When Ford announced that the 5.0L V8 was coming back to life for the 2011 model year, the Boss 302 rumors immediately followed. We haven’t seen the Boss 302 name grace a Mustang since 1970. It’s back for the 2012 model year and after a few days in one, it is safe to say it is the must-have Mustang since the last Boss 302.
The 2011 Ford Mustang has all new engines: a new 3.7L V6 and an all-new unique-to-Mustang 5.0L V8. Ford has been rolling out the powertrain news, and the media, buff books, and blogosphere dutifully reporting it for the past couple of months. But after being exposed to the 2011 iteration of the Mustang, we can tell you there is much more than meets the eye. We had the chance for some brief drivetime the 2011 Mustang in most every configuration. Short form: Yeah!
The 2011 Mustang looks like the 2010 but under the skin it is a very different animal. Ford’s strategy here is similar to that used for the 2008 – 2009 Escape. The 2008 Escape model got a major styling freshening and interior upgrade and the 2009 saw the major powertrain upgrades. While many scoffed that the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro had Mustang beat in the powertrain department, Ford engineers continued to develop and prepare these engines. Camaro put a bogey in place, to be sure, but neither engine is truly a response to Chevrolet’s terrific powertrain lineup.
As CAFE standards continue to tighten their grip on auto manufacturers, decisions about next generation vehicles are becoming more complicated. While the Japanese are embracing alternative power, fuels, and materials, in the U.S., there are some basics that must be considered.
Case in point: The popular Ford Mustang. The 2020 CAFE rules, expected to start showing up in 2013 or so, will make the current engine lineup in the more powerful Mustang vehicles, ah… um… problematic. On the surface, an engine diet and workout program might give life to the car from an engineering point of view, but what about the perception of the public?
The first Mustangs rolled off the assembly line and into American hearts and driveways mid-way-through 1964. Introduced to the public at the New York World’s Fair in April with a price tag of $2300 Ford sold more than 417,000 in its first year. Needless to say, it was a success right off the bat. It was the right package at the right price and it was on it’s way to becoming an American icon.
Since then, nearly 9 million Mustangs have been sold and today the Mustang has remained one of Ford’s bright spots in their lineup. With retro styling and variants like the Bullitt, Warrior in Pink, Shelby GT500 and GT500KR (not to mention the rumored Boss or Mach 1 on the way) the Mustang remains very popular. With these ‘halo’ variants and long history and heritage the image and Mustang name still resonate with the young and old alike.
As had been widely anticipated, today at a series of annual management briefings in Traverse City, Michigan, GM head Rick Wagoner announced that the Camaro returns to Chevrolet dealerships in late 2008. He also promised that it will look nearly identical to the concept, which wowed Camaro enthusiasts at its reveal at the 2006 Detroit auto show this past January. Of course the Camaro enthusiasts were strategically planted by Chevrolet at the auto show stand… but that’s alright. It was a hoot!
Camaro sales will start the first quarter of 2009, with production in late 2008. That should give plenty of time for all you Camaro enthusiasts to start saving and preparing for your next car.
The Camaro will retain its rear-wheel-drive traditional configuration and be offered with V6 and V8 engines, with both manual and automatic transmissions on hand. The “fuel economy” engine will be the V6 – with 275-horsepower no less.
Dodge Challenger – Low Investment Coupe from Chrysler’s RWD Platform
The other pony car concept from this year’s Detroit show, the Dodge Challenger, was confirmed forproduction in June. (Click here
for our story.) Dodge will beat Chevy to market by a few months, having promised sales in late 2008.
Market May Be Thinner Than Expected if Mustang Can Keep on the Pressure
Timing of Challenger and Camaro give the latest version of the Mustang four to five years’ head start. Given the freshening of the Mustang at about the same time as the Challenger and Camaro introductions, plus the plethora of Mustang special models over the years, Ford may have done a pretty good job siphoning off prospective buyers for the General Motors and Chrysler pony cars.
GTO Nameplate Returns to the Shelf. According to Automotive News, when Pontiac‘s 2007 model year lineup comes out, the GTO will not be included. Sources told Automotive News that the company decided to drop GTO rather than re-certify for 2007, an expensive process. At the moment, there are no specific plans for a replacement, though certainly there are those among Pontiac’s staff that will consider the possibility in the future and Pontiac will not comepletely rule out another sporty car down the road. If you want one, GM says they will bring another 10,000 to 12,000 units into the country.
correspondents had the opportunity to drive both versions of the GTO
over its short three-year lifecycle, the 350HP 2004 version and the 400HP 2005 model. The 2005 model won AutoPacific’s vaunted Vehicle Satisfaction Award edging out the Ford Mustang for top honors much to the consternation of Ford’s upper management.
The GTO is fun to drive and a solid overall package. In large part because of the GTO badge, the car suffered much criticism for bland and boring styling. Labeling it GTO raised expectations to a level that the styling did not meet. The lesson to be learned here is that bland is worse than ugly for a sporty car, particularly one that intended to play on nostalgia for a fondly remembered, aggressive car like the original GTO.
Ward’s AutoWorld announced the results of their latest 10 Best Engines awards. The venerable Nissan VQ soldiers on (Infiniti 3.5L V6), but VehicleVoice (http://www.vehiclevoice.com) staff note some interesting results.
Does An Engine Have to Be High Performance to be Best?
Note the “Hemi”, “turbocharged”, “supercharged” nomenclature. Wow, most of these are high performance engines beyond what a typical buyer will find in their cars. Probably the most mainstream engine of the bunch is the 4.6L V8 in the Mustang GT.
How about the 4-cylinder engine in certain price classes? How about the best V6 between 225HP and 275HP?
Here is the Ward’s Release
The editors of Ward’s AutoWorld magazine have chosen the 10 Best Engines for 2006, the 12th year of the award.
The engines and tested vehicles are:
* DaimlerChrysler AG: 5.7L Hemi Magnum OHV V-8 (Charger R/T)
* Audi AG: 2L FSI turbocharged DOHC I-4 (Audi A3)
* Audi AG: 4.2L DOHC V-8 (Audi S4)
* BMW AG: 3L DOHC I-6 (330i)
* Ford Motor Co.: 4.6L SOHC V-8 (Mustang GT)
* General Motors Corp.: 2L supercharged DOHC I-4 (Chevrolet Cobalt SS)
* General Motors Corp.: 2.8L turbocharged DOHC V-6 (Saab 9-3 Aero)
* Mazda Motor Corp.: 2.3L DISI turbocharged DOHC I-4 (Mazdaspeed 6)
* Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.: 3.5L DOHC V-6 (Infiniti G35 6MT)
* Toyota Motor Corp.: 3.5L DOHC V-6 (Lexus IS 350)