The Ford Mustang family has a legendary history and is populated by models with diverse personalities. This year, that history is recalled by the revival of the Mach 1 moniker, first seen on the 1969 ‘Stang. The 2021 Mustang will still come as a coupe or a convertible, and its stable of high-performance offerings will be as full as ever. Whether it’s the turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost or the V-8-powered GT, every version of the original pony car can be armed with track weaponry to challenge its Chevy Camaro or Dodge Challenger counterparts. The Ford’s beautiful bodywork, vast personalization options, and practical interior also make it desirable to folks who care less about lap times and more about sporty everyday transportation. And that’s why the Mustang continues to be an icon: it offers something for everyone.
What’s New for 2021?
While Ford hasn’t unveiled all of the updates it’ll make to the 2021 Mustang lineup, the company has announced that it is resurrecting the Mach 1. The limited-edition model packs a 480-hp version of Ford’s 5.0-liter V-8 that pairs with a six-speed manual or a 10-speed automatic transmission. The new Mach 1’s heritage-inspired appearance includes a unique front end and black stripes on the hood and bodysides. The car also inherits aerodynamic elements, cooling upgrades, and other performance hardware from the Shelby GT350 and GT500. Those who want even wider 19-inch wheels with an exclusive design and aerodynamic pieces that further increase downforce can opt for the Mach 1’s Handling package—but it’s only available with the manual gearbox.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
- EcoBoost: $28,000 (est.)
- GT: $37,000 (est.)
- Bullitt: $49,000 (est.)
- Mach 1: $50,000 (est.)
The Blue Oval hasn’t announced pricing for any 2021 Mustang, and the new Mach 1 isn’t expected to go on sale until next spring, but we don’t expect sticker prices will increase much from the outgoing model year. Likewise, we’d still recommend the V-8-powered Bullitt model (unless Ford replaces it with the Mach 1). Not only is its exclusive Dark Highland Green paint unmistakable, but the Bullitt has a phenomenal balance of comfort and performance. Its most desirable standard features include black 19-inch wheels, unique exterior details, a configurable digital gauge cluster, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and a leather upholstery. Every Bullitt also has an additional 20 horsepower (480 total) versus the regular GT models, and it has equipment pulled from the Level 1 Performance Pack that makes it more engaging to drive. That means additional bracing, upgraded front brakes, special suspension tuning, stickier summer tires, and more. Our Bullitt would also have the optional adaptive dampers.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Don’t be fooled by its cylinder count—the standard turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder has enough punch to embarrass V-8 Mustangs of old. Likewise, the optional High-Performance package adds a more melodic and responsive EcoBoost engine derived from the defunct Ford Focus RS. The GT models are motivated by a 460-hp V-8 with an optional active exhaust that trumpets a thunderous roar. Both of these compelling engines pair with a standard six-speed manual transmission or a 10-speed automatic that makes the Mustang quicker than before. The V-8 version is also available with a transformative package (called Performance Pack Level 2) that adds track-ready equipment courtesy of the Shelby GT350. The optional EcoBoost Handling package also delivers racetrack readiness to the four-cylinder coupe. Still, the Bullitt model may be the best all-around Mustang for sale today. Its enhanced V-8 engine makes an extra 20 horsepower (480 total), and it includes all the top-shelf performance parts available. This latest Mustang generation brought with it a much-needed independent rear suspension, which replaced the archaic solid rear axle. The switch-up improves its handling and takes its ride quality to another level. Even with the less powerful engines, the Mustang’s modernized chassis delivers a comfortable and controlled driving experience. For added sportiness, there is an optional Performance package for EcoBoost and GT models. The electrically assisted steering is appropriately light in Comfort mode and nicely weighted in the other two. The Mustang’s brake pedal has a firm feel that we felt to be touchy in stop-and-go traffic, but it’s easier to apply smoothly at higher speeds.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
While the EPA hasn’t released fuel-economy figures for the 2021 Mustang lineup, we don’t expect the ratings to change from last year. The 2020 V-8 Mustang has competitive EPA estimates and real-world fuel economy, but the Mustang’s four-cylinder woefully underperformed in our highway test. In our testing, the four-banger with the manual transmission returned 24 mpg—7 fewer than its EPA rating. The V-8 with the automatic saw 24 mpg in our hands, just 1 mpg off of its EPA number.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Mustang interior is better than ever, with an evolutionary design that harks back to Mustangs of old while managing to be fully functional and livable. While it’s available with premium features such as heated and cooled front seats, its mediocre plastics and cramped Headless Horseman–only back seat are demerits. Stellar performance combined with impressive cargo space makes the Mustang a high-performance daily driver. In our testing, it held the second-most carry-on suitcases and has the most interior storage space among rivals. The back seat stows by pulling a strap and folds easily by hand. Should you need to transport up to 12 carry-on bags, the Mustang can do so. The Ford wins with the biggest center-console bin among competitors we tested.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Ford’s optional Sync 3 infotainment system has a clean design and a simple interface. While it’s not as responsive or robust as some rivals, it does come with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a kickin’ stereo. The Mustang is available with a Wi-Fi hotspot. Ford Sync Connect, which allows users to control and monitor their vehicle through a smartphone app, is included as standard.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The 2021 Mustang hasn’t been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). However, the 2020 model earned a five-star rating from NHTSA, but its ratings are average from the IIHS. The Mustang is also available with more driver-assistance technology than any rival pony car, so you can go faster and feel safer. That’s how driver assists work, right? Key safety features include:
- Available forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Available lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Available blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
- Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
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