Is Ford rolling the dice with changes to 2015 Mustang?

DETROIT -- Bigger. Heavier. Thirstier. More expensive.

It’s a recipe for killing a sports car.

The Toyota Supra, the original version of the Datsun/Nissan Z car, the Mitsubishi Eclipse and dozens of other sports and high-performance cars burned out and then faded away when they became bloated and less fuel efficient or moved up the price ladder.

Perhaps one reason Ford has been slow to dribble out all of the technical details surrounding the redesigned 2015 Mustang is to soften the blow of some major changes.

The new Mustang is bigger, heavier, thirstier and more expensive than the outgoing ’14 model.

Fuel economy details leaked onto to the Internet today. They show highway fuel economy on the bread-and-butter V-6 Mustang with an automatic transmission will drop nearly 10 percent, from a best-in-class 31 mpg to 28 mpg, placing it behind archrival Chevrolet Camaro.

You can still get a Mustang rated at 31 mpg highway, but it’ll cost $1,500 and change more. That’s how much more the 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine costs over the 3.7-liter V-6.

Earlier this summer, we learned that four of six Mustang models are gaining weight for 2015, thanks to an independent rear suspension system and a host of new safety and comfort features.

As for prices, they’re up, too. The 2015 car is $1,090 more than the outgoing 2014 Mustang and now has a starting price of $24,425 including shipping. And any customers who want the model with 31 mpg on the highway will have to spend more than $2,500 over the 2014 model to get it -- $1,090 for the price increase, and then another $1,500 and change to pay for the 2.3-liter four-cylinder turbo engine.

Chevrolet has taken the Corvette upmarket in recent years, but the car’s weight has been reduced, fuel economy has improved and performance has increased dramatically. U.S. sales of the Corvette -- redesigned for the 2014 model year -- have boomed, surging 228 percent this year through July.

The changes don’t guarantee the 2015 Mustang will struggle in the marketplace. But the original pony car has always been America’s sports car because it offered an unbeatable combination of performance, fuel economy and affordability. It’s a formula that’s worked well for 50 years.

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