- Affordable performance
- Improved safety
- Nimble handling
- V-8 engine rumble and power
- V-6 is coarse
- Ride can be unrefined
- Tight back seat
The 2008 Ford Mustang is retro cool but modern and completely practical.
Those clever Ford marketing types--as they continue to roll out new Mustang models for 2008, they used a line internally to keep their team focused: "A steed for every need." So is this true or just banal marketing hyperbole? Looking at the 2008 Ford Mustang, TheCarConnection.com thinks Ford is onto something.
Experts from TheCarConnection.com have driven just about every variety of the 2008 Mustang, and we appreciate the available flavors. Let's do a quick rundown. From Ford, 2008 Mustang body styles include a 2+2 coupe and convertible. Both body styles seat two comfortably, and the rear seats are more than adequate for kids. Adults won't mind short trips stuck in back, but the operative word is "stuck." Three main powertrains are available: a base 4.0-liter V-6, a 4.6-liter V-8, and a supercharged 5.4-liter V-8. Automatic and manual gearboxes are available, depending on the model.
Specific horsepower varies by model, which includes the Mustang V6 with 210 hp (coupe and convertible); the V-8 powered Mustang GT with 300 hp (coupe and convertible); the Bullitt V-8 coupe with 319 hp; the Shelby GT500 with 500 hp (coupe and convertible); and the limited-edition Shelby GT500KR coupe with 540 hp.
Regarding engines, if you can afford a V-8, get one. The V-6 nets you only a 1 mpg increase in the city and highway, so it's hardly worth dealing with the engine's coarseness and lack of power compared to the step-up 4.6-liter (with 15 mpg city/23 mpg highway for the five-speed manual transmission). But if you're into saving pennies (and big dollars up front), the V-6 is more than adequate and still feels quite sporty, though you'll want the optional anti-lock brakes.
Moving up to the 2008 Mustang GT, on the road, the chassis is rigid, and while that may sound bad, it's actually good. A stiff chassis means that the suspension can be tuned to absorb road imperfections, delivering a pretty smooth ride with very good handling. While the Mustang uses a solid rear axle just like when it was introduced in 1964, it works well. From the driver's seat, all is good. The interior is fun, with sporty styling cues. Quality of materials is on the way up at Ford. The exhaust rumble from the V-8 is nice to hear and reminds you that you're driving something with American roots. There is a fair amount of road and tire noise, but this isn't a luxury car. Side airbags are now standard on all 2008 Ford Mustang models.
Based on TheCarConnection.com's experience with Mustangs on racetracks, this pony knows how to gallop. The Mustang GT is an easy car to drive quickly on the track because it responds to the helm and throttle with equal aplomb. The car possesses very good balance.
Regarding the Shelby GT500, the driving experience changes completely. Powered by the iron-block 5.4-liter Triton V-8 with a supercharger, it churns out 500 hp through a six-speed manual gearbox. Its suspension features plenty of unique performance pieces, and the brakes are massive 14-inch, four-pot Brembo units. Both front and rear brake discs are vented. This car swooshes along, vacuuming up track like a rabid Hoover. While clearly faster than the Mustang GT, the Shelby GT500 feels much heavier because understeer is more prominent. Around the streets of Detroit, the big Shelby feels like a classic Motown muscle car-big, brawny, and ready to brawl.
2008 Ford Mustang
The 2008 Ford Mustang exudes retro and modern cool.
The decision to recall the styling of an icon is a tricky one in any business, but particularly so with automobiles. Doing so inevitably stirs up deep passions, and it is a very high-risk, high-reward proposition. With the current Ford Mustang, Ford nailed the high-reward part of the equation and has done an enviable job of blending 1960s Mustang design with modern-day themes.
Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com all agreed that the styling on the 2008 Ford Mustang is a huge success, and Ford's sales numbers support that sentiment. On the exterior, Edmunds feels that the Mustang's 2008 incarnation "stands out thanks to its big grille, round headlights, side sculpting, tri-bar taillights and, on the coupe, triangular quarter windows." Other styling packages received enthusiastic thumbs-up from reviewers, especially the 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt edition, which Road & Track says "just exudes 'cool.'" ConsumerGuide lists the numerous other styling options as including "coupes and convertibles" offered in both "Deluxe and Premium trims," along with the Shelby GT500 and the Shelby GT500KR, a "limited-edition coupe that is only available through select Ford dealers." While both convertible and coupe versions of the Ford Mustang 2008 feature retro styling, Kelley Blue Book writes that, on the convertible, "Styling details from the original and second-generation Mustang convertibles are strongly evident, especially in the grille, rear deck and side scoops." Styling on the Mustang 2008 is particularly aggressive on the Shelby versions, with Cars.com finding that "the headlight enclosures angle in more sharply" and "the hood is fitted with two openings designed to vent heat" on the GT500KR.
The interior styling of the 2008 Ford Mustang doesn't quite live up to the ultra-exciting exterior, though it doesn't have any serious flaws. ConsumerGuide summarizes the interior as "disappointing," although they give credit for the cabin's "eye appeal." On the Ford Mustang 2008 Bullitt edition, Cars.com writes that the "interior is simple and clean," with a "hand-machined aluminum dash" and "charcoal black leather seats" that bring "sophistication without being flashy." Other reviewers, such as those at Edmunds, find the interior styling to be "eye-catching," though they disapprove of the "hard, monotone plastics" that abound in the base models. For the Ford Mustang, 2008 offers consumers the option of "springing for the Interior Upgrade Package," which Edmunds says adds "satin aluminum accents and color-changeable backlighting for the instruments."
