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2011 Ford Mustang V6 Review & Test Drive

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It is great to be an automotive enthusiast in today’s marketplace.  Engines are getting smaller, more powerful, yet give high mileage specs.  As a result of global competition automobiles are being built better with stronger frames while adding more comfort and convenience inside.

The new 2011 Ford Mustang V6 is a fine example of this trend with a new high-performance, all-aluminum Duratec 3.7 liter DOHC Ti-VCT V6 that generates 305hp, 280lb.ft. of torque, and 31mpg/highway, while mated to a six-speed automatic transmission-the first car ever to achieve this combination.

The all-new six-speed automatic is joined by a six-speed short-throw manual transmission for the ‘shift-it-yourself’ crowd, while handling and cornering are bolstered by the addition of electric rack & pinion power assisted steering (EPAS), and a host of suspension improvements.

It was only a couple of years ago that the 4.6 liter V8 in the Mustang GT had 300hp and you shifted with only a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic.  Wow!  Have times changed.

The new Mustang’s 3.7 liter Duratec 24-valve V6 uses advanced engineering to deliver its power and economy.  Twin independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) adjusts the valvetrain in microseconds.  Aluminum construction means light weight.  It’s an engine designed to crank out torque down low, rev to 7,000rpm and deliver the mechanical music sports coupe lovers crave everywhere in between.

The high output is due largely to Ti-VCT, which allows variable control of valve operation across the rev range.  The variable cams operate on a Direct Acting Mechanical Bucket (DAMB) valvetrain using polished buckets to reduce friction.  The end result is as much as a 3% improvement in fuel economy and a 10% improvement in power output versus traditional engines without these advanced features.

Ti-VCT is complemented by specially tuned composite upper and lower intake manifolds for efficient air delivery and lighter weight.  Ignition power is delivered by a high-energy coil-on-plug design, while piston-cooling jets and a lightweight die-cast aluminum cylinder block improve the durability and efficiency of the 3.7 liter V6 design.  A die-cast aluminum deep-sump oil pan provides 10,000 mile change intervals, saving you money on maintenance and resulting in less waste in oil disposal.

Engineers also worked to ensure aggressive, high-performance sounds come with the new engine, from intake to exhaust.  Not only does the retuned air intake system minimize losses, it also provides you with a very satisfying intake rush on hard acceleration.  The all-new dual exhaust system is mellow at idle but opens up with a loud howl, just a few decibels less than the GT, when you mash your foot down on the throttle, letting new Mustang V6 owners know that they are behind the wheel of a world-class sports coupe.

Drivers can get the most of the new V6 engine’s output using either a standard, all-new six-speed manual gearbox or an optional six-speed automatic transmission.  Both come with the flexibility and fuel economy benefits of six forward ratios regardless of whether drives want to shift for themselves or not.

Drivers who prefer a manual gearbox will love the short throws and direct feel of the Tremec 6060 transmission along with the relaxed cruising permitted by the extra top gear ratio.  Customers choosing the automatic will be pleasantly surprised to find the advanced six-speed transmission does not sacrifice fuel economy-or performance-for convenience, delivering 31mpg highway with crisp, quick shifts that maximize torque and horsepower.

The manual transmission delivers 29mpg highway, and both deliver 19mpg city.

The automatic transmission also features a grade-assist or ‘hill mode’ to improve drivability on hilly terrain.  This technical innovation uses vehicle input-acceleration, pedal position, vehicle speed and brake status-to automatically determine the correct gear ratio while on an incline or decline.  Hill mode eliminates sixth gear, extends lower gear operation on uphill climbs, and provides additional grade or engine braking for coast-downs.

The standard 2.73 rear axle provides an ideal blend of cruising fuel economy and acceleration, aided by the wide ratio spread permitted through the use of six forward speeds in the gearboxes.  Performance enthusiasts can select the 3.31 rear axle ratio for better off-the-line launch characteristics by choosing the optional Performance Package, (which I will talk about later).  Both transmissions come with a standard limited-slip differential to put more efficiently put the higher horsepower/torque down on the pavement.  This new Mustang V6 with the Performance Package is the fastest to 60mph from a standstill of any V6 Mustang with times as low as 5.1sec.

With so much more horsepower and torque, the 2011 Mustang receives enhancements to its chassis to maintain the outstanding balance and driving behavior Mustang owners expect.  Damper tuning and spring rates were revised to provide a smooth highway cruising ride, while new rear lower control arms and stiffened stabilizer bar bushings improve stiffness and handling for better cornering response.

