The 2016 Ford Mustang needs no introduction. America’s pony car has been plying the highways and byways for more than a half-century, with fastback and convertible body styles now reaching a global audience. Four engine choices are offered and the requisite six-speed manual gearbox is available across the product line.
The Ford Mustang has always been a fast car, especially when equipped with a V8 engine. On the straightaways, the Mustang is pure elation. Redesigned last year, the Mustang now comes with independent rear suspension and a limited slip differential, allowing enthusiasts to tackle the twisties with supreme confidence.
For 2016, the Mustang gains Ford’s new Sync 3 infotainment system. Coupe and convertible body styles are available, as well as V6, EcoBoost, EcoBoost Premium, GT and GT Premium trims.
A shark-bit maw signals that the 2016 Ford Mustang has arrived. It is a look that is powerful and intimidating, with a purposeful design. This is no ordinary steed, and you need to be prepared for what lies underneath its hood.
Like Mustangs of yore, the current generation — introduced in 2015 — features a long hood and a short deck. Sleek headlights with signature tri-slash accent lights are present. Body sculpting, including oversized housings for the available fog lamps and a sporty lower grille opening close out the front fascia. A muscular hood and strong shoulders round out the Mustang’s face.
From stem to stern, the Mustang has an “always in motion” appearance and is marked by pronounced upper character lines along the sides, body sculpting and rocker panel embellishments. Pronounced wheel wells house oversized sporty alloy wheels. From the rear, you’ll find the Mustang’s signature sequential turn signal assemblies and the trademark galloping Mustang logo, which is replaced with a GT logo on the Mustang GT and GT Premium. Bumper trim and body skirting along with dual exhaust ports complete the Mustang’s exterior design.
For 2016, Ford added an important retro feature: hood-mounted turn signal indicators. Included with the 2016 Mustang GT, the look hearkens to circa 1967 Mustangs. Various package upgrades are new this year too, including a Pony Package for EcoBoost models, which brings in special logos and stripes as well as 19-inch polished aluminum wheels. A black painted roof option is also new as are black or silver racing stripes.
Convertible models replace the Fastback layout with a soft top. Drop the top and the Mustang shines in all its beauty, resulting in a particularly fetching design.
If you’re looking for a roomy interior, the Mustang provides it for the driver and front passenger alone. The two-place rear seat seems like an afterthought. Two people can fit with some maneuvering, but their comfort will be heavily compromised.
Ford designed the Mustang with customization in mind. At least with regard to your choices for color, fabric and seats. The higher up the trim level, the more likely you’ll want the Recaro seats that offer generous bolstering. Others may find the leather bucket seats more to their liking, although the trade-off comes in bolstering. Consider carefully how you will drive your Mustang — if you’re a track maven, then you must go with the Recaros.
A spherelike theme dominates the dashboard, instrument panel and doors. That motif is evident from the steering wheel centerpiece ringing the galloping Mustang logo, to the pronounced instrument panel cowls housing the tachometer and speedometer. Even the air vents, speakers, heating controls and the front end of the armrest advance that cylindrical theme.
Happily, Ford chose an interior layout that is fairly simple and straightforward. The expected and adjustable digital driver’s information display is wedged between the instrument panel cowls. Secondary driver, audio and phone controls sit on the face of the steering wheel. The center stack is orderly with three vents at the top, followed by a colorful display panel beneath. Dials and switches for climate control and audio sit underneath.
The niftiest design, at least in my opinion, is the bank of toggle switches just above the base of the center stack and immediately to the right of the red-encircled start button. The four jet aircraft-inspired switches are represented left to right with an emergency switch, traction control, steering wheel heating and your drive mode.
The Mustang’s interior is well-lit, and in the GT Premium a custom lighting package allows you to change the dial lighting to suit your taste. Trunk space measures 13.5 cubic feet in the Fastback and 11.4 cubic feet in the convertible. Still, you’ll have enough room for a weekend getaway — you can always belt in a few bags in the rear seat, if needed.
Three engine choices are available with the 2016 Ford Mustang. A 3.7-liter V6 is the base engine, making 300 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard and a six-speed automatic transmission is available. This model is EPA-rated at up to 19/28 mpg city/highway.
A turbocharged, 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine is offered in the EcoBoost model, producing 310 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque. This engine offers the best fuel economy for a Mustang, returning up to 21/32 mpg city/highway.
Like any muscle car, the Ford Mustang’s full competence is realized with its available V8 engines. The 5.0-liter V8 is the line’s hallmark, making 435 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. This engine delivers up to 16/25 mpg city/highway.
