Sunday, October 23, 2016



It's interesting how things coincide sometime.

One recent morning I got an email linking to a story about how the Chevy Camaro had surpassed Ford’s Mustang in sales for September for the first time since October 2014. That afternoon what should show up in my driveway but a new Mustang coupe.

Aha, I told myself, here is a chance to see if the 32 percent drop in sales for the Mustang for the month (compared to a 25 percent rise for the Camaro) was because of something wrong with the Mustang or was it something right for the Camaro.

Well, I can’t say if it was the latter because it has been a while since I have driven a Camaro. I do remember that the last time I did, however, I was impressed with how much attention Chevy had given to the Camaro’s interior. It was nice.

But I can say for sure that it isn’t because of Ford’s doing anything wrong with the Mustang. The company did right by the Mustang when it gave it a redesign for 2015. This is probably the best looking Mustang in several generations and is a much more refined vehicle than the ground-breaking Pony car that dates back to 1964.

It’s much more comfortable than in the past, and the interior exudes a more genteel aura while retaining the traditional Muscle Car attitude. The refinements reflect a combination of strength and stylishness usually found only on performance vehicles at the entry level luxury segment.

With little to be done as far as appearance and mechanics after the 2015 makeover, for 2016 Ford took aim at brushing up technological features such as the company’s new SYNC 3 infotainment system that simplifies operation of such features as audio and navigation via voice or an 8-inch touchscreen at the top of the center stack. It also added some appearance packages and added new colors and optional over-the-top racing stripes, a nod to Mustang’s racing DNA.

The result is a Muscle Car that won’t wear you out while performing routine daily driving chores.

The Mustangs is offered with three engine choices with the Ecoboost four-cylinder having joined the V6 and V8 last year.

The thought of a four-banger under the hood of a Muscle Car may go against the grain for purists, but this is no fuel-sipping, punchless wimp under the hood. The 2.3-liter turbo-4 offers up 310 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 320 pound-feet of torque between 2500 and 4500, which is 10 more horses and 40 more pound-feet of torque than what the V6 offers. And it does do on 87-octane fuel.

Mated with a six-speed manual transmission, the turbo-4 delivers plenty of kick in the performance department, and its throaty roar is pleasing to the ear as well. And, of course, it’s the most fuel-efficient of the engine choices.

With the manual, which I highly recommend, EPA figures are 22 miles-per-gallon city, 31, highway and 25 combined with the turbo-4. Numbers are 21/32/25 with the six-speed automatic.

The V6 is rated at 22 mpg combined with the automatic and 21 with the manual. The V8, with its 435 hp and 400 lb.-ft. of torque, checks in at 19 mpg combined with either transmission.

Frankly, the overall winning package seems to be the turbo-4, that is unless you want to go all out and get the Shelby GT350 or the coming Shelby GT500 Mustang versions. Of course, you’re going to be shopping in the $50,000 to $60,000-plus range for those super cars.

The turbo-4 coupe that served as my test vehicle, the 2.3L Coupe Premium, came with a base MSRP of only $29,300 with extras like adaptive cruise control, the Ecoboost performance package, voice-activated navigation system (plus the destination and delivery charge of $900), and a 12-speaker Shaker Pro Audio system running the total MSRP to $37,540.

Standard equipment included HID projector headlamps, LED fog lamps and signature lighting, LED taillights with sequential turn signals, the 8-inch touchscreen for infotainment systems (also voice activated), dual zone climate control, leather-trimmed seats, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel (the telescoping function was missing on the previous generation), rear-view camera, and Track Apps (for measuring performance).

What I liked about the 2016 Ford Mustang Coupe Premium: Loved its overall appearance, especially with the optional 19-inch black-painted aluminum wheels. The Ecoboost turbo-4 engine offers a nice combination of throttle response, fuel economy, and engine sound. Oh, yeah. The mustang image that is projected on the ground when approaching the car at night is kind of neat as well.

What I didn’t like about the 2016 Ford Mustang 2.3L Couple Premium: Want to experience your birth again? Just cram your way into the backseat and then extricate yourself by popping headfirst through the rear door jamb and the back of the front seat. You’ll pop out just like your entry on earth. Oh, yeah. That backseat is on the crowded side as well, but I’m not making any more analogies here.

Would I buy the 2016 Ford Mustang 2.3L Coupe Premium? Yes. It’s fun to drive, and I don’t need the extra horsepower from the GT350. Plus it gets that performance using regular fuel.

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