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From Edmunds.com
2015 Ford  Mustang Picture
PROS
  • Wide range of engine options
  • New rear suspension provides better handling and ride dynamics
  • More refined interior
CONS
  • Cramped rear seat

The 2015 Ford Mustang marks the model's 50th anniversary. To celebrate, Ford has decided that there's no better way to honor this sporty American icon's birthday than by putting something special underneath the hood. A 700-horsepower V8, maybe? A jet turbine, perhaps? Well, how about a four-cylinder engine? Yes, it is true: The fully redesigned 2015 Mustang can be had with a four-banger under that long, proud hood. But before you fire off an angry email or tweet to Ford, you should know a couple of things. First: a muscle-bound V8 is still available, as is a V6. And second: This EcoBoost four-cylinder is turbocharged, and it's anything but a wheezing weakling.

Mustang mavens will know that this isn't the first time a 2.3-liter turbo-4 has been offered in the original pony car. But unlike those best forgotten mills of the late 1970s and early 1980s, this one packs much greater refinement and higher fuel efficiency, not to mention double the power. Specifically, the Edmunds "B"-rated four-cylinder EcoBoost cranks out 310 hp and up to 320 pound-feet of torque and still rates up to 26 mpg combined. A peppy 3.7-liter V6 once again sees duty in the entry-level Mustang, while V8 fans can still enjoy the power and the glory of a 5.0-liter V8 in the Edmunds "A"-rated GT model. Regardless of engine, one may choose either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic, the latter fitted with paddle shifters.

Underneath, the Mustang lineup finally gets an independent rear suspension. True, the Mustang has gotten along quite well with its old-tech solid rear axle design the past few years. But this independent rear suspension brings welcome enhancements to the Mustang's on-road demeanor, particularly for ride comfort and handling. The 2015 Mustang is more stable during braking and acceleration and steers more precisely, especially with the lighter four-cylinder under the hood. Despite rumors that the new Mustang would weigh significantly less, though, it has instead gained a few pounds, anywhere from about 20-80 depending on the model.

The new Mustang's styling is pretty distinctive, and it gives the car a more aggressive look. Although the side window design calls to mind a modern Aston Martin (certainly not a bad association), classic Mustang styling cues abound elsewhere, from the large trapezoidal grille and angled-back headlights to the fastback roof line and three-bar taillights. The wheelbase and overall length are similar to the outgoing car, but the new one sits about 1.5 inches lower, is about 1.5 inches wider and has a 3-inch-wider rear track. Meanwhile, the cabin boasts higher-quality materials, more elbow room and a sportier, smaller, leather-wrapped steering wheel that both tilts and -- finally -- telescopes.

Our take is that the new Mustang drives notably better, has a nicer interior and still looks cool. But the 2015 Mustang has, in keeping with tradition, formidable competition from the 2015 Chevrolet Camaro and 2015 Dodge Challenger. Like the Mustang, they both offer eye-catching styling, rear-wheel drive and thrilling V8 power. The Chevy is a more direct competitor, given its similar proportions and small backseat, while the larger Dodge offers an adult-friendly backseat. Those shopping this segment may also consider the well-rounded 2015 Hyundai Genesis coupe. But should you place your money on Ford's horse, we think you'll be pretty happy with the ride.

WHAT'S NEW FOR 2015

The Ford Mustang has been fully redesigned for 2015.

2015 Ford  Mustang Picture

TRIMS & EQUIPMENT

The 2015 Ford Mustang has six trim levels: V6, EcoBoost, EcoBoost Premium, GT, GT Premium and GT 50 Years Limited Edition.

The Mustang V6 comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, LED taillights, a limited-slip rear differential, keyless ignition and entry, integrated blind-spot mirrors, cruise control, air-conditioning, full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, a rearview camera, the Sync voice control system (with 4.2-inch multifunction display) and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, two USB ports and an auxiliary audio jack.

Options include 18-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, rear park assist, a power driver seat and an anti-theft system.

