2009 LA Auto Show: 2011 Ford Mustang Gets a New V6

Seeking to rectify one of the few soft spots in its latest-generation Mustang, Ford announced at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show that it has given its popular ponycar an all-new, more potent and more efficient V6 engine for 2011. This all-aluminum 3.7-liter Duratec V6 makes 305 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. of torque compared to the relatively modest 210/240 figures of the 4.0-liter V6 in the 2010 car. At its heart is Ford’s Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) system which allows this 24-valve DOHC engine to deliver better overall output -- up to 10 percent more power -- across its entire rev range and yields up to a three percent improvement in fuel economy over an equivalent non-Ti-VCT engine. Backing Ford’s latest Duratec six is a pair of equally new and extremely efficient transmissions. The standard gearbox is a six-speed manual co-developed with Getrag that features ultra-smooth, short-throw linkage. The optional Ford-penned 6R60 autoshifter includes a grade-assist mode that optimizes gear selection and increases engine braking in hilly terrain. Matched with the 3.7-liter, both deliver significantly better fuel economy than the current Mustang V6 -- with the automatic’s 19/30 mpg projected numbers reflecting a 25-percent improvement over its 2010 counterpart.

Although these new powertrain elements -- all of which also are destined to find their way into other Ford Motor Company products -- rate as the biggest bit of 2011 Mustang news, the car also benefits from a host of other functional upgrades that further optimize both performance and fuel economy. To better cope with the extra power, a comprehensive suspension tweak nets recalibrated spring/shock rates, stiffer stabilizer bar bushings and a revised rear lower control arm to sharpen handling and cornering response. Also new to the mix is Electric Power Assist Steering (EPAS) that eliminates the parasitic drag of a standard hydraulic-boost setup. Rounding out the hardware enhancements are a standard limited-slip differential and bigger anti-lock disc brakes. Mileage-maxing aero improvements -- which also helped rebalance the front/rear lift to give the car a more planted feel at speeds -- include re-contoured front fascia, rear tire “spats,” modified underbody fairings, a taller rear air dam and a new decklid seal.

On sale in the spring, the 2011 Ford Mustang V6 is destined to be a far more formidable adversary for its historic archrival, the Chevy Camaro. Ford released no word on pricing -- nor on the anticipated changes that will add more firepower to its V8-powered 2011 Mustang GT sibling. However, it has confirmed that a new V6 Mustang Performance Package will arrive in August. Aimed squarely at enthusiast buyers, it will bring together the sportier Mustang GT suspension, Shelby GT500 rear lower control arms, 19-inch wheels, Pirelli summer performance tires, a lower 3.31:1 axle ratio, unique electronic stability control programming with Sport mode and a front strut-tower brace.

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