Santa Drives 2016 Ford Mustang Premium

Its December, so it was the perfect time of year for a Ruby Red Metallic Ford Mustang Coupe to show up in my driveway. I like Mustangs, I always have and there is a Mustang for every buyer at every price point. I’ve tested the 5.0L Mustang GT convertible and the GT350 Coupe, the latter being an amazing car for $56,970. So when the latest version of the Mustang showed up in my driveway, looking very much like something Santa might drive, I was ready to get in and ho ho ho. The Mustang Coupe that I tested was the $29,300 premium model with the 2.3L EcoBoost engine with $6,460 of extras. I had previously tested only the big horsepower Mustangs with the 5.0L V8 engines. Those reminiscent of the muscle cars of the late 60’s with the 427 big block V8’s. I hadn’t tested the Mustang with the smaller 3.7L V6 and now I had a Mustang sitting in my driveway with Ford’s all-new-for-2015 2.3L EcoBoost engine. The EcoBoost is a 4-cylinder turbocharged, direct injection engine that kicks out 310 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque; 10 hp and 50 lb-ft of torque more than that put out by the 3.7L V6 Mustang base engine. Notwithstanding the slight increase in horsepower over the V6, I was thinking how can you put a turbo four into a muscle car? I was about to find out.

Before I even started it up, I couldn’t help notice the Metallic Ruby Red paint with the contrasting ebony leather trimmed seats. A very striking red color which looked great with the black interior backdrop. I shot out a few photos on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook immediately, fired up the turbo four, and took this pony on a test drive. Before I could even get down the block, I had received multiple comments on my posts about how much people loved the Ruby Red color. I shoot out a lot of pictures every week on social media and often go without any comments at all. So to instantly get comments on the Mustang was surprising. People really loved the color and the styling of this pony.

In 2015, the Mustang got a total makeover with some aggressive styling changes that continue on the 2016 model. The first thing that caught my eye on the exterior was the newly contoured hood and roof line – two ridges running up both sides of the hood and continuing over the roof. The stance is lower and wider, the roof height is lowered, the rear fenders have been widened and the windshield and rear glass are more steeply sloped. Overall it looks like this Mustang Coupe spent some time in the wind tunnel (in fact, Ford says this Mustang spent twice as much time in aerodynamic testing as previous generations). The new lines are striking and give this pony a more aggressive look and much improved aerodynamics.

The black leather clad interior with aluminum accents on the dash screams race car. Body hugging seats and race inspired switches and gauges make you feel like you’re at Daytona. The interior of this car looks fun to drive – and that’s before you even get moving. My test car had the Shaker Pro Audio system with 12 speakers which sounded fantastic (add $1,795), voice activated nav (add $795), reverse park assist (add $295), an extra $ 395 for the paint and $395 for the leather trim. The enhanced security packaged added $395 and the 6-speed automatic transmission added $1,195 bringing the total MSRP to $35,780. A pretty reasonable price for a really fun to drive sports coupe.

So I knew the Mustang looked great inside and out, but I wasn’t sure how the 2.3L Ecoboost engine was going to perform. I was pleasantly surprised from the get go. Acceleration was respectable with a 0-60 time of around 5.5 seconds compared to 5.3 seconds for the V6, 4.3 seconds for the 5.0L GT and the GT350 and 3.9 seconds for the GT350R . The steering and handling are tight like in all Mustangs. The front and rear suspension systems were all-new in the 2015 Mustang which has allowed for larger, more powerful brakes to be used – the most capable ever on a Mustang according to Ford.   The Mustang is a blast to drive, even in this somewhat powered-down version. It is certainly not underpowered – 310 hp and a 5.5 second 0-60 mph time is not a disappointment. Like all things, it’s a trade off – dollars for horsepower. Its up to you whether 1.2 seconds is worth between $7,000 and $20,000 and whether 1.6 seconds is worth $35,000. I prefer a little more horsepower, but more horsepower is not for everyone. More horsepower leads to more speeding tickets, more bald tires and worn out brakes (and more money!).

There are four engines you can choose from in a Mustang and the first three come in a coupe or a drop top option. The 3.7L 300 hp V6 Mustang starts at a base price of $24,145. The 2.3L 310 hp Ecoboost engine starts at $25,645 (the EcoBoost Premium version I tested started at $29,300). The 5.0L 435 hp V8 Mustang GT starts out at $32,395. And finally the 5.2L 526 hp V8 Mustang GT350 starts out at $47,795 with the GT350R at $61295. So you can pick out your Mustang by the amount of horsepower you want and/or you can afford.

Of the Mustangs that I have driven, I would still go for the GT350 (I haven’t yet been in the GT350R – I still have my fingers crossed I’ll get in it soon).  I think its one of the best performing sports car in its price range. But if you want to have a lot of fun driving a Mustang and spend about $25,000 less, you can’t go wrong with the Mustang Coupe with the 2.3L EcoBoost engine – especially in Metallic Ruby Red paint.

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