2008 Ford Mustang
The 2008 Ford Mustang runs from mild to truly wild—and rides reasonably well, too.
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."
2008 Ford Mustang
Comfort & Quality
The 2008 Ford Mustang shows its muscle car roots in less flattering ways when it comes to room, comfort, and materials.
Despite recent improvements, the 2008 Ford Mustang is still a muscle car that suffers from some typical muscle car flaws.
For the Mustang, 2008 models offer interior space that is decent and comfort, with ConsumerGuide finding "good headroom and legroom, but the cabin feels cozy due to low seats, a high dashtop, and tall windowsills." Cars.com adds that the Ford Mustang 2008 "has two front seats and two rear buckets that might qualify as seats but are not for most adult passengers." Autoblog appreciates the front seats' "power fore-aft and bottom cushion angle adjustment along with inflatable lumbar support" that help improve driver comfort and also "keeps you planted in the appropriate position relative to the steering wheel."
Cargo room isn't overflowing on the 2008 Ford Mustang, and the Mustang 2008 also features one or two noticeable usability issues. Several reviews read by TheCarConnection.com lamented the placement of the two cup holders, with Autoblog saying that tall items "can interfere with your forearm when shifting." In terms of storage space, ConsumerGuide writes that "the size and shape of the opening" for the trunk "makes loading even moderately sized cargo a challenge," and inside the cabin, "storage is sparse, with the door map pockets being almost useless."
Other aspects of the interior of the 2008 Ford Mustang leave a lot to be desired, if not in styling, then certainly in quality. Kelley Blue Book finds that "some of the plastics around the console, door panels and speaker grilles feel flimsy and hard to the touch," and Consumer Guide thinks that "most switchgear feels cut-rate, and padded surfaces are almost non-existent." Edmunds feels that the base Ford Mustang 2008's "hard, monotone plastics" are "disappointing at any price point," but upgrading the interior "helps somewhat." Kelley Blue Book summarizes reviewer sentiment by saying that "a few less hard-edge plastic surfaces would go a long way to turning a good interior into one that's great."
On the convertible version of the 2008 Ford Mustang, reviewers find that road noise is surprisingly minimal with the top down, and when the top comes up, extra shakes are not intrusive. ConsumerGuide is quick to criticize the Ford Mustang 2008's sound characteristics, finding "marked engine noise and coarse-surface tire thrum," and the "V6 growls and booms unpleasantly as revs rise."
2008 Ford Mustang
The 2008 Ford Mustang scores well in crash tests, but be sure to opt for the anti-lock brakes in order to complete the safety package.
The 2008 Ford Mustang performs unexpectedly well in crash tests and offers a good deal of safety equipment on up-level versions.
In independent crash testing, the Ford Mustang 2008 scored very well in a variety of different collision simulations. The 2008 Ford Mustang convertible scored a perfect five stars in front and side impact tests, as well as a five-star rating for rollover risk from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the Mustang 2008 models its best rating of Good for side-impact tests, while the Mustang scores the second-best rating of Acceptable for frontal offset collisions.
Edmunds points out that safety features include "four-wheel disc brakes and front seat side airbags...standard on all Mustangs," but cautions that "neither stability control nor full-length head curtain airbags are available" on the V-6 versions of the 2008 Ford Mustang. The lack of stability control is surprising in a sportscar, as nearly all of the Mustang 2008's competitors as reviewed by TheCarConnection.com feature some sort of stability or traction control system. However, Motor Trend points out that the Shelby GT500 and GT500KR both feature standard "traction control." Kelley Blue Book notes that the "GT Deluxe adds...anti-lock brakes" as standard equipment, but the V-6 Mustangs aren't similarly equipped.
Car and Driver is quick to point out that new safety features for Ford Mustang 2008 include "front-seat side airbags," which greatly improve the car's overall safety rating. In terms of another critical safety characteristic, driver visibility, ConsumerGuide writes that on the Ford Mustang 2008 "outward vision is good in coupes, but the convertible top leaves wide over-the-shoulder blind spots" when raised.
2008 Ford Mustang
The 2008 Ford Mustang brings a variety of trims and standard features to dealerships, and for audiophiles, the Shaker 1000 sound system is a must.
Features abound on the model lineup for the 2008 Ford Mustang, as the car comes in four different trims as well as coupe and convertible models.
The many trims of the 2008 Ford Mustang bring several different standard features. ConsumerGuide writes that the Ford Mustang 2008 Base trim comes standard with "remote keyless entry, AM/FM/CD player, [and] digital-media player connection," while the Premium version gets an "upgraded sound system" and "in-dash 6-disc CD/MP3 changer." Cars.com adds that on the Ford Mustang, 2008 brings the option to hook the CD/MP3 changer up to an optional "1000-watt Shaker 1000 stereo" on the GT. Automobile says that the Bullitt edition adds "unique gauges," and the Shelby GT500 variants offer a standard "interior lighting package" and "Cobra emblem," according to Motor Trend.
Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com liked the features list of the Mustang 2008, which is a blend of retro options and modern conveniences and luxuries. Kelley Blue Book finds that noteworthy optional features on the Ford Mustang 2008 include "leather seating, navigation, [and] sport bucket seats." Other cool touches include the multicolor interior lighting, a seemingly endless variety of color combinations, and a Shaker 1000 sound system, which ForbesAutos says features "MP3-playback capability."
The convertible version of the 2008 Ford Mustang sports a power folding soft top, which Kelley Blue Book says "folds nearly flush when retracted, giving the car a clean, powerful profile." While the top can be a bit tricky to operate, it is a welcome feature for those nice sunny days that seem tailor-made for cruising with the top down in a Mustang 2008.