2012 Ford Mustang Review

2012 Ford Mustang - The "Boss" is back baby!


PLUSES: A street legal Boss Mustang.
MINUSES: Waiting until dark to find a road to run it on without attracting a crowd.
There's a new kid in town packin' a 5 liter V-8 boasting 444 h.p.
It's the 2012 Ford Boss 302 Mustang.
The Boss 302 designation was first and last used on a high performance coupe in 1969-1970. The 2012 model returns to its historic roots as a car with exceptional get up and go.  
The 2012 Boss 302 V-8 is a higher output version of the 412 h.p. 5 liter V-8 in the Mustang GT, but without a supercharger like the one that helps the 5.4 liter
V-8 in the Shelby GT500 deliver 550 h.p.
The limited edition Boss has been given the task of serving as the quickest, best handling production model Mustang, a street legal factory built race car that sets new benchmarks for acceleration, top speed, handling and braking, a machine that will be known for creating OMG responses from the enthusiasts fortunate enough to get behind the wheel of one of the 4,000 to be assembled for 2012.
We tested a 2012 Boss 302 decked out in white with black piping along hood and doors, a color combo that might not attract as much attention as brilliant orange, red or yellow, but still is noticeable enough to make finding a spot to attempt a few power launches without attracting onlookers, especially those in uniform, a difficult task.
The Boss 302 V-8 delivers serious power. Hang onto the wheel at launch. No place for the feint of heart or the amateur enthusiast. The coupe leaps forward as you quickly move through the gears with the short throw 6-speed manual, though before even reaching fourth gear you realize a track or airport runway should substitute for the highway.
The exhaust sound resembles that of a space shuttle at liftoff. Great muscle, great sound effects. Just don't attempt enjoying the Boss 302's merits without first making a bladder check.
The 0 to 60 m.p.h. acceleration time is a mere 4.3 seconds. The raced tuned suspension and 19 inch high performance radials ensure not only a quick leap from a standing start, but a rather straight line burst that provides a sense of security.  
Top speed is electronically limited to 155 m.p.h.  
Any machine capable of power launches like this requires brakes that bring it back from speed quickly and in a straight line. The Boss binders perform as advertised.  
The 19 inch high performance summer radials and sports tuned suspension with firmer springs, shocks and larger stabilizer bars allow for precise handling, but you'll not only feel the tar marks in the road, you'll hear each blemish in the asphalt below as well---though not necessarily during a power launch when the senses are devoted to experiencing speed.
As expected, this isn't really a family car and the rear seat holds packages much more easily than it does passengers. The trunk, however, has decent space for gear or luggage.
There's also a special TracKey option that adds TracMode powertrain control software. After you acquire title to the car, the dealer will add the powertrain software controls that regulate desired engine rpm at takeoff to deliver even more potent acceleration at launch. Little more fuel for the rocket, in other words.
In addition to the Boss 302, Ford offers a special Laguna Seca model named for the track where Parnelli Jones won the 1970 Trans-Am season opener in a Boss 302. The specials Boss 302 Laguna Seca model is designed for track use and does away with such normal creature comforts as a rear seat in order to concentrate on even higher performance with racer ready suspension. Only 750 will be built.
The 2012 Boss 302 Mustang starts at $40,195.
It should be noted that Dodge will offer a new SRT8 version of its Charger sedan this fall with a 6.4 liter, 470 h.p. HEMI V-8 replacing Charger's 6.1 liter, 425 h.p. HEMI V-8. While Boss offers a 6-speed manual, the SRT8 will come with a 5-speed automatic offering manual mode shifting.
The Charger SRT8 claims 0 to 60 acceleration "in the 4 second range" and a top speed of 175 m.p.h. Unlike the Boss V-8, when the SRT8 cruises lazily down the highway, 4 of its HEMI's 8 cylinders will shut off to convert it into an "economy" car.
Obviously Boss and SRT8 owners will get together on weekends to discuss fuel mileage.
Don't you think?

2012 Ford Boss 302 Mustang


Wheelbase: 107.1 inches


Length: 188.1 inches


Engine: 5 liter, 444 h.p. V-8.


Transmission: 6-speed manual.  


17 m.p.g. city/26 m.p.g. highway.


Base price: $40,145.


Price as equipped:
Add $1,995 Recaro cloth sport seats and Torsen Helical differential, and $850 freight.

Jim Mateja

Jim Mateja enjoyed a 42 year career with the Chicago Tribune before retiring in 2007 as the newspaper's automotive columnist. He received numerous awards for his reporting and writing, including the National Automotive Journalism Association's "Moto" award for best regularly published column and automotive feature writing, and a Best in Show award for his test ride of a horse in conjunction with the Tribune's 150th anniversary. He also earned the Detroit Press Club Foundation's Gold Wheel Award for best car reviews, and a Tribune Professional Performance Award for his column and regular reporting. He still writes occasional car reviews for the Tribune, is one of the nation's 50 automotive journalists who serve as members of the North American Car of the Year judging panel, and is a panel member who helps select Best Buys for "Consumers Digest" magazine. Mateja also is the founding President of the Midwest Automotive Media Association.