MOTOR MATTERS DOWN THE ROAD BY DAVE VAN SICKLE
Fuel economy is the name of the game at Ford these days and nowhere is it more apparent than in the new 2011 Mustangs. For 2011, Mustang’s new 3.7-liter 24-valve V-6 uses state-of-the-art engineering to deliver more power and surprising fuel economy.
The Mustang’s official EPA ratings certify that coupe models equipped with the new 305-horsepower 3.7-liter V-6 mated to the new six-speed automatic transmission achieve 19 miles per gallon city and 31 highway, up from 16 mpg city and 24 highway on the 2010 model with automatic.
Horsepower and torque are up significantly from the previous year’s 4.0-liter SOHC model that offered only 210 horsepower and 240 lb.-ft. of torque. How can that be? More power and better fuel economy?
Give most of the credit to a technology advance that Ford calls Ti-VCT, or Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing.
Ti-VCT allows variable control of valve operation across the engine speed range. The new V-6 uses a double-overhead-camshaft configuration that has two camshafts per-cylinder-bank: one to operate the intake valves and the other to operate the exhaust valves.
The camshafts can be rotated slightly, relative to their initial position, allowing intake and exhaust cam timing to be advanced or retarded.
Mustang 3.7-liter V-6 models use electronic solenoid valves to direct high-pressure oil to control vanes in each of the camshaft sprocket housings. Controlled by the Electronic Control Module, each intake and exhaust cam can be timed independently as engine operating conditions change.
The variable cams adjust the valvetrain in microseconds. It is Ti-VCT alone that accounts for as much as a 4.5 percent improvement in fuel economy and a 10 percent improvement in power output vs. traditional engines without these features.
Ti-VCT is complemented by tuned composite upper and lower intake manifolds to minimize losses. It also provides the driver with a satisfying intake sound on hard acceleration.
The new six-speed manual transmission is a pleasure to drive, with its short throws, well-spaced gear rations and good clutch coordination. Buyers choosing the automatic will be pleasantly surprised to find the new six-speed transmission does not sacrifice fuel economy or performance for convenience.
The automatic also features a grade-assist or “hill mode” to improve drivability on hilly terrain. It uses vehicle input — acceleration, pedal position, vehicle speed and brake status — to automatically determine the correct gear ratio while on an incline or decline. Hill mode eliminates sixth gear, extends lower gear operation on uphill climbs, and provides additional grade or engine braking for coast-downs.
The standard 2.73 rear axle provides an ideal blend of cruising fuel economy and acceleration, aided by the wide ratio spread permitted through the use of six forward speeds in the gearboxes. Performance enthusiasts can select an available 3.31 rear axle ratio for better launch characteristics.
The new 2011 Mustang comes with Ford’s Electric Power Assist Steering, or EPAS. It improves fuel economy by eliminating the parasitic drag of a belt-driven hydraulic power steering pump. Added benefits include reduced steering effort at low speeds and better high-speed feel for more precise steering.
EPAS also enables new technologies that adjust for minor driving annoyances. Drift-Pull Compensation adjusts the steering to correct for crosswinds and minor road crowning.
The new V-6 comes with a limited-slip differential that provides better handling and more sure-footed grip in poor weather conditions by directing engine torque to the rear wheel with the most traction.
Reminiscent of the 1960s, Mustang tail lamps feature three LED bulbs firing sequentially from the inside for turn signals. The sequential bulbs were a distinct Mustang feature back then, while the vertical reverse lamps evoke a modern version of the Ford classic three-lens tail lamp.
The all-new dual-exhaust system is mellow at idle but opens up with a howl at full-tilt, letting Mustang drivers know they’re behind the wheel of a world-class sports coupe. — Dave Van Sickle, Motor Matters
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010