On this day last year, I drove my Mustang off the dealership lot. Since it’s been exactly 365 days with the car, I thought that I’d write a review. I didn’t want to do something like this too early because I wanted to learn everything about the car before I passed judgments. I do not swear allegiance to the Blue Oval, and I’d appreciate it if everyone who reads this does so with an open, unbiased mind! I am writing this for anyone who has an older Mustang and thinking about trading up to a newer model or for anyone who is thinking of buying their first Mustang. I guess we should get right into it. I graded the car in six categories, each worth 10 points, for a total of 60 points. A “1/10” is terrible while a “10/10” would be excellent.
V6 Base Coupe
3.7L “Cyclone” 4V Ti-VCT V6 Engine
6-Speed Automatic Transmission
FP6 Appearance Package
Reverse Sensing System & Security Package
Part of the reason many people like the S197 Mustang so much is due to its retro-modern styling. I believe that the 2013-14 model years were the perfect culmination of the retro theme, and I am glad that it will be retiring on a good note. Unlike many cars today which seem overly aggressive looking and completely over-styled (looking at you, Toyota), the 2014 Mustang looks very refined on the outside. A long snout flows into a beautiful fastback-esque canopy, concluding will an abrupt and creased rear end. Ford nailed the styling of this car.
The headlights are awesome when illuminated and the LED accents (which are a tip of the hat to the 1970 Mustang
, if anyone was wondering) are a nice touch. The tail lights are equally awesome and have the best accent lighting I’ve seen on a car. Love the retro-modern design and the sequential turn signals. Oh, and thank you for dropping the halogens, Ford.
The Sterling Gray paint is very nice looking and looks great in sunlight. The black accents of the FP6 Appearance Package splashed throughout are great touches and helped finalize my decision to buy the Mustang in the first place. I probably wouldn’t be driving a Mustang today if I couldn’t have found one with the Appearance Package, call me shallow.
Interior Quality: 6/10
This is an area in which I would ask for more refinement in. The interior of the 2014 Mustang is acceptable, but some simple things could have been done to make the interior a little bit nicer. Some of the plastic pieces (such as on the steering column) have sharp edges and gaps. I was even able to break skin once reaching behind the steering wheel. The majority of the door is very hard plastic, but the arm rest is a soft-touch material and the area just above the armrest is vinyl. Most of the parts of the car that you normally touch are comfortable enough, but if you want to rest your forearm on the window sill, you will notice that it is hard black plastic. Having said all that, the entire dashboard and the opening of the foot well next to the console is soft touch. I rest my right knee on the side of the console while driving and the soft touch material is a nice thing to have.
My biggest gripe with the interior is that many of the hard plastic parts rattle. The chrome bezels which surround the air vents and the gauges buzz all day long and various other rattles can be heard from time to time depending on the temperature. It is frustrating and could have been remedied by using tighter fitting parts or softer materials. Rattling will only intensify with exhaust modifications which increase sound.
The base seats in the car are comfortable, but not what I’d call sports oriented. They don’t have much side bolstering, but the driver’s seat does have adjustable lumbar support and is electronic-powered. Interior room is good and doesn’t feel confined or cramped which is an impressive feat for a two-door coupe. I’d like to throw in the fact that Ford got creative with the back seat head rests, which can fold down in order to increase rearward visibility.
The buttons on the steering wheel and center stack feel good to press and seem pretty solid as do the volume/seek knobs. They don’t feel lose nor do they “click” when you press them. I’m completely satisfied with the quality of the console and steering wheel controls. Overall, the interior of the 2014 Mustang is better than that of any Mustang I’ve ever sat in, and would obviously be somewhat better if you were to go for the Premium model and/or the Recaro seat option. We’ll see what the 2015 brings to the table in terms of interior refinement, because this generation never quite made it to where it should have been.
Ride and Handling: 8/10
We all know that underneath the rear end of the 2014 Mustang is a bit of an automotive fossil. That’s right, I’m talking about the live axle (or “truck axle,” if you will). IRS would have been a great addition to the car sooner than 2015, but better late than never. Ford dialed in the suspension enough to get away with it, thankfully. The ride of the base V6 is comfortable. You will feel the bumps in the road, and potholes will jolt you, but under normal driving conditions, the Mustang’s suspension is a nice balance of comfortable and sporty.
One thing I have noticed with the suspension is that it squats to the rear under hard acceleration and brake dives under hard braking. I can’t knock it here because the base suspension is base. If you were to take the Performance Package, I doubt it’d be an issue.
