By Keith Buglewicz
After successfully reinventing its iconic Mustang last year, the 2016 Ford Mustang adds three option packages, plus the much-anticipated Mustang Shelby GT350 to the lineup, including the Shelby GT350R race car. But don't let the nostalgia-seeped styling and history fool you, as the 2016 Mustang is a thoroughly modern sports coupe, with an independent rear suspension, a choice of engines including a fuel-sipping turbocharged 4-cylinder, comfortable and upscale interior, and all the high-tech amenities and features you'd expect from a 21st-century car. But don't worry; everything that makes the Mustang coupe and Mustang convertible classics is here: a growing V8 engine, rear-wheel drive and multiple performance versions. It's more than just a competitor for the Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger; it's why those cars exist.
Shoppers looking for a classic American pony coupe or convertible can't go wrong with the Mustang. But even if you aren't trying to release your inner Steve McQueen, the Mustang offers up a good-looking car with lots of creature comforts, and even decent fuel economy, for a reasonable price.
Besides the I'd-rather-push-a-Chevy crowd, anybody looking for 5-passenger seating – or just a comfortable rear seat – should skip the Ford Mustang and consider a larger car like the Dodge Challenger. And while there are Shelby versions waiting in the wings, the 707-horsepower Challenger Hellcat dominates the horsepower wars.
In addition to three new option packages – the Mustang GT California Special Package, Mustang EcoBoost Pony Package, and the Performance Package for the Mustang GT Convertible – there's the 2016 Mustang Shelby GT350. Mustang Premium models get the new Ford Sync 3 system.
With an independent rear suspension for the first time in its history, the new Ford Mustang coupe and Mustang convertible finally handle like a modern car. But not only is...
... it more nimble than its solid-axle predecessors, it's just better in day-to-day driving, with a smoothed-out ride that has none of the jittery rear-end motions the old car had. Whether you choose the V6, new EcoBoost 4-cylinder or (obviously) the V8, all Mustang models are notably quick. However, it's the last of these that truly sounds like a Ford Mustang should, with an auditory rumble and roar that's pure Americana. If you opt for the 6-speed manual, you'll enjoy the short throws and solid feel that make this a solid choice for enthusiasts. If you instead prefer the 6-speed automatic, you can still pick your own gears with paddles mounted on the steering wheel.
Modern cars are about having it all, and anyone buying a new Mustang will find a classic pony car built with all the latest safety systems. Whether it's blind-spot monitoring or forward-collision alert, it's as modern as you'd want.
On the other hand, if you're looking at a new Mustang 5.0, Ford is so sure you want to burn rubber that it's equipped all 2016 Mustang GTs with the "line-lock" mode that locks the front brakes for standing burnouts. Manual-transmission GT models also include launch control for maximum acceleration.
While all 2016 Mustang models get a coolly retro-yet-modern interior style, Premium Mustang models justify their added cost with better materials and features. All Mustangs offer easy-to-reach audio and climate controls, sturdy switches and comfortable front seats. The two small rear seats are meant for short-term use, especially considering the poor headroom in coupes. On the other hand, the trunk is bigger than you might expect – 13.5 cubic feet in coupes, 11.4 in convertibles – and the rear seats fold flat to accommodate longer items. The Mustang convertible uses a one-hand release latch for the power-operated soft top.
With its long hood, short trunk, sloping rear glass and tri-bar taillights, the 2016 Ford Mustang could never be mistaken for anything other than Ford's pony car. Yet this is no throwback, as the sleek lines, aggressive headlights and windswept design prove. Gone is the bulkiness of the previous design, replaced with a lower, wider-looking car that, from most angles, is beautiful. Convertibles look best with the lined and insulated fabric top folded, but even when up it's still unmistakably Mustang. On the functional end, the active grille shutters on 2.3-liter models can close to redirect airflow, improving aerodynamics.
The base Mustang V6 comes nicely equipped, with push-button start, 6-speaker AM/FM/CD audio with an auxiliary input, rearview camera, Ford's Sync communication and entertainment system, high-intensity headlights, 17-inch wheels, and selectable-effort power steering. Also standard on all Mustangs is Track Apps, which displays performance metrics such as acceleration times. Opt for an EcoBoost model and you'll get the 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, plus 6-way-power front seats and 18-inch wheels. GT models include the 5.0-liter V8, 19-inch wheels, the line-lock feature, and launch control on manual-transmission models.
In addition to this year's new option packages, there are multiple ways to make your new Mustang perform better, be more comfortable or simply look better. Upgrades for the base V6 models include a 6-speed automatic transmission, power front seats, parking sensors and 18-inch wheels. There's a 12-speaker Shaker audio system, navigation, leather seats and safety features such as blind-spot monitoring and forward-collision alert available for EcoBoost and top-line GT models. Adaptive cruise control is also now available on Ford's 4-seat performance car, as are heated and cooled front seats and performance packages.
Three engines are available for the 2016 Mustang, and none is a loser. The base V6 Mustang comes with Ford's 300-horsepower 3.7-liter V6, while the top-line GT uses a 435-horsepower 5.0-liter V8. The newest member of the Mustang engine family is a 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that produces 310 horsepower. Not only does it out-muscle the V6, it's also the most fuel-efficient Mustang engine, with up to 32 mpg. All Mustangs are rear-wheel drive and can be fitted with a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. The Shelby GT350 is in its own class with a 5.2-liter flat-plane V8 putting out 526 horsepower, coming connected solely to a 6-speed manual transmission.
300 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
280 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/28 mpg (manual), 19/28 mpg (automatic)
2.3-liter turbocharged inline-4
310 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
320 lb-ft of torque @ 3,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/31 mpg (manual), 21/32 mpg (automatic)
435 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
400 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/25 mpg (manual), 16/25 mpg (automatic)
5.2-liter V8 (GT350)
526 horsepower @7,500 rpm
429 lb-ft of torque @ 4,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: NA
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a 2016 Ford Mustang V6 is about $24,500 with the $825 destination charge included, not bad for a nicely equipped car. A Mustang EcoBoost coupe will run a bit more than $26,000, while a GT coupe makes a bigger jump, starting at about $33,000. A convertible Mustang V6 starts at just over $30,000, while the EcoBoost Premium and GT Premium convertibles start at about $35,500 and $42,500, respectively. A loaded Mustang GT coupe can reach the mid-$40,000 range, while a loaded Mustang GT Convertible nearly kisses $50,000. The Shelby GT350 starts at $50,000. The prices are all in line with longtime rival Chevy Camaro, which starts at $24,700, and are well under Dodge Challenger's $27,990 admission price. To get the best deal, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price before buying. Resale values should split the difference between the Camaro and Challenger.