Ford's Mustang is a rear-wheel drive 2-door that's offered in coupe or convertible trim. It was last redesigned in 2015 when it received a facelift, fresh interior, new engines and an independent rear suspension. For 2019, Mustang sees the return of the Bullitt trim, a new California Special package and revised feature availability. Competitors include the Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger, Nissan 350Z and Toyota Supra.
Coupe trim levels include EcoBoost, GT, GT Premium and Bullitt. All save the Bullitt are available on the convertible. Prices start as low at $26,670 on the EcoBoost coupe and climb past $45,000 on GT Premium convertibles. There are also limited-edition high-performance Shelby models for those so inclined.
All EcoBoost models get a turbocharged 2.3-liter 4-cylinder that makes 310 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. GT models get a normally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 that makes 460 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. Bullitt models come with the 5.0-liter V8 that is tuned to 480 horsepower. EcoBoost and GT models get either a 6-speed manual or 10-speed automatic transmission. Bullitt comes only with the manual transmission.
Convertible models have a power-operated fabric top with glass rear window. New for 2019 is a custom-tuned 1,000-watt B&O PLAY by HARMAN high-performance sound system. The California Special package includes 19-inch aluminum wheels with high-gloss ebony black-painted pockets, California Special badging, unique floor mats, suede door and seat Inserts, rear spoiler, front splitter, side scoops, body stripe and unique grille.
Ford's EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine provides a solid blend of performance and fuel efficiency. Posting a 0 to 60 MPH time of about 5 seconds, the EcoBoost turbo four is more than quick enough for most. Still, some argue that to be truly enjoyed, Mustang must be had in GT trim, which brings along with it the V8 engine. When equipped thusly, the Mustang provides the type of acceleration that go-fast drivers appreciate. Not only is the V8 about 1 second quicker to 60 MPH, it's substantially more energetic when passing or pulling out into traffic.
Both engines mate well to the slick-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission, which provides not only good fuel economy, but prompt downshifts and excellent manual operation. It should be noted that the manual transmission is offered with rev-matching. This electronic trick blips the throttle on downshifts and makes any level driver feel like a pro.
Mustang comes only with rear-wheel drive. While this really isn't a problem on dry roads, in the wet or snow, it can make driving any Mustang challenging. Therefore, it's highly recommended that owners swap into a set of dedicated snow tires in the winter and make sure they take appropriate caution in the rain.
EPA numbers with the V8 and 6-speed manual are 15 MPG city and 24 MPG highway. Not surprisingly, those ratings are consistent with similarly equipped Camaros and Challengers. Thankfully, in routine suburban commuting, it's quite possible to average more than 24 MPG overall and you can get better than 30 MPG on extended highway trips. It you want the look of the Mustang, but don't want the V8's penalty at the pump, consider the EcoBoost, which has EPA ratings of 21/32 MPG. Both engines run fine on regular-grade gasoline.
On base models, 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. 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, not as much. Some models get a driver-adjustable exhaust note. On the quiet setting, it really mutes the V8's burble and comes in handy when transporting the mother-in-law.
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) have 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. 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.
Ford's infotainment system, dubbed SYNC3 has both voice- and touch- activated controls. It's all centered around a large screen in the center of the dashboard. It's one of the better infotainment systems and integrates nicely with both Android Auto and Apple Car Play support. In addition, there are traditional buttons and knobs for radio and climate controls. All-in-all, the Mustang's interior is well designed and quite functional.
The standard front seats are comfortable and supportive, if not a little confining. The 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.
Thanks to a low seating position and high beltline, the Mustang can feel a bit claustrophobic. Visibility is fine forward, but thick pillars and a smallish rear-window block the view to the sides and rear. Still, Mustang probably offers better outward visibility than Camaro or Challenger.
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 automotive nameplates. Because of that, the "blue oval" brand has been very careful bringing its pony car into the 21st century. That said, the 2019 Mustang is arguably the best ever. It is more refined than any previous model and among the class leaders in the ride comfort/handling tradeoff. Its 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.