I’ve had the good fortune of driving Mustangs with all three engine choices and know that the standard V8 matches the power found in the Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger. The V6 is a worthy base engine delivering sufficient power, though it doesn’t come anywhere near what the 5.0-liter V8 delivers.
The turbocharged four-cylinder is an intriguing engine, but it relies on boosting power to deliver its performance. While its power matches what V8-equipped Mustangs of yesteryear provided, its sound is not especially inspirational. The EcoBoost is a nod to improving EPA fuel standards and making the Mustang palatable for new audiences, including in Europe where fuel prices are astronomically high.
Our test model was a 2016 Ford Mustang GT Premium Convertible. It’s the highest end model without Shelby influence. The Shelby GT350 and GT350R models offer the fourth engine choice: a 5.2-liter V8 engine paired only with a six-speed manual gearbox.
As presented, the Mustang GT Premium’s V8 was paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. While I would have preferred a manual transmission, my disappointment was offset by the driving dynamics and drop-top possibilities. This model is clearly an enthusiast’s dream come true, with traditional power not augmented by turbocharging or supercharging.
Ford offers steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, but they’re no substitute for the three-pedal foot action enthusiasts desire. It is simply better to leave the transmission in drive, stomp the pedal and find the drive mode that suits you best. A bank of four toggle switches near the base of the center stack is where you’ll control the drive mode. Choose the one to the far right and you can adjust throttle input, enjoy stiffer and more responsive steering and toss out traction control. You can also activate launch control with a push of a button.
Press hard on the accelerator and you’ll hit 60 mph in under 4.5 seconds. Keep the pedal pressed to the metal and your quarter-mile time will be reached in just over 13 seconds.
The twisties is where the Mustang GT’s full competence is felt. The current model benefits from an independent rear suspension for better handling. Communicative steering instills driver confidence as this Mustang stays planted even as it gallops.
Drop the top and you’ll enjoy the deep note singing from the Mustang’s exhaust pipes, offering a resounding declaration that the latest iteration of America’s pony car is its best one yet.
One of the most significant changes for the 2016 Mustang is the introduction of Sync 3, which represents the third-generation of Ford’s voice-activated infotainment system. Sync is offered in two packages: Sync with MyFord Touch and Sync 3.
The first package provides voice-controlled access to phone calls, music and select apps. The second package brings in a new, user-friendly interface with a fresh design. Sync 3 also brings in an 8-inch touch screen and allows for seamless Siri Eyes Free integration.
In testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Mustang coupe received top grades in the two categories it was tested for: moderate overlap front and head restraints and seats. In tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Mustang hard top received a five-star overall rating, which is NHTSA’s highest score.
The 2016 Ford Mustang features a suite of air bags, including a driver’s knee air bag. A rear view camera is standard across the model line, and all models come equipped with an automatic crash notification system that alerts local 911 services if the vehicle is disabled. An adaptive cruise control system, forward collision warning and blind spot monitoring are available.
Ford makes the 2016 Mustang attainable even for people of modest means. The base V6 model is priced from $24,145 (plus $995 for destination). An EcoBoost Fastback model costs $25,645 and the GT Fastback is priced from $32,395.
Choose a convertible Mustang and you’ll pay at least $29,645, which is a $5,500 upgrade across the model line. The tested GT Premium convertible has a base price of $41,895, though options brought our test Mustang’s price to $47,675 as delivered. A 12-speaker Shaker audio system added $1,795 to the base price and the automatic transmission raised it by another $1,195. A special California Special trim package with black stripes and a deck-lid spoiler raised the price by another $1,995. A $795 voice-activated navigation system rounded out the upgrades.
Quite easily, a well-equipped V6 model can be had for under $30,000 (or for less than $35,000 when choosing the convertible). Rabid enthusiasts may cast longing eyes on the Shelby GT350 and GT350R, which carry base prices of $47,795 and $61,295, respectively.
It isn’t hard to make a case for the Ford Mustang or for its two chief competitors. The Mustang, Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Camaro are the current representations of today’s muscle cars. The Challenger is the only one that is not offered as a convertible.
There will always be some people who find muscle cars too large for their liking. Fortunately, there are other models to consider, including the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, Nissan 370Z and Subaru WRX. If Ford performance is your thing, the Ford Fiesta ST and Ford Focus ST might also be considered.
However, the Ford Mustang’s combination of heritage and performance cannot be overlooked. The current generation offers an excellent blend of traditional and contemporary design. With its standard independent rear suspension and limited-slip differential, you have a thoroughly fun-to-drive stallion waiting for you to seize the reins.