The three steering modes are great and aren’t found on all that many cars in this price range, so kudos to Ford for sticking them in there as standard. I find that “Comfort” mode is best for when I’m putting around in the city and “Sport” mode, which is considerably stiffer, is best for cruising on the highway and, of course, spirited backwoods driving. The transmission does occasionally buck and clunk a little, but that could be partially attributed to being RWD and having the drive shaft that it does.
The base brakes are good and have a nice bite to them. I’ve never notice the brakes fade or get “spongy” during spirited driving. I’m sure the Brembo’s are much, much better, but when you need to stop 305 horsepower, you can’t go wrong with the stock brakes either.
The V6 packed under the hood is a huge reason I bought this car. The 305 horses are all you need in a daily driver/occasional track car. I will say that the 280 torques feel more like 180, and this is where the Cyclone is most lacking. However, in the upper rev-range, this engine hauls. The 6-speed automatic is acceptable but not inspiring, in my opinion. Gear hang is an occasional issue and I wish throttle response was just *this much* better. I’ve found myself pushing the pedal and having time to think “wow, when are we gonna move” before the engine actually realizes the pedal is floored.
The Select Shift mode is great for someone like me who wants the everyday convenience of an automatic combined with the ability to manually go through the gears when the occasion calls for it. Again, the shift response is a little slow. It seems like it takes a little under a second for the transmission to shift after you press the button, and I’ve hit the rev limiter more than once because I want to take the engine through the entire range but by the time the transmission upshifts at the top of the rev-range, it’s already bounced off the limiter. I have to anticipate where the RPMs will be when the transmission actually decides to shift rather than when I decide to shift, but you do get used to it and adjust your driving style to accommodate it.
Overall, for the price point, the transmission is entirely acceptable and the engine itself is better than expected. You can’t argue $20,000 and 305 horsepower, and thus I can overlook any quirks of the transmission and give the Mustang a perfect score here.
Since I bought the base V6, there I didn’t get the touch screen or track apps or MyColor or any of that other fun stuff, but I did get the Tech Package which includes SYNC. SYNC is very, very helpful in Maryland since non-hands-free phone calls are illegal while driving. I can also play music from my phone without ever having to touch my phone. It’s great and is an infinitely better setup than the plain old aux jack I had in my old car.
It does have its own shortcomings, though. The system sometimes has a hard time understanding voice commands and I find myself having to either talk to it as if it were a 4 year old or shouting at it so that it can hear and understand what I’m saying. Most of the time, it works as intended. SYNC’s female voice sounds straight out of 2000-and-late because it struggles to say some words, namely “Bluetooth,” which is surprising since “Bluetooth Audio” is a voice command.
The base sound system is good and plenty loud enough. You can turn up the base pretty high, and the subwoofers will have no issue, but turn it up too high and the plastic parts in the interior will, you guessed it, rattle. But, with a nice axle-back exhaust, you don’t that your car has speakers anyways. I’m content with the sound system as well as the other technology in the car.
Cargo Space 7/10
Hey, it’s a two door coupe. You go in expecting the worst. However, the Mustang is surprisingly equipped for carrying moderate amounts of cargo. Hell, it’s even got a 1,000lb towing capacity, but I digress. I’ve moved twice using this car as a U-Haul. Of course, you’ll never fit a couch or a refrigerator in it, but I have fit my entire life in it more than once. The rear seats fold down, which is good for hauling bigger items. I fit an MMD deck lid spoiler in the back of my car thanks to the folding seats. The trunk is already fairly large and is big enough for most everyday items (duffel bags, boxes, camping stuff, golf bags, etc.). One thing that limits what you can put in the trunk is the relatively small trunk opening. Pop the deck lid and you’ll find that the “mouth” of the trunk is kind of small. Fitting larger items in will require some fiddling, but once they’re in, they will sink nicely into the large trunk. But really, a trunk is only as big as its opening, not to get too philosophical, so the Mustang loses a few points there.
TOTAL SCORE: 49/60
This is a Mustang review for Mustang owners/enthusiasts by a Mustang owner. A lot of other reviews are written by people who drive the car for a few hours and then share their thoughts. But as of right now, I’ve been in possession of the Mustang for 8760-ish hours and 13,000 miles, so I thought I’d through my opinion into the ring. Thank you if you managed to read this far, and I hope that I’ve helped anyone trying to decide to pull the trigger on one of these cars come to a final decision. Again, all of this is just the opinion of one person and is completely honest in all aspects. I didn’t sugar coat anything, nor did I nitpick. I tried to grade the car fairly and with “what the car is” in mind. If you agree or disagree on anything or if you think I missed anything important, lemme know!