Best & Worst Ford Mustang Years

I've taken a comprehensive look at every Ford Mustang from 2005 until the latest model and categorized the best & worst years in this guide.

In this guide, I’ll break down the latest Ford Mustang generations, revealing the best Mustang years to buy and the worst Ford Mustang years to avoid.

Our insights are grounded in extensive research, including owner reports, safety ratings, and expert reviews in sources like NHTSA and Consumer Reports, ensuring you comprehensively understand Mustang’s performance across different years.

I’ll mainly focus on the 5th to 7th generations, highlighting the Ford Mustang’s distinct features, advancements, common issues, and recalls.

Let’s dive right in!

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Table of ContentsShow

Ford Mustang Generations

The Ford Mustang, an iconic American muscle car, debuted in 1964, quickly becoming a symbol of power and style. With its first model, the Mustang brought forth innovative features such as a long hood, short deck, and a variety of options for customization, allowing it to cater to a wide range of customers.

I’ve compiled a table showcasing the different Ford Mustang generations from 2005.

GenerationYears
5th Generation (S198)2005-2014
6th Generation (S550)2015-2023
7th Generation (S650)2024-Present

The evolution in design, performance, and technology from generation to generation can significantly influence the decision-making process for enthusiasts and potential owners.

Ford Mustang Best, Neutral, and Worst Years

When determining the best, neutral, and worst years for the Ford Mustang, our categorizations consider a wide range of factors, including but not limited to:

  • Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
  • Annual maintenance costs
  • Safety ratings
  • Consumer Reports reliability scores
  • Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
  • NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
  • Edmunds owner ratings
  • JD Power owner ratings
  • Kelley’s Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
  • VehicleHistory owner ratings
  • Cars.com owner ratings

The following graph combines all the ratings from the above sources to give a comprehensive overview.

Ford Mustang Car Smite Score Combined Overall Score

Next, we present a table categorizing all model years of the Ford Mustang as the best, neutral, and worst years based on our analysis.

GenerationBest YearsNeutral YearsWorst Years
5th Generation (S198)2009
2010
2014
20132005
2006
2007
2008
2011
2012
6th Generation (S550)2018
2019
2021
2022
2023
20172015
2016
2020
7th Generation (S650)2024N/AN/A

The ‘Neutral Years’ typically exhibited average performance in terms of reliability, owner satisfaction, and safety without significant flaws or exceptional strengths.

Factors such as NHTSA recalls negatively contribute to a car’s reliability. A higher number of complaints and recalls usually indicates lower reliability and can significantly impact a model’s ranking.

Let’s dive into the best, neutral, and worst Ford Mustang years.

Best & Worst Years for Ford Mustang 5th Generation (2005-2014)

Ford Mustang 5th generation 2005 model
The 2005 Ford Mustang

The fifth-generation Ford Mustang, introduced in 2005, marked a significant evolution in the Mustang lineage. It featured a retro design inspired by the 1960s models, combined with modern technology and engineering.

2009, 2010, and 2014 are the best Mustang years of this generation, while 2005-2008, 2011, and 2012 are the worst Ford Mustang years you should avoid.

The Best Years: 2009, 2010, 2014

According to our research, 2009, 2010, and 2014 have fewer owner-reported complaints and recalls, making them the best Ford Mustang years of the generation.

The 2010 Ford Mustang featured a 4.0 L V6, and 4.6 L V8 315hp (GT) mated to a 5-speed manual or an optional 5-speed automatic transmission, improving fuel efficiency around 17 city/26 highway mpg.

The 2010 Mustang included Ford SYNC, dual-zone automatic climate control, an updated navigation system with Sirius Travel Link, a capless fuel filler, a reverse camera system to aid in backing up, and an updated version of the V6 Pony Package.

The 2014 Ford Mustang has the lowest figures for recalls, making it the most reliable Mustang model year in the 5th generation.

The 2014 model took things further with its 3.7L V6 and 5.0L V8 options, offering up to 420 hp in the GT model.

The Neutral Year: 2013

The 2013 Mustang maintained a balance between performance and comfort.

It offered engine options like the 3.7L V6 and the 5.0L V8 420hp (GT) mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with a SelectShift feature, which allowed drivers to choose and hold a gear and shift manually.

Fuel efficiency was reasonable, with the V6 model achieving up to 19 city/30 highway mpg.

The 2013 Mustang exterior was updated with a new front fascia featuring a larger grille, standard HiD headlamps, and two LED accent strips adjacent to the headlamp lens.

Models equipped with the Pony Package offered LED lighting mounted on the side-view mirrors that produce a projection of a running horse on the ground, 18-inch wheels, and lower valance fog lamps.

The Worst Years: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012

The initial years of the fifth generation, particularly from 2005 to 2008 Ford Mustangs, were marred by a high number of recalls and owner-reported complaints, so it is wise to avoid these Mustang years.

Issues ranged from electrical problems, such as malfunctioning instrument clusters, to safety concerns like defective “Takata” airbag inflators.

The 2006 Ford Mustang also saw problems with rear differential bearing wear.

The 2011 and 2012 Ford Mustang models were plagued with transmission issues, including rough shifting and jerking, which detracted significantly from the driving experience.

