2007 Ford Mustang
2007 Ford Mustang Expert Review:Autoblog
Sometimes, things just work out. The Memorial Day weekend weather forecast called for hot, sunny conditions -- perfect for the unofficial official kickoff to summer. Backyard parties would be devoid of no-shows and parade routes were assured to be standing-room-only. It was going to be a good weekend anyway, and Ford made it even better by entrusting yours truly with keys to an '07 Mustang GT for the duration. The big holiday weekend would be spent with a big, brassy muscle car sitting outside as driveway candy. And oh, what sweet, sweet candy... nostalgic styling covered in a Grabber Orange finish, a thundering V8, and a top that tucks behind the back seats, all to better appreciate the wicked roar coming from the stainless steel pipes in back. The whole thing is glorious Americana.
For Memorial Day weekend, one couldn't ask for anything better.
This isn't the first Mustang GT we've reviewed here, so I'll keep the impressions short and to the point. The retro styling is great. It pushes emotional buttons and it fits this car perfectly. The interior works well, too, with a throwback look that's in keeping with the exterior, and the unique-to-Mustang steering wheel that helps tie it all together. Yes, there are some chintzy plastics in play here, but they're generally out of sight or otherwise unobtrusive (lower door panels, speaker grills that would look more at home in a Jeep Wrangler, etc). The loaner's premium package that adds stitching to the dash hood in a stitched hide and the contrasting, metal-look trim is patterned to simulate either turned aluminum or carbon fiber (flip a coin). The booming audio system uses basic, straightforward controls, but keeping it off may be a better bet anyhow. That makes it easier to enjoy the Mustang's exhaust note. Underpasses beg for a blip of the throttle, and parking garages are instantly transformed into a Carnegie Hall of V8 clamor.
The 300-horsepower 4.6L V8 offers excellent, immediate power, is seamlessly channeled rearward via the car's 5-speed manual. The live rear axle isn't an issue. It's like anything else, respect the car, learn it, and it won't give you any fuss. Highway merging and passing are mere afterthoughts, as the 'Stang's got more than ample juice on tap, and the car will cruise at highway speed while pulling down around 20 mpg. Not bad. There's no wind deflector, but buffeting seems fairly manageable. (Then again, my short hair isn't easily mussed.) Local, low-speed driving's a blast too, as even the most mundane tasks (a trip to the supermarket, for example) are transformed to impromptu cruise nights.
I'd have been content to simply enjoy a weekend of open-air motoring with the Mustang, but the town of Trumbull, CT issued a call for convertibles to participate in its annual Memorial Day parade. I volunteered the Mustang and was told where and when to be. When Monday arrived, I jumped in the car and motored on over to the parade's staging area. Being new to this kind of thing, I wasn't quite sure what to expect, though the mob scene I came upon wasn't exactly surprising, either. A parade looks very organized when the participants are lined up and marching/driving by. Until folks start heading onto the route, however, it's a portrait of organized chaos.
The parking lot was jammed with people, and an eclectic bunch of vehicles that would be driving in the parade. On one side, a semi trailer was loaded with with hay bales and several local little league teams. There was also the obligatory contingent of Shriners, little red replicars at the ready. Their "staff car," a VW Thing done up in red, white and blue, sat idling nearby. Everywhere you looked, there some vehicle was taking on passengers. Fire/Emergency trucks lined a nearby side street, and a pair of Humvees ducked in and out, looking for a place to park and waiting for the festivities to kick off.
A brace of convertibles had shown up ready to take part in the parade. In addition to "my" GT, I counted a pair of classic Mustangs, a pair of Eldorados, a K-car LeBaron, a VW Bug, a big Ford LTD, a Cutlass, and a beautiful flag-festooned Model A, among others. The idea was for us to all line up, take on vets, and hit the route. We were split into two groups in the staging area, and after a short wait, the first set of cars and passengers rolled out.
Meanwhile, the group I was in waited. Our cars were still empty. After asking one of the vets helping get things organized what to do, we were told to pull into the parade line, as we'd be able to take on passengers at one of the first corners along the route. I jogged back to the Mustang and eased it behind the local American Legion marchers. One of them ambled over to check out the 'Stang, complimenting its looks and giving the car an approving smile before he walked back to the fellas from the post. In the meantime, the aforementioned Model A had taken up position behind me. Being a Ford guy (obviously), its owner was also interested in the GT, and we chewed the fat about our two cars for a couple of minutes until one of the men from the Legion gave a wave. Time to go.
