2010 Ford Mustang GT

The biggest transformation happened inside the Mustang, where the quality has soared from Kmart chintzy straight to Pottery Barn chic. The soft-touch dashboard retains traditional Mustang design cues but is now a single piece - dramatically reducing squeaks and rattles - and is worlds ahead of anything previously seen in a Mustang. Premium-package Mustangs also feature Ford's MyColor, which allows the driver to choose from dozens of illumination colors for the gauges, a gauge background bezel, ambient cabin lighting, and ultracool illuminated sill plates. The gauges of lesser Mustangs are illuminated in a nonadjustable, but beautiful and highly legible, ice blue.

The new Mustang also receives the latest version of Ford's Sync infotainment system, which has an almost supernatural ability to recognize voice commands, an ultrasharp screen, and quite possibly the best iPod and Bluetooth phone integration in the business. An optional rearview camera is located in the rear spoiler, and its image is displayed on Sync's eight-inch screen (or in the rearview mirror in cars without Sync.) Most important, the camera is programmed to continue to display the image from the rear of the car for several seconds after shifting out of reverse. Why? So you can watch the tire tracks and smoke while you do a burnout, of course.

Burnouts are possible, by the way, even with the newly available electronic stability control fully active, so long as the car stays reasonably straight. Ford's engineers insisted on it. They also insisted that drivers retain the ability to fully disable ESC. We already shook their hands for you, so there's no need to send thank-you letters to Dearborn. GT models also feature a new sport mode, which allows pretty lurid oversteer before pulling the rear back in line.

The GT may cruise down the road in shocking silence - its cabin seems quieter than those of some luxury cars, and there's an eerie lack of wind noise even at triple-digit speeds - but it still honks when you put your foot down. A resonance tube carries the engine's intake snarl directly into the cabin, and two small mufflers and two catalytic converters are the only things hushing the V-8's thunder - there are no resonators or secondary mufflers to stifle the roar. But in true Mustang style, the overboosted steering stifles any feedback from the front wheels. Likewise, the suspension delivers a supple ride at the expense of insufficient body control over rough pavement.

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