The EcoBoost includes the V6's standard features along with the turbocharged four-cylinder engine, foglamps, a rear spoiler, six-way power front seats, aluminum dash trim, active noise cancellation and a "Tracks Apps" system that can provide performance data such as 0-60-mph and quarter-mile times, lateral acceleration and stopping distances from 60 mph or 100 mph.

Options echo those of the V6 but further include an EcoBoost Performance package (19-inch wheels with summer tires, firmer suspension calibrations, upgraded brakes, aluminum dash trim, added gauges and unique steering and chassis tuning) and Recaro sport seats.

To the EcoBoost's standard equipment, the EcoBoost Premium adds 18-inch wheels, selectable drive modes, aluminum and chrome interior accents, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a nine-speaker audio system, satellite radio and an 8-inch touchscreen with the MyFord Touch interface.

Options for the EcoBoost Premium echo those of the standard EcoBoost but further include different wheels, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, driver memory settings, an upgraded 12-speaker audio system, a navigation system, special interior trim and a 50 Years Appearance package (unique grille, wheels, gas cap and upholstery).

The Mustang GT includes all the EcoBoost's standard features along with the V8 engine, 18-inch wheels, chrome exhaust tips, line-lock (for track use), launch control (manual transmission), upgraded brakes and hood vents.

Options for the GT are similar to those for the Mustang V6. Also available is the GT Performance package that gets you 19-inch wheels with summer tires, a rear spoiler delete, a Torsen limited-slip differential, firmer suspension calibrations, upgraded Brembo brakes (manual transmission), additional bracing, added gauges, and unique steering and chassis tuning.

The GT Premium comes with the same added and optional features as the EcoBoost Premium.

The Mustang GT 50 Years Limited Edition includes all the GT Premium's features along with exclusive paint colors (Wimbledon white or Kona blue), unique 19-inch wheels, added chrome exterior trim, the GT Performance package, unique upholstery, the 12-speaker sound system, the navigation system and unique "50 Years"-emblazoned grille, gas cap, door sills, dash and floor mats.

2015 Ford  Mustang Picture

INTERIOR & SAFETY

The 2015 Ford Mustang's interior pays homage to Mustangs past with its dual-cowl-style dashboard while still offering all the latest modern conveniences. Depending on the trim level, even high-end luxuries such as adaptive cruise control and heated and ventilated front seats can be had. Materials quality is generally improved, and most drivers should be able to get more comfortable behind the wheel of the latest Mustang, as that wheel now features a telescoping function in addition to tilt adjustment.

Although the optional Recaro sport seats provide excellent lateral support, they are not perfect for every body shape. Thigh support is somewhat lacking due to a seat bottom that won't angle upward enough, while some longer-limbed drivers on our staff noted that their elbows occasionally bumped the aggressive side bolsters.

Ford's Sync voice activation system greatly simplifies operation of the audio, phone and navigation systems. The MyFord Touch interface is more controversial, however. There's a learning curve for getting the most out of the system, and operating the touchscreen can be distracting at times. In general, we prefer the easier-to-use touchscreen interface in the Dodge Challenger.

There's a more spacious feel in the 2015 Mustang, thanks to the new car's less imposing dashboard and slimmer center console. The steering wheel's contoured grips and tidier size means it's nicer to use than the old-school wheel and a soft elbow pad on the console adds comfort to the cockpit. The gauges are significantly more legible than the previous setup, and they don't reflect on the inside of the windshield like the old ones did. Outward visibility is better than a Camaro or Challenger, though the thick rear roof pillars still block everything over your shoulders. Thankfully, all Mustangs come with a backup camera as standard equipment, and a blind-spot monitoring system is available.

Both coupe and convertible body styles are considered four-seaters, but unless they are small children, the rear passengers will likely be cramped. If you regularly carry around larger folks in the backseat, the Challenger would be a much better choice. The Mustang coupe's trunk provides 13.5 cubic feet of cargo space, fairly generous for a sport coupe, while the convertible offers 11.4 cubes. Standard split-folding rear seats on the coupe expand cargo capacity.