I fired up the 'Stang, and other marchers walking to their places smiled or gave the 'thumbs up" sign as it roared to life. Behind me, the Model A's owner responded by giving his car a rev and blasting its old-fashioned ''aaah-OOH-gah!" horn. Rumbling along, the orange Mustang was grabbing all kinds of attention. Even the district's State Senator smiled and waved his approval as it eased by. As we passed through the first intersection, one thing became obvious: no passengers were waiting to jump into my car or the one behind me. We were now just part of the parade.
If you've never participated in something like this, do so if you're given the opportunity. It's a lot of fun. The veterans marching directly in front of me were treated like rock stars, garnering loud cheers and standing ovations from the crowd as they passed. They were all smiles as they waved back and acknowledged the spectators lining the thoroughfare. The gentleman bringing up the rear seemed to know everyone in town, bantering with the folks and enthusiastically waving to everyone he made eye contact with. Not long into the parade, the American Legion marchers stopped and gathered around one of their members. The temperature was up around 90 degrees, and one of the men had apparently started to feel the heat in earnest. Someone motioned for me to pull up, and he climbed into the passenger seat for a spell. After a quick introduction, I put the car back in gear and was back underway with my new companion, a local Korean War veteran. We rode together for a bit, and he waved to the cheering crowd from the passenger seat. After a few minutes, he was reinvigorated and decided to jump out and rejoin his comrades in front of us.
From there on in, I rode solo, shadowing the Legion from a few feet behind. As it turns out, the Mustang itself was a big hit. "Nice car!" was a frequent refrain, and predictably, more than a few disembodied cries of "Light 'em up'" wafted over the curbside. Age seemed not to be a factor, either, as the compliments were just as likely to come from kids as they were from moms and dads. I chuckled at one point when I overheard a father explaining to his elementary-school-aged son, "See that? That's daddy's midlife crisis right there, kiddo."
Things were proceeding nicely when one of the men from the Legion again signaled for me to stop. He smiled and pointed behind me, and when I turned around, a pair of A-10 Thunderbolt IIs came streaking down the parade route, practically buzzing utility poles, waggling their wings for the delighted crowd. Goosebumps, people. The mean-looking jets circled around and back a few more times, putting on quite a show before heading off into the distance.
Shortly thereafter, we reached the end of the route, and it was over. I said goodbye to some of the folks I'd met earlier, jumped back in the car, and headed home. The parade was a wonderful experience. The veterans I met were charming, and the reaction they got from the people lining the parade route was inspiring. My daughter (she's four) came up to me afterward and said, "Daddy, when the veterans went by, I did this," and she brought her little hand up in a salute. "It's called a salute." (It came out as "sa-woot.")
"I saluted them," she said, beaming.
As did we all.
All Photos Copyright ©2007 Alex Núñez / Weblogs, Inc.
New Car Test Drive
New Shelby model adds supercharged muscle.
The Mustang remains one of the most widely recognized, respected, and desired nameplates in the automobile business. The Ford Mustang defined the pony-car segment in 1964; Plymouth's Barracuda may have beaten Ford to the showroom by 16 days, but it was the Mustang that set the sales records. The 'Cuda is gone now, and so are the Camaro, Firebird, Cougar, Javelin, Challenger, and every other would-be rival, leaving Ford's pony to prance alone. At least for now.
For 2007, the 210-hp Mustang V6 and 300-hp Mustang GT are joined by the new 500-hp supercharged Shelby GT500, offering its own look, tuning, and equipment.
Available in fastback coupe or convertible body styles, the Mustang V6 models make nice, stylish cruisers. The GT is an absolute hoot to drive, making all the right sounds, hanging onto corners tenaciously, and delivering thrilling acceleration performance. The Shelby GT500 adds to the fun with its near-Corvette performance. It's quite tossable, making for good sport on gymkhanas, race tracks or back roads. Its solid rear axle can get bouncy on bad pavement, and you'll want snow tires (four of them) for Northeastern or Midwestern winters.
It may be retro inspired, but the Mustang is a thoroughly modern car. Redesigned from a clean sheet of paper for 2005, today's Mustang is faster and more agile than ever. It delivers the bold styling, rear-drive performance and affordability that have been Mustang hallmarks for decades, but it's smoother and quieter and better built than older models.
