2010 Ford Mustang Expert Review:Autoblog
We spent a few precious hours in the 2010 Ford Mustang GT toward the end of last year. More recently, we were able to get a Kona Blue model in the Autoblog Garage, and this time, we spent a full week exploring the car's metropolis manners in between long rounds in the saddle, throwing the car over hill and dale... and around the track. This Mustang promises much, and on our First Drive, it delivered as promised. Follow the jump to see if it could do the same for an entire week.
Photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc
This particular blogger and Autoblog photographer Drew Phillips have had a running tête-à-tête concerning the Mustang. Phillips has extolled the car's blank-slate possibilities and massive performance for a massive bargain. I, conversely, have never really paid much attention to the Mustang, even though where I grew up they were thought so important to a young man's upbringing as to be considered one of the four food groups. Full Disclosure: I haven't even driven one since 1996, and that car was at least five years old – a GT that broke loose so quickly under my youthful foot that it's a wonder the car never wound up with the kind of body modifications you can only get from a ditch.
But that's in another part of the country, where the Mustang, like a horse, provides warm comfort. In Los Angeles, however, the Mustang is a rental car. Oh, there are plenty of Mustangs in the greater LA area, but if you happen to see one in the trendy parts, it's a safe bet that there's a Hertz contract in the glovebox... or else it's owned by someone who just moved out from that other part of the country.
So part of our quest was to see if the car deserves attention in The Big Smoke. The Answer? Yes. Yes, it does.
And that affirmation starts with the way it looks: the lines on the new Mustang are, finally, properly sorted. It's been a few generations coming, but Ford's designers have figured out which influences to use from the iconic models of the past and how to blend them without unnecessary frills. There is no part of this car's design that snagged our attention in a way that made us wonder "Why did they put that there?" What remains is a suite of firm lines and broad curves accompanied by the occasional crease that glare back as if to ask, "You lookin' at me?" The only part of the car that we kept coming back to and going "Hmmm..." is the now more rounded rear end, which in profile juts out so much it makes us think of a cantilevered shelf hanging out over a canyon. Compared to the tightly-cropped front end, it's a lot of overhang. Still, the coupe is drawn very well – the way the rear glasshouse descends into the tail and the way the car broadens from C-pillar to shoulder to wheel arch means you don't notice it unless you're looking for it.
Inside, the well-drawn line continues, but the dissection is a little more complex. The first encounter gets a definite thumbs-up. The seats look great, the stitching is well done, the door panels have beautiful symmetry and the scalloped dash is a nice touch. The plastic surround in the center console is pedestrian, but the overall look is well done, and the layout and buttons are terrific. The steering wheel is pretty, although its buttons need a little learnin' to get a manage on.
And the cabin has some fantastic touches. The ambient lighting is nifty, and even though it's everywhere, it avoids being annoying or gimmicky (even though we must admit that the first time we looked down and saw our feet bathed in blue light, like something out of Close Encounters, it took a moment to digest). The word "Mustang" in the sill plates lights up in the same hue, and there are also blue light rings in the cupholders. It might sound hokey now, but if you're looking for a quarter in the cupholder late one night, all of a sudden it's genius, and the cupholder has a cover so you never even need to know things are aglow in there.
We especially need to single out the touchscreen, which is so good that it really should make some luxury cars blush, and it couldn't be easier to operate. The reversing camera image is spectacularly bright – even at night – and comes with hash marks for range. The stereo and climate control screens feature big, simple buttons. The map resolution is first-rate and has a lane view to tell you which lane you should be in, and the navigation voice doesn't drown you with commands. The power windows are one-touch up and down for driver and passenger, the cupholders hold two full-sized drinks at the same time, and the individual taillights flash in sequence in the direction you're turning when you use the signal.
Of course, there were a few niggles. The dome light can't be turned off if the door is open, so you can forget about doing a sneaky late night flyby at Sally's house unless she's going to hop in the car Dukes of Hazzard style. The 12-volt outlet is in the cubby behind the cupholders. If you want to charge your phone, you have to keep it in the cubby if you want to close the lid, because the lid won't close over the charger cable. But if you keep the phone in the cubby, it's hard to get to quickly. The chrome bezels on the gauges also reflect in the windshield at night, and in this author's opinion, Ford went a little too retro with the gauges. The hash marks are so close together on the speedometer, and the needle is, relatively, so big, that the best you can do is get your speed to within about +/- 3 mph unless it's a number that ends in zero.