You easily slice through corners with an independent MacPherson strut setup up front including reverse L-links, coil springs, and a 34mm hollow stabilizer bar.  The 3-link solid axle rear setup includes coils springs, gas-charged shocks, a Panhard rod that is further refined, and a 22mm. solid stabilizer bar.

When you order the Performance Package, more expensive sport coupes should watch their rearview mirror for you coming up as the package includes a unique electronic stability control calibration with sport mode for performance driving, a strut tower brace,

firmer GT suspension settings, riding on 19in.X8.5in. machine painted, light aluminum wheels wrapped with Pirelli 255/40ZR19in. P-Zero low-profile, high-performance summer tires.  This is the greatest performing V6 Mustang ever!

While Mustang’s aerodynamic improvements were designed mainly to improve fuel economy, engineers also adjusted the vehicle’s front/rear lift balance.  The result is a car that tracks more securely and feels more ‘planted’ to the road surface at higher speeds, helping to keep the tires in better contact with the pavement.  The aerodynamic enhancements include a new front fascia with a new splitter and airdam, full perimeter lower body kit, tire spats on the rear wheels, modified underbody shields, rear lip spoiler and an added rear decklid seat.  It looks as good as it drives!

The addition of EPAS marks a new era in driving dynamics for Mustang owners.  Steering effort at parking lot speeds is reduced, while high-speed and highway feel is improved for more precise steering and handling.  because the belt-driven power steering pump is eliminated, EPAS provides a quieter vehicle with few components drawing engine power.  The steering response from my inputs was precise and very quick thanks to the strut tower brace that comes with the Performance Package.  There is virtually no slush as on center wheel behavior is spot on, and feel for the road is excellent.  They have it plugged in perfectly as I felt even more a part of the car when I was putting the Mustang through its paces.

EPAS also enables new technologies that adjust for minor driving annoyances.  Drift-Pull Compensation adjusts the steering to correct for crosswinds and minor road crowning, while Active Nibble Control helps eliminate the ‘shimmy’ felt at high speeds when a wheel is out of balance or a brake rotor is warped.  Both conditions are alleviated by EPAS independent of your input, helping ensure Mustang delivers a smooth, comfortable driving experience in all conditions.  Standard AdvanceTrac electronic stability control plus full speed traction control also helps you maintain your chosen path when driving over slick surfaces or when you take the new V6 powered Mustang to its limit of adhesion during spirited driving times.  You can of course shut the stability control system off with a push of a console-mounted button to let the rear hang out a bit during hard cornering.

When the time comes to slow things down, the new larger power-assisted steel disc brakes do a great job.  Up front are 12.4in. vented discs clamped with dual-piston aluminum calipers, and the rear contains the same 11.8in. vented discs clamped with single-piston aluminum calipers.  Standard ABS ensures controlled stops in panic situations and when braking hard on slick pavement.

For 2011, Mustang also ups the ante on technology and convenience features including a standard driver’s message center in the instrument cluster and integrated blind-spot mirrors in the sideview mirror housings.  Ford’s MyKey system, designed to encourage safer teen driving and seat belt use, also is newly available on Mustang.  MyKey allows owners to program the vehicle key using the driver’s message center to incorporate features such as limited top vehicle speed and audio volume, a traction control system that cannot be deactivated, a persistent Belt-Minder seat belt reminder and various speed alert chimes.

Mustang’s technological advances are also incorporated in the structure of the car, where improvements in body stiffness contribute to the coupe and convertible’s driving performance and have a parallel benefit in accident protection.  A stiff vehicle structure like that found on Mustang help protect the cabin from deformation and intrusion in an impact.  Mustang also uses high-strength steel in its body structure and ultra-high-strength steel in the door intrusion beams for additional side-impact protection.

The front structure’s crush zones are computer-designed to absorb energy in a controlled manner and help dissipate it before it can reach the passenger compartment.  Ford engineers have run thousands of design iterations of the Mustang’s front rails to arrive at an octagonal shape that helps spread crash forces evenly to aid in protecting occupants.

State-of-the-art technology adds to the convenience and safety of the 2011 Mustang, from the availability of the latest version of Ford SYNC, with applications such as Traffic, Directions & Information, 911 Assist, and Vehicle Health Report, to standard AdvanceTrac Electronic Stability Control, which complements the all-speed traction control and standard ABS.  Additional standard safety equipment includes the Personal Safety System which features dual-stage driver and front-passenger front/side airbags, seatbelt pretentioners/load limiters up front, side curtain airbags, Belt Minder, and 3-point safety belts in the rear.

