kept me from noticing the exact moment. Maybe Senior Editor Josh Jacquot, driving the 2015 Dodge Viper GT, was talking my ear off on the phone about where he wanted to eat lunch (for a scrawny guy, he gets awfully cranky when he's hungry). Or maybe I was rockin' out to Shania Twain on the stereo. I have no idea. But I completely missed the turn-over point. Off by 96 miles, in fact.
"Swim, swammy, slippy, slappy...oh, Samsonite. I was WAY off."
Okay, enough with the Dumb and Dumber quotes. So how has our Ford Mustang GT been holding up?
Not bad, thanks for asking. Despite some serious use, including multiple track days and a "teach your CEO how to do a burnout" day, the Mustang has been pretty much bulletproof. A few editors have complained of a thud or clunking when shifting, and the passenger seatback release lever can be a bit fussy, but that's about it.
We're impressed with its durability.
We've also made some improvements. Most on staff felt the 'Stang's exhaust was too quiet, so we added a Ford Racing Performance Parts cat-back exhaust. To improve further upon our Performance Package's upgraded suspension, we recently added a few even more serious suspension bits.
It's also just about due for its second set of tires. Like I said, we've been driving the snot out of this thing. And having a blast.
Self-Clearancing Trunk Deck Lid
This scar on the underside of our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT trunk lid is self-inflicted. That is, it's the consequence of a build-quality issue rather than something that was user-induced.
Let's zoom out a bit. I noticed the abraded spot on the deck lid when I popped the Mustang's trunk. At first I assumed this was the outcome of some improperly-loaded cargo. But when I took a closer look it became obvious that it was not caused by impact.
That, and the half-inch scar is duplicated on the corresponding opposite end of the deck lid (see yellow arrows above).
The bit that's fouling the deck lid is circled above. The bottom edge of the plastic trim pieces adjacent to the taillights rubs the decklid.
Here's a zoomed-in look at one of the offending areas. Note the witness mark on the plastic and the paint dust on the bumper cover.
A quick search suggests we're not the only Mustang owners to observe this phenomenon. Were it my car, I'd probably hit the protruding plastic bits with some emory paper, give the scuffs a once-over with touch-up paint and call it good. But I am curious whether there's a proper fix to this issue that's been ginned up by Ford, like a set of replacement plastic panels or simply a trunk readjustment.
Animals Agree — It's Loud
I came across the above scene while taking our 2015 Ford Mustang GT up my favorite road. The mountain pass has the perfect recipe. It winds and winds for miles heading to nowhere in particular, and it's empty on weekdays. It also has, free for use, an extended sonic amplificatory chamber.
The proper Loud Car Tunnel Test procedure calls for slowing down before entering. Second gear's good; you'll get a few clean, wide-open throttle gear changes.
It goes by quick in the Mustang. Almost a bark. In third, you get more time to listen as the engine works through the tach. You can hear the change in character, the nuances as the power swells. The Mustang develops a crackle above 4,000 rpm, and the solid bushing in the short shifter adds a high-pitched gear whine. (My girlfriend would later say it sounds like a rocket.)
Also, it’s hilariously loud. I emerged the other side of the tunnel quite satisfied with myself and the noise I'd produced. Others weren't as happy.
As I came around the next corner, I came across two rams. They were running away. Fast. They had heard what was bearing down on them. They didn’t know what kind of terrible and angry animal was quickly bearing down on them, and they certainly didn’t plan on being around when it showed up.
I slowed down and took a few pictures as they continued on, eventually climbing the hill and disappearing. I pulled over in a nearby car park to admire the view.
Sorry, I said to the rams.
But not sorry.
Noisy Shifter Reminds You That You're Driving a Machine
The short-shifter in our 2015 Ford Mustang GT makes noise. It isn't loud or annoying. Turning up the radio or rolling the window down mostly masks it. But the sound is prevalent.
You can hear the whine of meshed gears spinning and the clunk of the shifter engaging. Rest your palm on the knob and you'll feel vibrations, too. These are important sensations, constant little reminders that you're using a machine.
The car is the most complex mass-produced consumer good in existence. We often take for granted, as new cars require less and less from owners. They're better isolated than ever before, and need little care outside of fuel, tire pressures, and oil changes. Sometimes even less.
Despite this, there are countless things happening inside. Gears, springs, innumerable tiny and controlled explosions. Things are acting and being acted upon.
When you're cruising on the freeway to work you are riding on a machine comprised of humanity's understanding of applied physics.
This can be too easy to forget.
An Unmistakable Cone of Irresponsibility
I left the taco joint in our 2015 Ford Mustang GT and pulled up to the stoplight. A Subaru WRX STI pulled up alongside, and "it" began.
"It" reminded me of an old Simpsons episode, where Principal Skinner calls in Homer and Marge to talk about Bart's behavior and the negative effect it has on those around him. Not only does the principal have a map showing the area of effect Bart has, he also presents the parents with a wonderfully needless 3D model depicting "an unmistakable cone of ignorance."
Our Mustang? It does something similar to the responsibility of your driving habits. It's loud, it's lowered, and it's orange. It doesn’t help that the high-rpm sound is rewarding and easy to access thanks to the super short gearing. Same goes for the new short shifter, which makes banging gears fun.
Like any great car, our Mustang encourages and rewards bad behavior from its driver. But it was at this stoplight that I realized its unmistakable cone of irresponsibility stretches outward.
I took it easy away from the light when it turned green, by the way. The STI didn't. With possibly the loudest and most obnoxious exhaust I've ever heard on a flat-4 Subaru, he blared ahead down into the residential street, reaching for Speed Category: Plaid.
Maybe our Mustang should have a warning sticker: "Not Responsible for Your Irresponsibility."
Tires and Tribulations
To say that we've enjoyed our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT might be a bit of an understatement. A more expressive exhaust and a revised suspension have injected new life into the car and moved it back up the ladder of in-demand vehicles.
Senior Road Test Editor Mike Monticello drove the Mustang to a track-day wedding on Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Soon after, Photo Editor Kurt Niebuhr stormed around at a Willow Springs track day. A week later, the Mustang was called in to perform skidpad duty during a driving school event.
By this point, the tires were quite literally coming apart.
