2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse Coupe Premium Review

Thumbing its angry nose at electrification

Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief

Positives: Best modern Mustang styling, vicious acceleration and power, a worthy interior (finally), rewarding manual transmission and rev matching.
Negatives: Numb steering, tough to drive at lower speeds, too much touchscreen reliance for a driver's car, not as connected as the Camaro, Race Red paint says "arrest me, officer."
Bottom Line: The Mustang Dark Horse is an intoxicating but dying formula. We love it for its raw V8 power, eye-catching looks, and its improved ergonomics. The steering needs some work, and the lack of switchgear is a disappointment. That said, we really want one.
Enter the Mustang Dark Horse, the most extreme version of Ford's rear-wheel drive, manual transmission, muscle car. The 'Stang also happens to be the last man standing in the American muscle car game for 2024 now that the Camaro and the Challenger are gone. The Dark Horse gets some design changes, as well as tweaks to the powertrain and the chassis as compared to the 2023 Ford Mustang Mach 1, from which it evolves. It now makes an even 500 horsepower from its 5.4-liter V8 engine thanks to strengthened camshafts and unique engine tuning. The engine also receives forged connecting rods from the legendary GT500. Its look is about the best a Mustang has ever had, and that counts for the redesigned cabin. We drove the snorting beast (legally) to see what the Dark Horse brings to the table. Read on for our full review.

Driving Experience



There's no mistaking the power and speed of the Dark Horse. It wants to destroy everything in its path, and 500 horsepower getst that done quickly. The double-overhead-cam 32-valve V8 engine mated to an excellent 6-speed manual transmission with rev-matching, a super-stiff chassis, and powerful Brembo brakes equate to a wonderful driving experience. It's too bad the steering doesn't match up.

Ride Quality: The ride is very firm but not harsh. It's not overly jarring thanks to the magnetorheological dampers, but the big wheels and thin tires aren't very forgiving.

Acceleration: 0-60 arrives in a very quick 4.1 seconds. The clutch is on the heavy side, but it's not intolerable in traffic. The manual transmission lack some crispness, but shifts are quick and precise.

Braking: The big Brembo six-piston front calipers and 15.4-inch front rotors and the four-piston rear calipers with 14.0-inch rotors provide tremendous stopping power and great feel. These are just the right brakes for a powerhouse muscle car that also happens to weigh almost 4,000 pounds.

Steering: It's the one aspect of the driving experience that needs work because the feedback is lacking, especially in the turns. The accuracy and responsiveness are excellent, but it's hard to tell what's going on sometimes. /p>

Handling: In typical 'Stang fashion, you can feel the car pivot around the front tires, and the body roll is imperceptible. It corners hard and flat, but you can feel the weight.




The in-car tech in the Mustang Dark horse is excellent. Is it too big for a car that's all about the driving? Maybe. Is it too reliant on touchscreen controls for vehicle functions? Totally, and that's our big beef with the system.

Infotainment System: The 13.2" touchscreen is crisp, and menus and icons are very easy to read. The fact that you have to operate all of the climate controls and most of the audio are frustrations you shouldn't have to deal with when driving a six-speed manual rocket ship.

Controls: The manual shifter is very good, as is the single audio knob and the well-laid-out steering wheel control buttons.




The styling and design evolution of the Ford Mustang isn't much different from the Porsche 911. The elements have changed over time, but the look is unmistakable. The Dark Horse shows off what a sleek and muscular Mustang should look like, and it's marvelous to behold. The interior needed more work than the exterior, and Ford pulled it off marvelously.

Front: The front end isn't beautiful, but it is utterly menacing with big vents in the upper and lower grilles and triple-beam headlights. The bulging hood and the front splitter add even more menace to the look.

Rear: This back end is fast and furious with its notched triple lens brake lights (the best ever), the quad pipes coming out of the diffuser, and that huge rear wing. The Dark Horse emblem also looks great front and center.

Profile: The big haunches in front and back are remarkably well done, and there's just the right amount of overhang. The dramatic fastback slope and the lack of overstyling make for a handsome silhouette.

Cabin: We love what Ford did with the interior. It's no longer bulky and awkward. Instead, the blockiness in the dash and center stack are done right, as is the anodized titanium shift knob, flat-bottom steering wheel, and the sporty Recaro buckets.




There are only two usable seats in the Mustang Dark Horse, but what great ones they are. Ergonomics are very good, too, but some of the center console's hard plastics feel cheap and out of place. Some Alcantara would've been nice here.

Front Seats: The big bucket seats are very supportive and have tremendous bolstering. These are absolutely the right seats for this car.

Rear Seats: The seats look great, and they have good contouring, but there is pretty much zero legroom to speak of. really, only one small child can sit behind the front passenger seat (if there isn't a front passenger).

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The Mustang Dark horse is solidly built, but but plenty of engine noise comes in, to our delight. Wind noise is minimal, and road noise is kept in check well.

Visibility: The seating position is very good, and you can see over the long sloping hood. The rear sightlines out the side windows are terrible because of the small windows and thick pillars. The big spoiler also gets in the way.

Climate: The climate system works well, and we had no trouble heating the cabin of the Dark Horse.




The 2024 Ford Mustang has yet to be crash-tested by either the IIHS or the NHTSA. Its safety tech suite is good but not robust. There is no automatic emergency braking.

IIHS Rating: Not tested.

NHTSA Rating: Not tested.

Standard Tech: The Dark Horse comes standard with blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, accident avoidance, lane keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, driver attention alert, pre-collision safety system, post-collision safety system, a rearview camera, and tire pressure monitoring.

Optional Tech: None.




The Mustang is not made for transporting a lot of gear, but you can definitely road trip with it if you pack light. The trunk isn't commodious, but it is decent. Easily reachable storage spaces in the cabin are pretty good, too.

Storage Space: It's not a storage warehouse in here, but for a two-seat muscle car, there are good door pockets, a nice front cubby with a retractable charging deck, and some decent cupholders.

Cargo Room: The Dark Horse provides owners with 13.3 cubic feet of trunk space. That's not huge, but you can pack a couple of carry-on bags or several grocery bags. It's bigger than the now-gone Camaro but smaller than the also extinct Challenger by a few cubes each.

Fuel Economy



Anyone shopping for a Mustang Dark Horse doesn't care about fuel efficiency, and rightly so. The booming V8 engine is quite thirsty, and EPA numbers are a challenge because of the desire to mash the throttle and drive the Mustang like you stole it. Our combined numbers didn't even reach the EPA city estimates.

Observed: 13.1 mpg.

Distance Driven: 148 miles.




The Dark Horse comes standard with an excellent B&O 12-speaker sound system, and it sounds marvelous. You have to turn it up pretty loud to overcome the Dark Horse at even just half-throttle. It's a great system with good bass and clarity. At this price, the inclusion of a premium sound system is expected.

Final Thoughts

The Dark Horse is not a great daily driver. It's almost a single-purpose vehicle, and that purpose is to go fast and hard. The power is significant, and the sound is overwhelming. It also looks more ferocious than even a Porsche 911 or anything shy of a supercar. The Dark Horse is a distinct automotive flavor that will please only aficionados of muscle cars. Its use of mostly touchscreen controls for vehicle functions is stupefying, but it can be forgiven for what the Mustang Dark Horse represents, a dying breed. If it had better steering, it could be close to perfect.

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