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Test Drive: 2012 V6 Ford Mustang Coupe

A Great Value with Plenty of Room to Grow

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating


The 2012 V6 Ford Mustang with Performance Package

The 2012 V6 Ford Mustang with Performance Package

Photo © Jonathan P. Lamas
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With its 305 horsepower engine, and highway mileage in the 25 plus range, Ford’s 2012 V6 Mustang makes for an economical buy. Better yet, it’s a good looking sports car for buyers on a budget. When equipped with the optional V6 Performance package ($1,995), it’s even more impressive. $22,145 base (base), $25,685 as tested, 19 mpg city/29 mpg hwy.

First Glance: Bare Bones With Good Looks

I first took possession of my Race Red 2012 V6 tester Mustang a week after testing Ford’s 2012 GT Convertible. No doubt, the cars were very different. Obviously one is a coupe and one is a convertible. In addition, one sports a 3.7-liter Duratec 24-valve engine (producing 305 hp @ 6,500 rpm), while the other features a Coyote 5.0L V8 (producing 412 hp @ 6,500 rpm). Both cars were equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, and both cars featured spotter mirrors integrated into existing side mirrors. Now for the not so obvious. Ford’s V6 Mustang, with the optional Performance Package, comes equipped with a 3.31 gear ratio. The stock V6 Mustang features a 2.73 gear ratio. Other features, exclusive to this package, include gloss black side mirrors, unique stability control calibration, special front and rear calipers with performance friction pads, an upsized front sway bar, an SVT-sourced rear sway bar, unique front springs, front strut tower brace, and sharp looking 19-inch aluminum wheels with 255/40R19 summer tires.

Ford’s V6 Performance Package/$1,995

  • Strut Tower Brace
  • Larger Front Sway Bar
  • SVT Rear Sway Bar
  • Unique front and rear calipers with performance friction pads
  • 19-inch painted aluminum wheels
  • 255/40R19 Summer Only Tires
  • Unique Stability Control Calibration
  • Gloss Black Side Mirrors
  • 3.31 Rear Axle
Aside from the performance package, and the Reverse Sensing System and Security Package option ($695), my V6 tester was a bare bones Mustang. Unlike the Premium GT I recently tested, my V6 tester featured manual seats (as opposed to power), no SYNC system, and no vehicle navigation. The seats were cloth, instead of leather, and it lacked creature comforts such automatic dual-climate controls. That said, even in its most basic set up, Ford’s base Mustang offered enough features to make the car worthwhile. It featured cup holders, tilt steering, map pockets, dual illuminated vanity mirrors, and a premium AM/FM stereo with single CD-player, in addition to other standard goodies.

In the Driver's Seat: Options or No Options, It's Still Driver Friendly

The 2012 V6 Ford Mustang Interior

The 2012 V6 Ford Mustang Interior

Photo © Jonathan P. Lamas
The last time I conducted a week long road test of a V6 Mustang coupe was back in 2009 when I reviewed the 2010 V6 Mustang. At the time I noted the V6, although different on the exterior, featured the same old powertrain with no significant improvements. Well, I’m happy to report this is no longer the case. Ford really kicked things up a few notches when they gave the V6 a new, and lighter, 3.7-liter Duratec 24-valve engine for 2011. They boosted the vehicle’s horsepower from 210 hp to 305 hp. They also added a dual exhaust system as standard equipment, improved handling and ride thanks to a stiffer suspension, and added creature comforts such as integrated spotter mirrors. All of these upgrades carry over into the 2012 model year.

As I eased myself into the cloth covered driver’s seat, I noticed the steering wheel felt, and looked, slightly different. I’ve grown used to the leather wrapped option. In fact, both my 2008 Bullitt and 2008 V6 Mustangs have leather wrapped steering wheels. Another thing I noticed is there were no audio controls, something Ford added to the mix in 2010. The steering wheel was bone stock. And you know what? It wasn’t a big deal. In spite of its bare bones appearance on the inside, the 2012 V6 Mustang was still driver friendly.

On the Road: Plenty of Fun Thanks to the Performance Package

Out on the road, the 2012 V6 Mustang, with optional Performance Package, is impressive to say the least. Acceleration is more than adequate. Weighing in at around 3,447 .lbs, with the manual-transmission option, the V6 Coupe is slightly lighter than its GT counterpart, which has a curb weight of 3,603 .lbs. Backing out of tight spots is easier as well thanks to Ford’s optional Reverse Sensing System. The system will alert you when you get close to an object while backing up. This is sure to prevent a few dings here and there.

Handling is much improved thanks to the Performance Package’s upsized front sway bar, its SVT-sourced rear sway bar, and a front tower brace. In fact, I found the driving experience to be somewhat in line with a 2005-2009 Mustang GT. The only missing element is a rumbling exhaust note. While the V6 does sport a dual exhaust set up, it’s not nearly as deep sounding as the one found on the GT Mustang. Of course, this isn’t a deal breaker for me. The lack of rumble also makes for less interior cabin noise. In all, the car still handles nicely, it’s fast, and it looks sharp.

Speaking of looks, the car received many during my week out on the road. The Mustang’s Race Red exterior really attracted attention. Fortunately it was the right kind of attention, not the kind that starts off with police lights in the rear view and ends with me signing a promise to appear! In addition to the impressive paint job, the Mustang featured custom 19-inch painted aluminum wheels as part of the Performance Package. I have to say, I absolutely love these wheels. They really change the overall look of the ride, giving it a more aggressive stance. The lack of pony emblems, and other special badging, keep the exterior looking low key. I found this to be a nice balance.

Journey's End: Great Value Leaves a Lasting Impression

Custom 19-inch wheels as part of the Performance Package

Custom 19-inch wheels, with 255/40R19 Summer Only Tires, as part of the Performance Package

Photo © Jonathan P. Lamas
Of all the Mustangs I’ve tested in the past few years, this one really left a lasting impression. It’s not the looks or handling characteristics that won me over. The car looks great and is fun to drive, but there’s more to the story. The 2012 V6 Mustang, with optional V6 Performance Package, is a great value. For a little more than $25,000, you can own a car that looks great, offers impressive handling, and leaves you with plenty of room to grow. No doubt, the automotive aftermarket is full of numerous products for Ford Mustang owners.

As I drove the car around town, it began to really grow on me. While the base model didn’t sport any fancy creature comforts, it was more than adequately equipped for driving on the open road. When you get down to it, that’s what a car is for, right? Getting between points A and B; even better when you can have a little fun doing so. It reminds me of telephones today. With all their fancy gadgets and options, one might forget phones were really created for talking. The base V6 coupe was created to be driven. The fact that you can have fun doing so is an added bonus. And believe me, it was plenty fun!

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