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car review

2011 MustangTed Laturnus/The Globe and Mail

Introduced in mid-2010, the 2011 Mustang received a refresh while retaining its familiar retro-themed body style. It also got a welcome performance shot in the arm, with three different drivetrains: a revised V-6, 5.0-litre V-8 and, with the limited-production Shelby GT500, a supercharged 5.4-litre V-8.

The V-6 was easily the bestseller, accounting for about 60 per cent of total Mustang sales. For 2011, it dropped slightly in size, but went up in performance. Displacing 3.7 litres, it developed 305 horsepower, compared to 210 for the previous version. Part of the reason for the power boost was attributed to a new variable valve system and a redesigned intake manifold.

Ford also claimed a 3 per cent increase in highway fuel economy with the new V-6, to 6.4 litres/100 km, compared to 7.6 for the 2010 model.

For high-performance buffs, the 5.0-litre V-8 banged out 412 horsepower, providing an aural treat while it was at it. Ford engineers replicated all the mechanical whining and growling of a full-fledged muscle car and, under throttle, the V-8 sounded remarkably like the original 1968 GT driven by Steve McQueen in Bullitt.

You could get the V-8 with either an automatic or manual transmission in convertible or coupe body styles. If neck-snapping performance was your ticket to ride, the Shelby GT500 had 550 horsepower to play with. For all practical purposes, this was a completely separate automobile.

Five basic versions of the 2011 Mustang came to Canada, two of them convertibles. Both the soft-top and hardtop models were available with the V-6 or the 5.0-litre V-8. As well as the usual standard equipment – air conditioning, power windows, four-wheel disc brakes, full instrumentation – you could order it with leather interior, remote start, a glass roof, block heater, cloth soft-top and a DVD navigation system. Ford also included its MyKey option with this model. This allowed owners to program the car's ignition key to restrict the vehicle's top speed and stereo volume, while activating a "persistent" seat belt reminder and various speed alert chimes.

Neither Transport Canada nor the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have any safety recalls in effect for this edition of the Mustang, but the latter organization has 16 technical service bulletins and a whopping 182 complaints on file.

The service bulletins include starting problems due to electrical issues with the battery fuse box, a stiff-shifting six-speed manual transmission, an undependable fuel gauge and "clunks" emanating from the front suspension. Some complaints registered with NHTSA: "I was driving on the freeway approximately 65 mph when my throttle light went on … car lost power," "difficulty shifting at high revs," "I have had nothing but problems with this car" and "sometimes you cannot get the car to shift into first gear without attempting several times." Difficulties with the throttle body assembly and manual transmission are the most common problems.

Consumer Reports puts this one on its "good bet" list, but there are issues. Transmission concerns are prevalent, and the magazine gives both the V-6 and V-8 versions an "average" used-car verdict. Notes C.R.: "We expect reliability of new models will be 31 per cent below average." Some comments from owners: "Water leaks around door seals and trunk," "the trunk can hold a weeks' worth of groceries" and "temperature control switch is in a bad location."

Market research firm J.D. Power gives the 2011 Mustang a "better-than-most" grade for predicted reliability, but "about-average" marks for overall quality, performance and design. More comments from owners: "V-6 but lots of get up and go," "best new sports car for any size person" and "no telescoping steering wheel – annoying!"

From a base price of less than $23,000, the 2011 Mustang has hung in there. The entry-level V-6 coupe selling from the high teens to the low-$20,000 neighbourhood, while the V-8 is valued at $5,000 more. Expect to pay an additional $5,000 for the convertible.

Tech specs

2011 Ford Mustang

Original Base Price: $22,999; Black Book: $17,700-$46,350; Red Book: $17,000-$44,000

Engine: 3.7-litre V-6, 5.0-litre V-8 and supercharged 5.4-litre V-8


  • 305 hp/280 lb-ft for V-6
  • 412 hp/390 lb-ft for 5.0L V-8
  • 550 hp/510 lb-ft for supercharged 5.4L V-8

Transmission: Six-speed manual and six-speed automatic

Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 10.7 city/6.4 (V-6 with automatic); regular gas for V-6 and 5.0 V-8; premium for supercharged V-8

Alternatives: Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger, Hyundai Genesis Coupe, Nissan 370Z, Audi A6, Honda Accord Coupe

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