2017 Ford Mustang Review

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2017 Ford Mustang Review

Priced From $45,990Information

Overall Rating

0

3.5 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
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Safety, value & features

3 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

3 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

4 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

4 out of 5 stars

Technology

3 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProA modern muscle car with Steve McQueen-esque street cred

  2. ConMessy interior; sub-optimal safety.

  3. The Pick: 2017 Ford Mustang Fastback GT 5.0 V8 2D Coupe

What stands out?

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The look. The Ford Mustang is a tough, muscular looking car as only the US of A can produce. But modern engineering has elevated the way it goes, stops and steers. It is an every-day proposition, too – it even makes the most of your smartphone. The Mustang comes in coupe and convertible body styles, and offers V8 and turbocharged four-cylinder engines.

What might bug me?

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Concern about what might happen if you were to crash in your Mustang. Safety authority ANCAP awarded it only two stars for safety, of a possible five. (For more on Mustang safety, please open the Safety section below.)

That oh-so American interior. It’s untidily laid out, lacks a quality feel and just doesn’t match the rest of the package.

In a Mustang Ecoboost, driving at 80km/h on your space-saver spare wheel until you can fix your full-sized flat tyre.

In a Mustang V8, concern about leaving your muscle car by the roadside while you seek to get a flat tyre repaired. There is no spare at all – just pressure monitors that will warn you when trouble is coming. If it’s a slow leak, you can drive to a garage.

What body styles are there?

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A two-door coupe, which Ford calls the Fastback, and a two-door convertible with a cloth roof, called the Convertible.

The Mustang drives its rear wheels, and is classed as a sports car, lower priced.

What features do all Mustangs have?

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Cruise control, and Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming via Ford’s excellent SYNC 3 suite. Satellite navigation, displayed on an 8.0-inch touchscreen. A reversing camera.

Support for Apple Car Play and Android Auto, which allow you to display some apps from compatible smartphones on the car’s touchscreen and control them from there.

Leather interior trim, and power-adjusted, heated and ventilated front seats.

Dual-zone climate-control, which allows the driver and front passenger to set different temperatures for either side of the cabin.

Keyless entry and start, which allows you to lock, unlock and start the car without taking the electronic key from your pocket or bag.

Windscreen wipers that switch themselves on as the first raindrops fall, and headlamps that sense the lighting conditions and turn themselves on and off.

On manual-gearbox Mustangs, hill-start assist – which automatically prevents the car from rolling backwards when you need to start from rest on a slope.

A tyre-monitoring system, which warns you if a tyre’s inflation pressure drops below a safe level. On EcoBoost Mustangs (only), a space-saver spare wheel and tyre.

An emergency assistance feature, where the car can automatically contact emergency services immediately after a crash that’s severe enough to deploy the air-bags.

Ford’s MyKey system, which allows you to limit certain car properties – such as top speed and sound volume – before lending the car to others.

Electronic stability control, which can help you control the car in a skid. All new cars must have this feature.

Modern electronics also mean the Mustang has four selectable driving modes, including settings for slippery roads and even race-tracks.

Eight air-bags, including one each for the driver’s and passenger’s knees.

All Mustangs carry Ford Australia’s three-year/100,000km warranty.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

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The four-cylinder, turbocharged, Ecoboost engine uses least fuel. The official test indicates this 2.3-litre petrol engine will use as little as 8.5 litres/100km (city and country combined), depending on model and transmission choice.

Unfortunately, when people think Mustang they also think V8, so the Ecoboost four-cylinder is doomed to be the poor relation. The irony there is that the Ecoboost is cheaper to buy and very good in its own right. But you’ll be stuck with it come trade-in time.

Which means the headline act is the 5.0-litre V8 engine that comes with a Mustang GT. It lacks high-techery such as a turbocharger but provides the Mustang with its spiritually correct feel and sound. It also gives you faster acceleration, which is a big part of this car’s role in life.

Fastback versions can be had with a manual or automatic transmission, both with six speeds, while the Convertible is automatic only.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

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The biggest difference between a Mustang Ecoboost and a more expensive Mustang GT is under the bonnet. Which means spending more will get you the V8 engine and not much else.

