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2014 Ford Mustang GT Road Test and Review

2014 Ford Mustang GT Review: Introduction

The 2014 Ford Mustang GT represents the end of an era.  The next model year for Ford’s illustrious pony car will see a dramatic reinterpretation of the nameplate that should banish the vehicle’s much-maligned live rear axle to the dust heap and alter the vehicle’s lines so that it distances itself from the retro trip that it’s been traveling for much of the past decade.  Modernizing an icon is never an easy task, but it’s an important one that can’t be ignored lest automakers risk letting even their most popular products rot on the vine.

I was happy, then, to spend a week getting re-acquainted with the 2014 Ford Mustang GT’s not insubstantial charms.  Just because the rest of the market has moved on from certain aspects of the Mustang GT’s character doesn’t make the vehicle any less enjoyable, nor does it take away from the stunning performance-to-dollar ratio that this particular model has to offer.  In a world where technological sophistication is advancing to the nth degree at a seemingly breakneck pace, it’s always a pleasure to sample the ultimate edition of a tried-and-true muscle car formula.

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2014 Ford Mustang GT Review: Models and Prices

The 2014 Ford Mustang GT – in coupe form, which is what I was driving – features a starting MSRP of $30,900.  You get a decent amount of gear for your money if you decide to stick with the base model, which offers power windows and door locks, a CD player, a place to plug in your MP3 player, cruise control, air conditioning, keyless entry, HID headlights, 18-inch rims, fog lights, and a limited-slip differential.  Moving up to the GT Premium trim (MSRP $35,000) adds the SYNC vehicle interface, leather seats with power adjustments for the driver, ambient lighting and special color-adjustable gauge lighting, a driver information screen, and a louder stereo system.

The version of the 2014 Ford Mustang GT that I sampled was a Premium model that came with a few nice-to-have options installed.  These included the GT Track Pack (Torsen limited-slip rear differential, more aggressive gearing, upgraded cooling, Brembo brakes, 19-inch rims, less-intrusive electronic stability control settings), reverse sensors, a panoramic glass roof, the Electronics package (navigation, HD radio, dual automatic climate control, satellite radio), a rearview camera, illuminated door sills, and Recaro leather sport seats.  All told, my car stickered for a hefty $44,362 – nearly $10,000 over the GT Premium’s starting price.

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2014 Ford Mustang GT Review: Design

What’s New:

  • The 2014 Ford Mustang GT does not offer any new design elements for the current model year.

The 2014 Ford Mustang GT has achieved such strong sales success in large part due to its throwback sheet metal, which calls to mind a more aerodynamic version of the original Mustang’s late-60’s fastback looks.  Much has been written about the retro craze that has caused automakers around the world to dig up the bones of previously retired designs and reanimate them in the hopes of cashing in on nostalgia, but given that 2014 represents the last year that the Mustang will mine this vein of golden opportunity, I’d like to recognize the car as being one of the most successful executions of this particular strategy.  There’s no doubt that the traditional long nose / short rear deck ratio that dominates the Mustang GT’s profile is a pleasing one, and although its sloping greenhouse isn’t as graceful as it could be, from either the front or the back this is one imposing automobile.  I especially like the sequential rear turn signals, which blink in a 1-2-3 pattern to point out the driver’s intentions.  Ford has done a good job of protecting the GT’s muscular image as well, for although it resembles the more affordable V-6 model it’s still identifiable as the enthusiast’s version of the car by way of subtle lighting, wheel, and trim cues.

The Mustang GT’s cabin isn’t quite so masterfully sculpted.  Some of the passenger compartment’s features score style points, such as the deep-dish gauges directly in front of the driver and the way the leather and padding are stitched into the Recaro seats.  These callbacks to the Mustang’s heritage are nice, but it’s honestly hard to read the speedometer shunted all the way over to the left and buried deep in the dashboard.  Another aspect of the interior that I liked was the ability to change the color of the ambient lights and the gauges themselves, which was a fun distraction and not a bad way to accent the Grabber Blue of my test vehicle.  Otherwise, the rest of the Mustang GT’s trim and materials feel far more like the V-6 model’s $20,000 origins than a $44,000 automobile.

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2014 Ford Mustang GT Review: Comfort and Cargo

What’s New:

  • The 2014 Ford Mustang GT is unchanged compared to the previous model year.

The 2014 Ford Mustang GT should be thought of as a two-passenger coupe that can handle one or two extra riders in a pinch.  Don’t take the GT in its name literally – the only true grand touring muscle car currently on the market is the much larger Dodge Challenger.  That being said, as a daily driver I can find little to fault the Ford, as the tighter GT suspension system doesn’t introduce all that much harshness even when crossing train tracks or rough pavement.  Some owners might be bothered by the length of the car’s doors, which can make it a challenge to get in and out of the low seating position when parked against a tall curb or in between other cars in a tight parking lot.

I was disappointed with the Mustang’s Recaro seats, as they consistently dug into my lower back on trips of 30 minutes or more.  This was in direct contrast to the Recaro models found in the Focus ST, which are more aggressively bolstered yet never become uncomfortable no matter how long one stays behind the wheel.  In their defense, the Mustang GT’s optional leather thrones do an excellent job of keeping both forward occupants from sliding around the car when pushing it hard.

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2014 Ford Mustang GT Review: Features and Controls

What’s New:

  • The 2014 Ford Mustang GT does not gain any new controls compared to the previous model year.

