The true measuring stick for any sportscar (especially a Detroit muscle car) is how it performs on the road. When it comes to the 2008 Ford Mustang, you're going to need a pretty damn big stick for the top-end models.
The various trim levels and versions of the 2008 Ford Mustang offer several different engine choices. Cars.com lists those choices as a "4.0-liter V-6" that "produces 210 horsepower," a "4.6-liter all-aluminum V-8" that "pumps out 300 hp," and a "319 hp" version for the Shelby GT. The "supercharged Shelby GT500" offers a "500-hp rating," according to Car and Driver, and Popular Mechanics says the Shelby GT500KR comes with a "540-hp supercharged 5.4-liter V8."
The Ford Mustang's 2008 lineup sports a variety of different models that feature engine performance ranging from above average to mind-blowing. At the bottom of the totem pole is the V-6-powered base Mustang 2008. This car is a functional sportscar, and Edmunds finds that "acceleration is respectable with the V6, regardless of whether you choose the fun-to-shift manual or the responsive automatic." Stepping up to the 2008 Ford Mustang GT and its big V-8 engine bring a definite and expected improvement in acceleration, while losing only 1 mpg in both city and highway driving compared to the V-6. Kelley Blue Book feels that the "GT is clearly faster and more refined, and its V8 is one feature many male buyers wouldn't dream of sacrificing." The 2008 Shelby Mustang GT500 sports a 500-hp engine that ConsumerGuide says is "strong at any speed, though not as brutally fast as other cars with 500 hp." Finally, Ford has teamed up with Shelby again to bring out the 2008 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR, which features a supercharged 540-hp model that Popular Mechanics feels "offers plenty of torque at low revs" and "gains speed with an ease that speaks of 540 horses."
Transferring the substantial power on the Ford Mustang 2008 to the road is no easy feat, and Ford offers several transmissions for the task. Kelley Blue Book writes that both the Ford Mustang coupe and convertible feature a standard "five-speed manual transmission," with an optional "five-speed automatic." The Shelby GT500 and GT500KR offer six-speed manual transmissions, and Edmunds adds that "all Mustangs are rear-wheel drive."
The one major drawback of today's Ford Mustang 2008 is fuel economy, which for the Mustang GT with manual transmission is rated at 15 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. The six-cylinder engine on the Ford Mustang is slightly thriftier, delivering an EPA-estimated 17 mpg city and 26 mpg on the highway. Unfortunately, the story gets worse for the 5.4-liter V-8 on the Shelby editions, which the EPA rates at 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway.
Handling on the Mustang has been improved with the high-end versions, and the reviews read by TheCarConnection.com generally praised the Mustang 2008's road manners. Edmunds feels that the 2008 Ford Mustang boasts "reasonably precise handling through the corners and a surprisingly compliant ride," while ConsumerGuide finds that the "V6s have good cornering moves." Cars.com also approves of the handling, saying that the 2008 Ford Mustang's steering has "a satisfying, confident feel." For the convertibles, Kelley Blue Book claims that "the rigid body results in far less cowl shake...giving the Mustang a real sense of solidity." The convertible suffers slightly from the increased weight associated with the folding top, but less than you might expect. The much more powerful GT500KR also handles well, with Popular Mechanics finding that "the ride is surprisingly compliant" and "the steering effort has entirely tolerable levels of effort."
When it comes to occupant comfort and drivability, the Mustang does redeem itself somewhat. Road & Track finds the ride to be "firm but not unpleasant" on the Bullitt edition Mustang, and Autoblog feels that the Mustang is "easy to live with on a daily basis."