But we can and would live with all of that. Happily. Because this car is big fun.
Speaking of big, as America's car, the Mustang is done in big American style. Get in, and compared to some of its ostensible competition it's as if you went to the sports car drive-through and asked them to Biggie Size your grub (which is still, thankfully, a few steps down from the Dodge Challenger-size meal). The cabin is big, the seats are big, the steering wheel is big, the shifter stands tall, the shifts are long... it's all just... big. Whip it around a track after having been in a few closer-fitting cars, and getting in the Mustang feels like getting in a FedEx truck. But that initial feeling is where any comparison to a lorry ends.
The sound made by the Mustang's 4.6-liter V8, now rated at 315 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque, is outstanding, a non-stop conversation that takes place between the exhaust and your ears. There is no language involved – you start the car and your auditory canal responds with, "Oh, hello!", knowing full well in your rumbling bones that this is how an American V8 is meant to sound and how you're meant to feel.
Throw the car in first and then, well, notice that there are only four gears after that. The idea of a five-speed transmission strikes us as archaic, but those five gears are arguably better used in the Mustang than some of the six-speed competition gets along with an extra cog. That doesn't mean it's faster, but it can be less work – on the track we shifted a lot more in other cars to stay in the power band, yet we didn't go any faster.
But it's plenty fast and a little loose – not sloppy, but yes, loose – even with the Track Pack. The additional goodies that come with the Track Pack option, like uprated brakes and dampers, a strut brace and limited-slip diff, do make a difference, but not a startling one. The regular car wallows a bit more, but the Track Pack still felt like it might be good for some extra cornering speed over non-equipped cars. Regardless, the brakes could still use some help – they won't quit on you, but they begin fading more quickly than expected when push came to shove. If you only have $1,500 to spend on making your Mustang faster, however, the Track Pack is probably worth it. If you have a little more, you're probably safe skipping it and getting your own parts – we'd start by firming up the suspension.
Don't get us wrong, though; the car is plenty fast – fast enough to acquit itself of some of its softer leanings. And while it might be a little cushy and the seats aren't exactly Recaros, the thing handles. Give us this car and $5,000 and we'll beat a bunch of people who spent a lot more. Give us this car and $10,000 and we'll spend part of that money painting pretty pictures on the Mustang's rear end because that's all most folks would ever see.
And it does have something that some of its faster-through-the-curves competition doesn't have: good highway manners due to a decided lack of frenzy. You can take a road trip in this car and emerge without that I-just-got-off-an-amusement-park-ride sensation where you bones are still jiggling hours after exiting the driver's seat. That means a lot.
All of which means that the basic Mustang template has only been expanded upon. It will still do the business at the drag strip and the Burger King on Friday night, and you can add a much wider ability to swallow town and (curved) track duty. And it's hot. And it's fast. And it's only $27,995 in base V8 GT guise. If you're looking for something not to like, best look elsewhere.
It's safe to assume that this car will have its home territories on lock. Will it actually get the attention it deserves in a place like LA? Well, that's for other people and their checkbooks to answer. But this blogger will admit to Mr. Drew Phillips, right here in public, "You're right about the Mustang. At least you're right about this one. I get it." We are pleased to report our week with the 2010 Mustang was spent astride one of the Four Horsemen, and his name was Conquest... well, maybe until the new Chevrolet Camaro comes along.
Photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc
It's a new day and we all know what that means! Yet another post about the Mustang. Most of us here at Autoblog are unabashed Mustang fans. So when the call comes from Dearborn to drive yet another new Mustang, we invariably set about rearranging schedules. Such was the case last week. No sooner had we returned to frost-bitten Detroit after the LA Auto Show than the call came to return to SoCal. It was time to take the 2010 Mustang off the LA Convention Center stand and out into what passes for the real world in these parts.