For 2011 Mustang exterior styling reflects the successful 2010 redesign with new headlamps, lower fascias, fenders and grille capped by a powerdome hood that adds to the muscular appearance while functionally allowing for enhanced air cooling of the engine.  Mustang’s washer-fluid nozzles are tucked into the cowl, while the antenna resides at the rear, both changes creating a cleaner appearance while also reducing wind noise.

Front fenders feature taut, sculpted wheel flares, like a tight skin stretched over the wheels.  Classic spear character lines on the doors leads to a modern indication of ‘hip’ rear fenders.  The modern design provides Mustang with aggressive, forward direction, like it’s ready to jump.  From the side you’ll notice the steeply raked A-pillars, fastback roof design, tinted rear side glass, deep lower side extensions and aerodynamically styled sideview mirrors giving the new Mustang V6 a low, long sexy look.

The rear end design features aggressively angled corners, a sculpted decklid with integral lip spoiler and a prominent badge.  Other than the chrome Pony badge in the center of the grille and the rear badge, there are no other badges proclaiming the V6 engine under the hood.  The dual, 4in. wide, polished aluminum exhaust tips shows drivers following you that this is a real performance machine.  Mustang taillamps feature three LED bulbs firing sequentially from the inside for turn indication.  The sequential bulbs were a distinct Mustang feature in the 1960’s, while the vertical reverse lamps evoke a modern version of the Ford classic three-lens taillamp.

Inside, the new speedometer and tachometer gauges are housed in a one-piece instrument panel with excellent fit and finish.  The design is crafted in seamless soft-touch TPO (thermoplastic Olefin) skin encompassing available genuine aluminum-finish panels.

The new instrument cluster graphics, including a speedometer that reads 160mph and a tachometer that reads up to 8,000rpm reflects the free-revving style of the new V6 engine.  The chrome-ringed gauges and dual-vane air outlets are precisely crafted and positioned, and the instrument panel, center stack and console flow as one shape-another strong connection to Mustang heritage.  The tilting, leather wrapped steering wheel feels perfect in your hand and features buttons for the cruise-control and audio system.  The classic ribbed sport bucket seats are comfortable and very supportive.  The nubby stick shift is perfectly placed for quick, easy use.  All buttons, switches, and dials are within easy reach and fully illuminated for safe nighttime driving.

Additional lightweight soundproofing measures help filter unpleasant, high-frequency noises, while a tuned intake and dual exhaust add the sounds Mustang buyers relish.

Occupants also benefit from new door seals and rear wheel arch liners that reduce road noise for a quieter, more enjoyable drive, all with minimal weight gain compared to the 2010 model.

Standard features in the Premium model Mustang that I tested included 6-way leather trimmed driver’s seat, AC, ambient lighting, message center, Shaker 500 audio system, split-fold 60/40 rear seat, front door mats, aluminum-faced foot pedals, dual map lamps, dual vanity mirrors, dual cupholders with flip-up lid, deep storage bin with flip up cover, a deep glove box, storage slots in each door, 2-12-volt power plugs, remote trunk release, driver personalization control, variable, intermittent wipers/washers and aluminum Mustang signature door entry skid plates.

The new, more powerful V6 Mustang is the best all-around Pony car on the market with a new, more efficient engine, two new six-speed transmissions, revised front and rear suspensions, more powerful steel disc brakes and an interior that is sporty, comfortable and quieter than ever before.

The base price for a Premium edition V6 Mustang is just $25,845.00 and my nicely loaded test vehicle came in at just $27,840.00.



  • Price: V6 Mustang Base $22,175 As-Tested $27,840
  • Engine: 3.7-liter 305hp @ 6500 rpm/280 ft-lbs torque @ 4250 rpm
  • Drive: RWD
  • Wheelbase: 107.1in.
  • Total length: 188.1in.
  • Total width: 73.9in.
  • Total height: 55.6in.
  • Track: f/r-62.3/62.9in.
  • Turning circle: 33.8ft.
  • Headroom: f/r-38.5/34.7in.
  • Legroom: f/r-42.4/29.8in.
  • MPG est.: 19mpg city/29mpg highway
  • Fuel tank: 16.0 gallons
  • 0-60mph: 5.1 seconds
  • EPA cargo volume: 13.4.0cu.ft.
  • Curb weight: 3,453lbs. (manual transmission version)

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