I’ve already talked about what I didn’t like concerning the 2014 Ford Mustang GT’s gauge cluster, but there were also several aspects of the pony car’s data display that I did enjoy.  The Track Apps feature that was presented on the small LCD screen located between the tach and the speedo provided me with the ability to time my runs to 60-mph as well as view intake temperatures, the car’s air/fuel ratio, and a host of other interesting tidbits that come in very handy when taking a car like the Mustang GT to the track.  I especially enjoyed the fact that the information could be displayed either as straight numbers in a list format or as a series of analog gauges which were easy to read on the fly.

I also enjoyed the Ford SYNC system that managed the car’s major systems (entertainment, navigation, climate control) by way of a touchscreen mounted on the center console.  It’s a step below the MyFord Touch system, but in some ways that’s a good thing, because aside from having to puzzle out how to organize the screen’s 3-way split to present the most useful set of controls and information, it’s fairly easy to interpret.

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2014 Ford Mustang GT Review: Safety and Ratings

What’s New:

  • The 2014 Ford Mustang GT does not introduce any new safety equipment.

The 2014 Ford Mustang GT keeps things simple in the safety department, relying on a full complement of airbags (seat-mounted side units up front, dual forward airbags, and side curtain airbags) to work together with electronic traction control and multi-stage stability control to protect passengers from injury.  Some consider the MyKey system, which allows owners to limit the vehicle’s top speed and stereo volume when lending it out, to be a safety system as well.

2014 Ford Mustang GT Crash-Test Ratings: The Ford Mustang GT scored a four out of five stars in each of the major NHTSA crash test ratings.  The vehicle has to be rated by the IIHS, but the 2013 model was granted Top Safety Pick status by the organization.

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2014 Ford Mustang GT Review: Engines and Fuel Economy

What’s New:

  • The 2014 Ford Mustang GT maintains the same drivetrain options as were found in the previous model year.

The 2014 Ford Mustang GT presents drivers with the same 5.0-liter V-8 engine that has been available since 2011.  In the current edition of the car, this monster unit produces 420 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque, and it can be matched with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission.  My car came with the manual gearbox, and I was able to produce 0-60-mph times of about five seconds on a hard launch.  Fuel mileage for the Mustang GT isn’t as bad you might think, checking in at 18-mpg in city driving and 25-mpg on the highway.  Attaining those figures in the real world, however, requires you to drive gingerly around town and make extensive use of the car’s fourth and fifth ratios.

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2014 Ford Mustang GT Review: Driving Impressions

It’s popular to hate on the 2014 Ford Mustang GT’s live rear axle setup – the one thing about the car’s platform that enthusiasts will be most happy to see eliminated in the car’s upcoming 2015 redesign – but it’s not something that I took much notice of during my week with the car.  I grew up driving a lot of very basic pickup trucks, and after years spent absorbing the does-and-don’ts of driving a light-in-the-rear live-axle vehicle through the Canadian winter the Mustang GT didn’t have any surprises to spring on me mid-corner.  You’ll have to keep in mind that the coupe’s back end is liable to step out should you encounter a pothole or even a rough patch of road while taking a turn at speed, but other than that the solid rear axle’s ability to plant the power down in a straight-line launch was much appreciated.

It would be a stretch to call the Mustang GT ‘nimble,’ but it generally goes where you point it as long as you are willing to work with the context of its suspension system.  It wouldn’t be my first choice as a track car, to be sure, but witness the success that Ford has had with the now-departed Boss 302 variant of the GT’s platform and you can easily see that the potential is there to create a much more subtle road course instrument.

If, on the other hand, laying down ridiculously-long twin rubber assaults on the pavement outside of your house, local drive-in, or quiet industrial park is more your thing. then the Mustang GT is your dream ride.  Driven calmly the Ford rarely attempts to break traction thanks to the Track Pack’s Torsen differential, but slip the clutch and you can power-slide this coupe with the best of them (and potentially get yourself into a lot of trouble if you’re not accustomed to the vagaries of its axle setup).  I found the shifter to be reasonable to work with, and the clutch was also well-positioned for all types of shenanigans.  My only real complaint is that the Mustang GT’s exhaust system wasn’t nearly loud enough to inspire fear in the hearts of passersby.  It’s a surprisingly quiet car given its muscle machine roots.

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2014 Ford Mustang GT Review: Final Thoughts

The 2014 Ford Mustang is a muscle car you can light up the local drag strip with at night and then drive into work the next day and not have to worry about how it will stand up to the morning slog through traffic.  It’s truly a respectable everyday commuter, albeit one that consumes fuel at a high rate than its V-6 cousin, with very little sacrifice asked of owners in terms of comfort or convenience.

Spending close to $45k on the Ford Mustang GT dilutes its value proposition quite a bit – I’d rather own the base model, or at the very most the Premium trim and forgo items like navigation and the glass roof – but make sure that you order the car with the Track Pack to make the most of its performance potential.  And move fast, too, because once it’s gone, and it will be gone soon, you can bet that Detroit will never build a coupe quite like the 2014 Ford Mustang GT ever again.

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2014 Ford Mustang GT Review: Pros and Cons

2014 Ford Mustang GT Review: Pros and Cons

 

Pros:

  • Aggressive looks, especially in Grabber Blue
  • Excellent acceleration and respectable handling
  • Recaro seats offer good grip
  • Track Apps and Track Pack = lots of fun
  • Affordable performance in base form
  • The last live-axle car on the market

 

Cons:

  • Recaro seats not comfortable over the long haul
  • Adding $15k of options doesn’t make sense for a car like the Mustang GT
  • Glass roof looks sharp, but adds considerable weight
  • Interior is average at best
  • Rear seat suitable for children and young adults
  • The last live-axle car on the market

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