Halfway through its day at driving school, Vehicle Testing Manager Mike Schmidt mercifully halted our Mustang flogging while I made a few calls to procure a set of new OE replacement Pirelli PZeros. This was a Thursday afternoon. If I couldn't get a new set of tires by the next day, we would have to park the car for the weekend.
Tire Rack gave us the best price and shipped the tires out the same afternoon for next-day delivery. After driving school, I grabbed the Mustang keys and drove very carefully from Willow Springs back home to my apartment in Los Angeles.
Stokes Tire Service in Santa Monica called the next morning to tell us the tires had arrived. I made an appointment for that afternoon, intending to head straight home afterwards and enjoy the Mustang for the weekend. But what should've been a simple service immediately went south when we couldn't find the key for the locking wheel lugs. We searched every pocket, cubby and crevice of the car only to come up empty.
I believe it was lost to the same place that socks go when they're consumed by the dryer. That or it's on the workbench of the last person to remove the wheels.
We purchased these locks from Ford, so I thought I was in luck when I saw a dealership directly across the street. They must have a master set of keys in the service department. My plan was to have Ford remove the locked lugs and replace them with standard lugs borrowed from the tire shop. I would then go back across the street and complete the tire service.
This failed fast.
After going to the garage and checking, I was told that the guy with the master key was busy and that I could come in the next morning to remove the four lugs.
Cost for lug removal would be $65.
I passed and went back to the tire shop and asked if they had another solution. They had one, but it was guaranteed to damage the lugs and possibly the wheel. I told them to go ahead and accepted that I might have to explain to my boss why our Mustang had four damaged wheels.
Their answer to the problem was to tap on a bolt extractor socket and then back the lug off. These sockets have spiraled spines that catch on the lug. Then it's a simple matter of backing it off using a ratchet or breaker bar. The risk was that there was a chance the socket could slip off of the lug while under load and hit the wheel.
For the first time that afternoon, everything went as planned.
The troublesome locks were removed and placed where they couldn't cause any more problems: the garbage. Better still, there was absolutely no damage to the wheels.
Once we disposed of those pesky locks, things went as I had hoped a few hours earlier. Old tires were off, new tires were on, and I had a weekend of fun in our Mustang GT ahead of me.
Total cost: $1,229.12
Total Days out of Service: None
Those Seats, Though
Something changed between our last Mustang and our 2015 Ford Mustang GT. Either the Mustang's pedal box grew further apart from the steering column or I shrank a couple of inches. Or I'm just imagining things.
Or it could be those seats.
Opinion is widely mixed here in-house, but I like the Recaros — once I'm in them, anyway. I don't especially like the solid piece of plastic between the cutouts for, ostensibly, shoulder harnesses, that the base of my skull bumps into when driving. But they complement the rest of the car's performance intentions, so I'm glad we got them.
But these seats clearly seem intended for taller drivers. And at 5-foot, 7-inches, that I can't claim to be. I'm pretty sure I was the same height when we had our 2011 Mustang, but in that car, I didn't need to slide the seat forward to reach the pedals, then aft to slide out of the car. Compounding the problem are the Recaro's tall thigh bolsters and my preference for dropping the steering column usually to the lowest setting.
All of which makes for an awkward entry/exit if I leave the seat positioned for where I need it to reach the pedals. Our old Mustang had standard leather six-way power seats, with lower, supple thigh bolsters that you could just slide over, and I don't recall needing to slide so far forward to catch the pedals.
I've grown accustomed to the rail slide during my stints with the Mustang and it's sort of an automatic sequence now. But I'd be bummed if I had to deal with it every day as an owner, and it's something you might overlook during a quick test drive.
Source of Mysterious Noise Identified
The saga of our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT didn't end when the wheel locks were removed with force. It was a goat rodeo that was just beginning.
I drove our Mustang shortly after it received its new tires and noticed a muted, grindy rubbing noise from the front end when taking left turns with a modicum of spirit (I thought it was from the driver side, others said the passenger side). It would also elicit the noise with the wheel turned full right lock when in reverse.
I put it up on our Rotary Lift the next day to have a looksee. I discovered two areas of concern.
First was that the Ford Racing stabilizer bar had clearly rubbed the chassis on both sides. The contact points were near the bar's sharp 90-degree bend on either side. This was unexpected, but not terribly alarming.
More puzzling was evidence that the inside edge of the driver's front wheel had rubbed the strut body. It was a light rub, and the clearance between wheel and strut was clearly smaller on the driver side than on the passenger side.
As I type this, it is screamingly obvious what was going on. But at the time the explanation was elusive. I was unaware that the car had recently received new tires and had no reason at all to question things from that perspective. Was the rub related to the new Ford Racing struts? A bent knuckle (extremely unlikely, but all options were on the table)? Something else?
I took the Mustang back to Galpin Auto Sports to have them check things over. The stabilizer bar rub was something they'd never seen before, and they've done more than a dozen of these Ford Racing suspension installations on 2015 Mustangs. The wheel rub was a head-scratcher. After they had a good, long look under there and gave all the bits a clean bill of health, they sent the car off to their alignment guy to see if the wheels were pointed in the correct direction. Maybe that would help narrow things down.
While the car was at the alignment shop, I pondered what could be causing the intermittent wheel rub along with the technician that had done the poke-and-prod. At one point he asked if the wheels had been removed recently. I couldn't be certain (one of the downsides of not driving the same car every day), but shoot, maybe someone did mention something about new tires? I dunno.
Then it clicked. The Mustang has staggered wheel widths.
Of course, what had happened was that when the car got new tires, the tire shop inadvertently put a rear wheel on the driver's front corner and vice versa. Each corner of the car was wearing the correct tire size, but two corners had the wrong wheel in place. Doh!
I felt like a rube, missing something so obvious. Even when I had the wheel off, I never thought to check the size specs cast into the inside of the spoke. I guessed I'm just accustomed to 'square' tire and wheel setups. Stagger just isn't on the brain.
The half-inch difference in wheel widths front to rear, plus the 7.5 mm (0.3 inch) difference in offset was enough to result in a very light and intermittent property dispute up front. There was no issue with the front wheel at the back of the car.
Galpin swapped the tires from the offending wheels and put them on the correct corners of the car. Wheel-to-strut rub solved. The stabilizer bar rub remains a mystery, and a bit disheartening given the factory-blessed nature of the hardware, but it's pretty benign in the grand scheme of things. At some point I'll throw a couple of movement-limiting rubber collars on the bar right near its mounts. That'll probably lick it.
