Ford stretched the definition of muscle car for decades with their anemic V-6-variants of the Ford Mustang. But no longer. Finally putting the badly aging “Cologne” V-6 to rest, Ford has swapped out the iron-block relic in the 2011 Mustang for an all-new powerplant that makes a respectable 305 hp.
It’s an upgrade on all fronts. Whereas its predecessor noisily and reluctantly climbed up the revs, the new 3.7-liter V-6 does so with smoother delivery and a sonorous growl fitting for a pony car. It’s paired to a six-speed manual (the same as in the GT), which although has satisfyingly short throws, is ergonomically lacking due to the long clutch-pedal travel. To hit that 31 mph highway mpg (EPA city/hwy 19/31 mpg), you’ll need to shift quick and early to the tall sixth gear. Otherwise, with enthusiastic blips of the throttle, fuel economy dips to the high teens.
Our test car came with the optional V-6 performance package, which includes eye-catching machine-finished 19-inch wheels and beefier tires. The steering is precise and communicative, and the Mustang grips with pleasing tenacity. Yet, the limitations of a live-axle rear inevitably come into play, with a jittery ride on rougher road surfaces.
Still, there’s lots to love about the Mustang V-6 inside and out. The interior feels upscale where it counts with soft-touch dash plastics and real aluminum trim, and its classy exterior sheet metal is striking from any angle. Factor in the unbeatable $22,310 starting MSRP, and you have a bargain performance machine that befits the venerable Mustang name.