Its interior looks like a throwback from the '60s, but it's functional and well finished. Granted, interior space is limited, especially given its exterior dimensions; and the back seat might better be described as a package shelf.
The Ford Mustang is an American success story. It holds true to an idea that still appeals to people of all ages, decades after the original was launched. Forty-three years after it created an automotive niche all its own, Mustang is both true to its roots and better than ever.
The Mustang comes in two body styles: coupe and convertible. Each is available with a V6 or a V8. A five-speed manual transmission is standard; a five-speed automatic optional ($995). The 2007 Mustangs come in just two trim levels each for the V6 and for the V8-powered GT.
The V6 Deluxe Coupe ($19,250) comes with one-touch power windows, power mirrors and door locks, keyless entry, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD with auxiliary input jack, tilt steering, speed control, rear window defroster, 16-inch wheels, and a split-folding rear seat. Its 4.0-liter overhead-cam V6 generates 210 horsepower.
The V6 Premium Coupe ($20,175) upgrades to 16-inch bright-machined wheels with chrome spinners, plus a six-way power driver's seat, and 500-watt audio system with six-disc CD changer and MP3 capability.
The V6 Deluxe Convertible ($24,075) and V6 Premium Convertible ($25,000) are equipped the same as the coupes, except they delete the split-folding rear seat and add a powered folding top.
The GT Coupe ($25,275) comes with all the same equipment as the V6 Deluxe, plus sport seats, in-grille fog lamps, complex reflector halogen headlamps with integral turn signals, a rear spoiler, performance suspension, and performance tires on 17-inch painted aluminum wheels. Its 4.6-liter overhead-cam V8 produces 300 horsepower.
The GT Premium Coupe ($26,455) adds a 500-watt CD changer and Aberdeen leather-trimmed sport seats.
The GT Convertible ($30,100) and GT Premium Convertible ($31,280), are equipped similarly to the coupe versions.
The Shelby GT500 comes as a coupe ($40,930) or convertible ($45,755). The GT500 is powered by a 5.4-liter supercharged V8 developing 500 horsepower. It incurs a gas-guzzler tax ($1300).
The Pony Package ($750) for V6 models adds a firmer suspension, 17-inch painted aluminum wheels, a custom grille with fog lamps, and other visual upgrades, giving these more economical Mustangs something closer to the look and handling of a GT.
A new California Special package ($1895) spiffs up a Premium GT with 18-inch wheels, side scoops, unique tape stripes, rolled bright exhaust tips, black leather trimmed seats with unique 'Cal Special' contrasting Dove or Parchment inserts, a larger air intake, a deeper chin spoiler, and unique front and rear fascias. The name refers to a special limited edition offered to California Ford dealers in 1968, but this Cal Special will be available nationwide. The GT Appearance Package ($245) features rolled exhaust tips, an engine cover with a Pony emblem, and a hood scoop.
Options include a new comfort group ($575) that includes an electrochromic mirror with compass, heated front seats, and six-way power for the front passenger seat. Stand-alone options include an active anti-theft system ($328); 1000-watt audio ($1,295); an interior upgrade package with leather-wrapped steering wheel, satin aluminum trim, and other cool-looking goodies ($460); power-adjustable driver's seat for the Deluxe Coupe ($365); heated front seats ($250); and 18-inch wheels ($825). Sirius Satellite Radio ($195) joins the option list for '07, and DVD-based navigation will be available on later 2007 models.
Safety features on all Mustangs include dual-stage front-impact airbags and three-point belts for all seats. Antilock brakes and traction control are standard on GTs and optional on V6 models. Front passenger side-impact airbags ($380) are optional on all models, so be sure to order them as they are designed to offer torso protection in a side impact.
Nothing says modern American sporty car better than this latest Mustang. Its long hood and short rear deck capitalize on 40 years of pony-car heritage. The current Mustang features classic design cues that have defined Mustangs since the 1960s: C-scoops in the sides, three-element tail lamps and a galloping horse badge in the center of the grille. Its menacing shark-like nose is reminiscent of the 1967-70 models.
Yet the Mustang follows modern trends by offering ever-larger wheels, including two distinct 18-inch wheel designs for the GT. So trimmed, the Mustang looks more aggressively handsome than ever, and much like the concept cars that grabbed everyone's attention at the 2004 North American International Auto Show.
