It was about this time last year when I was feeling bummed about not having had any experience in a 2015+ Mustang, and for a Mustang guy like me, it kind of hurt. I had just sold my 1996 GT, and the 2012 GT I just bought was starting to feel old and familiar. Everyone was talking about how how refined and really nice the new S-550’s were, but I hadn’t had a chance to drive one yet and my hands (and right foot) were starting to get jittery.
Finally, in August of last year, I rented a shiny red 2015 EcoBoost model for a day in Portland Oregon. I immediately liked that car despite it not being a V8, thanks in large part to it’s low-to-the-ground feel and confident handling. These were the two attributes that I have felt were missing from my 2012, and the all new 2015 version fixed that in a magnificent way.
Then, two and a half months ago, I found myself in a 2016 Hertz Shelby GT-H. That car satisfied every single shortcoming I had with the EcoBoost (power, sound, interior materials), and I walked away from it feeling like I had a pretty good understanding of what the 2015+ Mustang was all about. Finally. I was up to date on these cars again!
Thinking back on it, I didn’t really know as much as I thought I did. Yes, I knew the Ecoboost 4 cylinder version quite well, as well as the slightly modded GT-H. But what about the standard run-of-the-mill GT? Did that GT-H mask some glaring problem or issue that a normal 2016 GT has? Thankfully, I had the chance to rent one while on vacation in Hawaii a few weeks back, so let me show you what I found.
The biggest problem that I have with the 2016 Mustang GT is the fact that it doesn’t look any different than the 2015 EcoBoost that I rented in Portland last summer. The color was the same, the trim was the same, and heck – even the wheels were quite similar. There’s nothing about this GT that gives it the appearance of a higher model, minus a few badges. That’s just wrong, IMHO. If I spend a lot more money for the 5.0, I would prefer to get some exterior modifications to differentiate it from the base model other than those chrome 5.0 badges on the fenders.
That magnificent Coyote 5.0 engine
This is the same engine I have in my 2012 GT, and I’ll come right out and say that I’m a fan. Heck, you’ve probably heard me gush about it way too much in the past already. The exhaust tuning is a bit different in the 2015+ cars though, and it has a bit deeper sound than my car. But the power (gobs of it) is still there and I can’t help but to giggle every time I mash the gas. Of course it doesn’t sound as good as the GT-H did, but for a stock exhaust setup, it still sounds pretty mean and I suspect it will be satisfying enough for all but the most hardcore enthusiasts.
Driving in the rain
I put 130 miles on this car driving it from Kona to Hilo on the big island of Hawaii, and I’m not kidding when I say that 129 of them were in the pouring rain. Some of that rain was torrential at times, and thankfully, this 2016 Mustang GT was rock solid through all of it. I even kept it in sport mode for much of the drive, only switching over to “rain/snow” after the back end kicked out on me coming out of a tight corner. I will say that I was driving a bit too aggressive for the conditions though, and I wasn’t even surprised when it happened. Getting the car back under control was no problem, and I was on my way without incident.
Despite that little tail-kick, the car did very well in the wet considering how hard I was driving it.
Wear and tear
This was a rental car from Avis, and we all know that rental cars aren’t exactly babied during their time in the fleet. This car was in surprisingly good condition despite having over 22,000 miles on it the day I picked it up, without a single rattle or loose panel anywhere to be found. It was still very solid, and the interior looked like brand new aside from what looked like white sunscreen stains on the drivers side door panel.
The more I drive these 2015+ Mustangs, the more it makes me less fond of my 2012. Of course I still love that car but it just isn’t refined as these new S-550’s and it’s easy to see it’s faults after driving one of the newer models. I turned this car back in to Avis feeling pretty good about it, and most of all, I was happy that it was just as much fun to drive as the GT-H. The exhaust and suspension on that Shelby increased the fun factor for sure, but you don’t need those parts to have fun in just a regular GT.
Finally, I’d like to close this review out with a deep thought: this particular car had 22,000 miles on it. In Hawaii. And it was a 2016 model. That is a LOT of very frequent trips around the island, which says a lot about the reliability and durability of the 2016 Mustang GT. Ford is definitely doing something right.