The last issue was that the alignment guy realigned the car back to factory specs rather than the Ford Racing specs I'd requested. Argh. So the car went out again for yet another alignment after this episode.
Now, at least, all is as it should be with this car, and we'll be able to move forward with driving impressions and track testing.
The Engine Just Shut Off
I am sitting here at the test track in our 2015 Ford Mustang GT. It's early still and there is time to kill before the rest of the crew arrives. The Mustang is idling so I can listen to music while eating my breakfast.
A chime from the car catches me by surprise. It is accompanied by this warning on the IP. The countdown starts at 30 seconds but I can't get a decent photo until it reaches 1 second. And then it makes good on its threat.
The engine shuts off.
I haven't experienced this feature before. It's managed in the vehicle settings menu and can be set for either 10 or 15 minutes, with one extension allowed if "ok" is clicked during the countdown. That makes for a total of 20 or 30 minutes depending upon the setting.
I imagine this function is more important to somebody using remote start to warm up their car than to a guy trying to eat his egg sandwich. But it's there anyway.
Awkward Dipstick Location
Our 2015 Ford Mustang GT wins the award for the most awkwardly placed dipstick of this model year. There it is on the right, tucked down beneath the strut tower brace. The dipstick pulls out about 3 inches before it must be bent significantly to circumvent its neighbors.
Once out, the dipstick is clear enough to read. But the extraction process remains a bit of a chore, as does the return trip to its sleeve. I should add that this problem is unique to GTs with the performance package. Access is not a problem for the other available Mustang engines, including the 5.0-liter models without it.
Fuel Economy Update for November: Awesome Exhaust, Awful Efficiency
Our 2015 Ford Mustang GT's awesome new Ford Racing exhaust continues to be, well, awesome. I found myself driving in third and fourth on the highway this morning just to revel in the noises that so wonderfully enhance the big 5.0 V8.
When I told this to some fellow editors they all nodded their heads with a knowing smile as if to say, "Oh yeah, I do that too."
In related news, our lifetime fuel economy went down in October and November to 15.7 mpg. True, that's only one-tenth of an mpg, but it's still quite awful given the EPA rating of 19 mpg combined.
Worst Fill MPG: 5.3
Best Fill MPG: 23.5
Average Lifetime MPG: 15.7
EPA MPG Rating: 19 Combined (15 City/25 Highway)
Best Range: 321.6 miles
Current Odometer: 18,021 miles
Performance Testing Redux
The Mustang is one of the most commonly modified vehicles in history. We decided to join the party with our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT by making it a lot louder, a little lower and its shifts slightly shorter. Finally, we wrapped the Mustang in fresh rubber and traced down the source of a mysterious noise.
As with all our long-term test vehicles, we tested the Mustang shortly after it was purchased. With all these new parts installed, we put Senior Editor Josh Jacquot behind the wheel for another go. Like many modifications, the numbers alone don't tell the full story.
0-60 w/rollout (sec)
1/4-mile (sec @ mph)
13 @ 111.4
13 @ 111.8
60-0 Braking (feet)
Price as Tested
Vehicle: 2015 Ford Mustang GT with Performance Package and Ford Performance Parts
Driver: Josh Jacquot
Price as Tested: $48,627
Drive Type: Rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Six-speed manual
Engine Type: Naturally aspirated V8
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 4,951/302
Redline (rpm): 6,700
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 435 @ 6,500
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 400 @ 4,250
Brake Type (front): One piece ventilated disc with six-piston fixed calipers
Brake Type (rear): One piece ventilated disc with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type (front): MacPherson strut with anti-roll bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink, anti-roll bar, monotube dampers
Tire Size (front): 255/40ZR19 96Y
Tire Size (rear): 275/40ZR19 101Y
Tire Brand: Pirelli
Tire Model: PZero
Tire Type: Asymmetrical, summer
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,786
Ford Performance 2015 Mustang Short Throw Shifter Kit (M-7210-M8)
Ford Performance 2015 Mustang Track Handling Pack (MFR3A-M8)
Ford Performance 2016 Mustang GT 5.0L Cat Back Touring Exhaust System (M-5200-M8TC)
0-30 (sec): 2.2
0-45 (sec): 3.4
0-60 (sec): 4.9
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 4.6
0-75 (sec): 6.7
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 13.0 @ 111.8
30-0 (ft): 27
60-0 (ft): 110
Slalom (mph): 72.2
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.95 (0.96 w/ESC on)
RPM @ 70: x 2,100
"Best run using launch control at 3,400 rpm. Shifter allows rapid shifts, but feels bad for tranny. No new news here. Launch control removes most of the technique from the launch, leaving only the trial-and-error of picking launch rpm. I had one run several tenths quicker but forgot to hit the log button. Couldn't duplicate after many attempts.
Extremely solid pedal has almost no compliance, which hurts feel. Matters little in full ABS stops, however. Consistent. No pedal fade.
Slalom: Feels truly drivable through slalom. Predictable, intuitive, well-controlled. Better than before. Track mode allows a reasonable amount of limits-exploring. Even small slides are permitted and controllable. Possibly this is the only noticeable difference versus the last test with wheels in the wrong place.
Skid pad: No improvement over last test. Handling balance still very different clockwise vs. counterclockwise with counterclockwise balance allowing far more adjustment at the limit. Clockwise, only wants to understeer.
Hazy Rear View
About a year ago, I took our long-term Nissan Rogue on a road trip to the Pacific Northwest and encountered a problem with the rearview camera. Temperatures below 30 degrees compromised the camera's usefulness, basically making it pointless during an Oregon winter.
When things got foggy here in Los Angeles last week, I had a similar problem with a rearview camera, but this time it was on our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT.
The marine layer settled in while the Mustang was parked outdoors and the camera was nearly blinded. The photo above was shot is my parking garage, just after moving the Mustang indoors. I couldn't see the parking pole on my right, nor could I clearly make out the car parked on my left. I checked the lens, wiped it clean with the corner of my t-shirt and this was still the view out of the back. Apparently, the light mist had gotten inside the camera.
