James R. Healey, USA Today
DEARBORN, Mich. - A 1964 copy of the Saturday Evening Post
magazine at Ford Motor's archives here has the Beatles on the cover, on
the cusp of making a huge splash on the U.S. music scene. Inside, a
two-page ad for Kodak photo film, and another ad for the new Ford
"The Mustang's the only one still around, intact," says archivist Dean Weber.
around, but hardly the same. Thursday, Ford is unveiling a redesigned
version for 2015, the sixth-generation Mustang, by Ford's count, since
the car was launched on April 17, 1964. It goes on sale next fall.
Mustang "is important because it has been a symbol of Ford for 50
years," says Jack Nerad, market analyst at Kelley Blue Book.
Ford, chairman of the namesake company, says in a video for employees:
"This is the most important product we have, at least to me personally.
Every time we unveil a Mustang, the stakes are raised, and yes, I get
nervous, but more than that, I'm really excited."
was the original of what came to be called "pony cars," rival Chevrolet
Camaro now outsells it. "I'm certain that Chevy's sales success in the
segment sticks in the craw of many high-ranking Ford executives. They
believe they should own the pony-car segment," Nerad says.
The 2015 is easily recognizable as a Mustang, but there are dramatic chassis, body, interior and drivetrain changes.
decided on evolutionary styling to appeal to traditionalists, but
adventuresome enough to draw new buyers. The overall effort, according
to theme boards at Ford's huge Mustang styling studio here, has been to
deliver a car seen as:
• "Breaking out," illustrated by a picture of a fist smashing through glass.
• Oozing "power and control," illustrated by the haunches of a muscular jungle cat.
• "Masculine and cool," portrayed on the boards by actor Steve McQueen, a Mustang icon for the chase scene in his movie Bullitt.
That last goal comes as most automakers seek more women buyers, but the masculine emphasis simply acknowledges reality.
Caldwell, senior analyst at Edmunds.com, says women are 26% of Mustang
buyers this year, about flat for the past five years. It's 32% for rival
Camaro, 27% for Dodge Challenger.
She also notes a "big leap" in
Mustang buyers 55 and older, up 12 percentage points in five years, to
36% this year. Mustang buyers under 35 have slipped three points.
new buyers will see a design similar to the outgoing Mustang, but with
significant differences in dimensions. The rear wheels are pushed out
about 1.6 inches to be flush with the sheetmetal, which is about 2.8
inches wider than the 2014.
Taking advantage of the 2015's new
chassis, designers were able to lower the roof 1.5 inches, the hood 1.3
inches and the dashboard about 2.8 inches.
The result: a sleeker look, obvious when it's next to a 2014.
2015 Mustang's underpinnings amount to an "all-new" platform, says Raj
Nair, Ford's vice president in charge of global product development.
original idea was to evolve the current chassis. But once Ford decided
that the new car would have independent rear suspension (IRS) - a first
for mainstream Mustang models. "We started having some trouble with the
steering and proportion of the vehicle," Nair says. "We decided fairly
late in development to widen the vehicle."
IRS improves handling,
ride and steering precision, but is more costly and complicated than the
solid rear axle that Mustangs have had since 1964.
selection also didn't work out as planned. The intent was an EcoBoost
turbocharged four-cylinder as the base engine and the V-8 as the
up-level engine. But a less expensive V-6 was added to be the base, says
chief engineer Dave Pericak. "We added the V-6 later in development, as
a value item; Mustang's always had a value element," says Pericak.
Thus, the engine lineup will be:
• Base: 3.7-liter V-6, about 300 horsepower.
• Optional: 2.3-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder. Ford says it'll have at least 305 hp and significantly more torque than the V-6.
• Top-end: 5-liter V-8, rated "more than 420 hp," he says.
Less dramatic, but likely endearing, new features you might overlook:
Front roof pillars are realigned, and nearly 1.3 inch thinner. Combined
with a new location for the outside mirror, the 2015 has better front
• Passenger's airbag is in the glove box door,
smoothing the look of the dashboard by eliminating the seam for a
separate panel. Ford assumes - this remains to be verified in real life -
that people won't drive around with the glove box open, which would
interfere with bag operation.
• Tires, which now sit flush with
the outside edge of the sheetmetal, have "rub" ribs to minimize the
chance you'll get curb rash on the expensive alloy wheels most models
• The middle roof pillar is hidden behind the door glass to avoid interrupting the silhouette.
The convertible, coming at nearly the same time as the coupe, will have
the fastest top in the business - up or down in seven seconds. And
it'll operate up to 5 mph.
• Front seats - none too soon, some
might argue - have "memory recline," so they return to your preferred
setting after tipping them forward to let passengers into or out of the
• New colors to address owner requests, including
Triple Yellow (literally painted three times, instead of one or two, to
eliminate the "dirty" look of gray primer that yellow has trouble
"There's actually a Yellow Mustang Club, and boy, do we
hear from them when we don't offer a yellow," says Susan Lampinen, the
chief designer in charge of color, among other things, for all Ford and