It doesn't take a perfectionist or experienced critic to identify several poor fits among the Mustang's interior panels. The center stack in particular shows several uneven gaps and panels that aren't flush where they meet. Honda wins hands down if you are picky about such details. Beyond that minor caveat, the Ford interior is smart, fashionable, and rich. The materials, style, and ergonomics are far more appealing than the cluttered spread of controls on the Accord's center stack. The cabin and seats are more confining in the Mustang, but comfort in the two cars is similar. Ford can also tout extra touches like the convex blind spot mirrors and customizable colors for the gauges and ambient lighting.
The Mustang does have one fatal flaw, though. The steering wheel doesn't telescope. Senior web editor Phil Floraday was so bothered by the long reach that he deemed it a deal-breaker. The Honda buyer also gains the convenience of a power seat recliner and the comfort of adjustable lumbar support. The Accord also offers more utility if you intend to regularly use the back seat. With an extra 3.3 inches of legroom for third and fourth passengers, adults might last an hour in the back of the Honda. By contrast, rear-seat passengers in the Mustang are typically ready to get out the moment you slide the front seat back into position. There's even a fifth seatbelt in the Honda should you dare to use it.
The Mustang's new engine boasts 95 more horsepower than last year's V-6. The long overdue powetrain upgrade, though, is initially underwhelming. Despite output of 305 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, the engine is slow to rev and breathes like a shot-put thrower running the steeple chase. From the cabin, the sounds and vibrations deliver the feel of a beefy 4.0-liter unit that belongs in a truck like Toyota's FJ Cruiser rather than a dynamic sports car. There's also the feel of a massive flywheel bolted to Ford's V-6, causing revs to hang when changing gears. In contrast, Honda's 3.5-liter zings to redline eagerly and feels just as smooth at 6500 rpm as it does at idle. Rated at 271 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque, the Honda engine doesn't pull as strongly from low rpms, but it's able to keep up with the Mustang.