- Well-balanced, quick V-6 models
- Stunning V-8 power
- Retro look, modern details
- Performance bang for the buck
- Ride quality
- Snug back seat
- Unimpressive interior finishes
- No telescoping steering wheel
- Balky, too-tight shift linkage
The 2014 Ford Mustang delivers some of the best performance-car bang for the buck, all with a level of sophistication that's surprising given the brash sound and classic looks.
The 2014 Ford Mustang conjures up memories, associations, and nostalgia for most Americans, and it's really no surprise why. Whether you care about cars or not, it's a known quantity, and a pop-culture reference point. And while the Mustang has a continuous lineage over the nearly 50 years it's been on the market, like other muscle-car reincarnations such as the Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger, it borrows some of the pony-car past through its look and sound.
The Mustang definitely lives in the present, though. Powerful V-8s, special editions, and quarter-mile sprints are definitely still a big part of its identity and existence, but the 2014 Mustang has a cozy cabin, surprisingly confident handling, and something close to true sports-car finesse that you probably never expected to find here.
Also see: Details on the 2015 Ford Mustang
It's all a bit surprising because the Mustang still does have a live-axle layout in back. But thanks to some great chassis engineering, it could fool you much of the time. As well, V-6 models aren't the compromise they used to be; the base model now has a 305-horsepower V-6 that can turn in 0-60 mph times of about 6.0 seconds, plus fuel economy of up to 31 mpg on the highway if you get the six-speed automatic (with SelectShift control).
Opt for the V-8, and you goal-kick the Mustang into another zone entirely. With 420 horsepower, the 5.0-liter V-8 has the stopwatch times and overall responsiveness to fit in with far more expensive performance cars--and the exhaust calls it out to the world with a richer, almost exotic note. The Mustang's precise electric power steering last year got a multi-mode setting that lets you pick the weighting, and for the most part, it's a hoot to drive on curvy roads, too.
You can get Coupe and Convertible versions with either powertrain. If you want to enjoy the Mustang's dynamics, the Coupes are the way to go--and you can even geta glass panoramic roof--but if you want a Convertible with a usable, useful back seat, the drop-top Mustang has loads of appeal.
Missing from the lineup this year is the race-ready Boss 302 and its higher-output, 444-hp V-8; that has seen its special two-year run come and go.
Last year, the Mustang got a number of more modern details to help give its retro silhouette a more punctuated, detailed look up close. Projector-beam headlamps, with two strips of LED lighting flanking them, help frame the front; and in back, LED lamps with a dark-tinted look separate out these models from earlier year. Lower airdams are neater and thinner, too, and lighting up the ground next to the doors is an optional pony projection light.
The Mustang's cockpit has the upright dash and big, beautiful gauges with color-shifting lighting and metallic trim, a good blend of Sixties style and today's touchscreen sensibilities. Don't expect MyFord Touch until the next major refresh, due next year, but you can time your own acceleration or quarter-mile times with a Track Apps feature.You can get a Mustang with parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, and even HD Radio; but the real allure here is customization, and special performance and appearance packages. There's also a Brembo brake package with recalibrated stability control and a sport-tuned suspension; or the serious GT Track Package; or the V-6 Performance Package, we think, is a must for anyone who appreciates good handling but is sticking with the V-6. Several other special appearance packages—each dressed up its own special pony-car aesthetic—include a Mustang Club of America Package, V-6 Pony Package, FP6 Package, and California Special Package.
2014 Ford Mustang
The classic pony-car profile and retro cues of the 2014 Mustang are unmistakeable, but there are some modern cues, too.
From some distance, the 2014 Ford Mustang gives off some strong hints that it lives in the past; yet up close, it's entirely in the present. Ford has managed to translate a classic design for the modern world, and along models like the MINI Cooper and Volkswagen Beetle, it's remarkably cohesive, with plenty of modern details that don't hold its appeal back.
The Mustang is instantly recognizable from any angle on the outside, with its unmistakable silhouette and classic coupe stance. The fundamental design goes back to the 2005 model year; then in 2010 Ford gave it an extensive revamp, recasting it as a little leaner, a little more tidy, and yet more aggressive in its details.
There are retro cues aplenty; and the ones you don't see from Mustangs past you can almost all add on at extra cost--all except a fastback body style, of course. Through various personalization options, you'll find you can pretty easily recreate the look for the Mustang you might have driven in high school, or college—with side louvers, side scoops, hood scoops, and spoilers, among many other possibilities.
Last year, the Mustang got a more 'tilted-forward' look to the grille, while the lower airdam is a bit thinner and not so gaping. GT models are also distinguished by their big, round foglamps in the grille, and they have functional heat extractors on the hood.
Headlamps are a smaller, more closely detailed HID design (across the entire lineup), and two strips of LED lighting flank the headlights and are an especially distinctive note. Taillamps get a dark-tinted look, with LEDs surrounding the entire affair; there’s also a blacked-out (instead of body-color) panel between the taillamps. And from the side, rocker panels now are body-color. And a clever new night-lighting option, called the pony projection light, beams a pony emblem on the ground next to the doors.
