Ford marks the 50th anniversary of the iconic Mustang with a complete stem-to-stern redesign. The styling may be familiar, but the 2015 Mustang doesn't share any sheet metal with the previous model. In addition it's about 1.5 inches lower and wider while still riding the same 107-inch wheelbase. Also new for 2015 is a turbocharged four-cylinder engine option and a fully independent rear suspension.
|2015 Ford Mustang Ecoboost|
Base Price: $29,300
As-Tested Price: $38,585
Built in Flat Rock, Michigan.
Shaker Pro Audio System
Adaptive Cruise Control
Ecoboost Performance Package
Reverse Park Assist
Recaro Leather Seats
Voice Activated Navigation System
Engine: 2.3-liter Turbocharged I4, 310 horsepower
Transmission: 6 Speed Manual
Drive Wheels: Rear-Wheel Drive
Two-door coupe and convertible body styles return, both four seaters. Direct competitors include the Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger, but buyers might also consider the Hyundai Genesis coupe, Mazda MX-5, Nissan 370Z and the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ twins.
Three basic trim levels are offered: V6, Ecoboost and GT. The Ecoboost and GT have a Premium variant and there's also a Limited Edition anniversary model for the GT. As you might expect the V6 trim is powered by a 300-horsepower 3.7-liter V6. The Ecoboost comes with a turbocharged 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 310 horsepower. The GT comes only with a 435-horsepower 5.0-liter V8. All models are rear-wheel drive. All engines are available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The automatic comes with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters for those so included.
Standard safety features include antilock brakes, stability and traction control, rear-view camera and front, front-side and curtain-side airbags. Coupes add a driver's knee airbag. Blind-spot and cross-traffic alert are available as well.
Coupe prices are $23,895 for the V6, $25,395 for the Ecoboost and $32,395 for the GT. Convertible models start at $29,395 for the V6 and top off at $41,895 for the GT. The Mustang is assembled at Ford's Flat Rock, Michigan, factory and has an $825 destination charge.
Get Up and Go - The intriguing new Ecoboost turbo four is a welcome option for Mustang fans that have been put off by mediocre V6 fuel economy. The peppy four has more than respectable power numbers and an impressive 0 to 60 mph time of just 5.9 seconds. Power isn't instantaneous as it is in the V8. You have to prod the gas pedal more in the turbo four more than you might expect, but stick your foot into it, and you'll be rewarded with ample passing power. Sadly, the engine isn't as refined as the V6 or V8 and just doesn't have the re-assuring V8 burble at idle or when cruising around town.
The six-speed automatic transmission changes gears smartly with crisp up and down shifts. It sometimes requires a deep stab in the throttle to generate a downshift, but that's quite coming with today's fuel-saving transmission programming. The manual transmission has short positive throws and an appropriately heavy clutch with a positive pickup point.
Traction can be a problem - even on 4-cylinder models. Thankfully traction control is standard. It allows the slightest bit of wheel spin in quick starts, but then kicks in to help the rear tires regain traction on slippery surfaces. Even so, snow tires are a must if you want to make the Mustang an all-season car here in Chicago.
As you might expect the new Ecoboost four is the fuel economy champ. With manual it rates 22/31 mpg in EPA tests. For comparison sake, the V6 numbers are 17/28 mpg and the V8 are 15/25 mpg. All models, regardless of engine will run fine on regular-grade gasoline. Real-world fuel economy with the 2.3-lilter four is likely to net about 24 mpg in routine suburban commuting. It's not hard to top 30 mpg in gentile highway cruising. Dive deep into the throttle though, with any Mustang engine, and you'll experience high teens in overall economy.
On the Road - Perhaps the biggest change to the 2015 Mustang is the inclusion of a fully independent rear suspension on all models. Previously, the Mustang made due with an archaic live rear axle. Switching over to an independent setup allows Ford's suspension tuners to give the 2015 Mustang a ride that's both comfortable and sporty.
On base models, the Mustang rides much like a traditional car. There's good travel in the suspension for absorbing the rough stuff and enough stiffness to give the drivers an athletic feel behind the wheel. Step up to the performance suspension or larger wheels and tires and the ride grows firmer. This is not unexpected and is something many Mustang buyers appreciate.
Where the Mustang really shines is on twisty roads. The car feels planted and sure footed when pitched into on ramps or sharp turns. At the same time the suspension isn't rattled by the mid-corner pothole, which would make the previous model jump sideways. The steering is appropriately heavy and on some models the assist level can be adjusted at the flip of a switch. Road feel is excellent. The brakes have great stopping power and an easy-to-modulate pedal.
As you might expect for this class of car, Interior noise levels are quite high. There's a fair amount of road noise with the optional performance tires as well. The V8 makes great sounds under hard acceleration - the four and six, not as much.
Overall, Ford has made some significant under-the-skin changes to Mustang that have made it much more enjoyable for both the driver and the passengers. Plus it now has the suspension sophistication to match rivals in the class.
Behind the Wheel - Get behind the wheel of the new Mustang and you'll have no doubt what car you are driving. Ford's trademark twin hood dashboard creates clear delineation between the driving and riding chores. Materials are a mixed bag, base models (likely destined for rental fleets) has a fair amount of hard plastic and sharp edges. Step up a trim level though and the interior is augmented with lots of soft-touch materials and spruced up with a dollop of chrome and polished aluminum. Either way, fit and finish are great for the class.
Deeply set into the instrument panel are a large speedometer and tachometer - as God intended in a sports car. Nestled between is a modern digital information display. It's programmable to show a wide range of vehicle functions and does help to reduce driver distraction. The center console boasts a large central display with traditional radio and climate controls (again, kudos Ford).
The 2015 and 2016 model Mustangs still make due with Ford's second-generation SYNC system. It's not as modern or as powerful as some of the newer infotainment offerings in some competitors, but it's very easy to use and has impressive voice control abilities - again reducing driver distraction.
The standard front seats are comfortable and supportive, if not a little confining. There are optional sport buckets more so. They are more firmly bolstered and likely grow a little tiring on long trips. Front-seat leg room is great and head room is acceptable, even with the available sunroof. Rear seats are mainly for show, but will accommodate two adults in a modicum of comfort provided the front seats are pushed about halfway forward.
At nearly 14 cu. ft., cargo space on coupes is a plus. The trunk opening is a little small, but there's a wide and flat floor that will accommodate more stuff than you think. Convertible models less so. As you might expect, interior storage is tight with just a small open bin and shallow covered bin in the center console. Map pockets and a large glove box are a plus. There's also a hidden pop-out drawer to the left of the steering wheel for holding change or small items.
Bottom Line - Ford's Mustang is arguably one of the most iconic nameplates in the automotive world. Because of that, the "blue oval" brand has been very careful bringing its pony car into the 21st century. That said, the 2015 Mustang is arguably the best ever. With its independent rear suspension, it is more refined than any previous model and among the class leaders in the ride comfort/handling tradeoff. Its updated interior is at once comfortable, functional and sporty. Its powertrains are potent and surprisingly efficient. Finally, even the price is palatable, provided you don't overindulge on options. It's a worthy competitor in the class and a "must" on the sports-car shopper's list.