2010 Mustang 5th Generation Facelifts
After five years on the market, the 2010 Mustang was substantially upgraded both in terms of equipment and appearance. The restyling was immediately noticeably inside and out and made for a far more modern interpretation of the original. More than just a light restyle, the 2010 update changed every single exterior body panel except for the roof. A much more subtle refresh followed for the 2013 model.
2010-2012 Mustang 5th Gen Facelift Front Changes
The front was made much more aggressive and sharper, gaining a brand-new bumper 1 with a three-slot lower air intake and a subtle central "spine" crease that continues into the new hood, which in turn gains a pronounced power bulge and extra creases 3. The combination front headlights/indicators 3 recalled the Mustangs of the '70s and the removal of the large indicators from the lower bumper cleaned up the front and left only small sider-marker units on the bumper's corners 4. Looking closely, you can see that the Mustang logo was subtly restyled too.
2013-2014 Mustang 5th Gen Facelift Front Changes
A subtle few tweaks were applied one last time to the 2013 Mustang in the form of a slightly larger front grille 1 and new headlights 2, with the round part of the headlight moving inboard, adjacent to the grille, and the turn signal moving to the outside of the headlight unit, now with two LED accent strips running through it. The headlights are all-HID from the 2013 model year as well. The revised front nose cone incorporates a slightly larger grille and restyled lower valance 3.
2010-2012 Mustang 5th Gen Facelift Rear Changes
The new taillights were made to taper toward the outside 1, a nod to mid-'60s Mustangs. They were updated with LEDs too. The staid old bumper was thoroughly revised for the facelift, with more pronounced creases and a contrasting lower valance that was made to reach up to intersect the license-plate holder and eradicate the old item's slabby, bulky appearance 2. The spoilers were restyled too 3 and the trunk-lid emblem made much bigger 4.
2013-2014 Mustang 5th Gen Facelift Rear Changes
For 2013, the taillights are restyled with three main elements, the backup lights now incorporated into the brake lights 1. A black panel on the boot lid between the taillight clusters blends them together more seamlessly 2 and a bigger black number-plate holder is used, which no longer bisects the lower valance3.
2010-2012 Mustang 5th Gen Facelift Side Changes
The side view shows off new wheel designs the Mustang received, as well as a new crease running through the door handles to sharpen up the profile 1. The slim-line side marker lights are easy to spot 2, side-on, as are the contrasting rocker panels 3.
2013-2014 Mustang 5th Gen Facelift Side Changes
Eagle-eyed onlookers might spot a few of the front 1 and rear 2 bumper changes from the side of the 2013 model.
2010-2012 Mustang 5th Gen Facelift Interior Changes
The interior received a major makeover too, boasting better-quality materials and a restyle. A new steering wheel was fitted 1, the center stack was completely restyled and gained a larger display screen 2, and the round theme was retained for the outside air vents only - the center ones were replaced by rectangular vents 3. The contrasting center facia panel that stretched the width of the car was made to narrow in the middle where the upper surround of the new center stack cuts into its lower half 4.
2013-2014 Mustang 5th Gen Facelift Interior Changes
Interior changes on the 2013 Mustang mostly center around the updated audio systems 1.
Engine, Transmission, and Drivetrain
The base engine in the 2005 Mustang 5th gen is the ancient naturally aspirated 4.0-liter Cologne V6 developing a mere 210 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque. It powers the V6 Deluxe and V6 Premium trims. The GT Deluxe and GT Premium trims get the far more powerful naturally aspirated 4.6-liter Ford Modular V8, packing 300 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. All trims could be specified with a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission driving the rear wheels, naturally, via a live axle.
The 2010 facelift introduced fresh styling and a power boost for the Modular V8 to 315 hp and 325 lb-ft, but the coarse, thirsty Cologne V6 soldiered on unchanged. Ford finally realized that the situation was becoming untenable and fixed it for the 2011 model year by replacing the outdated V6 lump with a new 3.7-liter Cyclone V6 producing a vastly superior 305 hp - 5 hp more than the V8 at the Mustang's launch in 2005 - and 280 lb-ft of torque. The transmission was now a six-speed, regardless of whether you chose the manual or automatic. This move aged the 4.6-liter V8 overnight and prompted a five-liter version to replace it - developing a stonking 412 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque, putting clear daylight between it and the V6 once again. It received the same choice of six-speed transmissions at the same time.
5th Gen Ford Mustang Real MPG
The EPA-estimated fuel-consumption figures for cars can often be somewhat optimistic and not always easy to match in the real world. Therefore, the EPA gathers fuel-consumption data from motorists on the cars they drive and publishes it alongside the official EPA figures, once enough data is available on a model to arrive at a reasonable average. These figures are submitted by the public and the EPA has little control over how they are obtained, but they do give an indication of what a car is capable of.