The couple of really intense exterior colors introduced last year—Deep Impact Blue, and Gotta Have It Green—have been joined by a couple more conservative colors this year: Oxford White and Ruby Red Metallic.
Inside, the Mustang's cockpit has an upright dash and big, deep-dish gauges with color-shifting lighting and metallic trim. The Mustang's interior follows a design that clearly nods to the past—although it has a surprisingly modern set of materials, a wide center console, and plenty of soft-touch materials on the dash. As a whole, the cabin can be a little stark, and it looks at its best in one of the two-tone themes.
2014 Ford Mustang
The Mustang is a charming, robust performer, with strong powertrains and a surprising level of handling finesse.
The 2014 Ford Mustang sure looks and sounds like a classic muscle car or pony car. The Mustang definitely lives up to its pony-car heritage in appearance—and in layout, with V-6 and V-8 engines, rear-wheel drive, and a simple rear solid-axle layout—but that's about where the retro comparisons end.
There are two main flavors of the Mustang: V-6 or V-8. They're both modern overhead-cam engines with variable valve timing--and surprisingly high-revving and willing, even though the V-8 especially has that true muscle-car sou8nd.
Mustang V-6s have Ford’s 3.7-liter V-6, making 305 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. And if you're comparing those with power and torque output of the 4.6-liter V-8 from not too long ago, you're right; it makes the Mustang feel about as quick.
The 5.0-liter V-8 in the GT is the way to go for those who crave the most performance; it has 420 horsepower. V-8 models emit a gruff, throaty exhaust note and feel a bit like straight-line exotics. Compared to the V-6 models, they're different beasts altogether and call for more restraint; due to the V-8’s sharper throttle response and here-right-now torque, weight transfers tend to be a little less fluid, too, if you’re not careful with it.
Since both engines make their peak horsepower at 6,500 rpm and their peak torque at a rather high 4,250 rpm, we firmly advise that you get the manual transmission--although it does now include full manual control, with a +/- button on the side of the shifter to easily thumb through them, and no forced downshifts or upshifts in manual mode; and manual-gearbox cars get a two-second hill-hold function, for convenient starts when facing uphill.
One other thing: There are also now three driver-selectable levels of steering effort—Sport, Comfort, and standard. Steering is very precise in the 'Stang, although we've never been entirely happy with how this unit loads up off center.
There's not as much difference from V-6 to V-8 models as in the past, either, and performance packages don't shave away nearly as much of the decent ride compliance. Despite humble, cost-conscious underpinnings, Ford engineers have worked magic in making the Mustang a better driver’s car than quite a few sports coupes or sedans with more sophisticated mechanical layouts and expensive price tags. If we were performance-minded, we'd opt for the coupe, since the convertibles we've sampled haven't had the structural stiffness to match the suspension's upconverted talents.
Several model years ago, the Mustang's rear suspension was massaged, and the current corner takes advantage of a host of incremental improvements. It takes a set in corners much more easily than former Mustangs, and it deals much more swiftly with choppy pavement and uneven surfaces, even though it's still a live-axle design. So even on wet and imperfect surfaces, the the Mustang has surprising tenacity and poise, and a progressive, predictable feel in tight corners.At the top of the lineup is the far more exclusive Ford Shelby GT500, and the 662-horsepower engine and a number of other enhancements. Rumor has it that an independent rear setup is on the way next year, so if you want the highest-power Mustang with a solid-axle rear, this is it.
2014 Ford Mustang
Comfort & Quality
Ford has made the most of a small sports-coupe cabin in the 2014 Mustang.
The Ford Mustang hasn't changed much in size, over decades, and it remains essentially a compact car with an interior that can feel sub-compact at times. Don't count on a lot of back-seat space—it's just a little larger than a 2+2. Yet with some good seats and decent interior design, Ford has made the most of it.
As long as you're in front, the Mustang feels quite comfortable, and its design up front nods to the past while marrying the nostalgia with some surprisingly modern details and plenty of soft-touch materials, at least for the upper dash. Harder plastics are kept for the door panels.
Simply put, the Mustang's interior puts the Camaro's cockpit to shame in terms of sheer usability. You'll likely never forget you're in a sport coupe, in layout, comfort, and trims, but it doesn't fall for the gimmicky, unnecessarily tight feel of the Camaro (which is too tight for some taller drivers).
We appreciate how the most supportive Recaro seats are no longer the exclusive domain of the Boss 302; those snug perches are now available throughout the lineup, as an option, and upholstered in leather or cloth. The Recaros' even back support and deceptively robust side support help hold hips in place when the road turns twisty. But even the base seats are reasonably supportive.
Move to the back, and it's not anything to beam about. Even for small adults will find it tight, mostly for its lean leg room. There's a little less shoulder room, too, so you'll need some cooperation back there.
