Fret not faithful, this is still the 2021 Ford Mustang. It’s not a crossover, it’s not electric and it’s not going away. Indeed, rumors of the Mustang’s demise have been greatly exaggerated — just think of the excellent new Mach-E as the Mustang family expanding, just as the Porsche family did with the Cayenne and Macan SUVs. Much as we still have the 911, we still have the Mustang coupe and convertible.
OK, now that we’ve walked you off the ledge, we should at least mention that not every Mustang variant survived into the 2021 model year. The beloved Shelby GT350 and its sensational flat-plane-crank Voodoo V8 have been discontinued, while the tasteful, McQueen-inspired Bullitt has bitten the bullet. Tear. In their place, however, another historic Mustang name returns: the Mach 1. From a chassis perspective, it’s the most sophisticated and capable Mustang short of the surviving GT500, while under the hood sees its predecessors live on in the form of the Bullitt’s 5.0-liter V8 and the GT350’s six-speed manual transmission (you can get a 10-speed automatic, too). We’re not sure we like it better than the two cars it effectively replaces, but there’s no denying its appeal.
Otherwise, the 2021 Mustang lineup continues to represent a smart middle ground among America’s muscle cars. It’s sharper than the Dodge Challenger and offers a more diverse lineup, while it makes for a better daily driver than the more hardcore Chevrolet Camaro. High-performance versions, including the Mach 1 and GT500, even make a strong case for themselves against high-priced coupes from Germany and Japan. So yes, the Mustang is still here and it’s still excellent.
What’s new for 2021?
Besides gaining the Mach 1 and losing the GT350 and Bullitt, there are other updates and additions for 2021. Every Mustang now comes with Ford’s Co-Pilot360 suite of driver assistance systems as standard. This includes automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning and lane-keeping assist. Four new colors debut: Antimatter Blue, Grabber Yellow, Fighter Jet Gray and Carbonized Gray. Grabber Lime, Kona Blue, Magnetic and Dark Highland Green (the Bullitt) are gone. The GT500 also gains a Carbon Fiber Handling package.
What are the Mustang interior and in-car technology like?
By and large, the Mustang’s interior is fine for a pony car, but like many cars that are designed to deliver fun on a budget, it’s not nearly as well-appointed as conventional sedans or crossovers at the equivalent price point. This interior was acceptable when this generation debuted for the 2015 model year, but it comes off a bit low-rent for 2021. There are two seat choices in the Mustang and neither are ideal. The standard seats offer a greater range of adjustability (although there’s no power recline), but they’re overstuffed and unsupportive. The available Recaro sport buckets, whether cloth or leather, are more supportive around corners and for the long haul, but they aren’t power adjustable and lack a front seat bottom tilt adjustment.
Ford’s Sync infotainment system is perfectly usable, and it’s hard to think many Mustang owners will complain. Yes, its screen is now on the small side by current standards and it’s mounted a bit low, but that’s arguably the price that must be paid for a cabin inspired by a car from the 1960s. For better and for worse, the alternative can be seen in the Mustang’s Mach-E crossover sibling.
How big is the Mustang?
The Mustang is about the same size as a Chevrolet Camaro, both of which are much smaller and lighter than the Dodge Challenger that’s effectively an entire size class above the Ford and Chevy. The Mustang’s curb weight falls between the other two.
The Challenger is the best option for those who plan to buy one car to do everything, as it’s the most comfortable commuter, complete with a usable back seat and sedan-like trunk. The Camaro would be at the bottom of the pile with its poor visibility, cramped front footwell and tiny trunk. That puts the Mustang in the middle, but it’s certainly closer to the Camaro in terms of functionality. For instance, its back seat may technically be bigger than the Chevy’s, but its mini buckets are still best suited to kids, dogs or adults who don’t mind slouching. The rear headroom issue can be solved by dropping the top on convertible models, but don’t count on using a Mustang as a family hauler on the regular.
As for the trunk, holy cow were we shocked to discover we could cram all six suitcases of our luggage test collection in a Mustang Coupe’s 13.5 cubic-foot trunk. You only lose 2 cubic-feet with the convertible, which makes both Mustang body styles better than average among two-door cars (the BMW 4 Series Convertible, for instance). The trunk opening is also far larger than what you’ll find in the Camaro.
What are the Mustang specs and fuel economy?
The Mustang is offered with a choice of three engines. The standard engine is a 2.3-liter turbocharged “EcoBoost” four-cylinder making 310 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. The EcoBoost High Performance package ups output to 330 hp. Both are capable of hitting 60 mph in around 5 seconds. A six-speed manual is standard with a 10-speed automatic optional, though a six-speed auto is technically offered for fleet-spec convertibles. Models equipped with the 2.3L engine are rated between 20 and 23 mpg in the city, 27 and 32 mpg on the highway, and 23 to 25 mpg combined, depending on body style and engine/transmission choice.
Ford’s 5.0-liter “Coyote” V8 is standard on GT models and produces 460 hp and 420 lb-ft. It should hit 60 mph in the low-to-mid 4-second range. It has the same transmission choices as the EcoBoost. With the 10-speed automatic, GT models are rated at 16 mpg city, 25 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined for the fastback, 15/24/18 for the coupe.
