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Published on Tue, Apr 26, 2011
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
V6 Mustangs used to conjure up images of secretaries and shorthand. That thinking has gone the way of the typewriter. Today’s V6 Mustangs are faster (and lighter) than yesterday’s V8. Moreover, they’ll return 31 miles per gallon, according to the EPA. So, they’re not just quick on the draw, they are loads more economical, as LA CAR’s Harvey Schwartz will attest to. By Harvey Schwartz It is great to be an automotive enthusiast in today’s marketplace. Engines are getting smaller, yet more powerful and better fuel economy. As a result of global competition, automobiles are being built better with stronger platforms, while adding more comfort and convenience inside. The new 2011 Ford Mustang V6 is a textbook example of this trend, with a new high-performance, all-aluminum Duratec 3.7 liter DOHC Ti-VCT V6 that generates 305 horsepower, 280 pound-feet of torque, and 31 miles per gallon on the highway—all while mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. It’s the first car ever to achieve this rare combination. The all-new six-speed automatic is joined by a six-speed short-throw manual transmission for the shift-it-yourself crowd, while handling and cornering are bolstered by the addition of electric rack & pinion power assisted steering (EPAS), and a host of suspension improvements.
It was only a couple of years ago that the 4.6 liter V8 in the Mustang GT had 300 horsepower, and you shifted with only a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. Wow, have times changed! The new Mustang’s 3.7 liter Duratec 24-valve V6 uses advanced engineering to deliver its power and economy. Twin independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) adjusts the valvetrain in microseconds. Aluminum construction means light weight. It’s an engine designed to crank out torque down low, rev to 7,000 rpm and deliver the mechanical music sports coupe lovers crave everywhere in between. The high output is due largely to Ti-VCT, which allows variable control of valve operation across the rev range. The variable cams operate on a Direct Acting Mechanical Bucket (DAMB) valvetrain using polished buckets to reduce friction. The end result is as much as a three percent improvement in fuel economy and a 10 percent improvement in power output versus traditional engines without these advanced features.
Ti-VCT is complemented by specially tuned composite upper and lower intake manifolds for efficient air delivery and lighter weight. Ignition power is delivered by a high-energy coil-on-plug design, while piston-cooling jets and a lightweight die-cast aluminum cylinder block improve the durability and efficiency of the 3.7 liter V6 design. A die-cast aluminum deep-sump oil pan provides 10,000 mile change intervals, saving you money on maintenance and resulting in less waste in oil disposal. Engineers also worked to ensure aggressive, high-performance sounds come with the new engine, from intake to exhaust. Not only does the retuned air intake system minimize losses, it also provides you with a very satisfying intake rush on hard acceleration. The all-new dual exhaust system is mellow at idle but opens up with a loud howl, just a few decibels less than the GT. Drivers who prefer a manual gearbox will love the short throws and direct feel of the Tremec 6060 transmission along with the relaxed cruising permitted by the extra top gear ratio. Customers choosing the automatic will be pleasantly surprised to find the six-speed transmission does not sacrifice fuel economy or performance for convenience, delivering 31 miles per gallon highway with crisp, quick shifts that maximize torque and horsepower. The manual transmission delivers 29 mpg highway, and both deliver 19 mpg city.
The automatic transmission also features a grade-assist or ‘hill mode’ to improve drivability on hilly terrain. This technical innovation uses vehicle input-acceleration, pedal position, vehicle speed and brake status to automatically determine the correct gear ratio while on an incline or decline. Hill mode eliminates sixth gear, extends lower gear operation on uphill climbs, and provides additional grade or engine braking for coast-downs. The standard 2.73 rear axle provides an ideal blend of cruising fuel economy and acceleration, aided by the wide ratio spread permitted through the use of six forward speeds in the gearboxes. Performance enthusiasts can select the 3.31 rear axle ratio for better off-the-line launch characteristics by choosing the optional Performance Package, (which I will talk about later). Both transmissions come with a standard limited-slip differential to put more efficiently put the higher horsepower/torque down on the pavement. This new Mustang V6 with the Performance Package is the fastest to 60 mph from a standstill of any V6 Mustang, with an elapsed time of 5.1 seconds. With so much more horsepower and torque, the 2011 Mustang receives enhancements to its chassis to maintain the outstanding balance and driving behavior Mustang owners expect. Damper tuning and spring rates were revised to provide a smooth highway cruising ride, while new rear lower control arms and stiffened stabilizer bar bushings improve stiffness and handling for better cornering response.
You easily slice through corners with an independent MacPherson strut setup up front including reverse L-links, coil springs, and a 34 mm hollow stabilizer bar. The three-link solid axle rear setup includes coils springs, gas-charged shocks, a Panhard rod that is further refined, and a 22 mm. solid stabilizer bar. When you order the Performance Package, more expensive sport coupes should watch their rearview mirror for you coming up as the package includes a unique electronic stability control calibration with sport mode for performance driving, a strut tower brace, firmer GT suspension settings, riding on 19X8.5 machine painted, light aluminum wheels wrapped with Pirelli 255/40ZR19 P-Zero low-profile, high-performance summer tires. The addition of EPAS marks a new era in driving dynamics for Mustang owners. Steering effort at parking lot speeds is reduced, while high-speed and highway feel is improved for more precise steering and handling. because the belt-driven power steering pump is eliminated, EPAS provides a quieter vehicle with few components drawing engine power. The steering response from my inputs was precise and very quick thanks to the strut tower brace that comes with the Performance Package. There is virtually no slush as on center wheel behavior is spot on, and feel for the road is excellent. They have it plugged in perfectly as I felt even more a part of the car when I was putting the Mustang through its paces.