Standard safety features for all 2015 Ford Mustangs include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, a rearview camera, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags (coupe only) and a driver's knee airbag. Also standard are Ford's MyKey system (which allows owners to limit speed and audio volume levels for young drivers) and, for manual-transmission models, hill-start assist.

Optional on the "Premium" trim levels and standard on the 50 Years Limited Edition are blind spot and cross traffic warning systems.

During Edmunds brake testing, both a Mustang EcoBoost and a Mustang GT (both equipped with the optional Performance package) stopped from 60 mph in just 108 feet. That's a better-than-average stopping performance for this segment. Without the Performance package or summer tires, a standard GT stopped from 60 mph in 118 feet which is definitely longer than average amongst its rivals.

In government crash tests, the Mustang coupe earned a five-star rating (out of a possible five) for overall crash protection, with five stars for total front-impact protection and five stars for total side-impact protection. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Mustang coupe its second best rating of Average its small-overlap front-impact crash test and the top rating of Good in moderate-overlap front-impact and side-impact crash tests. It also received a Good rating for roof strength and head restraints (whiplash protection).  

The Mustang convertible received the same ratings in the moderate-overlap front-impact, side-impact and head restraint tests. The convertible has not received ratings in the other categories.

2015 Ford  Mustang Picture

PERFORMANCE & HANDLING

A 3.7-liter V6 engine with 300 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque is standard on the base Mustang. The EcoBoost has a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine packing 310 hp and 320 lb-ft. The GT boasts a 5.0-liter V8 with 435 hp and 400 lb-ft. (Note that those outputs for the EcoBoost and V8 reflect the use of premium gasoline.) Any engine can be paired to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters.

In Edmunds testing, a Mustang EcoBoost with the automatic transmission accelerated from zero to 60 in a respectable 5.9 seconds. When testing the EcoBoost with the manual transmission and the Performance Pack, we achieved similar results. A GT with the Performance Pack and a manual transmission ran the sprint in just 4.7 seconds, while a GT without the Performance Pack and with an automatic transmission did it in 4.7 seconds. Both times are a bit quicker than average in this speedy segment.

EPA fuel economy estimates stand at 26 mpg combined (22 city/31 highway) for the EcoBoost with the manual. With the automatic, EcoBoost numbers are 25 mpg combined (21 city/32 highway). The V6 manual rates 21 mpg combined (17/28) while the automatic version rates 22 combined (19/28). The V8 manual earns a 19 mpg combined estimate (15/25) while the automatic is the same but with 1 mpg better in the city.

Based on our seat time in a Mustang EcoBoost and a Mustang GT, both equipped with the optional Performance package, the 2015 Ford Mustang is a significant step forward in overall refinement. The turbocharged four provides a fairly smooth and impressively broad-shouldered spread of power. During our yearlong test of the Mustang GT, we've found that the V8 is as exciting as ever, able to pin you to your seat like few other cars anywhere close to its price range can. The V8's subtly burbling soundtrack, however, isn't as prominent as those of previous Mustangs. Still, the quieter demeanor is nice on a long road trip, and those looking for more aural excitement can always consider aftermarket exhaust options.

Both the EcoBoost and the GT handle impressively, with sharp steering and solid composure through turns. Being 100 pounds lighter over the front tires than the GT, however, the EcoBoost feels even more spry, turning crisply into corners with enthusiasm. Body roll is well controlled in both models, and the summer tires' cling on the pavement is tenacious. The new independent rear suspension has given the Mustang a big shot of refinement in the way it handles bumpy roads. The previous Mustangs' oftentimes jostling demeanor over broken pavement, especially when you push the car harder on a curvy road, has been replaced with a supple, confident demeanor.

VERDICT

The 2015 Ford Mustang brings the iconic pony car into a more fuel-efficient future without sacrificing any of its trademark swagger or performance.

Copyright Edmunds.com, Inc. All rights reserved. First published on www.edmunds.com and reprinted with permission. Edmunds and the Edmunds.com car logo are registered trademarks of Edmunds.com, Inc.
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