2011 Ford Mustang GT Test Drive

Mustangs and Camaros have faced off at stoplights and drag races for four decades—give or take a few model years. But recently, with the Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger rising from the ashes to take on the stalwart 'Stang, the folks at Ford have added fuel to the muscle car conflict. Or rather, they've increased the Mustang's fuel efficiency along with its power output—for both available engines.

The Specs

"I'm most proud of our V6," says Dave Pericak, Mustang's chief engineer. "It's the first car ever to get over 300 hp and over 30 mpg," he says, although the V6-powered Camaro comes close at 304 hp and 29 mpg. Fifteen years ago, the 1996 SVT Mustang Cobra—a car endowed with a supercharged 4.6-liter modular V8—broke the 300-hp barrier with 305 hp while achieving 26 mpg. Thanks to the advent of what Ford calls Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT), however, the 2011 Mustang's 3.7-liter V6 ($22,995) develops 305 hp (up from last year's measly 210) and 280 ft-lbs of torque (up from 240) while averaging 31 mpg on the highway. Not too shabby for a base model.

In Premium trim, our V6 test car came with all the standard creature comforts you would expect in a passenger car, and then some: leather power seats, Sirius satellite radio, a split-folding rear seat. Options included comfort and security packages, and a 3.31-ratio limited-slip axle.

Step up to the GT ($30,495 base price), and the big news is the V8 engine's 5-liter displacement. The ugly-as-sin 1980s Fox-bodied Mustangs relied on gigantic "5.0" fender badges to maintain their street cred, whereas the 2011 model gets by on its looks and on its personality. Yes, big shiny fender badges still proclaim the all-aluminum four-valve DOHC V8's displacement. But the new Five-Oh also makes use of variable valve timing and a ram-air intake to boost power output from last year's 315 to a much more respectable 412 hp (and still manages to achieve an EPA rating of 26 mpg on the highway).