An icon of Ford's lineup since the mid-'60s, the rakish Mustang gets a comprehensive makeover that elevates its sporty character, chassis dynamics and interior design. Both Coupe and Convertible offer the choice of base and premium trims, V6 or V8 (GT) engines backed by manual or automatic transmissions and match a formidable roster of standards with some slick new options that should help the original pony car gallop on at an even faster pace as it vies for buyers who might also be considering the likes of the Dodge Challenger, new Hyundai Genesis Coupe and its most storied foe of all, the resurrected and all-new 2010 Chevrolet Camaro that also arrives at dealerships in the spring. Completing the Mustang range is the equally new, 540-horsepower supercharged Shelby GT500, reviewed separately.
YOU'LL LIKE THIS CAR IF...
While its strongest appeal will be to Mustang faithful, the latest iteration of this American icon now has the look, feel and features that should make it worthy of consideration by anyone shopping for a sporty, rear-drive two-door.
YOU MAY NOT LIKE THIS CAR IF...
Those who demand the biggest horsepower numbers without stepping into far-pricier Shelby GT500 territory will find both the Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Camaro pack more in their underhood corrals. As in the past, limited head/leg room relegate Mustang's aft quarters to a de facto kids-only zone.
WHAT'S SIGNIFICANT ABOUT THIS CAR
The 2010 Ford Mustang's maxi makeover brings more aggressive looks, improved dynamics, greater comfort and higher quality – real and perceived – all of which are impressively reinforced by a host of enhanced features and options. For the first time ever, AdvanceTrac Electronic Stability Control is available – and standard – on all models.
Ford did an impressive job of remaking the Mustang's dynamic character for 2010 with a series of well-measured tweaks to the existing suspension setups and tuning elements culled from the existing Bullitt model. Recalibration of the springs, shocks and anti-roll bars plus larger wheels/tires (now 17-inch on the V6s and 18-inch on V8s) interact to create a package that's more comfortable in cruise and more capable in the corners, with better steering feel, quicker overall responses and greater predictability. Complementing this re-mix is a properly restrained and driver-selectable AdvanceTrac stability system that offers a less-restrictive Sport mode on GTs and confidence-inspiring four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes. While enthusiasts can bask in the Bullitt-based extra quickness and performance of the GT, even the V6s are decently responsive; and all benefit from new sound-attenuation materials that more effectively isolate the cabin from wind and road noise.
OUR FAVORITE FEATURES
Bullitt-Spec V8 Engine
Delivering more power and more usable torque, the Mustang's 4.6-liter V8 is the first to offer functional ram-air induction in a base GT model. To emphasize its character, Ford engineers added a new "sound induction tube" that selectively ports some of the engine's throaty resonances back into the cabin under hard acceleration.
Comprehensive Interior Upgrades
Better quality and enhanced features make it a much-nicer world inside every 2010 Mustang. Highlighting the mix are a new one-piece soft-touch dash and more finger-friendly controls that are further complemented by variable interior ambient lighting and selectable MyColor illumination for the instrument cluster on Premium models.
Big changes have been made to the Mustang's passenger compartment, which is both more sophisticated and quieter than ever before. Classic design themes are interwoven with new upscale details that start with a one-piece soft-touch dash set off by brushed aluminum and bright-chrome accents. The redone center stack has a more logical and usable layout for the audio, heat/air-conditioning controls and standard displays – or the eight-inch color touch screen that's included with the optional navigation system. Re-contoured front buckets offer better comfort and support while the rear bench – a 60/40 fold-down in the Coupe but fixed in the Convertible – is scaled for small to mid-size kids.
A complete re-skin – the sole carryover panel is the roof on the Coupe – puts a finer edge on the 2010 Ford Mustang's classically proportioned design while resurrecting several historical elements. The more aggressive bodywork includes a power-bulged hood and cleaner, crisper individualized fascia treatments highlighted by an integrated headlamp/turn-indicator unit that revisits the 1970 Mustang and mid-'60s-era sequential taillamps updated with LED bulbs. A revised grille insert serves as a backdrop for a more stylized galloping pony emblem as well as prominent fog lamps in GT models, which also boast a subtle rear spoiler. The V6s come with 215/60 all-season tires on 17-inch aluminum wheels while the V8 GTs get 235/50 rubber on 18-inch alloys.
NOTABLE STANDARD EQUIPMENT
All 2010 Ford Mustang variants are impressively packaged. Even the base V6 comes with air conditioning, power windows/locks/mirrors, keyless remote entry, AM/FM/CD stereo with AUX input, and cruise control plus anti-lock brakes, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), front/front-side airbags, and Ford's SOS Post-Crash Alert system. The Premium versions add leather upholstery, trim enhancements, an upgraded instrument cluster with MyColor variable lighting, Shaker 500 audio system with SYNC/SIRIUS Satellite Radio, power driver's seat and a split/folding rear seat on Coupes. The GTs bring a 4.6-liter V8 engine, automatic headlamps, rear spoiler, fog lamps, a black-chrome pony grille badge, and cloth instead of synthetic material on the Convertible's power top.
Key extras for the base V6 are a five-speed automatic transmission, Security Package (Active Anti-theft System and wheel locks) and a convertible soft boot while base GTs offers those plus a spoiler delete, 3.55 econo axle ratio for the manual transmission, performance-enhancing 3.73 Rear Axle Package and ultra-handling Track Packages. The V6 Premium offers the base-level upgrades plus a Pony Package (most of the GT's appearance elements), while HID bi-xenon headlamps, a glass roof (Coupe), back-up camera and several packages – including the Electronic (Navigation with SIRIUS and dual-zone auto climate control) and Comfort (heated front seats, power passenger seat and auto-dimming mirrors) – are available on both Premium variants.
UNDER THE HOOD
Two engines anchor the non-Shelby portion of Team Mustang, a carryover 4.0-liter SOHC V6 and the 4.6-liter three-valve SOHC V8 that was culled from the 2009 Bullitt model. The former turns out a modest 210 hp and 240 lb.-ft. of torque whether backed by the standard five-speed manual gearbox or optional five-speed automatic. Stepping up to the V8, which also retains its Bullitt-specific cold-air induction system, cranks those stats up to a more engaging 315 horses and 325 lb.-ft. of torque, again with either five-speed gearbox and on regular unleaded. That extra muscle drops 0-60 mph times from the V6's 6.5-7.5 seconds down to the 5.0-5.5 range, while sleeker bodywork plus several efficiency-boosting mechanical modifications boost EPA city fuel economy on V6/manual models and both city and highway mileage on all V8 variants.
210 horsepower @ 5300 rpm
240 lb-ft of torque @ 3500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy 18/26 (manual), 16/24 (automatic)
4.6-liter SOHC V8
315 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
325 lb-ft of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy 16/24 (manual), 17/23 (automatic)
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a base 2010 Ford Mustang V6 Coupe opens slightly under $22,000; the Premium V6 starts closer to $25,000; an entry GT approaches $29,000; and the Premium GT commands about $32,000. Choosing a Convertible will add about $5,000 to each of those figures, although the new glass roof option ($1,995) now provides an interesting and more-affordable alternative. While pricing and retained value stats for the 2009 Dodge Challenger and Mustang Coupe are close, the 2010 upgrades should help the Mustang's competitive appeal. Although the HEMI V8 Challenger R/T is considerably pricier and more powerful than the Mustang GT, it does not offer a drop-top model. Historically, Mustang Coupes hold their value better than their Convertible kin. It's still unclear how the new Mustang will fare against the resurrected 2010 Camaro, which will be available in both body styles – or the new Hyundai Genesis Coupe.