Before we hopped into the updated Mustangs, Ford wanted to give us a refresher on what was being left behind. We were supplied with 2009 models to drive from our hotel to the staging area in Malibu. Anyone who has ever spent time in a 2005-09 Mustang is immediately aware that the weak link is its interior. In a word, it looked and felt cheap. The order of the day for the new 2010 model is refinement. Find out after the jump if Ford has made a Mustang worthy of competing in the now crowded class of modern day muscle cars.
Photos Copyright ©2008 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.
When the S197 Mustang debuted as a 2005 model, it was actually the first Mustang ever to get its own purpose built platform that wasn't shared with any other Ford product. The Mustang has always been a solid selling car for Ford, which is why it's been produced uninterrupted for nearly 45 years. Nonetheless, the Mustang engineering team was working with a budget when that 2005 model was being developed. As a result, they put the focus on the mechanical bits at the expense of some of the touchy-feely stuff.
The result was easily the best driving Mustang ever, if not necessarily the best working environment for the driver. The 2010 model is clearly not an all new car. It is, however, a very significant refresh. The hard plastics that comprised the old dashboard are now gone, replaced with soft touch materials and real aluminum trim. The basic design concept remains but has evolved into something more grown up and functional, as well as more attractive.
When we revealed the new Mustang a few weeks ago, some of you complained that the exterior had hardly changed and wondered what all the fuss was about. Clearly the new version still looks like a Mustang, but when you put them side by side the differences become much more stark. The 2005 model was a huge leap forward and at the same time backward when it debuted. We still think it looks great and embodies what a Mustang should be with its long hood, short deck proportion, forward leaning grille and deeply set headlights.
Park it next to the new Mustang, though and the current model looks almost boxy by comparison. The DNA is there, but the even more aggressive nose, curved rear shoulders, more contoured flanks and chamfered rear corners take it to a whole new level. Call us fanboys if you must, for we surely are, but we definitely love this updated look. I say that having plunked down my own hard earned cash on a 2005 model soon after that car launched, which I still own.
After chief engineer Tom Barnes again reviewed the new Mustang's highlights, it was time to drive. Drew Phillips and I were handed the keys to a Kona Blue GT with the "Track Pack" and a 5-speed manual transmission. My own Mustang is one of the comparatively rare Sonic Blue versions and I've never been fond of the Vista Blue that replaced it in 2006. The Kona Blue is much more like Sonic but even darker, and if I were spending my cash again would opt for this color.
Ford had a Grabber Blue example for us when we went into the design studio to photograph the 2010 Mustang before LA Auto Show, and that's the same car Drew chose to shoot for this story. The Grabber Blue was less than enthralling under studio lighting with many details of the new body work getting lost. Out in the California sunshine, though, it was a whole different story. The rest of the new color pallet including the Gold and Dark Metallic Red are also stunners.
Enough about the crayon box, what is the 2010 Mustang like to drive? The key word is refinement. Refinement can be a double edged sword, though. Refining something too much can sap the life out of it. Wonder Bread is made from highly refined wheat and also flavorless. Give us a loaf of hand-made sourdough, rustic or paesano any day.
Just like a good loaf of bread, a car's character can be found in some of its rough edges. The sound and the feel of it. The heart of a car like the Mustang is its engine. You want to hear it rumble and sense the slight vibration as it turns over. Barnes' team has refined those elements of the Mustang that don't enhance its character in order to amplify those that do. Changes like reshaping the mirrors, moving the radio antenna from the front fender to the rear quarter and moving the windshield washer nozzles behind the trailing edge of the hood all cut wind noise inside the cabin. The result is that the sonic signature of the Mustang's 4.6L V8 has now been enhanced.
The new car has 3.5-inch tail pipes from which emanate a wonderful rumble when the engine is opened up. Once we turned off Pacific Coast Highway to head up through Topanga Canyon, we were still stuck behind some slow moving traffic. We backed off to fall away from the traffic, dropped the windows and a couple of gear ratios and floored it. The song that echoed off the canyon walls would make the heart of any performance car fan melt. A deep, throaty exhaust note emerged with no hint of drone. It's the kind of thing that makes you thankful for $1.50 gas, because you can keep stabbing the throttle to hear it again without wallet remorse.
