By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 11/8/2011
Ford's iconic pony car, the 2012 Mustang, keeps going strong. Although some may argue the 2012 Mustang's styling isn't as eye-popping as the Camaro, its performance easily matches its long-time Chevy rival and others, including the Dodge Challenger and Hyundai Genesis. With the base car's V6 engine producing 305 horsepower – more than some V8s of just a few years back – the Mustang is not only fast, it's affordable. The GT model is a V8-powered dynamo with a snarling exhaust note, available 6-speed manual transmission and ripping performance. More than just a flashback, the newest Mustang also attracts younger buyers who want the experience of a torque-heavy V8. Available in Coupe or Convertible, V6, V8, high-performance V8 (Boss 302) and screamingly fast V8 (Shelby GT500), the 2012 Ford Mustang isn't all things to all people, but it comes close.
Whether you're looking for a fun and affordable sports car to relive your youth, or a fast and furious street rod to keep you from growing old, there's a 2012 Mustang with your name on it. With 31-mpg for the V6 car and the SYNC voice-activated communications system as key selling points, the Mustang is as modern as it is retro.
Those who seek an independent rear suspension, a muted purr from the engine and styling more at home at the Opera than a NASCAR event might prefer a more subdued (and probably pricier) European sports car. While the 2012 Ford Mustang is fun for two, its rear seat is best suited to children or very limber adults.
The 2012 Mustang receives a new selectable steering setup that includes Sport, Comfort and Standard modes, and the Mustang Boss 302 limited-run model debuts touting 444 horsepower. New features available on the 2012 Ford Mustang include dual illuminated visor vanity mirrors, a remote garage door opener, the Reverse Sensing System and HID headlamps.
Refusing to give up its solid rear axle design, Ford has created for the 2012 Mustang an inexpensive rear suspension that performs quite well and is as comfortable in cruise as it is quick in the corners. The driver selectable steering enhances feel, response and predictability. Add in the AdvanceTrac stability control system and powerful anti-lock disc brakes, and the 2012 Ford Mustang maintains its composure quite well in the turns, although the back end can be made to step out when too much throttle is applied – which immediately activates the stability control. The GT has a driver selectable AdvanceTrac system that includes a less restrictive Sport mode. In V6 form, the 2012 Mustang delivers up 305 horsepower and packs a punch, yet still tops the 30-mpg mark in highway driving. The heart and soul of the Mustang, however, is the 5.0-liter V8, with 412 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque and matched with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic.
Unless you absolutely revel in the idea of having a V8, the new 3.7-liter V6 is more than enough engine, producing horsepower and torque figures that surpass the output of many previous-generation Mustang GTs!
Comprehensive Interior Upgrades
Better quality and enhanced features make it a much nicer world inside every 2012 Mustang. Highlighting the mix are a one-piece soft-touch dash and more finger-friendly controls that are further complemented by variable interior ambient lighting and, on Premium models, selectable MyColor illumination.
The 2012 Ford Mustang's interior is a great place to spend time. Traditional design elements from the first Mustang include a soft-touch one-piece dash pad, bright chrome accents and brushed aluminum trim. Highlights include a 160-mph speedometer, Ford's MyColor configurable dash that allows the driver to choose from 125 color combinations, and an 8-inch color touch-screen for the optional navigation system. Thanks to an extensive use of sound deadening material, the 2012 Mustang's interior is exceedingly quiet even with the roaring V8 engine. We like the Mustang's front seats very much, finding them both supportive yet snug enough to hold one in place during aggressive driving.
The 2012 Ford Mustang shows originality and retro. Historical elements that made the first car such a hit include the galloping pony in the grille and the staggered sequential LED rear turn indicators. But the 2012 Mustang's power-bulged hood, big wheels and steeply-raked windshield never appeared on the original model. The integrated headlamp/turn-indicator unit pays homage to the 1970 Mustang, while the big 5.0-liter badges on the GT's front fenders play up on the 1980s Mustang. A wide and deep grille insert serves as the backdrop for a more stylized galloping pony emblem as well as prominent fog lamps on GT models.
All 2012 Ford Mustangs are impressively packaged. Even the base V6 comes with air conditioning, power windows/locks/mirrors, keyless remote entry, AM/FM/CD stereo with AUX input, Selectable Electronic Power Steering Assist (EPAS), cruise control, Electronic Stability Control (ESC; includes anti-lock brakes), front and front-side airbags, and Ford's SOS Post-Crash Alert system. The Premium versions add leather upholstery, trim enhancements, an upgraded instrument cluster with MyColor variable lighting, Shaker 500 audio system with SYNC and SIRIUS Satellite Radio, power driver's seat, and a split-folding rear seat on coupes. The GT has a 412-horsepower, 5.0-liter V8 engine, automatic headlamps, rear spoiler, fog lamps, a black-chrome pony grille badge, and cloth instead of synthetic material on the Convertible's power top.
Key extras for the base V6 2012 Mustang are a 6-speed automatic transmission, the Reverse Sensing System and Security Package, and a Convertible soft boot. The V6 Premium offers the base-level upgrades plus the V6 Performance Package (strut tower brace, larger anti-roll bars, 19-inch black painted wheels, recalibrated electronic stability control, performance brake pads and a 3.31:1 rear axle ratio). The GT Premium offers the California Special package (chrome billet grille, side scoops and 19-inch wheels). The GT trim offers the Brembo Brake Package, recalibrated stability program and 19-inch wheels with P255/40R19 tires. HID bi-xenon headlamps, a glass roof, back-up camera and several packages – including the Electronic (Navigation with SIRIUS, HD Radio and dual-zone auto climate control) and Comfort (leather-trimmed heated front seats and a six-way power passenger seat) – are available on Premium versions.Under the Hood
The base 2012 Ford Mustang is powered by an all-aluminum 3.7-liter V6 engine featuring dual overhead cams (DOHC) and Twin-Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT). The result is 305 horsepower with fuel economy comparable to some four-cylinder cars. Ford's 6-speed automatic features a "Hill Mode" function that extends gear operation on uphill climbs and provides additional engine braking upon descent; Ford does not offer a manually-selectable shift program with this transmission. Stepping up to the 5.0-liter V8 (also equipped with Ti-VCT technology) brings 412 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque; the Boss 302 has 444 horsepower and 380 lb-ft Our time in the Mustang GT produced zero-to-60-mph runs under five seconds.
3.7-liter DOHC V6
305 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
280 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy 19/29 (manual), 19/31 (automatic)
5.0-liter DOHC V8
412 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
390 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
444 horsepower @ 7,400 rpm (Boss 302)
380 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm (Boss 302)
EPA city/highway fuel economy 17/26 (manual), 18/25 (automatic)
5.4-liter supercharged V8
550 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
510 lb-ft @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/23
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a base 2012 Ford Mustang V6 is around $23,000, the Premium V6 is over $27,000, the GT is just past the $30,000 mark and the Premium GT is about $34,000. Choosing a Convertible will add about $5,000 to each of those figures, although the glass roof option ($1,995) provides an interesting and more-affordable alternative. To make your best deal, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price on kbb.com, which shows what others in your area are typically paying for their new Mustangs. As for resale, the Mustang V6 is on par with the Chevrolet Camaro V6 and Dodge Challenger V6, while the Mustang GT trails just behind in overall five-year residual values.