The next morning, the camera had cleared up completely and returned to workable condition so I doubt we'll have this problem again anytime soon. For the short period of time it took to back up in to my spot, it was easy to go old school and rely on the rearview mirrors, but if I theoretically paid for the camera on my Mustang, I'd want to be able to use it at all times.
Finding and Fixing a Speed Hole
While walking up to our 2015 Ford Mustang GT last night, I noticed something hanging out under the passenger side of the front bumper. Our Mustang sits a little lower thanks to its Ford Performance suspension. It looks like someone found out the difference in ride height the hard way.
We've got a speed hole. These things spread quickly, so I jumped to action with a few screwdrivers.
The hard black plastic on the front is supposed to be the outer layer, while the more pliant stuff behind sits on top of it. Somehow, it received enough of an impact to pop it out. It seems to have been like this for a bit, looking at how the rubber has been grounded away.
After a few minutes of patient wedging, I was able to get the flap folded back over the hard plastic. It's still bent a little bit from having been pushed out, but at least the speed hole is gone.
Auxiliary Gauges Are Entertaining, If Little Else
Our 2015 Ford Mustang GT's optional Performance Pack includes these two auxiliary gauges. They show oil pressure and vacuum (boost on Ecoboost models), and they are superfluous on a stock car.
Brent Romans gave an overview and debated their usefulness, but I want to take a closer look. Some might argue that a vacuum gauge is helpful for driving in a more fuel-efficient manner. This is true, but this argument vanishes like tire smoke when you're pairing 435 horsepower with a 3.73 final drive.
Monitoring oil pressure helps when you're worried about it dropping, like when sustaining more than 1.0 g in a long corner. Two problems, however:
One, you shouldn't have to worry about this when you're in a car that can sustain 1.0-plus in a corner from the factory (that's a problem that the engineers' who built the thing should've solved). And two, the gauge is out of the driver's field of view, which makes it hard to check when you're actually sustaining that 1.0 g-plus.
On the upside, the gauges are entertaining. When you nail the throttle, all the needles go to the right. And that's the fastest direction — unless you're Aston Martin.
Interesting to note that the topline, performance-orientated Shelby GT350 doesn't come with auxiliary gauges until you add the $6,500 Track Package or $7,500 Technology Package. Then it adds an oil pressure gauge like the standard Mustang, but replaces the vacuum gauge with an oil temperature gauge.
In our Mustang, I'm thankful there's still a digital oil temp readout accessible in the gauge cluster. It's easier to reference when you're driving hard, which is what our Mustang begs for.
I was sitting at the red light minding my own business, wife riding shotgun, young daughters in back, our orange long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT idling through its Ford Racing/Borla pipes.
I had just agreed to stop at Bristol Farms for cookies when a white BMW M4 coupe pulled alongside on my left. It looked good. Lowered. Big meats. Black wheels. Sounded good too through its own aftermarket exhaust.
I looked over.
The guy's windows were black. Full limo tint. I could see nothing but my own reflection. Didn't matter. Street racing is for idiots and the guys from the 405. Anyway, my family was in the car. I wasn't looking for trouble.
Besides, chances are the guy in the BMW hadn't even noticed my Ford.
Wrong. He noticed.
When the light turned green we both pulled away as if the other guy didn't exist. And we kept up that facade until we'd both shifted into second gear. And then it was on. We weren't racing or breaking any laws, but we played a bit. Just two car guys in cool rides letting each other know they were part of the same club. Mutual respect.
Traffic was very light and the fun lasted for about a mile. Even my kids were into it. And then I peeled off into the Bristol Farms parking lot for cookies. I parked and waited in the car as my family ran into the store. A few minutes later, a young Asian guy was standing at my open window.
"Is that the factory color?" he asked, motioning toward the Mustang.
I was sort of surprised by the question. I stammered a bit and said, "It is. Competition Orange. Too Dukes of Hazzard?"
"I don't think so. I love it. Looks great. Are those the factory wheels?"
"They are," I said. "Part of the Performance Package. We did lower it a bit, but the wheels and tires are stock."
"Who's exhaust? Sounds mean."
After a few minutes, we were interrupted by my family returning with the cookies. A quick goodbye and he was gone.
"Who was that?" my wife asked.
"I don't know," I said. "Some guy that liked my car. Came out of nowhere."
My daughter handed me an oatmeal raisin. "Dad, that's the guy driving the white BMW," she said. "It's parked right over there."
I looked over. The kid was right. The guy was climbing into the white M4 just a few parking spots over. I hadn't made the connection because of his limo tint. I hadn't seen his face before he was standing beside my car. Had I known, I would have asked him a few questions about his ride.
Heck, I would have even offered him a cookie.
Will the Television Fit?
It's not some cool road bike or a big carpet cleaner, but last week's cargo in our 2015 Ford Mustang GT was definitely precious. It was my mother's Christmas gift, a 40-inch television. Wrapped, tagged and primed for placement under the tree, the TV was ready for transport. But first I had to squeeze it in the Mustang's trunk.
Trunk space alone wouldn't cut it, no matter which angle the TV was positioned at. If the subwoofer weren't in the way and the TV were half as tall, it might've fit behind the rear wheel arches, but this bad boy had to be laid down on its side. I didn't want the TV sitting upright in the back seat — in case of hard braking, I didn't want it falling forward — so I laid down the rear seats and placed the big box on its back.
This left the TV in plain sight and I felt uncomfortable leaving it unattended in parking lots, so this meant no extended stops along the way. If I'd brought the TV home in the Mustang, I would've gone straight home to avoid the possibility of a break-in. With a few other bags wedged in around it, the TV stayed right where it was supposed to and all the pixels were in perfect working order when we delivered it to my mother that night. We got to watch the basketball game in crisp HD on Christmas morning.
Ride Height Makes Me Happy
If I had my way, most of the cars in our fleet would be lowered. Put some new wheels on the SRT8 and move it closer to the ground. Our M235i is cool, but put an exhaust on it and drop it, then suddenly you've got an infinitely cooler BMW. The Miata is great too, but who doesn't want wider tires and a lower stance on a car that does so well in the canyons?
It's about function first, but form doesn't hurt either and our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT is now a great example of the two living side-by-side.
The upgraded suspension is stiffer than stock, but feels better under cornering loads and it doesn't rattle the brains out of your head on bumpy roads. And it looks great. With about a one-finger gap all the way around, the Mustang stands out.