After what seemed like an eternity behind slow poke SUVs wasting curves we would kill for in Michigan, we finally got some relatively open space to run. However, it wasn't until we saw the sign along Mulholland with the squiggly line and "Next 2 Miles" message that we could truly appreciate what the Mustang engineering team has wrought from this seemingly unsophisticated chassis.
We hear the constant nattering about the Mustang not having an independent rear suspension. Frankly, it's quite simple. It doesn't need it. Most of the people who race Mustangs do it on drag strips where a live axle is the best weapon. Elsewhere, Mustang FR500s have been winning consistently in the Grand Am series for the last several years.
Along Mulholland Drive, the 2010 Mustang GT proved to be very neutral with nary a hint of understeer. The brakes dissipated speed with a firm, easily modulated pedal and squeezing the throttle blasted the car away from apexes. Body roll was held to a minimum and the 'Stang had excellent mechanical grip. There was some pretty rough pavement along our drive route, but the chassis kept the tires firmly planted on the ground following whatever contours were there. There was none of the dreaded side-stepping typically associated with rear-drive live-axle cars.
The car we drove was equipped with the optional Track Pack that adds retuned springs, dampers, bushings and upgraded brake linings. The Track Pack also includes 19-inch summer tires in place of the usual all-season rubber. In spite of the more performance oriented tuning, the ride remained comfortable on even the roughest pavement we encountered.
Despite this being a driving report, we have to mention that the new interior is also a huge step forward for the Mustang. The new shape of the console and door arm-rests is a welcome change and the chamfered spokes on the steering wheel make it more comfortable to hold. One thing we'd like to see further improved is the seats. The front seats are comfortable and offer decent thigh support, but they could use more lateral support. An optional sport seat would also be a welcome addition.
No V6 models were available for us to drive, but that's just fine. The 2010 Mustang GT is every bit as good as our previous favorite Mustang, the 2008 Bullitt, but with a much improved interior. Now the 2010 model is the best production Mustang ever, and barring any big price increase, will remain the best performance car bargain on the road. Now where did I put that Wilson Pickett CD?
Photos Copyright ©2008 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.
Our travel and lodging for this media event was provided by the manufacturer.
New Car Test Drive
Completely redesigned, better handling, more power.
The Ford Mustang is all-new for 2010. Everything but the roof on the 2010 Mustang is new. And it's all good, all improved over the superb 2004-2009 version of America's pony car.
We found the 2010 Mustangs quieter and more refined than the previous models. More important, the 2010 Mustang GT is an absolute blast to drive, quick off the mark with a brawny sound. The clutch pedal is light and easy to use in heavy traffic and the manual sifts smoothly. The handling is crisp, the suspension feels tight, and the brakes work better in this latest generation.
The Mustang has been in continuous production for 45 straight years, and more than 9 million Mustangs have been built and sold to date. That gives the Mustang the longest production run of any single model in Ford history.
The 2010 Ford Mustang comes in three body styles: coupe, convertible, and a glass-roof coupe. Each is available in both the traditional V-6 model and the V8-powered Mustang GT. Both engines will be available with a choice of a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission.
The V-6 coupe and convertible feature an upgraded 4.0-liter V6 engine rated at 210 horsepower and 240 foot-pounds of torque. The V-6 model comes standard with 17-inch wheels and tires, with 18-inch wheels optional. A rear stabilizer bar now comes standard on the V-6 models, and the entire suspension system has been retuned for more performance feel.
The Mustang GT gets a more powerful V8 for 2010, producing 315 horsepower and 325 foot-pounds of torque from 4.6 liters.
Ford's Sync electronics, navigation with Sirius Travel Link and a rear-facing camera are among the options never before available on the Mustang.
The Mustang V-6 coupe starts at $20,995, and the V-6 convertible at $25,995. Pricing for the GT V-8 coupe starts at $27,995, with the GT V-8 convertible at $32,995. (Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices do not include $850 destination charges.)
Options include the five-speed automatic transmission ($995), the glass roof option ($1995), a navigation package ($2195).
