Quick Take: 2016 Ford Mustang GT California Edition

Exclusive pony package delivers

Ed Tahaneywriter, photographer

LOS ANGELES—You can't go wrong with a 2016 Ford Mustang GT. It may not be a track star like the Shelby GT350R, but it's still a hell of a lot of fun.

Ford's premium pony is a joy to drive on the streets, in the canyons, and (almost) even when you're stuck in freeway traffic, thanks in part to the magical sounds of its 5.0-liter V-8 engine. It's really that good.

Under the hood, the Coyote engine cranks out 435 horsepower with 400 lb ft of torque. With a base price of $36,395, that's a lot of bang for your buck. The engine bay looks immaculate, too; an aluminum engine strut brace up top is sure to impress your neighbors when you compare dipsticks.

If you find yourself in the Golden State behind the wheel of a Race Red California Edition model with a six-speed manual transmission, consider yourself lucky. The automatic version is fine but not nearly as much fun as a stick.

The Mustang's long aluminum hood has narrow bulges that run vertically in front of the driver and passenger seats that help point the way down the road. They are reminiscent of classic muscle-car hoods from the early 1970s and should never go out of style.

Hood vent-integrated turn signals are standard on all 2016 Mustang GTs. LED headlights lead the way and wrap around the front end like glimmering boomerangs. The black grille and its chrome pony emblem pop nicely and are flanked by rounded LED fog lights.

Around back, the rear could use a better look. It seems to sag or droop when you look at it from closer angles. Ford should increase the headroom in back, raise the roofline, and build a true American saloon.

However, Ford should definitely keep the LED tail lamps and their sequential turn signals as well as the pony projection lamps, which are a real hit with crowds when you roll up to the valet stand. Inside, the California Edition gets special badging on the dash (and another on the bumper) and lots of plastic bits that look metallic around the cockpit.

A large sunroof would be nice (this is the California edition), but we settled for ambient lighting and push-button start. The selectable drive modes are fun, but if you want to be obnoxious, try running in track mode around town. Good times.

Optional equipment on our tester included a Shaker Pro Audio System with 12 speakers that adds $1,795 to the bill and takes up precious trunk space. While the system sounds great, you can probably skip it since the GT already comes standard with a decent premium system. Besides, you should be listening to the sweet sounds of the engine instead anyway.

The California special package adds an additional $1,995 to the tab and includes a sporty, black decklid spoiler, accent stripes, and leather trim/Miko suede power seats with red accent stitching. Additional options include a voice-active navigation system for $795 (skip it) and a security package for $395 (get it).

Aside from the Cali package for the Mustang GT, there's also a Black Accent Package and a Pony Package to choose from. No word on a New York package with Yankee stripes, but we are sure the folks in Flat Rock, Michigan, would be more then happy to oblige if there are enough fans.

2016 Ford Mustang GT California Specifications

On Sale: Now
Price: $36,395/$42,275 (base/as tested)
Engine: 5.0L DOHC 32-valve V-8/435 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 400 lb-ft @ 4,250 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Layout: 2-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, AWD
EPA Mileage: 15/25 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H: 188.3 x 75.4 x 54.4 in
Wheelbase: 107.1 in
Weight: 3,705 lb
0-60 MPH: N/A
Top Speed: N/A
Related Articles