Bargain Pony Power: 2011 Ford Mustang V6
The Ford Mustang is like apple pie and baseball in the United States. The Chevrolet Corvette might be in that phrase somewhere, but we like the Mustang more. In the minds of many different Americans, the Mustang hasn’t changed a whole lot under the skin. While we’ve had some fancy Roush versions and the GT500, most Mustangs actually haven’t changed much and that can easily be said about the base V6 version.
The previous home of the base Mustang was the rental car fleet for people traveling on business trips, because leisure in a previous generation Mustang V6 wouldn’t be possible. Not to mention many thought of the V6 powered Mustang as a sacrilege that could only be purchased if the world were ending. To sum it up, it was crap.
With 2011 came the same bum economy, a still falling apart Motor City, and a new base Mustang. Luckily, while the first two were a tad depressing, the latter will change the way you think about the Mustang V6. Gone is the stone age 4.0-liter V6, replaced by an all-new 3.7-liter with 305 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Hold your breath and clinch your rear, because here in the rear kicker, the motor still delivers 31 miles per gallon.
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Taking in the visual aspects of the 2011 Mustang V6 are easier than ever. The 2011 version gets an all-new front and rear fascia. There are different aerodynamic touches on the new car, such as a new upper grill, a lower front-spoiler and air dam, an underbody shield, and rear wheel spats. All of these touches make the new Mustang four percent slipperier than last year’s model.
There are some wonderful additions to the new 2011 version of the V6 Mustang, including dual tail pipes, real metal on every panel, and the wonderful Sync system that is one of the best voice activated systems in the automotive industry. Although there is a new legislation in California that might make the hands free phone area of Sync illegal.
Powering the 2011 Mustang is an all-aluminum 3.7-liter V6, similar to the motor you’ll find in the Mazda CX-9. The Mustang’s motor comes with a few neat additions, including a fully variable intake and exhaust valves. Like all of the variable valve-timing gizmos, the system is able to adjust the flow in and out of the engine and Ford claims that this activity is done within microseconds. The results of all these toys help the engine crank out 305 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque.
Connected to the motor are two all-new six-speed transmissions; an automatic or a manual. We can easily say that manual is the better option because we love to drive, but those of you who just won’t care will be fine with the automatic as it’s plenty capable. There are other bits of mechanical goodies like a cold air intake, a revised suspension, and a weight saving plastic fuel tank, but for the both of our sakes, we’ll avoid going into deep detail.
The result of all that wizardry is a very fun and very quick base Mustang. It might not be as fast as the 5.0-liter V8 version, but you should be able to hit 60 miles per hour in under 6 seconds. That number isn’t far off from the GT, due to the way the solid rear axle and the limited slip differential put the 305 horsepower to the ground.
Solid rear axle setups make for good straight-line speed, but cornering precision will obviously be lacking. While there is no doubt in our minds that the solid setup isn’t as good as an independent one, it’s not as bad as one might think. Compared to the Chevrolet Camaro, the Mustang is as superior as a nuclear submarine to a rowboat.
While the Chevrolet might use an independent setup, GM engineers must have gotten it very wrong. The Mustang was far more precise and nimble in the bends. It’s clear that the Mustang is a far better car than the Chevrolet and it’s miles ahead of the Dodge Challenger SE, which makes handling look as complicated as astrophysics to a fifth grader.
Driving on the motorway is a great place to enjoy the Mustang. The ride is very refined and road noise is kept at a minimum. The high redline means that you can have tons of high revving fun with that peppy motor. The gear spacing means that you can cruise and get wonderful mileage, yet have tire smoking fun in the lower gears, and that’s exactly what the pony car was meant for.
Take the Mustang to the back roads and things get just as good. The light aluminum motor makes the car balanced, something that is always a plus when it comes to handling. The steering is nimble and there is little twisting in the chassis. Sadly, at speed, the front end can feel a big airy, something we don’t enjoy feeling at high speeds. It can give the illusion that the car wants to become a 747, although that probably won’t happen.
No longer a rental car worthy vehicle, the new Mustang is a complete transformation. Like computers, the Mustang used to be a slow and worthless device that has become a fast car for the masses. With that wonderful V6 that is capable of 305 horsepower and 31 miles per gallon, the new Ford is something to behold. If the muscle car scene was an actual war, Ford has fired the opening shots with ballistic missiles.
Disclaimer: Test vehicle provided by Ganley Ford