2010 vs 2011 Mustang Exterior
Exterior changes between these years were fairly subtle overall, and it takes a keen eye to immediately differentiate the two models.
One of the easiest ways to tell them apart, if the car is a Mustang GT, is to take a glance at the exterior badging. Due to the engine change that we’ll see below, the fender badges for V8 models were changed from a “GT” logo to the “5.0” emblem.
The Yellow-Shade Option for 2010 was the Somewhat "Mustardy" Sunset Gold
2011 Brought About a Much Brighter Shade with Yellow Blaze
For 2011, the paint color Sunset Gold Metallic was retired and replaced with Yellow Blaze Metallic Tri-coat. Brilliant Silver Metallic was replaced with the similar Ingot Silver Metallic.
Another exterior difference is that the 2011 has a slightly restyled front and rear fascia designed to be more aerodynamic. With a close eye, you can notice the prominent front air deflector beneath the lower grille for 2011 models, which the 2010 lacked.
Also new for 2011 was the addition of the California Special Edition, a cosmetic upgrade package that added unique 19-inch argent painted aluminum wheels, GT/CS side stripes, leather-trimmed seats with carbon inserts, and more.
The Popular California Special Nameplate was Revived, And No Longer Limited to Just the West Coast
The Mustang Club of America Edition package was also added as an option in 2011. It added some blackout cosmetic upgrades and 18-inch gray-painted wheels.
Ford also gave the 2011 Mustang the blindspot-style side mirrors, which feature a convex insert in the top corner to give drivers a better view of their potential blind spot. These were soon rolled out across all Ford vehicles.
For the Shelby GT500, the exterior differences are a lot easier to spot, as the 2011 pinstripes are much more narrow than the ones featured on the 2010.
The 2010 Shelby GT500 Can Be Immediately Differentiated By Its Wider Stripes
The 2011 Shelby GT500 Featured Much Narrower Pinstripes
2010 vs 2011 Mustang Interior
Interior options remained essentially unchanged between the two model years. Apart from the addition of the aforementioned California Special cosmetic changes in that package, the cabins are more or less identical. Ford notes that the 2011 interior does add a universal garage door opener.
One interesting change is that the 6-disc in-dash CD changer that was available as an option in 2010 was dropped for 2011, leaving only a single-disc CD player. This was likely in response to consumers increasingly using only digital formats, like Mp3, to play music in their cars.
2010 vs 2011 Mustang Engine and Driving
The biggest and most noticeable differences between the 2010 and 2011 model years were the changes for both the V6 and V8 engine options, as well as the transmissions they were mated to.
For 2011, Ford Brought Back a 5.0 Liter V8, the Very Well-Received Coyote Engine
The 2010 Mustang GT Used the Older 4.6 Liter Modular V8 Engine
2010 Mustangs utilized the 4.0 liter V6 engine, making a more-than-adequate but less exciting 210 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque. For 2011, the new 3.7 liter V6 was launched, touting 305 hp and 280 ft-lb of torque while getting an estimated 31 MPG on the highway. This is a marked 29% increase from the 24 highway MPG of the last generation, despite the larger displacement, and was achieved in part by Ford’s advanced “Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing”.
This engine revision also meant that the car received new gauges with a higher top speed and RPM (160 mph and 8,000 RPM respectively). The V6 Performance Package was also offered in 2011, providing features like a revised sport suspension and rear axle, summer performance tires with 19-inch wheels, and a “unique electronic stability control calibration with sport mode for performance driving.”
For the V8, 2010 Mustang GT’s still used the modular 4.6 engine, producing around 300 hp. While this motor is no slouch, the return of a 5.0 liter engine was exciting for enthusiasts and die-hard fans. With 412 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque, the Mustang GT was at its most powerful yet (note that these figures were achieved on premium fuel, while the 2010’s advertised numbers were had on regular). Despite this, some fans argue that the exhaust note of the 2010 V8 actually sounds better. We’ll leave that up to you to decide, but these days it seems rare to hear one of these cars rocking a stock exhaust system anyway!
GT500’s were powered by a 5.4 liter supercharged V8 in both model years, though a change from using a cast iron block to lighter weight aluminum gave it 10 more hp in 2011, for a total of 550 hp. An optional GT500 performance package was added as well.
For transmissions, the older 5-speed manual that the 2010 used was replaced with a new 6-speed from Getrag, which was also implemented with a new skip shift. The automatic transmission was also changed over to Ford’s new six-speed. A limited slip differential and larger disc brakes became standard for all trims in 2011.
No Matter Whether You Chose an Automatic or Manual Transmission, the 2011 Mustang Granted Six Forward Gears
Suspension improvements, including re-tuned dampers, shocks, and struts, also came with the new engines in 2011, which was a necessary change due to the power and weight increases. The front/rear weight balance was also tweaked to help the car stay firmly planted to the pavement. Moreover, a Brembo Brake Package was added as an option for the 2011 Mustang GT.
The 2011 added electronic power-assisted steering designed to improve handling at all speeds, replacing the hydraulic power steering of the previous year. Improved lightweight soundproofing that helps with NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) reduction also adds to the somewhat more refined feel for the 2011.
Also, the addition of Ford’s MyKey system lets the owner make one key separate for teen drivers or potentially unscrupulous valets, allowing for specific driving restrictions on things like top speed and audio volume.
To the untrained eye, the 2010 and 2011 Mustangs can look the same from the outside. While visually similar, the mechanical updates to the 2011 model year turned the car into a completely different animal.