EPAS also enables new technologies that adjust for minor driving annoyances. Drift-Pull Compensation adjusts the steering to correct for crosswinds and minor road crowning, while Active Nibble Control helps eliminate the ‘shimmy’ felt at high speeds when a wheel is out of balance or a brake rotor is warped. Both conditions are alleviated by EPAS independent of your input, helping ensure Mustang delivers a smooth, comfortable driving experience in all conditions. Standard AdvanceTrac electronic stability control plus full speed traction control also helps you maintain your chosen path when driving over slick surfaces or when you take the new V6 powered Mustang to its limit of adhesion during spirited driving times. You can of course shut the stability control system off with a push of a console-mounted button to let the rear hang out a bit during hard cornering. When the time comes to slow things down, the new larger power-assisted steel disc brakes do a great job. Up front are 12.4 inch vented discs clamped with dual-piston aluminum calipers, and the rear contains the same 11.8 inch vented discs clamped with single-piston aluminum calipers. Standard ABS ensures controlled stops in panic situations and when braking hard on slick pavement. For 2011, Mustang also ups the ante on technology and convenience features including a standard driver’s message center in the instrument cluster and integrated blind-spot mirrors in the sideview mirror housings. Ford’s MyKey system, designed to encourage safer teen driving and seat belt use, also is newly available on Mustang. MyKey allows owners to program the vehicle key using the driver’s message center to incorporate features such as limited top vehicle speed and audio volume, a traction control system that cannot be deactivated, a persistent Belt-Minder seat belt reminder and various speed alert chimes. For 2011 Mustang exterior styling reflects the successful 2010 redesign with new headlamps, lower fascias, fenders and grille capped by a powerdome hood that adds to the muscular appearance while functionally allowing for enhanced air cooling of the engine. Mustang’s washer-fluid nozzles are tucked into the cowl, while the antenna resides at the rear, both changes creating a cleaner appearance while also reducing wind noise.
Front fenders feature taut, sculpted wheel flares, like a tight skin stretched over the wheels. Classic spear character lines on the doors leads to a modern indication of ‘hip’ rear fenders. The modern design provides Mustang with aggressive, forward direction, like it’s ready to jump. From the side you’ll notice the steeply raked A-pillars, fastback roof design, tinted rear side glass, deep lower side extensions and aerodynamically styled sideview mirrors giving the new Mustang V6 a low, long sexy look. The rear end design features aggressively angled corners, a sculpted decklid with integral lip spoiler and a prominent badge. Other than the chrome Pony badge in the center of the grille and the rear badge, there are no other badges proclaiming the V6 engine under the hood. The dual, 4in. wide, polished aluminum exhaust tips shows drivers following you that this is a real performance machine. Mustang taillamps feature three LED bulbs firing sequentially from the inside for turn indication. The sequential bulbs were a distinct Mustang feature in the 1960’s, while the vertical reverse lamps evoke a modern version of the Ford classic three-lens taillamp. Inside, the new speedometer and tachometer gauges are housed in a one-piece instrument panel with excellent fit and finish. The design is crafted in seamless soft-touch TPO (thermoplastic Olefin) skin encompassing available genuine aluminum-finish panels. The new instrument cluster graphics, including a speedometer that reads 160 mph and a tachometer that reads up to 8,000 rpm reflects the free-revving style of the new V6 engine. The tilting, leather wrapped steering wheel feels perfect in your hand and features buttons for the cruise-control and audio system. The classic ribbed sport bucket seats are comfortable and very supportive. The nubby stick shift is perfectly placed for quick, easy use. All buttons, switches, and dials are within easy reach and fully illuminated for safe nighttime driving.
Standard features in the Premium model Mustang that I tested included six-way leather trimmed driver’s seat, AC, ambient lighting, message center, Shaker 500 audio system, split-fold 60/40 rear seat, aluminum-faced foot pedals, dual map lamps, dual vanity mirrors, a deep glove box, storage slots in each door, two 12-volt power plugs, and aluminum Mustang signature door entry skid plates. The new, more powerful V6 Mustang is the best all-around six-shooting Pony car on the market with a new, more efficient engine, two new six-speed transmissions, revised front and rear suspensions, more powerful steel disc brakes and an interior that is sporty, comfortable and quieter than ever before. The base price for a Premium edition V6 Mustang is just $25,845.00 and our nicely loaded test vehicle came in at just $27,840.00. © Words and pictures by Harvey Schwartz For more information about Ford products, go to www.ford.com For more information about Harvey’s photography, click here
SPECIFICATIONS Name: 2011 Mustang V6 Performance Package Coupe Price: Base: $25,845.00/Loaded: $27,840.00 EPA mileage specs: 19 mpg/city, 29 mpg/highway with manual, 19 mpg/city, 31 mpg/highway with the automatic Engine: 3.7 liter DOHC, all-aluminum, coil-on-plug, Ti-VCT V6 Horsepower: 305 at 6,500 rpm Torque: 280 pound-feet at 4,250 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine/rear-wheel drive Transmission: Six-speed manual/Six-Speed Automatic Front suspension: Independent, Reverse L-links, MacPherson struts, 34 mm hollow stabilizer bar Rear suspension: Three-link solid axle, limited-slip differential, coil springs, gas-charged shocks, 22 mm solid stabilizer bar Wheels/tires: 19X9 painted aluminum/Pirelli 255/40ZR29 P-Zero Performance Tires Brakes: Front-12.4 in. vented rotors, twin-piston calipers Rear: 11.8 in. vented rotors, single-piston calipers ABS, Traction Control, AdvanceTrak Electronic Stability Control Dimensions Total length: 188.1 in. Total width: 73.9 in. Total height: 55.6 in. Curb weight: 3,453/manual, 3,473lbs./automatic