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Ford Mustang GT (2001)

SEE ALSO: Ford Buyer's Guide

By Tom Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 23,590
     Price As Tested                                    $ 24,165
     Engine Type              SOHC 16-valve 4.6 Liter V8 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 281 cid/4601 cc
     Horsepower                                   260 @ 5250 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               302 @ 4000 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  101.3"/73.1"/183.2"
     Transmission                              Five-speed manual
     Curb Weight                                     3417 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  15.7 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                           225/55R16 all-season
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                        Four-passenger/two-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            18/25/21
     0-60 MPH                                        6.0 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                          14.5 seconds @ 99.0 mph
     Top-speed                                           140 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

With the rapid disappearance of traditional American performance sedans, the 2001 Ford Mustang GT may soon end up being the last rear-drive, two-door American Pony Car.

It's not much different for 2001, since the whole look and feel was changed for 1999. It's still offered as the V6-powered standard Mustang, the hot-rod 320-horse Cobra, and our tester this week, the affordable Mustang GT, all in either hardtop or convertible form.

OUTSIDE - The restyle brought a new front fascia with wraparound headlights, a wider grille and sharper definition of the fender flares. And while its shape may be familiar, the styling is very fresh and more athletic-looking that ever. Its styling elements are reminiscent of the previous model, but now its curves and shapes are broken up by sharp creases and chiseled lines. This gives it a wider, more planted stance. The vertical three-element taillights are slanted at the top in pyramid fashion. Ford added a small throwback theme in a chrome "corral" encircling the galloping horse in its wedge-shape grille. Five-spoke alloy wheels are standard on Mustang GT.

INSIDE - The cabin has remained virtually the same. The most noticeable aspect of the interior is the tall dashboard that sweeps in a horseshoe shape on each side down into the wide center console. This tall cowl creates some problems for shorter drivers, but fortunately there is enough adjustment in the front seat to make for a comfortable position for most drivers. The cloth upholstery grips the seat of the pants quite well, though optional leather makes the inside look richer. There's also enough side and thigh bolstering to keep driver and passenger in place during spirited motoring. Pony Cars were never meant to hold many people, so those residing in back can expect to be cramped. Standard Mustang GT features include sport seats, power windows, door locks, mirrors and trunk release, air conditioning, split-folding rear seat, remote keyless entry, an uplevel stereo and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

ON THE ROAD - For years, Mustang GTs were powered by the decades- old, "pushrod" 5.0-liter V8 engine, with fuel injection added in 1986. When the latest body style (or close to it) came out in 1993, a version of that same V8 was used for one year. Thereafter, a more modern, single-overhead-cam, 4.6-liter V8 became standard fare. It wasn't any more powerful than the previous engine, (215 horsepower) but it was smoother and, most importantly, a precursor of things to come. By 1999, Ford had time to massage the 4.6 with coil-on-plug ignition, performance camshafts, a high-flow intake manifold, revised combustion chambers and larger valves to produce 260 horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque. This brought an enormous change in Mustang GT performance, with 60 mph coming in a blazing six seconds and the quarter-mile being completed at 99 miles per hour.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - Based on an aging chassis that can trace its roots back to the mundane Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr sedans of 1979, the most modern Mustang has fortunately enjoyed a good dose of structural enhancements to give it a solid, firm feel. Its suspension layout is standard Pony Car fare, with MacPherson struts up front and a solid rear axle. When the latest version came out for '99, Ford widened the rear track by 1.4 inches, gave it an additional one-inch of rear suspension travel, and the variable-rate coil springs were replaced by linear-rate units. Also, the anti-roll bars and shocks were retuned to provide a more supple ride without any sacrifice in handling. Modifications to the rack-and-pinion steering system resulted in a more precise feel, sharper turn-in and a decreased turning radius. Four-wheel disc brakes were enhanced by lightweight, two-piston front calipers to reduce unsprung weight on the front end by 10 pounds. An anti-lock braking system (ABS) is standard.

SAFETY - Dual dashboard airbags, ABS and a traction-lock rear axle are standard; traction control is optional.

OPTIONS - There were no options on our test car.