That said, you do get bigger brakes on the V8-powered GT models, and slightly wider rear wheels and tyres to provide added grip to deal with the extra power.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

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A move to a GT, with the V8 engine, means you’ll pay more initially and will use more fuel on a day-to-day basis. As well, Mustang GTs don’t carry a spare tyre. (Ford says their brakes won’t accommodate the space-saver spare wheel that comes with Ecoboost Mustangs.)

A Mustang Convertible is heavier than a Mustang Fastback, and so choosing a Convertible will also inflate your fuel bill slightly. The Convertible is also a little noisier inside, particularly in traffic.

Paying extra for automatic transmission option involves a small fuel-economy trade-off too, as well as making for a performance car that is not quite as satisfying to drive.

If you do decide to spend bigger and go for the Convertible, you can’t have it with the manual transmission: it’s automatic only.

There are plenty of colour options for the Mustang but what Ford calls prestige paint (effectively metallic colours) costs extra.

How comfortable is the Mustang?

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The cabin layout and quality just doesn’t gel with the rest of the Mustang. Much of the interior plastic is the hard, black stuff that is nasty to the touch. It doesn’t all fit together well, either, with some iffy joins.

The layout of the instruments is disappointing, too, with a messy look and some truly cheesy touches – such as the chrome-effect switches that not only look cheap but make it impossible to identify which switch does what on the move. There’s no easy-to-read digital speedometer, either. Given the tough-guy, slightly retro looks of the exterior, it’s hard not to think Ford could have tried harder. That said, for a car designed for Americans, it won’t be the worst you’ve seen.

The front seats are good, with heating and ventilation. They are a generous size and offer plenty of support. The rear seat is tight, though, and will not be for long trips with anybody bigger than a toddler.

While you can adjust how willingly the auto transmission shifts and the sensitivity of the accelerator, some of the settings make the shifts too eager and the throttle so sensitive it makes for jerky progress. The alternative settings are better but you have to fiddle around to find them. And the button that adjusts the steering feel between three settings could have been left out, as it does precisely nothing that you are likely to notice.

What about safety in a Ford Mustang?

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Unusually, the Mustang has knee air-bags for the passenger as well as the driver, for a total of eight airbags. The others are immediately in front of the driver and passenger, thorax airbags either side of the driver and passenger to protect their upper bodies from side-impacts, and side-curtain airbags to protect the heads of both front and rear-seat passengers. A reversing camera is standard.

Ford has used stronger than normal steel in some structural parts of the car’s body for a stronger passenger cell – the part of the car that contains the passengers. The idea is that if the passenger cell deforms less in a crash, the occupants are less likely to be injured.

An interesting addition is Ford’s MyKey system, which allows parents to program the car (via the ignition key) to protect their offspring from injudicious impulses. You can limit its top speed, limit the stereo volume, block phone calls and text messages when driving, and even increase the frequency of the seatbelt reminder.

On the other hand, while there is stability control and its accompanying suite of electronic braking aids, there is no automatic emergency braking. Nor is there any other active driver aid such as lane-assist (which would warn you if the car veered off course) or blind-spot warning (which tells you if there’s another car beside you that you are about to change lanes into). And the seatbelt reminder operates only on the front seats.

Partly due to the near-absence of such safety-assist technologies, the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Mustang only two stars for safety, from a maximum of five, in January 2017. Crash-testing showed protection to be poor for passengers in the rear seats, with serious head, chest and leg injuries likely from a 50km/h frontal impact (because seatbelts could not restrain rear passengers safely). The driver and front passenger fared much better, with protection from frontal, frontal offset and pole impacts rated as acceptable (one down from good, the maximum of four levels), and from side impacts rated as good. Nevertheless, in the frontal offset test the airbags allowed driver and passenger to contact the steering wheel or dashboard with their heads. Whiplash protection from rear-end crashes was also rated as poor in the rear seats, and marginal in the front. The car assessed was a V8-engined Mustang Fastback GT – other versions have not been rated.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

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This is the Mustang’s reason for existing. Either engine offers a lot of acceleration, and both make for very safe overtaking and effortless freeway cruising.