And while the Mustang's retro-inspired look pleases the eyes, there's a lot of updated technology you don't see, starting with an aluminum hood to trim weight. The modern Mustang is based on the same mechanical platform as the Jaguar S-Type, albeit with some cost-trimming measures such as its live-axle rear suspension.
Relative to previous Mustangs, everything under the car has been substantially upgraded. The brakes are bigger by nearly 20 percent. A completely new front and rear suspension yields a much quieter, smoother ride as well as much more precise steering during hard cornering. New engines deliver performance with efficiency. Optional antilock brakes bundled with traction control give any a fighting chance in bad situations.
All Mustang engines are secured to the body with hydraulic mounts, which absorb and counteract vibration and pulsing. By adapting ideas and components from luxury cars, Ford has given the current Mustang a level of sophistication its predecessors never had. Yet the Mustang heritage of low-cost performance and flashy styling has not been compromised one iota.
Like its muscle-era namesake, the Shelby GT500 stands out with a unique front grille and bumper fascia, providing both a functionally larger and unimpeded air intake, while reducing air flow under the body. A unique engine hood with dual air-extraction slits is domed to clear the larger, 5.4-liter engine. Around back a vintage-style duck-tail spoiler on the decklid and a series of four strakes under the rear fascia contribute to air management (or at least the appearance of it). Carroll Shelby's signature striking-Cobra emblem glowers from the gas cap and from a characteristically off-center position in the grille. The whole package rides on unique 18-inch rims sporting Ford's SVT (Special Vehicle Team) logo. Just as in 1968, coupes are topped by Le Mans-style racing stripes. They look terrific, though we're not sure they should carry down onto the rear bumper where they compete with the rear license plate.
Shelby convertibles feature a premium fabric for the top.
The Mustang interior is as blatantly throwback as the exterior, and nearly as well done. It's sporty and crisp in appearance and straightforward in function.
There's a heavy dose of 1967 Mustang inside, with the dash divided into distinct right and left pods, blended with modern touches. Chrome-ringed air vents align across the dash, precisely in line with the gauges, and the steering wheel has three spokes with a center hub marked by the horse-and-tricolor-bars logo. While some of the materials have a cost-saving look and feel, the package is not bad given the high style and price of entry. An interior upgrade package adds red leather seats, red door inserts and red floor mats on cars with appropriate exterior colors.
Along with its new inside duds, Mustang offers an optional color-changeable instrument panel display, with 125 color schemes to choose from. It's a gimmick, to be sure, but it's easy to use, and it can brighten your day, and especially your night, as you drive. We're all for that. Speaking of brightening, however, there's enough shiny metal on this car's dash and steering wheel to create some glare problems for drivers on sunny days (just like the old days). Another interior upgrade package, with satin or dark-finish aluminum inserts instead of chrome, goes a long way toward eliminating traces of cheapness.
These are the good old days in terms of roominess in the Mustang. The 107-inch wheelbase and 187.6-inch overall length of the current model are the longest of any Mustang since 1973, and are within an inch of the dimensions of the 1969-70 model. But Ford has learned something about space efficiency since then, so today's Mustang offers more front-seat hip, leg, elbow and shoulder room than any previous generation. We found the front bucket seats to be comfortable, supportive and retentive in hard corners.
The back seat, however, isn't much more accommodating than in the old fastback 2+2 variant of 1965-68. It's not a place adults will want to spend any time. At least it still folds flat, just like in the old days, to expand luggage capacity.
And even without folding the back seat, the Mustang's trunk is as large as those in some more overtly practical sedans.
Seats in the Shelby are more aggressively bolstered, and the positions of the speedometer and tachometer are swapped. The Shelby is upholstered in black leather, with or without red inserts. All interior chrome is replaced by satin-finish aluminum for reduced glare. Snake logos slither on the seatbacks and steering-wheel hub.
The standard sound system that comes in the Mustang is good. The 500-watt upgrade is reasonably priced as part of the premium package, and adds a six-CD changer. The 1000-watt upgrade will impress most audiophiles, but the extra subwoofers in the trunk steal a good chunk of cargo space. We'd be inclined to pass on those.
The Mustang improves those things that have appealed to so many different kinds of drivers for more than 40 years, and it nearly eliminates the bad traits of traditional pony cars. In general, the good has gotten better and the bad, less so.