Instead of the way-too-tall, modern muscle-car look, it looks like a car that means business. This is no V6 rental car. I'm an adamant supporter of modifying cars to personalize them and this is a series of modifications I'd certainly do if a Mustang GT were in my personal garage.
A Friendly Group
When I took our Corvette Stingray to Monterey for the weekend, I couldn't hide from all the enthusiastic Chevy owners and admirers that wanted to talk about the car.
When I drove our SLP Panther Camaro, there was some very specific praise, but not a lot of love from other Camaro owners. And after driving around for a week in our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT, I noticed there was plenty of love to go around.
A '67 Fastback and a late-90's Cobra Mustang passed me on Pacific Coast Highway. They both waved and smiled. Naturally, I waved back and gave the car-guy nod.
Later in the day when I ended up at my favorite fish spot on the coast, Neptune's Net, there was a group of Mustang owners already there. They all waved, gave head nods and, most importantly, the car-guy thumbs-up.
More than a stand-alone anecdote, I've had this kind of experience in the Mustang several times, especially now that it sounds so good. Even M4 guys like it. Are people just friendlier when you own a more iconic car? Maybe it's just the nature of driving a bright-orange muscle car, but this thing gets a lot of attention, most of which is positive.
If the approval of other drivers is important, driving a Mustang might be the right choice.
Would You Rather a Jag?
No, I'm not talking about our dearly departed F-Type R coupe. The supercharged Jaguar/Land Rover V8 is a thing of beauty that makes anything containing it worth the price of admission. End of story.
But how about an F-Type S with the six-speed manual? It starts at $77,300 for 2016. Some folks think it's the man-eating cat's meow.
I'd rather be driving our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT.
Hey, don't look at me; look at the numbers. The manual F-Type's 380-horsepower supercharged V6 yielded a 5.2-second sprint to 60 at our test track, with the quarter-mile arriving in 13.5 seconds at 103.9 mph.
At last check, our long-term Mustang GT laid down a 4.8-second sprint en route to a 12.9-second quarter at 111.5 mph.
Interestingly, the curb weights were almost exactly the same on our scales (3,778 pounds and 3,777 lbs, respectively), so this was basically powertrain versus powertrain. The trap speeds suggest that the 435-horsepower Mustang has even more of an edge than the 55-hp rating gap suggests, and indeed, according to the Hale formula, the 'Stang is pumping out a real-world 421 hp to the F-Type's 331 hp.
But it's about the feel, you'll tell me. The character of the car.
Again, I'll take the Mustang. The trusty shifter is miles better than the Jag's imprecise, uninvolving stick. Subjectively, the Ford V8 seems just as refined as the Jaguar V6, and it thrills where the lesser motor merely amuses. Of course, the F-Type is a beautiful thing, 350Z-aping nose notwithstanding, but I continue to believe that Ford nailed the styling on the current Mustang. It's a stunning car that doesn't look the least bit cheap or tacky.
And having just spent a week in a Lincoln MKC with the new Sync 3 infotainment system, which the Mustang also gets for 2016, I can tell you that Ford has put its MyFord Touch troubles firmly in the rearview. Sync 3 is one of the quickest, sharpest and most intuitive interfaces on the market. It's another reason to buy a Mustang and not look back.
In conclusion, I said it before and I'll say it again: the latest Mustang GT competes with everything. Even if the money meant nothing to me in this case, I'd still get the Ford and spend the extra $40k on, I don't know, all sorts of fun stuff. An E55 AMG wagon and a maintenance fund, for example.
I do like the Jag's wheels, though, in that they're silver and therefore don't disappear in most kinds of light and make the car look like it’s riding on four spares. That's one thing I'd rather our Mustang did differently.
My Favorite Car in the Fleet
I may have logged the most miles in our Dodge Viper, driving it across the country and all, but I've spent the most nights with our 2015 Ford Mustang GT. Why? It's become my favorite car in the fleet. Like any car enthusiast, I have a predilection for fast, loud, and rear-drive cars. Our fleet has a few of these, but only the Mustang meets the obscure Venn diagram of things I look for.
For example, our Viper is loud, but it doesn't sound good. Our BMW M235i sounds good, but it isn't loud. The Mustang does both, and this sound adds to the overall character. It's a bright orange muscle car with black wheels and a lowering kit.
It gives off a vibe, man.
Its six-speed manual makes extracting the thrust accompanying that sound satisfying. The short-shifter feels positive and the exhaust makes a rewarding bark when you match revs. The short final drive means you have to shift a lot — sometimes to the detriment of overall acceleration — but you don't care, because the process feels good.
Crucially though, our Mustang combines old-school muscle car traits with creature comforts and tech features in a way that diminishes neither. Despite its faults, the Sync infotainment system remains a powerful tool. The surrounding switchgear and trim gives the overall interior a thoroughly modern appearance.
Plus, you're sitting in Recaro bucket seats. Having spent time in cars with cages, harnesses, and a HANS device, I've developed a mental association with safety and the bear hug of a bucket. Past that feeling, the lateral support means you can load the car up hard in a corner without needing to brace your knees against the tunnel and door.
Our Mustang does a great job of that, too. You may not suspect it, but the Mustang's capabilities on a real-world mountain road, whether to me or the car or motorcycle ahead, are always surprising. It's this performance, daily comfort, and gratifying driving characteristics that you might not expect from a Mustang.
Short Gearing Makes It Slower
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the optional 3.73 final drive in our 2015 Ford Mustang GT. It makes the powertrain more exciting and rewards you for using the shifter more frequently, so we drive it harder.
The primary downside is fuel economy: Our lifetime mpg is hovering around 15 (!!) mpg. The other downside is that the frequency with which you want to shift actually slows the Mustang down when you're leaving from a stop light. The windows of useable acceleration in first and second are tiny, such that it seems you spend more time engaging and disengaging the gear than actually using it for acceleration.
When hurrying away from a stop light, let's say at "street-plus" speeds, you might be surprised to see an automatic-equipped car or SUV with decent power keeping pace. They aren't working as hard and they're making less noise, so clearly they aren't having as much fun. Still, this phenomenon is slightly irking.
What I've learned to do is skip second gear. The short gearing combined with the amount of torque means going from first to third doesn't hurt anything. As a bonus, you get more acceleration time in third gear, and time spent accelerating is more fun than time spent doing, well, much else.