But it’s the V8 that will excite keener drivers more, with a fabulous V8 soundtrack and a bigger shove in the back when you accelerate hard.

The steering is not as sharp as some, but it certainly gives a feeling of great security and has a meatiness to it that lets you know you’re driving a substantial vehicle.

There’s no escaping the fact that the Mustang is a big, wide and relatively heavy car. But even then, it disguises those things to a large extent and emerges as a fun, entertaining car. Big brakes, well considered suspension settings and sticky tyres all help to achieve that feeling.

How is life in the rear seats?

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No elephant stamp, here. The Mustang’s rear seat is tight to say the least, and in the convertible model it’s even narrower as the roof mechanism encroaches. The rear seat also consists more or less of two shaped bucket seats rather than a bench that would accommodate three backsides.

Access to the rear is tricky, too, and the front seats have to be folded forward before you can enter or leave the rear seat. While front seat passengers can use a little leather retaining strap on the seat-back to prevent the seat-belt from slipping behind them every time they leave the car, that same belt-tethering device poses yet another obstacle for those attempting to access the rear seats.

Nor is the rear of a Mustang a very safe place to ride in. Safety body ANCAP has highlighted poor protection from frontal crashes and poor whiplash protection. (For more on rear-passenger safety, please open the Safety section above.)

How is it for carrying stuff?

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Given that the rear seat is all but useless for adults, this is where some owners will put a lot of the gear they need to carry. Which is just as well, because the boot isn’t huge by any means.

The short rear overhang of the body that characterises the macho styling limits the load area the boot can physically offer.

What’s more surprising is that the interior doesn’t feature the plethora of cup-holders you’ll see on any other modern American car, each capable of locating a small bucket. Instead, you get two average sized cup-holders in the centre console (which interfere with your gear-shifting if there’s anything in them) and tiny bins on each front door-trim. Other stowage points are in short supply, too.

Where does Ford make the Mustang?

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All Mustangs are made in the USA at Ford’s Flat Rock assembly plant in Michigan.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

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The glaring omissions, given the Mustang’s price, are the electronic driver aids that some much cheaper cars have as standard now.

Missing from the spec sheet, for example, is autonomous emergency braking (where the car can apply the brakes automatically if decides you are about to crash into something).

So are lane-assist (which can warn if you have got distracted or tired and drifted out of your lane), and blind-spot warning (which lets you know, when about to change lanes, whether another car is hidden alongside you to the rear).

But it’s a moot point whether any similar car has these features. That’s partly because there is nothing else quite like the Mustang.

Even among comparably priced big V8 sedans, only the Chrysler 300 SRT has auto braking. The Holden Commodore SS-V Redline has a forward collision warning and blind-spot warning. (The Ford Falcon XR8 matches the Mustang with none of these.)

To get auto braking in a 2+2 grand-touring style coupe, you could look at something like a Lexus RC350. But it won’t feel like a Mustang.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

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The pick is the GT (V8) coupe with the manual transmission, for its combination of performance, street cred and driver involvement.

Are there plans to update the Mustang soon?

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Ford launched this Mustang in the US back in 2014, but it did not arrive in Australia until January 2016. Mustangs built after June 2016 gained Ford’s SYNC3 connectivity suite, bringing support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. At the same time, Ecoboost Mustangs picked up a space-saver spare tyre.

There was a 12-month waiting list for a V8 Mustang in Australia soon after they went on sale. In April 2016, Ford said it had ordered an extra 2000 cars. By the end of the year it had delivered 6200 Mustangs in Australia.

Expect the Mustang to receive a mild facelift and significant equipment upgrade for the 2018 model year. Ford says the revised Mustang will offer a 12.0-inch touchscreen, a suite of driver aids, a more powerful V8 engine, and a 10-speed automatic transmission. Suspension that adjusts the car’s ride for the driving conditions is likely as an option.