A premium package ($3000) upgrades with leather six-way power driver seat with power lumbar and two-way adjustable head restraint, bright shift knob, door trim panel inserts, leather wrapped steering wheel w/aluminum spokes, six-gauge cluster w/MyColor, gloss paint center stack and console, satin door speaker surrounds, Ambient lighting, Bright aluminum accent dash appliques, pedal covers, scuff plates and shifter knob, special wheels, Shaker 500 AM/FM/6CD MP3 audio system, eight speakers, Sirius Satellite Radio, Sync communications system, and split-folding rear seats.
An optional Track Package includes upgraded front brakes, a recalibrated AdvanceTrac system that allows later intervention, and the 3.73:1 axle ratio. Track Package II will include Pirelli 19-inch tires and wheels, upgraded front and rear brakes and heavier springs, shock absorbers and brakes along with recalibrated traction and yaw control systems designed for weekend racing. Ford Racing Performance Parts will offer a wide array of performance and appearance options for the new Mustang, up to and including a complete bolt-on supercharger kit.
The safety package includes six air bags, tire pressure monitoring, the Ford Personal Safety System that controls the level of air bag deployment according to impact speed, and a new SOS post-crash alert system that unlocks the doors, turns on the four-way flashers and sounds the horn if an air bag is deployed.
The 2010 Mustang body design is new from end to end, this time with integrated multi-element headlamps replacing the twin round lamps of past Mustangs, a power-dome hood that droops over the grille at its leading edge, completely new side sculpting, and chamfered three-element taillamps that house sequential turn signals, blinking from the inside lamp to the outside lamp to help those following understand which way you're turning (a technology first used on the 1964 Thunderbird, reprised 46 years later).
Ford says the new Mustang body yields 23 percent less aerodynamic lift at the front with a new slotted panel installed under the radiator to direct air, 50 percent better in front/rear lift balance, and has seven percent less aerodynamic drag. They tell us it is 12 percent quieter in wind noise than the outgoing car, 15 percent quieter in the case of the convertible. Ford also points to a 33 percent reduction in squeak and rattle performance, and a 10 percent improvement in speech intelligibility due to interior noise reductions, especially in the convertible.
The 3500-pound Mustang uses welded steel unibody construction with front and rear subframes to mount the steering and suspension systems, with almost half the body weight in high-strength low-alloy steel.
Inside, we found the front bucket seats significantly more comfortable and better looking than the slabs used in the 2009 models. Altogether, the 2010 Mustang is much more refined than any previous model when it comes to noise, a much more comfortable car to be in, whether cruising or a full throttle.
The 2010 Mustang has a completely new chiseled approach to interior design, with throwback instrument design complemented by softer-feeling surfaces throughout, and the use of real aluminum plates on the fascias, pedal covers, scuff plates and shifter knob. Interior ambient lighting in the door pockets, cupholders and footwells is a new interior feature, and the lighting colors can be changed through a range of 125 colors with the flip of a switch with the new MyColor system.
New interior and entertainment features for Mustang include a rear-facing video camera, the Sync voice-activated hands-free system for the first time in a Mustang, featuring Sirius satellite radio and satellite navigation with Sirius Travel Link. The new leather-clad steering wheel is a massive affair with six brushed metal spokes in three groups of two, with cruise controls switches and controls for the sound system, a wheel that gives a very big feeling of command. The leather interiors are of a higher grade than ever, the console can now be locked to hide valuables. The instrument panel is made in a single piece.
We found the new Mustang is much quieter than the old car, with improvements in wind noise, road noise, mirror noise and powertrain noise. The radio antenna is moved to the rear to eliminate noise, the wiper design is changed to flatter blades that don't make as much noise, the washer nozzles are inside the hood, and the mirrors are reshaped. Inside, there is more mastic, a better grade of carpeting, a sound-absorbing headliner material, and there is a lot more noise insulation in the body.
Our 2010 Mustang GT test car was a GT coupe with a starting price of $27,995 and a bottom line of $34,015 with the $850 delivery charge and options thrown in, including Track Pack (19-inch summer tires and alloy wheels, 3.73:1 axle ratio, revised traction control and yaw control parameters, and upgraded suspension), security package, and comfort group.
