IT’S A BEST BUY BECAUSE:
The Mustang boasts a sophisticated platform, a surprisingly robust turbo 4-cylinder engine, a fairly upscale interior, and excellent driving manners, all while retaining the nameplate’s characteristic heritage and charm.
Not surprisingly, the back seat is cramped, the V8 is thirsty, and prices rise quickly as those tantalizing options are added.
For hardcore performance enthusiasts looking for a racetrack-ready machine, Ford offers the Shelby GT500, which has a whopping 760 hp.
WHAT IS IT?
The Mustang is Ford’s long-running sporty/performance machine; it’s the car that invented the term “pony car.” It comes as a 2-door coupe or 2-door convertible, each offering a choice of two engines: an “EcoBoost” turbocharged 2.3-liter 4-cylinder with 310 hp (or 330 with the 2.3L High Performance Package), or a 5.0-liter V8 with 460 hp (or 480 hp in the specially trimmed Mach 1, which is new for ‘21). Both engines are available with a 6-speed manual transmission or a 10-speed automatic. A veritable smorgasbord of performance, technology, and personalization options is available, including upgraded audio systems, heavily bolstered Recaro sport seats, park assist, heated power mirrors, heated steering wheel, ambient interior lighting, adaptive cruise control, MagneRide adaptive suspension, active-valve performance exhaust, 19-inch wheels on performance tires, and Brembo-brand 6-piston front disc brakes.
As mentioned above, the Mustang Mach 1 nameplate returns for ’21 on a specially trimmed model that takes the place of the departed special-edition Bullitt in the Mustang stable. The Mach 1 gets unique features such as hood/bodyside stripes and an aerodynamically enhanced front fascia. Meanwhile, the 526-hp Shelby GT350 model is discontinued after a limited run of Heritage Edition models for the 2020 model year.
The EPA rates the 4-cylinder at 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway with the manual transmission and 21/32 with automatic. The V8 is rated at 15/24 with manual and 16/25 with automatic. Choosing the convertible body style exacts a fuel-economy penalty of 1-2 mpg, as does the Performance Package on 4-cyl models. Premium-grade gas is recommended for both engines.
VALUE IN CLASS
The Ford Mustang has an enviable history as one of America’s best-loved vehicles, and the current model does its legendary forebears proud—and not just in terms of good looks and nostalgia. Thanks to its up-to-date design and plethora of cutting-edge technologies, the Mustang makes a strong case for itself against a broad range of sporty/performance-car competitors. It’s not quite the bargain it once was, but a broad model lineup and lengthy list of options mean that there’s a Mustang to suit a wide variety of purses and preferences.
|BASE PRICE RANGE||$27,155 – $51,720|
|BODY STYLES||2-Door Coupe, 2-Door Convertible|
|AVAILABLE ENGINES||Turbocharged 310/330-HP, 2.3-Liter 4-Cyl.; 460/480-HP, 5.0-Liter V8|
|DRIVE WHEELS||Rear-Wheel Drive|
|EPA FUEL-ECONOMY RANGE||15-32 MPG|