In general, Convertibles offer a nice, tight-fitting soft top; although they don't get as large of a trunk. As a coupe, the Mustang remains a reasonably practical vehicle, given its performance. There's good trunk space, and the opening is wide enough for large suitcases. The power top is easy to operate, but it still does require two latches at opposite ends of the windshield to be fastened.Expect Convertibles to be a bit louder, although they have a tight-fitting soft-top. Wind buffeting isn't so great—especially for those in back—but it's one of the better ways to pack in some friends and go for a cruise. In coupes, expect a little more vibration and harshness than in a typical sedan, but most unwanted noise is filtered out—so you can simply crack the windows if you want to enjoy the V-8 sounds a little more.
2014 Ford Mustang
Good crash-test ratings continue to make the Mustang Convertible one of the safer soft-tops on the market.
Muscle cars, pony cars, and affordable sports cars in general don't tend to have very great records for safety; but that's more due to the types of drivers they attract than to issues with the cars themselves.
The 2014 Ford Mustang is a pretty secure pick, if you plan to drive responsibly (and plan to get top-tier winter tires if you intend to drive it year-round).
In federal NCAP testing, the 2013 Mustang has earned four-star ratings overall, as well as for frontal and side impact. Mustang Convertible models have scored a top 'good' rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in frontal, side, and rear impact. Coupes earn 'acceptable' instead for side impact.
The safety-feature set is solid, too. Front and side airbags, anti-lock brakes, and stability control are included. Option the Mustang up with Bluetooth, blind-spot monitors, a rearview camera, and rear parking sensors, and you get more safety features than a number of mid-size sedans costing just as much.
The only catch? Outward visibility isn't great, particularly in Convertibles.
2014 Ford Mustang
There's a lot of bang for the buck in the Mustang--and that's true throughout the model line.
You likely already know what the 2014 Mustang provides: tire-scorching performance, the classic pony-car look, and a lot of customization potential if you want it. So it's likely no big surprise that equipping the Mustang is kind of an adventure in itself, with lots of choices and plenty of option packages, whether you want a car that's flamboyant or understated, a comfort cruiser or a track-day special.
At the same time, you don't need to spring for all the extras. Go for a base model—with the V-6 or the V-8—and you'll find a refreshingly no-frills equipment list with a price that's astonishingly low. Simply put, there's a lot of bang for the buck.Keep watch of the bottom line, and you can own a nicely equipped Mustang for well under the average price of a new car. Or splurge, and you'll be surprised at some of the tech gadgets and infotainment gear offered in the current car.
All versions of the 2014 Mustang get Other standard equipment includes power windows, locks and mirrors; keyless entry; cruise control; and an AM/FM/CD player. Also included is Ford's MyKey system, a programmable set of functions that let parents set up speed limits, volume limits and other warnings.
Most Mustangs come with Ford's SYNC system, which uses Bluetooth-driven voice commands to control phones and media players. Bundled with steering-wheel controls, SYNC also is paired with turn-by-turn navigation (route maps are delivered over the airwaves) and real-time traffic information. It's standard on all but the base Mustang V-6.
Major options on the Mustang include ambient lighting; leather upholstery; a Shaker 500-watt audio system; satellite radio; aluminum interior trim; and an optional electronics package that bundles real-time traffic and HD radio, and dual-zone climate control.
Ford also offers a panoramic glass roof; HID headlamps; a rearview camera and blind-spot monitors; and a host of appearance options, from hood scoops and spoilers to side scoops and louvers. A universal garage door opener, and reverse parking sensors are also on the list of possibilities.
For performance, a range of larger wheels and summer tires can be had. There's also a Brembo brake package with recalibrated stability control and a sport-tuned suspension. The V-6 Performance Package, we think, is a must for anyone who appreciates good handling but is sticking with the V-6. And finally, those who really do want to take the Mustang out on the track, there’s a GT Track Package, only offered on manual GT Mustangs. It includes a 3.73 axle, an upgraded radiator, performance brake pads, and the Boss 302’s Torsen differential—in addition to the larger front discs, 19-inch alloy wheels, and summer performance tires that are already a part of the Brembo Brake Package.
Several other special appearance packages include a Mustang Club of America Package, V-6 Pony Package, FP6 Package, and California Special Package. Here, you're simply best looking at each one, as they each appeal to a specific pony-car taste.
2014 Ford Mustang
If you can take it easy, the Mustang V-6 will get a miserly 31 miles per gallon on the highway.
You might not have thought of the Mustang as a reasonably fuel-efficient vehicle a number of years ago; but times have changed. The 2014 Ford Mustang can be one of the more economical-to-operate—and dare we say, reasonably green—sporty coupes. If, that is, you can go for the V-6 and manage to restrain your right foot.
V-6 versions of the 2014 Mustang manage up to 31 mpg highway, according to the EPA. Go for the 420-horsepower V-8 and drive it gently and you won't see your fuel budget go out of control either; they're rated at up to 26 mpg highway.
As for the super-performance Shelby GT500, don't expect to do nearly as well; that version is rated at 15/24 mpg—numbers that we think could be highly optimistic, given the constant temptation.