The Ford Mustang S-197 fifth generation does a reasonable job of matching its EPA figures and the base 4.0-liter V6 it launched with does seem to easily improve on its estimates in the real world, even if it's an uninspiring engine otherwise. However, so does the 4.6-liter V8 and the difference between the two is not sufficient to recommend the V6. The new V6 that came in 2011 is excellent and for less fuel than its predecessor, it offers the same performance as the first version of the V8. It's definitely the one to go for in terms of an unbeatable performance-to-economy ratio. However, the 5.0-liter V8 uses more or less the same fuel as its 4.6-liter predecessor and offers far more power too, so the improvements all around are impressive.
* Real-world mpg and MPGe figures are provided by the EPA. Once a car has been on sale for a significant period of time, the EPA gets real-world figures directly from the customer base. These figures are then provided on the EPA website. Real-world figures are not available for certain models due to a lack of sales, or not enough people partaking in this after-sales survey.
When buying second-hand cars, it always pays to remember that safety standards keep advancing and you won't be getting the same standard of protection that new cars provide. However, the 5th generation Mustang was not at all bad when it was launched and the NHTSA awarded it five stars overall according to 2005's less strict safety standards, with only the side impact getting four stars. Safety was improved and by 2008, the driver's side impact scored 5/5 and the passenger side 4/5. The convertible was tested for the first time for the 2008 model year too, getting 5/5 for everything. The 2012 Mustang's scores dropped to four stars for everything except the five-star rollover test under the new stricter NHTSA testing criteria, which is still a decent result. The convertible was never tested according to the post-2011 criteria. The IIHS started crash testing the Mustang in 2010 and it achieved "Good" scores for the moderate front overlap crash and for its headrests, but "Acceptable" for the side impact - scores that applied throughout the car's production run.
In terms of standard safety equipment, big strides were made over the years. Originally, standard safety equipment from the 2005 base model didn't even include the bare necessities, which is to say two front airbags and that's it. ABS and traction control were optional on the V6 (standard on the GT) and side airbags optional on all models. Curtain airbags and stability control weren't available at all. This remained the status quo until side airbags were finally added as standard equipment on all Mustangs for the 2008 model year. Safety was shored up again for the 2010 facelift, at which time stability control became standard on all trims. The 2011 model saw only the arrival of blind-spot mirrors to more easily keep an eye on the car's blind spots.
2005-2014 Ford Mustang Trims
The Mustang was launched as a 2005 model in four trims, available with either the coupe or convertible body style: V6 Deluxe, V6 Premium, GT Deluxe, and GT Premium. The first two use the 4.0-liter V6 engine and the GTs the 4.6-liter V8 engine. For 2006, a Standard model was added at the bottom of both the body styles' lineups and dropped again for the 2007 model year. The GT Bullitt package was new for 2008 and 2009 to pay homage to the car of the same name in the 1968 film of the same name. A 2009 45th Anniversary Edition of the GT was launched, of which over 46,000 units would be built, as well as a rare 45-unit Iacocca Silver 45th Anniversary Edition of the GT as a tribute to Lee Iacocca who helped develop and introduce the very first Mustang. For 2010, all GT convertible trims received additional body bracing to improve handling precision. The 2012 coupe-only Mustang Boss 302 arrived with more power, reviving the iconic 1969-1970 Boss 302 nameplate.
All Ford Mustang fifth generation models are surprisingly practical for a sports car, while the instrument panel is easy to use and not spoiled by its retro styling. Interior space is decent too and there is plenty of room in front, although the seats could do with more side support in the twisties. People of smaller stature will fit in the back just fine, although the normal contortions to gain access will be necessary, there only being two doors. Access is, of course, a lot easier in the convertible when the roof is down. Trunk capacity is decent too, with 12.3 cubic inches offered in the coupe and 9.7 cubes in the convertible.
The Mustang kicked off with V6 Deluxe, V6 Premium, GT Deluxe, and GT Premium trims and although the "Deluxe" moniker was dropped in later years, the "base" V6 and GT trims continued on with the same equipment. Oddly, a Standard trim was added for 2006 and then dropped as steel wheels with plastic trims look terrible on a sports car like the Mustang. Various specialist and limited-edition trims were added over the years. The Boss 302 was essentially a more sporty V8 GT and only available for two years. The fifth generation Mustang is now an old car and items such as a backup camera (optional on some trims), and smartphone integration did not come as standard. Safety is also seriously lacking and for this reason alone, we'd avoid all pre-facelift models, because they even lack stability control.
