In this review we are going to try something a bit different and have you play some selected music as you read through this. You may see a bit of a bias towards music that comes from Detroit, so, we'd like you to play along at home by playing the clips as you read this.
*John Lee Hooker - Boogie Chillun
When we finally got the opportunity to spend some time with the 2010 Mustang GT we were excited, if for nothing else to compare and contrast it to the Camaro SS we drove back in July. While the new Camaro has been very well received, the body refreshing of the Mustang for 2010 was universally praised. The huzzah's was near universal, though we weren't one of them.
When the S197 came out for 2005 we WERE on board with that redesign as a great improvement, drawing on the heritage of the 1st generation Mustangs without being overtly retro. It wasn't one thing about the 2010 rebody that we didn't like initially, rather, there seemed to be quite a bit of fuss over what didn't seem like much more than a nose job and some minor restyling of the rear. Like many other cars, the Mustang plays better in person, than in pictures. The restyling has made the overall look of the car seem more aggressive. There are body lines that taper both on the front and in the rear that keep the car from being as slab sided and give it some definition. At the end of our test we didn't have any of the reservations that we did previously about the styling, but we still questioned all the noise that was made about it when it debuted.
When it comes to cars like the Camaro and the Mustang, and the people that drive them, they tend to fall into two camps. You are either a Camaro person, or you are a Mustang person. Many of the things that we didn't like as much about the Camaro, it feeling very wide, a bit heavy and such, are just the items that Camaro people look for. While those same people find that the Mustang feels too narrow and lacks a heavy, substantial feel on the road. This observation came from several different people, independent of each other, and it explains much.
*Iggy - I want to be your dog
Now full disclosure here, I have owned two Mustangs in the past. First was an 83 GT and the other was a 92 five liter LX notchback. When we first got behind the wheel of the Mustang, the absolute first reaction was, "feels like home", or to quote Chandler Bing, "it's the thing that's been missing from your hand". Even thought the last Mustang we drove was a pre-production 05 car, getting behind the wheel of the 2010 car felt much like getting in the 92. The interior space felt much tighter on the inside than the Camaro, which we liked, there weren't the massive blind spots in the rear three quarter view that there were in the Camaro, and two minutes into the initial drive, we felt that while the steering was over boosted, the car felt more nimble and much lighter on it's feet.
The Mustang has evolved from being a bangers car which was only good in a straight line. That's not to say that it's going to be dicing with say a Porsche Boxster or a Lotus Elise as the best handling car on the market, not by a long shot, that said, it's better than you'd expect. Much was said by the enthusiast press who's focus is on Sports Cars about the Mustang continuing to have a straight axle rather than an Independent Rear Suspension, and the fact that memo's have surfaced how the IRS system would have only added $100 to the cost of the car. This is really a 1% problem. Only 1% of the people who buy the car will notice, or even care about the fact that it lacks an independent rear. Ford has spent some time refining the ride and handling of this car and unless you are a hard core auto crosser or out doing track days, it's fine. The enthusiast crowd who has historically been drawn to this car is the drag race community and they are more than happy that the IRS was not the choice as it's durability in those conditions can be a bit dodgy. Is it a serious GT car, no, but is it a serviceable GT car, yes.
There has also been some conversation about the lack of a six speed manual for the Mustang. The only advantage a six speed may offer is a slightly higher overdrive gear in sixth, but at 75-80MPH the engine is turning 2200-2300 RPM's . The advantage in MPG would be minimal. We were a bit disappointed in the milage that we did get from the Mustang on the highway. A couple of different efforts where we set set the cruise at 75 and drove for some distance only netted 23 mpg, mixed driving was just shy of 20.
As an every day car it works well. the driver and passenger have plenty of room, the back seat has a surprising amount of space. With the drivers or passengers seat set in what would be a normal position, there is room enough for a 5'11" person to sit. That person may not want to ride back there for a couple hours, but for a normal length drive it's fine. The trunk has a good amount of room as well. It swallowed, without a problem our bi-weekly run to Costco, Trader Joe's and Meijer's.
The body wasn't the only thing to get a refresh for the 2010 model year, the interior also got a refresh. The gages still have a 60's retro look to them, but are easier to read. The quality of materials, along with their fit and finish also received a major upgrade. Interiors are one of the areas I'm most critical on. While the body styling may capture you and be the initial infatuation, it's the interior that you have to live with. I have said, and maintain, that if manufacturers spent an extra $100-$200 on the interior they could get $1000 worth of pricing. The Mustang is no different. When you get to a $30,000 price point there should be NO hard plastic surfaces, AT ALL! That said if we are comparing the Camaro interior to the Mustang interior, the materials are much better in the Mustang.
The Mustang comes with Ford’s SYNC system and it works as advertised, save one issue. The SYNC system doesn’t particularly like the iPod Touch with the 3.0 operating system. This is an issue we have experienced in multiple Ford vehicles, and after spending some time in various forums there is a software update that was in beta testing as we finish this and should be available after the first of the year. The issue is the system is forever trying to index your iPod. We had a 45 minute drive and it never did. If it does ever complete it’s indexing, it doesn’t remember it and will have to start all over again the next time you start the car. This is only a problem with the Touch though, as the iPod Classic worked just fine.
White Stripes - Fell In Love With A Girl
What matters most to people interested in Mustang’s and Pony Cars in general is the lump in the front. When for the 2005 Ford upgraded the 4.6 SOHC motor to a three valve head, there was a huge sigh of relief from the performance community.
The two valve, two cam motor while serviceable, compared to the Five Liter pushrod motor it replaced, it was hated and even vilified. Not because it wasn’t a pushrod motor, more that it wasn’t really any better for horsepower and the torque was missing all together. Other than the four valve four cam Cobra motor, in naturally aspirated form, it was only in 2005 that the torque levels approached what they were in 1995, the last year for the the 5.0 motor in the Mustang. In those ten years though the car packed on some three to four hundred pounds and it can be felt.
While the thee valve motor has good torque, it doesn’t quite have that plant your lower back into the seat push that the five liter cars of days past did. Here the Camaro is worlds better then the Mustang, though it SHOULD BE as it has a just shy of a 97 cubic inch displacement advantage. The Camaro kicks in 100 more horsepower and torques than the Mustang, AND at a lower rpm which is noticeable when driving on the street.
Salvation is at hand though. For 2011 there are two new motors coming for the Mustang, a V6 that will nearly match the three valve V8 in power and an all new Five Liter “Coyote” V8 that will match or exceed the Camaro in power. We look forward to driving both versions to see if they address our issues. In fact if you are thinking of buying a new Mustang I would say hold off till the new motors are released. Not only will they have more power, but they will have better fuel mileage as well.
MC5 - Kick Out The Jams
As much as I liked and was impressed with the Camaro, I like the Mustang better, but I admit I AM a Mustang person. The Mustang is much like Detroit, it’s raw, it’s much maligned and it’s unapologetic about who and what it is, you will either get it and bond with it, or you won’t. The best thing you can do with the Mustang GT is to roll down the windows, put your foot to the floor, shift it like you sold it, listen to the siren song that is a Detroit V8, channel your inner MC5 on and yell at the top of your lungs “KICK OUT THE JAMS MOTHER FU@KERS!!!!!!