The Corvette Z06 provides a more extreme example. It has a 7-speed manual, but with 650 pound-feet of torque, you can choose either the odd or even gears. The last time I drove one, I would go from first, third, to sixth. The car didn't care.
What I've Learned to Like About MyFord Touch
A few years ago I was driving a Ford Escape on the freeway. I was using the recently introduced and often criticized MyFord Touch (MFT) infotainment system to juggle between navigation prompts and audio selections. Slowly getting acclimated, I started to appreciate how powerful it was. I thought, "You know, I think I'm coming around on this system."
Cue a complete crash. The screen went black, the music stopped, as did the navigation prompts. I wish I were making this up.
Now, years and many consumer complaints later, Sync3 is on the horizon. I can't wait to try it, but having lived with MFT in our 2015 Ford Mustang GT for a while now, I can report that using it gets easier with familiarity. I've learned to operate around its idiosyncrasies and find it unobtrusive during the daily commute.
These are three things I appreciate about the system:
It boots quickly. The more powerful these systems grow, the longer it seems to take for them to start working. MFT gets up to speed respectably quick. What's better, it posted one of the fastest results of our fleet in my impromptu Time to Bluetooth test late last year.
It has real dials and buttons. More and more automakers are integrating volume and tuning controls into touchscreen or "touch" switches and bars. These don't have the feedback of a physical switch, which makes them unwieldy when your attention is focused on the road, where it should be. MFT's touchscreen has this problem too, but mitigates it by dividing the home screen into fourths with wide spacing in between. It's seldom as aggravating as the stuff in a modern Honda.
The voice commands work, mostly. I rarely have to repeat or correct voice inputs to MFT. That being said, the process MFT wants you to follow is clumsy by today's standards. On my phone, I say "OK Google. How do I get to <place>?" and I'm ready to go. MFT's process has a few more steps, which makes it feel clumsy by comparison.
Needs an Oil Change
Our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT needs an oil change. How do I know that? It chimed in to tell me so the last seven times I started the car. But instead of a photo of the gauge cluster, I thought I'd show you a pretty shot of the Mustang hanging out in the mountains, lookin' all purdy and stuff.
For this service, the manual says the Mustang will need the basic filter and fluid change, inspection of other various fluids (transmission, cooling, etc.) and it will need a cabin air filter replacement. We'll schedule a service ASAP.
In the meantime, here's that boring picture of the gauge cluster you were clamoring for.
The Mods Make It Better
I was skeptical. When the idea of modifying our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT originally came up, I figured the Ford Racing suspension would wreck its ride/handling balance and that the short-throw shifter would suck.
I was wrong on both counts.
Our Mustang is better than ever.
The suspension in particular surprised me with its compliance, as it retains good bump absorption even with a noticeable amount of additional roll control. This is absolutely key when it comes to road cars. Also, the fore-aft pitching endemic to all Mustangs (even this new car does it, though to a lesser degree than the stick-axle ones) is reduced, too. Its lower ride height hasn't resulted in irksome bump steer like I expected, either.
To be sure, this suspension isn't something that you'd select for a dedicated track car running slicks. It's too soft for that. But for daily driving and/or dual purpose use, it's totally fine. I'm really impressed by it. I never thought I'd say this, but I prefer it to the stock suspension. Unlike many aftermarket suspensions, you'd never regret installing it on a street car.
That goes for short-throw shifters too, which normally introduce so much effort to the gear change that it just makes the process annoying. The Ford Racing shifter is only a touch higher effort, but not so much that it's totally out of whack with its other controls. Balance is the key. As an aside, this matching of control efforts and linearity is something that Porsche does better than any other automaker, and it's a significant factor in why their cars are so rewarding to drive.
Thanks to the metallic shifter bushing included in the kit, the Ford Racing shifter slots into its gates with more precision, too. This bushing also transmits more noise than the plastic bushing it replaces, which is why you hear a smidge of gear whine through this new shifter, along with some endearing clicks as it moves through the gates. But the noise is never too prominent or insistent or annoying. More like a little bit of character thrown in to remind you that you're piloting a machine.
Fuel Economy Update for January - Ready to Say Goodbye
Time is winding down for our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT, signaling my long slide into depression. It'll be leaving just as things were getting fun with the suspension and exhaust upgrades.
Since the last update two months ago, we've logged another 3,000 miles, but it had no affect on the results. I had bets on the lifetime average taking a nosedive because of the performance upgrades and the way they encourage more spirited driving.
Besides the usual commute duties, the Mustang hasn't seen any big trips. I drove it a few hundred miles back and forth to Palm Springs, but a long stretch of bumper-to-bumper traffic kept me from getting anything better than average fuel economy results.
Thanks for the memories, Mustang, I'm sure we'll meet again.
Worst Fill MPG: 5.3
Best Fill MPG: 23.5
Average Lifetime MPG: 15.7
EPA MPG Rating: 19 Combined (15 City/25 Highway)
Best Range: 321.6
Current Odometer: 21,255
Quick and Easy 20,000-Mile Service
Our long-term 2015 Ford Mustang GT recently crossed over the 20,000-mile mark. This signaled a reminder in the car that another service was needed. Thankfully, the Mustang only requires an inspection, tire rotation and oil and filter change at the 20,000-mile service, so I hoped we could get in and out of the shop in just a few hours.
I dropped off the Mustang at Santa Monica Ford around 10:30 a.m. I didn't make an appointment, so I was quite pleased when I was immediately greeted by a porter and directed to a service advisor who helped me right away.
I asked for the 20,000-mile service and mentioned the fact that our car was equipped with staggered wheels. I didn't want another situation where the wrong wheel was installed on the wrong corner with the correct tire.
The service advisor didn't try to sell me any dealer add-ons, so I was checked in and ready to leave in just a few minutes. I was given an estimate of three hours and hitched a ride back to the office.
Around 2:00 p.m., I received a call from the service advisor letting me know the car was ready. The inspection turned up nothing more than slightly low washer fluid. In total, I might have spent 10 minutes at the dealer during the drop-off and pick-up. I even received a follow-up phone call the next day asking about my service.
Maybe because some of my recent dealer visits have been less than stellar I can honestly say this was one of the best service center experiences I've had.