5th Generation Ford Mustang Maintenance and Cost
How reliable a second-hand fifth generation Mustang is will greatly depend on the maintenance it received from its previous owner and for the ultimate peace of mind, insist on a car that has a full service history, preferably at a Ford dealership. Oil changes are very important, not just for the engine, but for the differential and automatic transmission as well. These items' lifecycles can be greatly extended by ensuring that they always receive fresh oil on schedule. The 4.0-liter V6 Mustang's engine oil and filter are typically replaced every 8,000-10,000 miles - or once a year - and its tires rotated at the same time. For maximum life expectancy, the limited-slip differential's oil should ideally be changed every 3,000 miles. Evidence that this has been done should indicate that the previous owner took very good care of their car. We recommend that you replace the engine oil at least every 5,000 miles or six months if you use your Mustang in severe conditions, such as freezing temperatures or on dusty roads.
The cabin air filter should be changed every 15,000 miles or sooner if you notice a reduction in the air volume being produced by the ventilation system, which could happen in dusty environments. Under normal conditions, the engine's air and fuel filters should only require renewal every 30,000 miles. The PCV valve should be renewed every 100,000 miles, and the cooling system drained, flushed, and refilled. More frequent replacement of the 4.6-liter V8's spark plugs might be prudent because they tend to become stuck by the recommended 100,000-mile interval and may be difficult or impossible to remove without breaking them. Some spark-plug manufacturers such as Champion claim to have designed an enhanced spark plug for the 4.6 that uses a one-piece shell and should not break. They are more expensive but are recommended over the standard spark plugs.
Check Before You Buy
Technical Service Bulletins according to the NHTSA. Check service book for:
The fifth generation Mustang makes use of relatively simple engineering principles and is generally reliable albeit with well-known and well-documented problems. Unfortunately, virtually all model years are affected by paint issues on the aluminum hood, ranging from minor flaking to major corrosion. Water leaks from the front cowl into the vehicle are commonplace and can often be prevented by keeping the cowl drain holes clear. If not, lots of problems can follow with electrical equipment becoming damaged. There were a few issues with some early cars' automatic transmissions, but the five-speed manual was tough. Not so much the MT82 six-speed manual transmission in the facelifted car, which seems to be problematic. Early cars were also regularly afflicted with a gas-tank design that makes it very difficult to fill the tank all the way up, as well as erratic dashboard gauges, and batteries that seem to drain for no reason.
Preventative maintenance can avoid a lot of problems and a Mustang that's had all its oil changes bang on schedule and that has been maintained by a Ford dealership can provide many trouble-free miles. In the interest of preserving the reliability of Ford's sometimes iffy variable valve timing systems, frequent oil changes are a must, and be sure that the limited-slip differential's oil was also frequently changed - this is a regular service item. Also make sure that all recall work has been done - of which there is a lot, not least the massive Takata airbag recall that affects every single fifth generation Mustang model year.
Here are some other less common problems to look out for:
- Like many cars, the ignition coils and ignition leads of the 5th gen Mustang have a finite lifespan. Rough idling, misfiring, or hesitance might indicate that the coils are on their way out. Get a positive diagnosis on a vehicle that displays these symptoms or walk away, because poor running can point to worse problems. The Ford Mustang P0300 code usually indicates a misfire, with the last digit indicating which cylinder. For example, on a 2008 or 2009 Ford Mustang GT, the P0301, P0303, P0304, or P0305 code would mean that cylinders number one, three, four, and five are misfiring, respectively. A P0316 Ford Mustang code would indicate a start-up misfire.
- 2013 seems to be a more troublesome year for water pumps. These problems often only start after 50,000 miles but can ruin your engine if it's allowed to overheat. Check for coolant leaks and make sure there is antifreeze in the radiator, not just plain water.
- The harmonic balancer of some 2008 Mustangs had a tendency to fail, but this does not seem to be a very common problem and usually only rears its head at around 70,000 miles. A new harmonic balancer could set you back close to $700 though.
- Some owners complain of issues with the cam drive of the 5.0-liter Coyote engine. Problems with the cam chains or tensioners are usually announced by rattling and ticking sounds. The Coyote engine has old-style indirect injectors that work quietly, so any rattling or ticking should be viewed with suspicion and the car avoided.
- A few 2005 Ford Mustang emergency brake problems were noted by owners, notably that the emergency brake won't work in cold weather. Problems are not common, but typically start at around 40,000 miles and cost around $600 to put right.
