$5,410 - $8,910

2009 Ford Mustang Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 Ford Mustang was new.


Performance: 8.3

The 2009 Ford Mustang is one of America's last remaining muscle cars. With 300 horsepower, the rear-wheel-drive Ford Mustang is a strong affordable sports car.

  • "The latest Mustang is more refined than its predecessor -- and not just incrementally so, as you might expect from a new generation." -- Cars.com
  • "While we particularly like GT versions, V6 Mustangs also have some bang-for-the-buck appeal. They rival some sporty imports on price, though not agility, refinement, or overall quality. GTs deliver great 'go' for relatively little dough." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Not as performance-oriented as a Shelby GT, but still sporting, the Bullitt lives up to the image of the 1968 fastback better than any previous Mustang. It lacks only the fastback and 4-speed. Driving the new car is surely easier, but it retains the cool image and sound of the original..." -- Road and Track
  • "True, the 2008 Ford Mustang is lacking a bit in refinement compared to competitors such as the Nissan 350Z and Mazda RX-8. But the Mustang's style, available V8 power, respectable handling and affordable price more than make up for it. It's a recipe that obviously resonates with Americans, as it is the best-selling rear-drive sport coupe and convertible by a considerable margin. Even as Chevy and Dodge get set to re-enter the muscle car game, there's no doubt the Ford Mustang will remain a truly a legendary thoroughbred." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

While the Mustang V6 Deluxe and Premium feature a 210-horsepower 4.0-liter V6 engine, the GT Deluxe, Premium and Bullitt come equipped with a 300-horsepower 4.6-liter V8 engine. According to the EPA, the 2009 V6 Mustang has a city/highway fuel economy of 17/26 mpg when equipped with a manual transmission and 16/24 mpg with an automatic. The GT, however, has a fuel economy of 15/23 mpg when equipped with a manual transmission and 15/22 mpg with an automatic transmission. Premium trims are rated lower -- 14/20 mpg. Altogether, reviewers find that the Mustang offers more than enough power to burn rubber -- especially in GT trim.

  • "For those not bothered by the lack of V8 growl, the V6's output is more than sufficient to get your blood flowing. Originally designed for use in the Ford Explorer SUV and Ranger pickup truck, the Mustang's V6 demonstrates a noticeable amount of vibration and harshness, and the single exhaust note just doesn't quite cut it -- but the performance is surprisingly peppy. ...  The GT is clearly faster and more refined, and its V8 is one feature many male buyers wouldn't dream of sacrificing." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "A V8's rumble at idle and its howl in the upper revs are sounds I have loved since I was a little kid and will love forever. This one is no exception. There's also good power here. More would be better, of course, but 300 hp is a nice round number, especially for this price. Jump on the gas, and this pony takes off like a rocket." -- AutoWeek
  • "This Bullitt...is way better than the axle-winding lunatic I drove a few months ago, the 500-hp Shelby GT500. You know, sometimes more horsepower is not the answer, particularly when the question is an obsolete chassis with a live rear axle." -- The Los Angeles Times
  • "Even with the V6, acceleration is brisk. An automatic-transmission coupe did a brisk 6.9 sec 0-60 mph with the automatic, but that transmission dulls passing response with reluctant downshifts. ...  V6 or V8, Mustang's automatic lacks a manual shift gate. GTs are fast--Ford says around 5.2 sec 0-60 with either transmission. They feel a bit weak below 3000 rpm and need the manual transmission for best overall performance." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The ratios in the five-speed automatic transmission seem well matched to the available torque. When the automatic gets into overdrive fifth gear, the engine goes quietly into economy mode until called upon for a lane change, a pass, or an uphill charge." -- Automotive.com
  • "The only down side is that the five-speed gear shift is a bit clunky, requiring effort to be placed in gear properly. This is in sharp contrast with today's popular short throw shifters that snuggle immediately into place." -- Road & Travel Magazine
  • "Given today's gas prices, though, the Mustang's prodigious thirst detracts from its appeal." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

Reviewers say the Mustang handles well and are particularly impressed with its refined suspension system. While most agree that the GT handles better than the V6, none are disappointed with the base trim's performance.

  • "It's uncivilized, it's overstimulating, and it'd probably wear me out as a daily driver. But those aren't bad things!" -- AutoWeek
  • "The steering is crisp, precise and confidence inspiring." -- Automotive.com
  • "V6s have good cornering moves, but some testers find slower steering and more body lean than a sporty car should have. Sure-footed GTs have nicely weighted steering, impressive dry-road grip, and modest lean that builds progressively with cornering speed. " -- Consumer Guide
  • "Race it through twisty turns and it glides effortless with hardly any body roll. Push it hard and feel the suspension press down and gobble up your aggression on the road. The steering is precise and the power is pure but not overwhelming." -- The Detroit News
  • "On the road, the Mustang's chassis and suspension deliver both an insulated ride and controlled handling. Road irregularities are less jarring than in previous generations, and the car corners more confidently. While increased power from the V6 and V8 engines is part of the Mustang's appeal, the refined suspension is the car's most valuable improvement." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Suspension differences between the two models aren't dramatic, but the GT is considerably more sure-footed. Its ride is no rougher, and the overall experience is more civilized. " -- Cars.com
  • "Powerful brakes rein in the Mustang in short order, as a stop from 60 mph takes less than 125 feet. Despite its switch to an all-new platform a few years ago, the 2008 Ford Mustang continues to use a rather basic solid-axle rear suspension design. This allows Ford to keep the pricing low, and careful tuning results in reasonably precise handling through the corners and a surprisingly compliant ride." -- Edmunds

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