2021 Ford Mustang

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2021
The Car Connection
2021
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
May 29, 2021

Buying tip

The Mach 1 makes all the right kinds of performance promises, with the best-of suspension and handling pieces from the GT350.

features & specs

EcoBoost Convertible
EcoBoost Fastback
EcoBoost Premium Convertible
MPG
20 city / 27 hwy
MPG
21 city / 29 hwy
MPG
20 city / 27 hwy
MSRP
$32,705
MSRP
$27,205
MSRP
$37,725

The 2021 Ford Mustang flips its own blue-collar script with natural agility and searing V-8 performance.

What kind of car is the 2021 Ford Mustang? What does it compare to?

The Mustang is Ford’s touchstone coupe or convertible. With prosaic turbo-4 or earth-shaking supercharged V-8 power, it blends retro style with modern performance to fend off its long-time rivals, the Dodge Challenger and Chevy Camaro. 

Is the 2021 Ford Mustang a good car?

Review continues below

We give it a TCC Rating of 6.0 out of 10. Back-seat comfort, fuel economy, and a spartan base model offset its performance coups. (Read more abouthow we rate cars.)

What’s new with the 2021 Ford Mustang?

Automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beam headlights are now standard. The GT500 gains a carbon-fiber handling package, and the GT350 and Bullitt have been retired in favor of the new Mach 1.

The latest Mustang lifts styling cues from 1960s classics and melds them to mask a car that’s grown bulky. With its pouty grille, slim headlights, and deep front air dam, the Mustang is assertive even in base trim; it grows menacing through GT and GT500 models. Mustang performance has never been so sophisticated, or wide-ranging. The base 310-hp turbo-4 pulls 0-60 mph runs in 6.0 seconds or less; a 6-speed manual feels more authentic but is slower and less efficient than the 10-speed automatic. GTs grow rippling V-8 muscles, up to 480 hp in Mach 1 spec—or an astonishing 760 hp in the Shelby GT500, where 60 mph is only 3.3 seconds away. The Mustang rides well on smaller wheels and tires; the GT and up are legitimate sports cars, with available handling packages that crank out massive grip through stiff springs, limited-slip differentials, and semi-exotic tires. 

Most Mustangs have room for two adults, but base cars have manual front seats with little range of adjustment. Other models get shapely power front seats, even very snug Recaros. The back seat’s abysmal to get in and to sit in, but trunk space isn’t too small in coupes, at 13.5 cubic feet.

How much does the 2021 Ford Mustang cost? 

Every 2021 Mustang has automatic emergency braking, even the base $28,350 EcoBoost coupe. It also has cloth upholstery, 17-inch wheels, and a dinky 4.2-inch audio display. We’d proceed directly to the $47,610 GT Premium fastback with the performance package—or the $55,510 Mach 1 Premium and its additional power, tuning and handling refinements, and heated and cooled cloth seats.

Where is the 2021 Ford Mustang made?

In Flat Rock, Michigan.

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2021 Ford Mustang

Styling

The Mustang gives a master class on becoming an icon.

Is the Ford Mustang a good-looking car? 

Ford could teach other car brands how to mature a long-storied nameplate through styling seasons. Today’s Mustang is massive, no doubt, but it doesn’t look awkward like a 4-Series, and doesn’t have a stripped-down cockpit like a Camaro. Only the Challenger overtakes it in heritage themes. We give it a 7, with two points for the comely body.

So many Mustangs have stepped out of styling bounds, it’s easy to applaud the latest one. The rear quarter windows and roofline ape the cues of the fastback ‘60s Mustangs, with a front end that’s nearly as upright. Wide front-end flares give it a substantial but sleek stance, and character lines flow into a rear end with athletic haunches. This Mustang’s big, long, and wide, no doubt, but it’s also sleek and sensual, from its pony badge all the way back to its sequential taillights. 

The retro cues power through plenty of black plastic inside the Mustang. The frumpy trim bits lose out to the slight nods to the Mustang’s old twin-binnacle instrument panel and to its old-school gauge cluster, which can be swapped out for a digital screen. The cockpit glints with metallic trim everywhere the eye lands, and it’s Rock-Ola excessive in almost every model, but more expensive ‘Stangs get contrast stitching, padded dash surfaces, even carbon-fiber-ish trim on the doors and console.