These widespread problems, combined with safety recalls, particularly concerning unexpected transmission downshifting in the 2012 Ford Mustang, led to these years being categorized as the worst for reliability and owner satisfaction.

See NHTSA 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012 Ford Mustang recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Ford Mustang 6th Generation (2015-2023)

Ford Mustang 6th generation 2015 model
The 2015 Ford Mustang

The sixth-generation Ford Mustang, launched in 2015, represented a significant leap forward in the model’s history. It was the first to feature an independent rear suspension, improving handling and ride quality. This generation also saw global expansion, with the Mustang being officially sold in markets outside North America for the first time.

2015, 2016, and 2020 are the worst Ford Mustang years to avoid in this generation, while 2018, 2019, and 2021-2023 are the best and most reliable Mustang years to buy.

The Best Years: 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, 2023

The best years of the sixth-generation Ford Mustang, 2018 through 2023, stand out for their superior performance, technological advancements, fewer reported owner complaints and reliability.

The 2018 Ford Mustang introduced a refreshed design and 10-speed automatic transmission, significantly improving driving dynamics.

Engine options included the 2.3L EcoBoost and the 5.0L Coyote V8, which offered up to 460 hp in the GT models.

These years also saw improvements in fuel efficiency (21/32 for 2.3L, 16/25 for 5.0L city/highway mpg) and the introduction of features like the customizable digital instrument cluster and advanced driver assistance systems.

The 2021 Ford Mustang enhanced the performance with the Mach 1 variant, resurrecting an iconic name with a 5.0L V8 engine producing 480 hp.

These years combined classic Mustang power with modern technology and reliability, making them highly desirable.

The Neutral Year: 2017

The 2017 Mustang did not feature significant changes from its predecessors but continued to offer a balanced combination of performance and comfort.

It provided robust powertrain options with the 2.3L EcoBoost and the 5.0L V8 engines without the enhancements seen in the following years.

The 2017 model maintained respectable fuel economy and continued to offer features like the SYNC 3 infotainment system, making it a solid choice, albeit without the noteworthy improvements of later years.

The Worst Years: 2015, 2016, 2020

Our research shows that the initial years of the sixth-generation Ford Mustang, particularly 2015 and 2016, faced several issues. We categorized these years as the worst Ford Mustang years to avoid in the sixth generation.

Owners reported issues primarily with the electrical system and transmission.

Problems included malfunctions in the infotainment system, rearview camera, and automatic door latches.

The 2020 Ford Mustang also saw its share of issues, particularly transmission concerns like hard shifting.

Additionally, several recalls were issued, including ones for inoperative low brake fluid warnings, “Transmission Not in Park” warning messages, and potential brake pedal bracket fractures.

These issues and inoperative rearview cameras significantly impacted these model years’ reliability and owner satisfaction.

See NHTSA 2015, 2016, 2020 Ford Mustang recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Ford Mustang 7th Generation (2024-Present)

Ford Mustang 7th generation 2024 model
The 2024 Ford Mustang

The seventh-generation Ford Mustang, introduced in 2024, ushers in a new era for the iconic muscle car. Retaining its classic front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout, the latest Mustang builds on its heritage with updated engines and significant interior advancements.

The Best Year: 2024

The Mustang sticks to its front-engine, rear-wheel-drive setup and uses the same turbocharged 2.3L I4 engine for EcoBoost models.

The GT model is equipped with a 5.0L Coyote V8 engine, now delivering an impressive 480 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque, which can be boosted to 486 hp and 418 lb-ft with the optional active-valve exhaust system.

This output matches previous special editions like the Mustang Bullitt and pre-2022 Mach 1.

For those seeking even more power, the Mustang Dark Horse variant offers a 500-hp V8 with specialized engine components capable of reaching a 7,500 rpm redline.

The EcoBoost model also receives significant updates. Its turbocharged 2.3L I4 engine now delivers 315 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque.

Engineering modifications have led to improvements in fuel efficiency, estimated at 22 city/33 highway mpg.

The EcoBoost and GT models offer a 10-speed automatic and a 6-speed manual transmission, although the EcoBoost will be automatic only.

The interior features a new dashboard layout with a 12.4-inch instrument cluster display and a 13.2-inch touchscreen powered by Ford’s Sync 4 system.

Safety technology in the 2024 Mustang includes reverse automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, lane centering assistance, and the innovative active pothole mitigation feature, especially beneficial with the optional MagneRide adaptive dampers.

Ford Mustang Resale Values

This graph illustrates the average resale values of Ford Mustang across different model years.

Ford Mustang Average List Price

Conclusion

Now, it’s clear that 2009, 2010, and 2014 from the fifth generation, along with 2018-2023 from the sixth generation, are the best Mustang years, while 2005-2008, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, and 2020 model years are best avoided due to reliability issues.

Do you have experience with one of the best or worst years for the Ford Mustang?

Share your experiences in the comments below!

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Jonathan Eckert

Jonathan is an ASE-certified mechanic with over 22 years of hands-on experience in the automotive industry. His expertise spans a wide range of vehicles, but he specializes in diagnosing and repairing Japanese cars. His previous workplace highly commended his meticulous attention to detail, and that's exaclty what he uses at Car Smite to craft the best guides for each purpose.