The 2010 Mustang GT carries an upgraded 4.6-liter 3-valve V8 engine rated at 315 horsepower (up from 300 on the 2009 version) and 325 foot-pounds of torque (up from 2009's 320 lb-ft). The redline has been raised 250 rpm to 6500 rpm for 2010. The engine has two built-in calibrations for regular or premium fuel (the use of premium fuel adds up to 10 foot-pounds of torque between 1000 and 3000 rpm, they tell us).
The new engine gets its cold intake air from a system built into the grille, not under the hood, the lowest-restriction air intake system ever on the Mustang, with an air induction sound pipe that goes right into the cockpit to make it more pleasing to the driver at full throttle. Ford says the fresh air system alone is worth three tenths of a second in 0-60 mph acceleration improvement because the engine makes much more power with cold air. On the exhaust side, the V-8 version gets 3.5-inch exhaust pipes versus 3.0-inch pipes on the last Mustang, and the V-6 version gets 3.0-inch exhaust pipes instead of 2.5-inch pipes. The standard axle ratio is 3.31:1, with two optional ratios, 3.55:1 or 3.73:1, which automatically comes with larger brakes.
The GT chassis has been upgraded and stiffened using parts and pieces from the 2009 Bullitt Mustang, which means it rides tauter, turns in quicker and has less pitch, dive and body roll than any previous Mustang, as much as 20 percent less body roll. The GT rides on 235/50R18 tires, with 245/45R19 tires optional. If the 19-inch tire and wheel option is selected, the car will automatically be built with a strut tower brace under the hood to connect the two front struts for more strength and better, more accurate handling.
The new tires, whether 17-, 18-, or 19-inch, have been chosen for their much higher levels of both wet and dry grip, and Ford says the 19-inch tires can produce skidpad performance exceeding 0.9g, which is very, very good for such a low-priced car.
ABS brakes, traction control and AdvanceTrac yaw control are standard on all models. For track work, both the traction control and the yaw control can be turned off (but not the ABS), and there is a Sport mode which allows higher handling limits before traction and yaw controls are called in to save the day.
With all of that as prelude, the GT V-8 is an absolute blast to drive. It's very quick off the mark, the manual shifter shifts more cleanly, and the engine sound is always brawny and throaty and beautiful, from its lumpy idle to redline at 6500 rpm. The clutch pedal is light and easy to use, even crawling through rush hour L.A. traffic on Sunset Boulevard.
In the canyons north of L.A., the Mustang showed off more new moves than the entire cast of Dancing With The Stars, extremely quick to transition from left to right and back again with a minimum of body roll, dive and pitch in the suspension.
Likewise, the brakes have much less slop in the pedal, work faster and work harder than the brakes on the outgoing model, very reassuring once you find out just how quick and how fast this new Mustang really is.
The 2010 Ford Mustang is at the front of the pack when it comes to performance-per-dollar. The Mustang V-6 handles almost as well as the 2009 Bullitt model, which is saying something. The GT is quicker, faster, quieter and more refined than any V8 Mustang ever. It may not have the 425 horsepower of the new Chevy Camaro or the Dodge Challenger SRT-8, but it's also not as chunky nor as expensive. The new Mustang has more features, more comfort, and more sheer performance than any previous production Mustang, and it's priced to sell.
Jim McCraw filed this NewCarTestDrive.com report from Los Angeles after driving the Mustang GT.
Ford Mustang, Mustang GT; coupe, convertible.
Flat Rock, Michigan.
Options As Tested
Preferred package 400 ($3,000) includes leather six-way power driver seat with power lumbar and two-way adjustable head restraint, bright shift knob, door trim panel inserts, leather wrapped steering wheel w/aluminum spokes, six-gauge cluster w/MyColor, gloss paint center stack and console, satin door speaker surrounds, Ambient lighting, Bright aluminum accent dash appliques, pedal covers, scuff plates and shifter knob, special wheels, Shaker 500 AM/FM/6CD MP3 audio system, eight speakers, Sirius Satellite Radio, Sync communications system, and split-folding rear seats; Security Package ($395) includes anti-theft system, wheel locks; Comfort Group ($595) includes six-way power passenger seat, heated front seats, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass; 3.73:1 rear axle ratio ($495).
Ford Mustang GT coupe ($34,025).
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