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Overall rating:  Product Rating: 4.0

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2001 Ford Mustang 3.8L Coupe

by dkozin:      Mar 14, 2001

Product Rating: 3.0 Recommended: Yes 

Pros: Inexpensive, lots of standard equipment
Cons: Weak engine, styling, interior, fit and finish, clutch, reliability, safety, uncooperative dealer
The Bottom Line: If you want refinement, fit and finish, safety and reliability, get ready to pay more for something else.

This review is about Ford Mustang 3.8L Coupe with stick shift I test-drove when I considered buying it. I say “considered” because I did not buy it and here is why.

Test Drive
The dealer talked too much during the test drive. They always try to do that to distract you, but I noticed the following things.

You can argue, but I think it could be better. The car looks bulky, the C-pillars are thick, which increases “blind spots” – I was afraid to run over somebody while backing up, the standard wheels look crude. The previous Mustang looked more balanced.

The 3.8L 193-hp engine does not seem all that powerful, even with stick. We went on the freeway onramp and I was disappointed. Strange, considering the 220+ lb-ft of torque rating at as low as 2800 rpm. European and Japanese manufacturers manage to extract more than 200 hp out of 3.0-liter engines.

Note: the A/C was on during the test drive and was very efficient. It might eat some power, but not that much.

The shifter has quite short travel (which is good), but the clutch does not provide any feedback – you cannot feel it engage by the pedal pressure (or the dealer talked too much?). The clutch also engaged very high in the pedal travel. I drove some Eastern-European cars for several years and never had complaints like this one. Or maybe I’m getting old and grumpy?

The suspension is not only stiff, but creates a lot of unnecessary up-and-down motions. The car uses live axle in the rear, so I didn’t expect much anyway.

Standard Equipment
The list of standard equipment looks good. It includes power windows, mirrors, locks and remote keyless entry, alloy (ugly) wheels, AM/FM/CD/cassette player, A/C, dual vanity mirrors, etc.

Interior (materials, fit and finish) looks cheap. I did not expect walnut for $16K, but Ford could have done better. As I said, the C-pillars are wide (in coupe) and the interior room is smaller than I’d like. The steering wheel tilts but does not telescope, which might be a problem for the tall people.

Insurance and Safety
Insurance rates are high, especially if you are a male younger than 25. The crash test results are not encouraging either – the overall rating is “Acceptable” with “Poor” death rate and “Marginal” injury rate.

Fuel Economy
I didn’t get a chance to see the actual fuel consumption myself, but on paper it’s 19 MPG city / 29 MPG highway. Not impressive for the car of this size with manual transmission.

Warranty and Reliability
”Consumer Reports” magazine says that Mustang has poor reliability. Ford provides 36,000-mile / 3-year warranty and 5-year corrosion warranty. Majority of other manufacturers offers 60,000-mile / 5-year powertrain warranty (100,000-mile / 10-year warranty for Hyundai/Kia).

The last three (safety, fuel economy and reliability) also depend on the way you drive.

The price was good, in theory. I know that you can get the car for less than $16K (at CarsDirect.com, for example), but the particular dealership I went to wanted more than $17K and did not want to negotiate the price at all. Besides they were very pushy and rude. Needles to say, they did not earn my business (they didn’t even try).

The dealer was constantly asking what monthly payment I can afford. Well, I can afford the payment I need to get better car. I walked, after which they called me several times asking how they can make me buy the car “today”. I was unable to produce any kind of positive reply on this one.

In car buying a lot depends on personal taste. If you like Mustang’s styling and features and decide to buy it, it is a good deal, providing you with electric everything, remote keyless entry, radio/CD/cassette, V6 engine and alloy wheels for less than $16. If you want refinement, fit and finish, safety and reliability, get ready to pay more for something else.

Amount Paid (US$): -
Condition: New
Model Year: 2001
Model and Options: 3.8L Coupe
Product Rating: 3.0
Recommended: Yes 
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