The previous-generation (1994-2004) Mustang was still built around a body shell that dated from 1979, and it was about as stiff as wet rope. Ford claims the current Mustang's body/frame is 31 percent stiffer and it feels it. This Mustang is simply much more rigid and rattle-free than its predecessor. A rigid foundation provides the basis for a host of good things, including improved ride quality, sharper handling, and less interior vibration.
This new-found solidity applies to the convertible as well. By their nature, convertibles don't offer the chassis rigidity of hard tops. Cars that cost five times as much as the Mustang tend to get shakier when the fixed roof is removed to design a convertible version. In the Mustang convertible, you will notice some shimmy in the windshield frame that you'll never see in the coupe. Yet when it comes to overall rigidity, the current Mustang convertible is light-years better than its predecessor.
The convertible's folding top is simple and straightforward to operate. Unhook it from the windshield header and it powers back behind the rear seat with the touch of a button. The ultimate in posing requires that you manually install the optional boot cover, but the folded, exposed top and frame don't look bad without it.
The wheelbase is relatively long, six inches longer than the previous generation (pre-2005), and that makes a difference in terms of ride quality. The ride has smoothed out, and the remaining harshness is of a completely different (and smaller) order.
The rear suspension uses coil springs and a lightweight three-link design with a Panhard bar to keep all motion under constant control. It's about as good as a solid-axle suspension gets, and greatly reduces skipping and bouncing at the back of the car.
The steering is crisp, precise and confidence inspiring.
The brakes work well in high-speed highway driving situations, as we found during a test in Los Angeles. If you want ABS, you automatically get (and pay for) traction control, which has a dash-mounted off switch for special situations. (Drag racing, for instance.)
The 4.0-liter V6 engine is technologically sophisticated and a solid performer for urban, exurban and suburban duties. The ratios in the five-speed automatic transmission seem well matched to the available torque. When the automatic gets into overdrive fifth gear, the engine goes quietly into economy mode until called upon for a lane change, a pass, or an uphill charge. This is a large-displacement V6 and it sounds more muscular at full throttle than any previous Ford V6 engine. Yet it rates 19/25 city/highway mpg with the automatic transmission, and 19/28 mpg with the manual.
Indeed, the V6 Deluxe is the most popular model (about 70 percent of Mustangs sold today are V6s), and we like it. For just around $20,000, it delivers good torque, good acceleration and generally good road manners, with a sportier feel then previous six-cylinder Mustangs. And while it has less power than the V8 and smaller tires, the V6 seems slightly more eager to turn in for coners, a bit more agile than the nose-heavy GT. (The GT weighs about 150 pounds more, and almost all of that is on the front wheels.)
The GT, on the other hand, is a 300-hp, five-speed pavement-ripper for about $25,000. The three-valve-per-cylinder V8 engine features both variable camshaft timing and electronic throttle control. The Mustang GT will run 0-60 mph in about 5.5 seconds; it will out-brake a large number of sporty cars; and it handles better on canyon roads that any previous Mustang GT, with a minimum of body roll and a large portion of tire grip. Expect 17/23 mpg with the automatic, 17/25 with the manual.
The GT l.
The Ford Mustang looks and feels like an all-American car, and that's a good thing. It's quick and fun to drive and offers combination of style, performance, and handling that's hard to beat for the money. The V6 Deluxe is a stylish, sporty cruiser. The GT is a serious performance car. And the Shelby GT500 raises it to Corvette performance levels.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Jim McCraw filed this report from Los Angeles; with Mitch McCullough reporting from Dearborn and Los Angeles.
Ford Mustang V6 Coupe Deluxe ($19,250); V6 Coupe Premium ($20,175); V6 Convertible Deluxe ($24,075); V6 Convertible Premium $(25,000); GT Coupe ($25,275); GT Coupe Premium ($26,455); GT Convertible ($30,100); GT Convertible Premium ($31,280); Shelby GT500 Coupe ($40,930); Shelby GT500 Convertible ($45,755).
Flat Rock, Michigan.
Options As Tested
5-speed automatic transmission ($995); interior upgrade package with satin aluminum trim ($460); side-impact airbags ($380); active anti-theft system ($328) convertible boot cover ($160); wheel locking kit ($50).
Ford Mustang GT Premium Convertible ($31,280).
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