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2021 Ford Mustang

Performance

The Mach 1 showcases Mustang performance best.

The Mustang performance story comes in finely graded increments. Turbo-4 cars get basic suspension setups, with upgrades on the shopping list. The same holds true for GT V-8s, but they’re sold in high-tune Mach 1 and Shelby GT500 spec. More of you buy the GT than anything, and based on it, we’re giving the Mustang an 8 for performance, with two points extra for its drivetrain, and one for its ride and handling.

How fast is the Ford Mustang?

Even the turbo-4 Mustang is quite quick. The base 2.3-liter turbo-4 whips up 310 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, while a high-performance version churns out 330 hp and a thicker torque curve. At its slowest, the Mustang can turn in a 0-60 mph time of less than 6.0 seconds; with the 10-speed automatic it’s good for the mid-fives, Ford says. So what if it sounds like it’s on a nebulizer? Order it as a convertible with an automatic; it’s good, too. This is a shame-free zone.

As for handling, without some smart add-ons the Mustang’s stock 17-inch all-season tires get used up quickly. Take the optional handling package for its stiffer suspension tuning, summer performance tires, and a couple of hundred fewer pounds to carry; a stripped-down Ecoboost coupe’s not a bad way to put a toe in the very deep and pricey waters of weekend track days. It’s more balanced and more tossable than the GT, though the tires limit ultimate grip and therefore, ultimate fun.

Ford Mustang GT and Mach 1 performance

We’re blending these Mustangs together as they both feature the 5.0-liter V-8. In the GT, the engine bellows out 460 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque, shoving the car through the 60-mph traps in under 4.0 seconds with the sometimes overly shift-happy 10-speed automatic. The 6-speed manual has rev-matching and fluid throws, but it’s a half-second slower to 60 mph. 

It’s the power we love, but we’d spend more for the handling we crave. The base GT setup bounds over bumps and gets too loose in corners. With the available Performance Package, it’s tightened up for better handling and gets adaptive dampers to smooth over the ride so it’s tolerable on public roads. This Mustang steers and rides well enough to be a daily driver, but ultimately, there are two other Mustangs with better track credentials.

The  limited-edition Mustang Mach 1 is one of them. It tacks on the extra 20 hp from the former Bullitt, but the truly transformative parts have less to do with power and more to do with balance and handling. There are stiffer springs, adaptive dampers, and Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires. A handling package pairs aero add-ons with even stiffer suspension pieces and Michelin Pilot Cup 2 tires.

In the Mach 1, we not only love the power but the Mustang’s agility. All of the looseness is gone, turn-in is sharpened, and the Mustang transforms from a muscle car into a true sports coupe. The 10-speed automatic is up to the task, firing off shifts quickly and holding gears to redline in track mode, but the Tremec 6-speed manual taken from the former GT350 is more fun. It comes with rev-matching and a no-lift shift feature that lets you shift gears while keeping the throttle pinned down so the car doesn’t miss a beat. 

With the handling package tacked on, the Mach 1 joins a short list of cars that you can enjoy both on the track and driving to it.

Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang

With the flat-plane-crank GT350 retired, a  supercharged 760-hp cross-plane-crank V-8 powers the insanely explosive Shelby GT500 Mustang. It’s extraordinarily grippy, even when it tries to put down all its power. Zero to 60 mph runs in the three-second range give it the kind of power the Mustang’s never had. It’s unforgettable. Drive one if you ever get the chance, or read more about our drive in Motor Authority’s review of the Shelby GT500.

Is the Ford Mustang 4WD?

All ‘Stangs are rear-wheel drive.

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4

2021 Ford Mustang

Comfort & Quality

Mustang rules: Don’t ride in back, don’t plan on bringing much with you.

The Mustang’s appeal lies in what happens in the front seats. They’re good; the back seats aren’t. The trunk’s small. It’s a 4 for comfort and utility.

Please spend extra for any seats other than the base buckets. They’re only 4-way adjustable for the driver, 2-way for the front passenger. Premium editions get power seats in front and leather upholstery swapped in for the cloth; they’re the ones you want, unless you strap into the GT cars and opt into marvelous but tightly confining race-style Recaro seats. In any of the driver’s seats, the Mustang offers good head and leg room and a swell driving position.

