Entry-level doesn't necessarily mean bad | Ford's V6 Mustang gets the same iconic styling cues and unique touches as the higher-spec models.
The 2015 Ford Mustang has been a huge hit over the past few months. The all new model has only been out a short while, but Toronto’s roads have already become populated with a plethora of the new muscle cars. I’ve now driven both the excellent GT as well as the new four-cylinder EcoBoost model, so in order to finish off the trifecta, I decided to borrow a 2015 Ford Mustang V6 to see how it compares to the rest of its lineage.
What immediately became evident upon receiving my $28,800 (as-tested) blue tester is that this was the most bare-bones Mustang I’ve ever tested. Now, we the media are typically spoiled with fully loaded test fleet vehicles that are great to play with, but it’s important to remember that the value-oriented models are those that are actually purchased by you, the buyer. The truly eye-opening thing with this Mustang is how much you actually get for the money, as well as how few compromises there are on the base model.
Ford’s V6 Mustang gets the same iconic styling cues and unique touches as the higher-spec models, including the muscular lines and sequential rear turn signals. Now, the V6 model even gets the same dual exhaust outlets as the GT, making it even less distinguishable from the 5.0L monster. This of course means that the entry-level pony gets just as much attention from pedestrians, fellow motorists, and especially kids. The Ford Mustang is a classic American icon, and everybody immediately knows what it is and acknowledges its presence on the road.
Although the V6 has two more cylinders than the EcoBoost 4-cylinder, this is the entry level powertrain for the Mustang. This is the same 3.7L motor that was available in the previous Mustang, and despite some slightly different tuning, it’s essentially the same. It puts out 300 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, perfectly adequate for a car of this size. I expect most Mustang V6 buyers to opt for the 6-speed automatic transmission, but our test car was equipped with the 6-speed manual, a great unit. This engine has enough get-up-and-go, but it’s very obviously aimed towards comfort and smoothness rather than sheer performance. If the drag strip is where you plan to spend your weekends, perhaps you should opt for the 5.0L V8 in the Mustang GT.
Those scoffing at the Mustang V6’s 300 horsepower should probably think back a few years, when the 4.6L V8 powering the Mustang GT put out exactly the same number. What a world we live in, where 300 seems paltry, and is literally the “slowest” pony car one can buy. This 3.7L unit is responsive enough, and the Mustang scoots when asked to. Power delivery is smooth and comfortable, just like the ride thanks to the independent rear suspension. What I really grew to like is the 6-speed manual transmission; the clutch has some heft to it but has a very definite bite point, and the shifter is fantastic. The throws are the perfect length and there’s a level of precision to it that I have never seen before in a Mustang.
I did a ton of highway driving during my week with this Mustang, and I came to learn a few things. Firstly, this thing makes a great grand tourer. It may not have the noises or the dismal fuel economy to be a true muscle car, but it’s perfectly competent if you have to spontaneously jump in and drive across the country. The suspension is very good, and the engine is surprisingly quiet at highway speeds. In fact, highway comfort is almost V8-like, reminiscent of certain domestics of the past. Another huge bonus was the fuel economy; doing about 80% highway mileage, I averaged 8.9L/100km, not too far off from the EcoBoost my editor drove down the Pacific Coast Highway a couple months ago.
The suspension setup is exactly the same as in the Mustang GT, so there is even less compromise on this model than meets the eye. Of course, it’s tuned a little bit differently, but the components are identical. Up front are MacPherson struts (double ball joint) with a stabilizer bar, and a fully independent rear suspension with coil springs. The IRS is new for this generation of Mustang and is something many have been waiting for since as early as the early 2000s. My tester was optioned out with 18″ wheels, which do make the ride a bit harsher, but look good enough to justify this.
Typically, base model vehicles have evidence of blatant cost-cutting – I was pleased to see that this is not the case with the new Mustang. The base cloth seats are not heated, but they’re surprisingly comfortable and flip forward easily to allow in/out access for rear passengers. Ford’s MyFordTouch infotainment system is available on higher trim models, so this horse gets the new SYNC stereo. Response from this unit is good enough, but the buttons are a bit large for my liking. Also, when browsing through playlists on a connected USB device, the song playing at the time would cut out between menus. Otherwise, Bluetooth and USB connectivity are very good and work without any headaches.
The all-new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro has just been unveiled, and it starts with a 270-horsepower 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder. That motor is considerably slower and not as reliable as this tried and trusted Ford V6. Although the Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger are direct competitors and are considered to be cross-shopped often, I’ve noticed that owners of these vehicles are very loyal to the specific one they have grown up with. A Mustang buyer will always go straight to the Ford dealer, and the same applies to the other two. The 2015 Ford Mustang V6 isn’t a poor choice by any means; it’s a classic, stylish choice that’s comfortable enough to endure the daily commute without breaking the bank in purchase or running costs.
2015 Ford Mustang V6 Gallery