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2012 Ford Mustang Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Ford Mustang was new.


Performance: 8.2

The 2012 Ford Mustang continues to earn praise for its powerful and fuel-efficient V6, well-matched transmissions and nimble handling. Still, some test drivers note that convertible Mustangs are better-suited to boulevard cruising than canyon carving, and while they like the Mustang’s optional automatic transmission, it lacks a manual mode for spirited driving.

  • "As coupes, Mustang V6s are confident on the road with modest body lean in fast turns and accurate steering." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Regardless of which 2012 Ford Mustang you choose, you're in for a wild ride. The base V6 makes more than enough power for the average driver and plenty of oomph to satisfy a majority of driving enthusiasts as well." -- Edmunds
  • "Oh, you can still call the V-6 Mustang a chic car, Mustang Lite or anything else you can dream up, but it will knock your Piloti racing shoes into a ditch if you're not paying attention. It can pass you on a mountain road, on the highway and at the gas station." -- Detroit News

Acceleration and Power

Critics and enthusiasts are ecstatic. With a 3.7-liter V6 that produces 305 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 280 pound-feet of torque at 4,250, the 2012 Mustang is more powerful than V8-powered Mustang GTs from 2009. The V6’s power is routed to the rear wheels through either a six-speed manual or an optional six-speed automatic transmission. Reviewers say that although the Mustang GT is more powerful, it’s no longer the obvious choice for driving enthusiasts since the V6 is surprisingly quick. One test driver notes that the Mustang’s automatic transmission still lacks a manual mode – a surprising oversight given the Mustang’s sporting intentions.

The EPA estimates that the 2012 Ford Mustang gets 19/31 mpg city/highway with the automatic and 19/29 mpg with the six-speed manual.

  • "The V6 models offer surprisingly quick acceleration." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Driving enthusiasts will naturally want to select the manual transmission, though the automatic isn't a bad choice; it's prone to early upshifts in order to maximize fuel economy, but there's enough torque to keep the Mustang ably motivated." -- Edmunds
  • "Another fun-robbing feature is the automatic transmission's D-3-2-1 shifter. ‘Why is it that you can get a manual mode on an F-150 or Edge Sport, but not in a freakin' Mustang?’ asks Allyson." -- Motor Trend
  • "Given that our last test of Ford's standard pony car left us about as warm as a dip in a frozen lake, we tempered our enthusiasm when sliding behind the wheel of this new one. Lucky for us-and for all Mustang fanatics-Ford did its homework. The … Mustang V-6 is an astonishingly good car." -- Car and Driver

Handling and Braking

Test drivers report that the 2012 Ford Mustang feels lighter and more agile than its direct competitors: the Dodge Challenger and the Chevy Camaro. For 2012, the Mustang gains an optional mode-selectable steering system, which offers comfort, sport and standard settings. The system adjusts the amount of power assist for sportier or more comfortable driving, while the standard mode splits the difference between the two extremes. A handful of convertible test drivers note that while the Mustang coupe is light on its feet, the ragtop pony car isn’t as composed when the road gets twisty.

  • "Due to their occasionally irritating body flex and shudder, convertibles are more for fun-in-the-sun cruising than serious performance driving." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Within the pony car triumvirate of the Camaro, Challenger and Mustang, the Ford is lightest on its feet. On a curvy road, the Mustang responds eagerly to steering inputs and feels controlled and manageable." -- Edmunds
  • "Slicing up canyon roads around Malibu, I was impressed with how well the Mustang charged into corners and stuck to the road. … Between the car's grip and precise steering, the Mustang felt more European thoroughbred than American pony." -- Detroit News
  • "It's only natural to compare the Mustang to the Camaro and Challenger, and that comparison is even more apt now that the power outputs are so similar. The Mustang feels small, lighter and slightly more agile than the other two." -- Kansas City Star
  • "Order the Performance Package on the V6 car, and it mimics the GT's precise moves. The handling is tight, and the ride firm, but it's far from uncomfortable." -- Popular Mechanics

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