There’s not nearly enough head or leg room for adults in the back seat, and getting there presents its own obstacles. The seats flip down to make the 13.5-cubic-foot trunk more useful. Convertibles are even narrower in back, and trunk space gets cut back to 11.4 cubic feet.

The Mustang’s an aural experience, and versions with the active exhaust send waves of sound resonating through the cabin. We’d listen to an album of the V-8’s crackling snorts—and you practically will if you ride in one for any length of time. The Mustang’s quality impression falters on its hard plastics; they’re out of touch when you’re spending $50,000 and more for GTs, 50% more for the Shelby GT500.

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2021 Ford Mustang

Safety

The Ford Mustang earns good NHTSA scores and gains standard safety equipment.

How safe is the Ford Mustang?

The 2021 Mustang adds lots of safety tech this year, including standard automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, active lane control, and automatic high-beam headlights. 

It also returns with a perfect five-star safety rating from the NHTSA, though the IIHS doesn’t give it a Top Safety Pick award due to an “Acceptable” front-impact score.

The Mustang has better outward vision than its rival, the Chevy Camaro. We’d still opt for the surround-view camera system and parking sensors on models where they’re available.

The Mustang’s crash data and equipment earn it a 7 here.

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7

2021 Ford Mustang

Features

The Mustang requires a steady hand on the configurator.

The 2021 Mustang has it all, from a convertible turbo-4 edition to an insanely fast supercharged track monster. We give it a 7 here: Its extravagant options list generates great value when ordered correctly, but the 3-year/36,000-mile warranty is mediocre and the base infotainment system’s antique.

Hang with us here through the maze of Mustang configurations: coupes come in EcoBoost, EcoBoost Premium, GT, GT Premium, Mach 1, and GT500 trims; the GT350’s history. Convertibles come in all but Mach 1 or GT500 spec.

Base $28,350 Mustang coupes get cloth upholstery, 17-inch wheels, a line lock for smoky burnouts, manual front seats, and a 4.2-inch audio display. It’s a stripper, and not the kind we’d tip generously. 

A high-performance package adds 19-inch wheels, active exhaust, summer tires, and heavy-duty brakes and front springs; a handling package gains a Torsen limited-slip differential, even better brakes and tires, and adaptive dampers. You’ll pay thousands more for a Premium package with an 8.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 18-inch wheels, adaptive cruise control, power front seats, 9-speaker audio, and navigation. A convertible costs $5,500 more than a coupe.

GT Mustangs get LED headlights, rear parking sensors, and a power driver seat; the $41,315 GT Premium gains leather upholstery and heated mirrors, in addition to the other Premium features listed above.

Which Ford Mustang should I buy?

We’d spec out a GT Premium fastback with the performance package for $47,610—but since that doesn’t have all the go-fast goods of the previous Performance Package 2, we’d slip into a $55,510 Mach 1 Premium with those tuning and handling bits, along with heated and cooled cloth seats and aluminum pedals.

How much is a fully loaded 2021 Ford Mustang?

The $74,095 Shelby GT 500 tops the list with its 760-hp V-8, 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, massive brakes, 305/30 and 315/30 Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, wide 20-inch wheels, and extravagant bodywork.

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3

2021 Ford Mustang

Fuel Economy

The Mustang doesn’t try to hide its appetite for octane.

The Mustang has an enormous variety of models, and the EPA probably goes to bed exhausted from having to rate all of them. We give the car a 3 for gas mileage based on the most popular V-8 models.

Is the Ford Mustang good on gas?

No. Well, not really. Base turbo-4 cars are better. They start at 21 mpg city, 32 highway, 25 combined with the 10-speed automatic. Convertibles rate 20/28/23 mpg with the automatic. The manual transmission drops those ratings as low as 19/25/21 mpg.

With the V-8, fuel economy tops out at 15/24/19 mpg for the automatic coupe, and plummets to 14/22/17 mpg for the manual-shift Mach 1. The Mustang doesn’t hit rock bottom until you choose the GT500, which unashamedly quaffs gas to the tune of 12/18/14 mpg.

 

Review continues below
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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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$27,205
MSRP based on EcoBoost Fastback
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6.0
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 4
Safety 7
Features 7
Fuel Economy 3
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2021 Ford Mustang Pricing Insights

  • 2021 Mustang arriving; 2020s still available
  • Lease: From $299 for 36 months
  • Rebates: $1,750 off 2020s
  • Finance: From 0.9% for 36 months
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