The new Mustang Mach 1 gets a version of the Coyote good for 480 horsepower (pictured above). It comes standard with a unique six-speed manual (borrowed from the old GT350) or a version of the 10-speed automatic with different gear ratios. Expect a 0-60 time in the low 4-second range. Fuel economy comes in at 14/22/17 with the manual and 15/23/18 with the automatic.
The true pinnacle of 2021 Mustang performance is the Shelby GT500, which makes a whopping 760 hp and 625 lb-ft. thanks to its supercharged, 5.2-liter V8. While it rides on the same fundamental chassis, the GT500 is almost a distinct model from the more run-of-the-mill Mustangs, and among its many other upgrades, comes standard with a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. No manual is available on the big snake. It will run a sub-4.0-second 0-60 and knock off the quarter mile in a little over 11 seconds. That’s quick. If you’re worried about fuel economy, the GT500 is not for you.
What is the Mustang like to drive?
The 2021 Ford Mustang is an aging car on a platform that is universally considered second-best to the Chevy Camaro’s, but it is nonetheless a fun and engaging pony car. Of course, how the Mustang drives very much depends on the version you get.
EcoBoost models are surprisingly fun to drive, offering solid acceleration and quick response thanks to their ample torque. The EcoBoost High Performance model gets extra power (330 horses), a sharpened chassis, and the exceptional MagneRide adaptive suspension that improves both handling and ride comfort. The HPP also boasts a “square” tire setup (all four tires are the same diameter/width), which reduces understeer as you approach its limits. The clear downside to both versions of the four-cylinder engine is that it sounds more like it belongs to a hot hatch than a pony car.
GT models are heavier in the nose and not quite as quick to turn in, but the 5.0-liter’s ample power and torque combine with its linear, high-revving delivery to make for one of the best affordable V8s on the market. There is also something to be said for the Mustang being synonymous with a V8.
The new Mach 1 definitely has a V8, and both its abundant power and the way it delivers it can make you feel like you’re at the reins of an uncontrollable beast. It can seem like one errant toe wiggle will smoke the tires. This is certainly fun, but it’s also a bit incongruous with the Mach 1’s goal of also being an all-around performance machine. For that, it just doesn’t have the precision, especially in terms of its steering, that provide the type of confidence you expect from high-powered sport coupe. It’s too much of a muscle car for that. At the same time, its ride can also be quite harsh over broken pavement (despite the standard MagneRide), meaning it’s too much of a sports car. It’s caught in the awkward middle between where the old Bullitt and GT350 used to be.
There’s absolutely nothing awkward about the Shelby GT500, which is in another league entirely. This is a dedicated performance model, with MagneRide, available carbon fiber wheels and extreme-performance summer tires. This is a track-ready monster, and thanks to its dual-clutch automatic, can crack off consistently fast laps or quarter-mile passes. There are those who prefer it to the new Corvette.
What other Ford Mustang reviews can I read?
2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 is the hottest Mustang this side of a Shelby
A blend of Shelby parts pump up the Mach 1.
How much is the 2021 Ford Mustang price and what features are available?
There’s a Mustang for just about every budget. The base fastback starts at $28,350 (including a $1,195 destination charge), and with that you get your staples. Cloth sport seats, basic smartphone integration and a limited-slip differential are among the standard features. Upgrading to the Premium gets you heated leather seats, Sync 3 infotainment, selectable drive modes and more. Convertible models follow a similar upgrade path, but cost a bit more.
The GT checks in at $37,315, and with that you get the 5.0L V8 and a different axle ratio, but essentially the same in-cabin equipment as the base fastback. Note that there is no standard GT convertible model; you must upgrade to the GT Premium to get the drop-top. The Mach 1 tops off the 5.0-liter lineup at $52,915, and includes just about all of the equipment you get on a Mustang GT with the Performance Package Level 1, plus some more power and that sweet MagneRide suspension.
The Shelby GT500 is the true range-topper, starting at $74,095. It is pretty much loaded up as it sits, though you can add Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 semi-slicks, a rear seat delete package, Recaro leather seats (also available stand-alone) and an $18,500 Carbon Fiber Track Pack that features its namesake material on various trim pieces. Even the wheels are made from it.
- Mustang EcoBoost Fastback – $28,350
- Mustang EcoBoost Convertible – $33,850
- Mustang GT Fastback – $37,315
- Mustang GT Premium Convertible – $46,815
- Mustang Mach 1 Fastback – $52,915
- Mustang Shelby GT500 – $74,095
We can’t possibly give a comprehensive rundown in this overview, but as always, a complete breakdown of features, specs and local pricing just one click away here on Autoblog.
What are its safety equipment and crash test ratings?
Standard on every Mustang for 2021 is Ford’s Co-Pilot360 suite of accident avoidance and driver assistance tech that includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot warning, automatic highbeams and automatic wipers. Adaptive cruise control is a separate option.
The government gave the Mustang fastback an overall five-star safety rating, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety wasn’t so kind. It scored only an “Acceptable” on the IIHS small overlap test, and since Ford’s suite of active safety features was not available when it was tested, its automatic emergency braking system has not been evaluated. Both preclude it from “Top Safety Pick” consideration.