Eight quarts of synthetic 5W-20: $60
Oil filter: $4.99
Hazardous materials charge: $3.11
Sales tax: $6.47
Total Days Out of Service: Zero
With Heavy Heart, We Sell to CarMax
We really enjoyed out time with the 2015 Ford Mustang GT. It was more refined than in years past. Our CEO did a burnout in it. One of our editors even proclaimed it his favorite car in the fleet. We kept it two months over schedule because it was so hard to part with.
But, the world can be a cold place. And although we really liked the 'Stang, the used car market just isn't as enamored with it as we are. We paid $45,490 for the Competition Orange hardtop back in December of 2014.
Fourteen months and 21,568 miles later, CarMax offered us a paltry $27,000. That's nearly 41 percent depreciation, and that's before you consider the cost of the modifications we added. The Mustang's TMV is 28,339.
To get a second opinion of the Mustang's value, I drove it back to the dealer we bought it from, Galpin Ford in North Hills, to give see if they would pony up (ha) more money for the Mustang than CarMax. I didn't tell Galpin about the CarMax quote.
We thought this a valuable exercise for two reasons: We'd get a second pricing opinion, and more importantly, we'd get a second pricing opinion from a dealership that sells a lot of used Mustangs and also a lot of upgraded cars, thanks to its Galpin Auto Sports performance shop.
We hoped the exhaust, suspension, and short shifter upgrades would net us a few extra bucks from a dealer that could appreciate such things. After all, these are upgrades that would cost the next owner several thousand dollars in parts and installation.
And Galpin did indeed offer more for the Mustang than CarMax did, to the sum of $250. Since both Galpin and CarMax came in at essentially the same number, we knew that the CarMax number wasn't a one-off. The car was really only worth about $27,000.
Although we were disappointed in the low evaluation of the Mustang, we weren't really surprised. Our last long term Mustang was hit pretty hard, too. It's just never easy to hear that the car you love isn't worth as much as you'd hoped. There just isn't a huge market for slightly used Mustangs, it seems.
Logistically, it was easier to sell to CarMax based on proximity to our office, so that's where it ended up. I hope it finds a good home. And a buyer who appreciates its upgrades.
What's New for 2016
If you've spent the last year following our long-term test of the 2015 Ford Mustang GT, you know that we're huge fans of Ford's latest-generation pony car. You might even be considering laying down your hard-earned cash for one as well. Although we're already two months into the new year, dealerships are still full of last year's models.
The question now is whether to get a potentially sweet deal on a 2015 'Stang or nab a 2016 model. The updates listed below may sway your opinion one way or the other.
The biggest change for the 2016 Ford Mustang is the Sync 3 infotainment system. The previous system, dubbed MyFord Touch, never really hit it out of the park. The system got less buggy in later years, but always suffered from slow response times and on-screen buttons that were difficult to press.
And while the entire staff has not yet had the opportunity to stress-test Sync 3, early reports are positive. The system responds quickly to user inputs, the menus are logically arranged and the interface apes current smartphone app design.
After a limited run in 2015, Ford will make the high-performance Mustang GT350 in greater numbers this year. If the look of your new muscle car is a factor, there are several new packages that alter the Mustang's exterior appearance and cabin appointments, including the California Special and Pony packages.
Readers who were unimpressed by our Mustang's standard black wheels (included in the Performance Package) will be happy to know that you can now order the Performance Package with nickel-finished wheels. Additional changes are listed below.
-Expanded GT350 production
-GT 50 Years Limited Edition Dropped
-MyFord Touch replaced by Sync 3
-Hood and roof racing stripes available on all models
-Pony Package available for Ecoboost Premium models
-Wheel and Stripe Package available on Ecoboost Premium models
-Ecoboost and GT hardtop models available with black roof
-Interior and Wheel Package available on Ecoboost and GT (not Premium) models
-Turn signal indicators in hood vents for GT models
-Black Accent Package available on GT models
-Nickel-finish wheels available on models equipped with GT Performance Package
-California Special Package available for GT Premium models
-GT Performance Package available on GT Premium Convertible
-Prices increased $345 for V6 and Ecoboost models
-Prices increased $95 for GT models
What We Bought
When the Ford Mustang was redesigned with a new look and independent rear suspension, we were eager to pick one up. There was a four-cylinder turbocharged "EcoBoost" engine available, but we swung for the fences with the bigger, more powerful, 5.0-liter V8. The V8 has 435 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, and we opted to pair it with a six-speed manual transmission.
There were a few options we wanted to test out on this latest Mustang, so we selected the GT Premium trim. With that, we got selectable drive modes, dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery, a nine-speaker sound system, satellite radio and an 8-inch touchscreen with MyFord Touch. We also added the Performance package, which meant we got 19-inch wheels with summer tires, a Torsen limited-slip rear axle (with 3.73 gearing), a strut tower brace, upgraded brakes and a rear spoiler delete.
Up front, we added Recaro front seats, adaptive cruise control, a navigation system, rear parking sensors, a 12-speaker Shaker audio system, blind-spot monitoring and an Enhanced Security package (wheel locking kit, active anti-theft system and locking center console). All of that equipment brought the out-the-door price for our Mustang to $45,490.
It turned out that even with the beefy V8, the optional Performance pack and all the assorted factory upgrades, we wanted more personality from the Mustang. So, several months into the test, we ordered and installed some aftermarket parts: a Ford Performance short shifter, a Ford Performance cat-back exhaust and the Ford Performance Track Handling Pack suspension upgrade. The personality that the Mustang was lacking from the factory had suddenly arrived.
