2011 Ford Mustang Drive By - Sneak Preview


The 2011 Ford Mustang will look almost exactly like the 2010 model, but the 2011 Mustang and 2011 Mustang GT models will sport new engines when they go on sale early in summer 2010.

That's not to say the 2011 Mustang won't look fresh: Ford revised the styling for 2010 and gave the interior a much-needed overhaul. For 2011, the Mustang gets different wheels, some minor trim changes and new badges. The big news is under the hood, however:

A more modern V6 comes standard on the 2011 Mustang. Meanwhile, the 2011 Mustang GT gets a new engine altogether. Power for both models is up considerably with no negative impact on fuel economy. Both engines are available with a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions.

The standard V6 engine is an aluminum, four-cam, variable-valve timing 3.7-liter of 305 horsepower, roughly what the outgoing V8 had and conveniently 1 hp more than what's produced by the 2010 Camaro V6. The 2011 Mustang V6 is rated at 280 pound-feet of torque. The rev limit is now 7000 rpm. Mustang rates up to 30 mpg on EPA's Highway cycle, again one-upping the Camaro. The V6 on the 2011 Mustang was adapted from other Ford products.

The 2011 Mustang V6 with manual transmission will wear wider, more aggressive tires and wheels (both standard and optional) than the automatic and all get vented disc brakes and substantial antiroll bars at both ends. For 2011, a Performance package will be available for Mustang V6, including a shorter axle ratio (better acceleration), GT suspension components and calibration with GT500 rear control arms, GT brakes with special pads, a strut tower brace, 19-inch wheels and sticky Pirelli tires, and multi-stage stability control. Given the V6's weight advantage this should be the best-handling Mustang on winding public roads, tight racetracks and autocross courses.

The Mustang GT for 2011 gets a 5.0-liter V8 that produces 412 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 390 pound-feet of torque at 3800 rpm. This all-aluminum, 32-valve, dual-overhead cam V8 features all-new heads with Twin Independent Variable Cam Timing (Ti-VCT). It is offered with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. It replaces the outgoing 315-hp 4.6-liter V8. In addition to more power, the new 5.0-liter V8 automatic gets better fuel economy. Ford is estimating EPA fuel economy ratings of 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway for the automatic, which is up from 23 mpg highway with the 4.6-liter V8. With the manual transmission, Ford says EPA ratings will be 16/24 mpg, the same as the 4.6.

The new 5.0-liter V8 puts the 2011 Mustang GT just 14 horsepower behind a 6.2-liter Camaro SS manual and roughly 40 horsepower ahead of the 5.7-liter Dodge Challenger. However, for every engine package among the three cars, the Mustang is significantly lighter and has less weight for every horsepower to cart around. And we've found the Mustang offers the best handling and most enjoyable driving character of the three.

The 2011 Mustang GT wears a 5.0 badge to signify the new engine. The new engine isn't the only news for the 2011 Mustang GT. It also gets electric power steering, suspension enhancements, available Brembo brakes, and improved noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). Additional sound deadening material on the instrument panel and an extra seal between the door and rocker panel help reduce noise. The convertible now has 12-percent better lateral stiffness, which limits vibration and improves handling. This was achieved by stiffening the V-brace and secondary crossmember and adding a front strut brace, a Z brace between the primary and secondary crossmembers, and A-pillar stiffening foam.

Handling in all Mustang GTs is improved thanks to stiffer settings for the rear lower control arm and rear stabilizer bar, as well as optimized tuning of the spring rates and dampers. Ford says the new electric power steering also delivers quicker on-center steering response, increased effort at highway speeds and reduced effort in low-speed maneuvers. For those who want an even sportier experience, Ford will offer a Brembo brake package, to include the 14-inch vented front discs from the GT500, unique 19-inch alloy wheels, and summer performance tires. The standard discs are now 11.5 inches up front and 11.8 inches in the rear.

Expect the 2011 Mustang to be available in coupe and convertible forms with both engines, with the GT500 models continuing as before as top of the heap in power and price.

Also for 2011, Ford will bring back another name from past Mustang glory and produce racing versions with special seats, roll cage, brakes, suspension, called the Boss 302R ($79,000). These will be available for customers but may not be legal for street use. A further-prepped car for the Grand-Am series will be available at $129,000.



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