While the pre-facelift base model is slow and uninspiring, there seems to be relatively few fifth-gen/2005 Mustang V6 problems, although the first two years were the worst in terms of the number of problems encountered by owners, as is often the case when cars are newly launched. The facelift's six-speed automatic seems to be reliable and any 2012, 2013, or 2014 Ford Mustang V6 or V8 automatic transmission problems usually have to do with a software programming fault that can cause the transmission to abruptly change down to first gear. Draining batteries affected earlier cars and caused slow cranking, but late-model 2013 and 2014 Mustang starting problems are quite rare. However, a few 2014 Mustang power steering problems were noted, although they are not common.
Here are a few useful error codes that you may encounter on a fifth gen Mustang:
- The P1450 code on a Ford Mustang means there is excessive gas-tank vacuum, indicating a faulty fuel-filler cap.
- The Ford Mustang V6 code P0108 indicates a bad MAP sensor.
- Oxygen sensors going bad can happen on any car and error codes P0420 or P0430 will be displayed when this occurs in the Mustang. The Ford Mustang code P0141, on the other hand, indicates a failure of an oxygen sensor's heating element.
We have detailed some recalls with the problems mentioned above, but the 2005-2014 Ford Mustang recalls can be summarized as follows:
- The Ford Mustang airbag recall for defective Takata airbags that affected all years.
- Many 2012 Mustangs and perhaps a few 2013 cars with the six-speed automatic transmission had a problem with sudden, premature downshifts into first gear from a higher gear, often serious enough to lock the rear wheels and destabilize the vehicle. This turned out to be a software problem and calls for the reprogramming of the powertrain control module. The NHTSA issued a 2012 Mustang transmission recall for this problem, so all cars should have been fixed. Make sure the reprogramming was performed if you are considering a 2012 model. If not, you can still have it done for free.
- Only 400 2005-2007 Mustangs were recalled for strut brackets with weak welding that may fail and damage the tires. This applies to aftermarket Eibach struts only.
- More than 10,000 2012 and 2013 Mustangs had a problem with the backup lights not coming on when the transmission is put in Reverse. This was an NHTSA recall though, so all of these cars should have been fixed for free by now. Nevertheless, check that the backup lights are working in Reverse.
The Takata recalls dominate the Mustang's list and if those are disregarded, the Mustang was actually not recalled that many times. However, many owners are upset that certain safety problems did not prompt recalls and these include the tank-filling problems, the throttle body issues, and the incorrect gauge readings.
Which One To Avoid
While we've repeatedly slated the pre-facelift V6, it's not a bad car, as long as you're happy with the power on tap and don't work the coarse engine hard. Far better is the 4.6-liter V8 though, and it doesn't even ask for much more gas in return. However, this is a moot point, as we'd give all the pre-facelift Mustangs a miss. Safety is important and although the Mustang's structure held up pretty well in crash tests at the time, the dearth of safety equipment in the pre-facelift models makes them unfit as safe modern transport. Two front airbags are the only safety feature of the early V6s, with ABS only fitted as standard on the V8. Side airbags became standard for 2008, but not stability control. These factors would disqualify the pre-facelift fifth gen Mustang for most people.
Which One To Buy
Early Mustang 5th generation models have virtually zero safety features, while the later six-speed manual models often had a bad transmission. That leaves you with going for a late-model automatic if you think that kind of thing goes with the Mustang vibe, or opting for the sweet spot in this generation - the 2010 4.6 GT manual. It's the best of both worlds: it benefits from the numerous upgrades that accompanied the facelift, the most important one being the standard fitment of stability control. It also has four airbags, which is the bare minimum a reasonable person would require. On top of that, the V8 engine develops a healthy 315 hp - a high point for the 4.6 in the 5th gen Mustang - and the tough five-speed manual gearbox plays well with the abundant torque, giving you a reliable, rapid muscle car. And you avoid the troublesome six-speed manual in the later cars.
5th Gen Ford Mustang Verdict
The Ford Mustang's 5th generation was the last Mustang to use a live rear axle and while it doesn't have the handling sophistication of European rivals, it stays true to the affordable, high-performance pony car ethos - in V8 form, at any rate. We would avoid the slow 4.0-liter V6 and shift gears rather gingerly in a later six-speed manual if we can find a flawless one, because sadly, it seems Ford took a while to sort out the MT82's transmission problems. The hood corrosion is also an issue, and easily preventable water leaks often cause electrical damage before they are diagnosed and corrected. Still, as long as you know what to look out for, you will probably be able to find a clean one. Unfortunately, the best model was only around for one model year, so that ideal 2010 V8 five-speed manual might end up being quite hard to find today. If you don't mind an automatic, you have a lot more choice in the facelifted range. Just make sure all maintenance is up to date.