"Our 2015 Mustang GT is impressively composed on the road, and I for one was thoroughly blown away by its balance, grip and stability when I thrashed it about on a tight, bumpy autocross course and a high-speed racetrack on the same day." — Dan Edmunds
"I was really disappointed with this Mustang. The last one we had was such a blast to drive and I never had any issues with the brakes or clutch. I suspect the Performance package is to blame here. It might be great on the track, but for the other 95 percent of the time, you'll have to live with its potentially nauseating side effects." — Ronald Montoya
"Our 2015 Ford Mustang GT's awesome new Ford Racing exhaust continues to be, well, awesome. I found myself driving in 3rd and 4th on the highway this morning just to revel in the noises that so wonderfully enhance the big 5.0 V8.... In related news, our lifetime fuel economy went down in October and November to 15.7 mpg." — James Riswick
"There was plenty of comfort and style on my trip to Monterey, and I dig the car's high-speed composure and refinement. But to me, a proper GT machine needs a real-world driving range of at least 400 miles. And that's where the Mustang comes up short." — Josh Sadlier
"It's not that the GT rides poorly on the highway, it's that there's a constant, slightly unpleasant, bounciness on an imperfect road like Highway 15 out of San Bernardino. It's one of those things you'd learn to ignore until you got a ride in a friend's car that doesn't do it." — Mike Magrath
"To be sure, this [Ford Performance aftermarket] suspension isn't something that you'd select for a dedicated track car running slicks. It's too soft for that. But for daily driving and/or dual-purpose use, it's totally fine. I'm really impressed by it. I never thought I'd say this, but I prefer it to the stock suspension." — Jason Kavanagh
"That didn't stop me from trying to stuff the Rug Doctor in the Mustang's trunk. I wasn't really concerned about having adequate space (the Mustang offers 13.5 cubic feet back there), but I was a bit worried about the trunk opening and if I'd break anything trying to squeeze it in there." — Travis Langness
"The new Mustang's pass-through is reasonably, almost surprisingly, large. Our 2015 long-termer also doesn't have a gigantic subwoofer taking up trunk space like our 2011 model. After taking off the bike's front wheel, it slid right in without any problems." — Mike Monticello
"Opinion is widely mixed here in-house, but I like the Recaros — once I'm in them, anyway. I don't especially like the solid piece of plastic between the cutouts for, ostensibly, shoulder harnesses, that the base of my skull bumps into when driving. But they complement the rest of the car's performance intentions, so I'm glad we got them." — Dan Frio
"[Our Mustang] comes with a few interesting, somewhat quirky and borderline bedazzling features (i.e. color-customizable gauges, Track Apps and Horse Lasers). These configurable options band together to form a virtual playground that conspires to keep you more entertained than a top-20 GIFs-of-the-Week post." — Jonathan Elfalan
Audio and Technology
"A few months ago Ford said it's going to soon ditch the whole MyFord Touch interface and replace it with a fully re-engineered version called Sync 3. But from an ownership standpoint of our 2015 Mustang, the touchscreen interface no longer seems to be a major liability." — Brent Romans
"Now, years and many consumer complaints later, Sync 3 is on the horizon. I can't wait to try it, but having lived with MFT in our 2015 Ford Mustang GT for a while now, I can report that using it gets easier with familiarity." — Carlos Lago
"Our 2015 Ford Mustang GT wins the award for the most awkwardly placed dipstick of this model year. There it is on the right, tucked down beneath the strut tower brace. The dipstick pulls out about 3 inches before it must be bent significantly to circumvent its neighbors." — Mike Schmidt
"Halfway through its day at driving school, Vehicle Testing Manager Mike Schmidt mercifully halted our Mustang flogging while I made a few calls to procure a set of new OE replacement Pirelli P Zeros. This was a Thursday afternoon. If I couldn't get a new set of tires by the next day, we would have to park the car for the weekend." — Reese Counts
"Step one of our performance-enhancing campaign on the Mustang is done and I am happy with the results. The new exhaust sounds great, replacing the far-too-quiet stock pipes. Even better, it doesn't sound too obnoxious." — Mark Takahashi
"I really like what Ford has done with the newest 2015 Mustang. In prior years, Mustang GTs were plenty of fun to drive but you had to put up with a few negatives (like the ho-hum interior and non-independent rear suspension) that impacted daily driving appeal. This time around, Ford has polished off the rough edges but smartly maintained the car's core appeal." — Brent Romans
Maintenance & Repairs
The Mustang has a performance-based maintenance calendar that recommends the first service after 7,000-10,000 miles. Our first service notification chimed in around 10,000 miles and cost $59.77. The second service (at 20,000 miles) included similar service items (oil filter, oil change, labor etc.) but prices were a bit higher, totaling $114.52.
Our only additional maintenance cost for the Mustang was tires. After 16,954 miles, the Mustang needed four new tires, which cost us $1,229.12.
Fuel Economy and Resale Value
Observed Fuel Economy:
The EPA estimates that the Mustang GT with the V8 and the six-speed manual will get 19 mpg combined (15 city/25 highway). We managed a lifetime average of 15.7 mpg, with a best single tank of 23.5 mpg and a worst fill of 5.3 mpg. Our best range on a single tank of fuel was 321 miles.
Resale and Depreciation:
We bought our Mustang GT for $45,590. Fourteen months and 21,500 miles later, the Edmunds TMV® Calculator valued it at $30,417. CarMax said they'd give us $27,000 for it and after shopping around for some comparison prices, we took them up on the offer. The Mustang had a few modifications (exhaust, short shifter, suspension) but they didn't take that into account for the buying price. Depreciation for the Mustang ended up being a whopping 40.7 percent.
Thrilling V8 powertrain; a much more refined and modern suspension; classy interior with plenty of tech; consider it a two-seater and there's loads of cargo space; it can still do burnouts with the best of them.
Massive depreciation after a short time; bouncy ride quality over uneven surfaces; touchy brakes with the Performance package upgrade; cramped backseat can't handle full-size adults; small fuel tank means a limited fuel range; the MyFord Touch interface (while updated) is still a bit finicky.
The Mustang may have its quirks, but this V8 GT is one of the best modern muscle cars around. No one shopping for a sporty American coupe should pass up an opportunity to test-drive a Mustang.
|Total Body Repair Costs:||None|
|Total Routine Maintenance Costs:||$174.29 (over 14 months)|
|Additional Maintenance Costs:||$1,229.12 (4 new tires)|
|Scheduled Dealer Visits:||2|
|Unscheduled Dealer Visits:||None|
|Days Out of Service:||None|
|Breakdowns Stranding Driver:||None|
|Best Fuel Economy:||23.5 mpg|
|Worst Fuel Economy:||5.3 mpg|
|Average Fuel Economy:||15.7 mpg|
|True Market Value at service end:||$30,417 (private-party sale)|
|What it Sold for:||$27,000|
|Depreciation:||$18,590 (40.7% of paid price or original MSRP)|
|Final Odometer Reading:||21,568 miles|
Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.