Last year, Americans once again purchased record numbers of Ford Mustang Convertibles, no small feat when you consider the Mustang's main rival, the Chrysler Sebring, offers a bigger back seat, more trunk space and a hard-top option. But the iconic Mustang offers something even the most tricked-out Sebring can't – instant cool. That's because the 2009 Ford Mustang Convertible has somehow avoided the genderization we Americans seem to assign such cars. It is seen as neither too masculine nor too feminine, an attribute that allows for a healthy cross-section of shoppers for the V6 and GT trims. Of course, a price tag starting around $25,500 doesn't hurt, either. In the end, it's a sure bet that even a more expensive price wouldn't deter people from making this convertible Number One.
YOU'LL LIKE THIS CAR IF...
You'll like the 2009 Ford Mustang Convertible if you're looking for a sporty, four-passenger ragtop that's a thoroughly modern take on a classic model. In the GT trim, the Mustang offers more bang-for-the-buck than pricier models from BMW, Nissan and Audi, all wrapped in a package that smacks of the red, white and blue.
YOU MAY NOT LIKE THIS CAR IF...
Though better than that of the last generation, the Mustang's rear seat is still not as welcoming as the Chrysler Sebring's or Toyota Solara's. The lack of an independent rear suspension may offend some enthusiasts, as will the abundance of hard plastic surfaces inside the cockpit.
WHAT'S SIGNIFICANT ABOUT THIS CAR
The most notable change for 2009 is the addition of more features to the Premium packages.
The 2009 Mustang Convertible's rigid body results in limited cowl shake (the vibration seen in the dash and windshield pillars when the wheels encounter a rough patch of pavement), giving it a real sense of solidity. With the top down, there is moderate wind buffeting at highway speeds and, with the top in place, the Mustang's interior remains somewhat noisy. The 4.0-liter V6 packs an impressive punch, even with the five-speed automatic. More importantly, the V6 returns good highway fuel economy, though heavy-footed drivers may never see such rosy results. The GT's 300-horsepower V8 isn't very frugal with fuel, but it is the engine of choice for the boy-racer, providing blisteringly quick acceleration and a deep, burbling exhaust note that tells everyone exactly what's under the hood.
OUR FAVORITE FEATURES
Spinner Alloy Wheels
Opt for the spinner alloy wheels on the V6 Premium model – they look great and add a real touch of nostalgia.
Shaker 1000 Audio System
The optional Shaker 1000 six-disc MP3 player sounds amazing, though the trunk-mounted subwoofer does eat up most of the usable cargo space.
Not content to confine its retro design to the exterior, Ford also looked to the original car to inspire the Mustang convertible's instrument panel. Large round gauges feature a typeface reminiscent of the first Mustang, but offer variable-color lighting for a twenty-first-century touch. Seating is first rate, but some of the plastics around the console, door panels and speaker grilles feel flimsy and hard to the touch. Because the convertible was designed in conjunction with the coupe, the improved body rigidity allows for a tighter-sealing roof and less body flex. The snug-fitting top offers small rear pillars for better visibility and actually provides more rear-seat headroom than the coupe.
Styling details from the original and second-generation Mustang convertibles are strongly evident, especially in the grille, rear deck and side scoops. The Mustang Convertible's top folds nearly flush when retracted, giving the car a clean, powerful profile. After nearly 25 years of history-making designs, that included highlights like the 1968 Mustang and lowlights like the Mustang II, the new Mustang finally has a look that appears to have evolved directly from the original.
NOTABLE STANDARD EQUIPMENT
The base 2009 Mustang Convertible has a power soft top, glass rear window with defroster, five-speed manual transmission, air conditioning, four-wheel disc brakes, keyless entry, power locks, power windows, front side-impact airbags, dual power mirrors, AM/FM stereo with CD and auxiliary input jack, cruise control, tilt wheel, 16-inch alloy wheels and variable wipers. The GT adds sport seats, anti-lock brakes (ABS), fog lights, black rocker panel moldings, 17-inch alloy wheels and traction control.
Options include leather seating, convertible-top boot, Shaker 500 and 1000 sound systems with MP3-capable six-disc CD changer, five-speed automatic transmission, traction control, anti-lock brakes (base), "MyColor" instrument panel, alarm system, DVD navigation, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, 18-inch wheels and a rear spoiler.
UNDER THE HOOD
For those not bothered by the lack of V8 growl, the V6's output is more than sufficient to get your blood flowing. Originally designed for use in the Ford Explorer SUV and Ranger pickup truck, the Mustang's V6 demonstrates a noticeable amount of vibration and harshness, and the single exhaust note just doesn't quite cut it – but the performance is remarkably good. The GT is clearly faster and more refined, and its V8 is one feature many male buyers wouldn't dream of sacrificing. Ford's three-valve per cylinder technology allows the big V8 to breathe easier, producing better low-end power without sacrificing fuel efficiency. The true powerhouse, however, is the limited-production Shelby version that features a 500-horsepower supercharged V8.
210 horsepower @ 5300 rpm
240 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/26 (manual), 16/24 (automatic)
300 horsepower @ 5750 rpm
320 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/23 (manual), 15/22 (automatic)
5.4-liter V8 supercharged
500 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
480 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20
The V6-powered Mustang Deluxe Convertible's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts around $25,500, while the automatic adds about $1,000. The V8-powered GT Deluxe starts around $32,500, while a fully loaded GT can reach $45,000. The Shelby trim starts near $50,000 but don't be surprised if they are selling well above MSRP. A look at the New Car Blue Book Value shows the typical transaction price consumers are paying for the Mustang, so be sure to check it out before you start negotiating. As expected, both the Mustang V6 and Mustang GT retain a better-than-average resale value, with the GT on par with more expensive competitors like the BMW Z4 and Mercedes-Benz SLK, and better than the Mitsubishi Eclipse convertibles.