Say Mustang and the first thought is of a V8 powered rear-drive coupe with a live rear axle-the quintessential American pony car. But the all-new 2015 Ford Mustang rolling out of showrooms has retooled that image with a more-modern, less-retro look, an independent rear suspension and now a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine option wedged between the base V6 and GT V8 models. 

While the turbo four can be seen as a return to the bad old days of some 30 years ago when Mustangs relied on similar technology as a way to deliver fuel economy at the expense of performance, rest assured this new 2.3-liter EcoBoost is no shrinking violet. In fact, it delivers 310 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque, which is greater output than the 300-horse 3.5-liter base V6. And at the same time, it's rated at 21 mpg city/32 highway with 25 mpg combined.

Plenty of boost from EcoBoost

The power from this stout little engine is delivered to the rear wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission with an optional paddle shift feature, and it's nothing short of remarkable. The 2015 Mustang is quick, agile and returns amazing fuel economy-on an 800-mile round trip between Orange County and Phoenix, it averaged just over 30 mpg at speeds topping 75 mph.

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Ford has also gone beyond the independent rear suspension and turbo power in updating the Mustang by adding multiple levels of adjustability to the steering and engine management. The center console has separate toggle switches for each, allowing the driver to dial in the right amount of steering response from three modes, comfort, normal and sport, as well as changing the throttle response and exhaust note with normal, sport plus, track and weather modes. Even in sport, the steering had a nice firm feel at interstate speeds, while comfort works best in low speed maneuvering and parking.

Comfort, up to a point

The front buckets in the Mustang are supportive with ample bolstering, but extended time in the saddle of about 3 hours, I felt the need to get out and stretch. Likewise, the rear seats are suited best for small children-during the trip, we had a third passenger for short hops which made both front and rear passengers uncomfortable because you have to move one of the front buckets way forward to just get a person in the back.

Accepting that the 2015 Ford Mustang is at best a 2+2, these interior sacrifices are compensated by a sleek exterior with the traditional long nose/short rear deck proportions. Painted a head-turning triple yellow, the Mustang is a handsome mount with plenty of curb appeal. Base price on the EcoBoost model starts at $30,365, but our highly optioned test car had over $5,000 in options that included features like heated/cooled leather seats, the paddle-shifters, a premium sound system, blind spot and collision warning, rear park assist, voice activated navigation and a 50th anniversary package that included special 19-inch alloy wheels and commemorative badging. Out the door price with destination was $36,665. You could go all in for a GT, but what the EcoBoost lacks in sheer power of the 435-horsepower V8, it more than makes up in its spirited handling and excellent fuel economy.

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