I like the Mustang. It’s rude and crude but huge fun to drive. I love the sound, the purity of the car. I don’t think I would buy one over a VW GTI or a BMW 128i, but I’d be tempted. I prefer the way the Shelby GT version handles, and I like the upgrades offered on the Bullitt edition, but the base car offers a lot of fun for the money. If I were to buy a Mustang, I would go for a base car with no options and fit the upgraded suspension that came on the Shelby GT.
Sure, the live axle limits the Mustang’s ultimate abilities, and the interior isn’t terribly high quality, but I still can’t help being drawn to the aging Ford coupe.
Marc Noordeloos, Road Test Editor
I’m with Marc on this one. In spite of the Mustang’s flaws – and there are many, from the endlessly tarted-up bodywork to the low-rent interior to the positively stone-age rear axle – I can’t stay away. And while I haven’t driven the Shelby GT or the Bullitt edition ‘Stang, I’m still more than a little in love with the base GT. So simple, so ridiculously hundred-years-ago simple. The Mustang’s charm lies in its honesty, its crudeness, and its throwback personality. Sure, it’s not that stable at high speed, and sure, the steering is kind of vague, and sure, the ergonomics don’t work for everybody. But there’s something endearing about the whole package.
That said, I’m worried for the future. If the next (2010) Mustang is just a mild rework and retouch of the current car, as it’s rumored to be, then Ford is in trouble. Simple and charming only takes you so far, especially when the next Camaro and the current Challenger have the ‘Stang beat six ways from Sunday where dynamics are concerned. (Not to mention looks; while I love the Ford’s styling in stripped-out-and-mean Shelby or Bullitt mode, it’s in need of a refresh. Especially one that consists of more than bolt-on changes and tacky styling updates.)
I was lucky enough to get some seat time in the next Camaro last week. And while the impressions from that drive are currently under embargo, I don’t think I’m breaking the confidentiality agreement when I say the following: Ford should be very, very worried.
Sam Smith, Associate Editor
I really like the base Mustang GT. For less money than a V-6 Honda Accord coupe you’ve got rear-wheel drive and 300 hp. If you look at it that way, there’s no reason not to love this car. There are clearly limitations from the solid rear axle (why do Expedition and Explorer trucks get independent rear suspension while the Mustang car gets a truck axle?), but the car is very true to its heritage and lets you have a ton of fun behind the wheel without looking for triple-digit speeds on public roads. Again, a base GT is about $25K. That’s great news for enthusiasts.
I do think the 2010 Mustang needs a serious upgrade to stay competitive with the new Camaro, based on what people who have driven the Camaro have told me. We’ll all know pretty soon since the Mustang is expected to be shown at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show in November.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor
There are two ways of looking at the Mustang’s lack of progress in recent years: on the one hand, you can deride it (as many do) for its used-to-be-retro look and retro-in-a-bad-way mechanicals. On the other, you know exactly what you’re getting when you hop into what is still the most entertaining model in Ford’s lineup, and there’s something comforting about that. Still, like everyone else, I hope that 2010 brings many of the refinements and improvements that the Mustang sorely needs.
This car wore horseshoe-shaped 45th anniversary Mustang badging on the front fenders in place of the GT logo. For once, it was nice to see a Mustang GT without the standard rear spoiler (a spoiler-delete option is available). It gave the car a more subtle look, without some of the bolt-on tackiness that Sam complained of. I just wish there was a delete option for the silly color-changing interior lighting, which luckily can be turned completely off if so desired. Hopefully the next Mustang will be sold on its own merits and not need to rely on gimmickry like this.
David Gluckman, Web Producer
The Mustang has ALWAYS been an old shoe with a big motor. It has never in its history been as refined or as fabulous as a Camaro. But it has always had this carefree, joyful, big-ass personality that lets it muscle in on the party. You feel like the hooligan you secretly are, every time you drive one. You can spin its rear tires from a stop. You downshift when you don’t have to just to hear the engine roar. And when you’re tooling along at 80 mph in fifth gear at around 2300 rpm, it feels bored silly. Downshift time!
I totally enjoyed my time behind the wheel, but I couldn’t spend every day with my right foot hovering painfully above the accelerator, just to keep from getting the inevitable ticket. Also, the interior is too black and silver and tacky, although I like the dash graining and the perforated leather seat and door inserts.
Of all the dozens (feels like dozens) of different Mustang models out there, this simple GT is quite simply lovely. When the curtain rises on the next generation, let’s hope it still looks this sweet.
Jean Jennings, President & Editor-in-Chief
2009 Ford Mustang GT Coupe Premium
Base Price (with destination): $29,170
Price as tested: $31,870
-GT Security Package – $375
-3.55 Ratio Limited Slip Axle – $300
-HID Headlamps – $525
-Comfort Group (Heated Seats) – $575
-18″ Polished Aluminum Wheel – $925
-15 / 23 / 18 (city/hwy/combined)
-V8, OHC, Aluminum block and head, 3 valves per cylinder
-Size: 4.6 L
-Horsepower: 300 @ 5750 rpm
-Torque: 320 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
-P235/50ZR18; 18-inch polished aluminum wheels