2015 kicked off the S550 Mustang and brought with it a host of new and exciting features. It was the first Mustang to come with an EcoBoost engine, the first year with an independent rear suspension, and the first year to add driver-assist options like adaptive cruise control.
In comparison, 2016 might seem a little quieter. But Ford brought back some legends like the California Special and the GT350. The 2016 Mustang kept all of the great features that debuted in 2015 and added a few new ones.
Exterior Differences Between 2015 and 2016 Mustangs
The 2015 and 2016 Mustangs are almost identical on the outside. The only change that occurred in 2016 was that the Mustang became an inch and a half wider, and somehow lost an inch of backseat legroom. These are pretty insignificant differences that you won’t notice without the help of a measuring tape.
In terms of color, Black was traded out for Shadow Black. Shadow Black has a grayer undertone, but the difference between the two is slight. Otherwise, the only new color was Avalanche Gray, which was a GT350 exclusive.
Keeping with 2016’s “All in Black” theme, the Mustang was available with a black-painted roof for the first time since the Boss 302.
New for 2016 Mustangs: SYNC 3
This seems small, but it’s a big enough deal that some people waited to make sure their Mustang came equipped with this. It’s incredibly challenging to try to add something like SYNC 3 aftermarket, and its capabilities addressed the needs and concerns of many drivers.
Prior to 2016, Mustangs came with SYNC, which was great and very useful but like the first iteration of anything, could stand from quite a bit of improvement. SYNC 3 used people’s familiarity with touchscreen phones to add functions like “Pinch-to-Zoom” and “Swiping.”
When you’re trying to navigate a new city, it’s a terrible time to learn a whole new navigation system, and by using what people already knew and understood, SYNC 3 became a significantly more intuitive and useful feature.
Additionally, SYNC 3 added features like 911 assist. 911 assist contacts 911 if the vehicle detects that you’ve been in an accident. Using the number of seatbelts that were fastened, whether or not the airbag was deployed, and whether it was a front, side, rear, or rollover collision, 911 assist communicates that information to the dispatcher and tries to get the help that you need as soon as possible.
Obviously, SYNC 3’s most important features are safety-related, but it also provides features that blend comfort and safety. By improving voice recognition and commands, they ensured that drivers would be able to access their favorite playlists on the go without fumbling on their phone when they should be paying attention to the road.
The result? A safer and more comfortable ride.
Secondary Turn Signals (GT Standard Feature)
Hood integrated turn signals are a classic Mustang feature that fans were ecstatic to have back, even if it was only for one year. These signals first debuted in 1967, and they’re unique and eye-catching, to say the least.
Though most features that speak to the Mustang’s legacy are “extras” or “options," these turn signals came standard on all GTs. Though they don’t add a whole lot of functionality (unless you frequently leave your blinker on), this is one of those special details that remind you that you’re sitting in a car with a history and that passengers will certainly marvel at.
If you bought a 2015 or 2017 GT and are feeling left out though, there are aftermarket kits available that will help give you a little hood blink of your own.
Packages and Options
The major difference between 2015 and 2016 was the packages that were offered in-between the two years. These range in levels of excitement between “new audio packages” to “new Shelby GT350” with a lot of packages in between.
Packages Leaving after 2015
50 Year Package (EcoBoost Premium or GT Premium)
You didn’t think Ford was going to let the Mustang’s 50th anniversary come and go without a word, did you? Ford literally released an anniversary edition in the first two years; they weren’t going to miss celebrating half a century of ponies.
The 50 Year Package included a special 50-year grille with bright surround. It also included a rear gas cap badge, 19” nickel-painted aluminum wheels, and unique seat and door trim inserts.
Packages Returning for 2016
EcoBoost Performance Package: Unchanged
EcoBoost/GT Premium Upgrade: SYNC upgraded to SYNC 3
GT Performance Package: Now available on convertibles instead of being restricted to fastbacks only.
New Packages for 2016
Pony Package (Available on EcoBoost Premium)
The return of the Pony Package was very exciting for a lot of Mustang fans. The Pony Package used to be the fan name for Ford’s deluxe interior options because they nearly always included an embroidered pony logo somewhere. This Pony is no exception. The floor mats this time are where the pony is embroidered.
In addition to the pony logo, the Pony Package also included unique grilles with a tri-bar pony over a honeycomb styled grille. Naturally, the Pony Package also included side stripes and 19” aluminum wheels.
GT Black Accent Package (Available on GT and GT Premium)
Good ol’ Henry Ford and his famous “as long as it’s black” mantra are well-represented with this accent package. Black-painted aluminum wheels, black-painted exterior badging. A black blade-style decklid spoiler. Even dark taillamp accents. If you really love black accents on a Mustang, this package had it all.
Alternatively, you could always go for the blackout look on any Mustang. It’s a popular modification because it ends up walking the line between ferocious muscle beast and sleek luxury that Mustangs are so great at.
California Special (GT Premium)
A lot of people were very excited to see the return of the California Special.
The California Special has a long history that started in 1968. The California Special was one of Ford’s many special-edition Mustangs, but, unlike most special editions, the California Special became a verified collector’s item. Since then, Ford’s released a California Special in 2007. It returned in 2013 but took a year off for 2015. This is the first California special of the sixth generation.
2016’s California Special comes with some features that speak to the original’s blend of style and performance. 19” ebony-finished machined aluminum wheels, dark hood, and side stripes, and a black grille with a tri-bar pony emblem.
The 2016 California Special also is equipped with some appropriately unique details, like a faux racing-style gas cap with "California Special" written on it. The seats are ebony leather with suede inserts. The contrast stitching is a bright red. It came with a California Special rear gas cap and carpeted floor mats with an embroidered logo. Inside, there’s unique California Special badging as well.
The 2015 and 2016 Mustangs kicked off Ford’s sixth-generation of Mustang with a lot to live up to for subsequent years. By offering so many options and packages, Ford ensured that there was something for everyone to be excited about while also preserving the “Every Man” appeal of the Mustang and its dramatic range of price points.
Sources: Ford | Image Credit: Car Scoops